by Bev Jordan - Hilshire Times - Australia

Craig Patterson at St Michael’s Family Long Day Care is one of a rare breed, a man who works in childcare.

He is just about to clock up seven years at the Baulkham Hills centre and 13 years in childcare in western Sydney.

He is a hit with children, parents and staff alike.

Juanita Winks from St Michaels said she is a firm believer in male role models in childcare and said there is a need for more men.

“Craig has been here some time and the staff, parents and children adore him.”

His first experience of helping in a childcare centre was with work experience in year 10.

He loved it so much that when he left high school he studied for a Certificate III in childcare at TAFE.

“It was me and 25 girls,” he said.

He worked part-time while he finished his studies.

“At my last centre there were a lot of single mums and for them it was really important for their children to have a male role model.

“I have a passion for childcare and find it really rewarding, but I have a lot of friends who have gone into teaching because the salary is so much better.”

Nesha O’Neil operates two award-winning childcare centres and employs five male carers, one at Norwest and four at Top Ryde.

Ben Vengoa is sports co-ordinator at the Norwest Childcare Centre and works alongside the trained pre-school teachers.

A qualified personal trainer he plays rugby league with Penrith but is not playing at the moment because of a shoulder injury.

“I would encourage more centres to work out how to attract more men,” Ms O’Neil said. “The balance they bring to the program is amazing. It is so positive. All our parents think it’s great.”