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Rochester daycare providers win state award

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Mary Rownd (right) and Julie Mulhern (left) pose with the children attending Rownd's home daycare. Rownd was named Family Child Care Providers of the Year for Olmsted County, along with fellow Rochester daycare provider Kayla Abrahamson.

Mary Rownd believes she has the best job in Olmsted County.

Rownd and Kayla Abrahamson, both of Rochester, were named Olmsted County Family Child Care Providers of the Year by the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association. Abrahamson and Rownd were honored at the state association conference and banquet on May 3, and at the Olmsted County Family Child Care Provider Appreciation Banquet on May 12. According to the child care association, there are approximately 450 licensed family child care providers in Olmsted County.

Rownd has been taking care of children, infants to 6 years old, for 14 years.

"I have the best job in Olmsted County with the greatest reward. That's why I do this, just for the reward," Rownd said. "The reward is to see the children develop from infant to when they graduate. There is just a massive amount of change and learning to see, and I get to be a part of that."

She works with Julie Mulhern, who calls Rownd the best boss she has ever had.


"Mary and I get along very well," Mulhern said. "I know what I have to do and she knows what she has to do and by the end of the day we have it all done."

Rownd has turned her backyard into an outdoor fort. Kids have plenty of room to play and interact.

"I don't use any electronic devices; no TV. We listen to the radio," she said. "It's important that the children learn how to play, socialize. I can incorporate all of the learning aspects they need into those two things: socialize and play."

In addition, Rownd has volunteered many hours and weekends to the Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Rochester, where she has planned and implemented Sunday school learning and child care for the past 10 years.

Abrahamson has been a board member of Family Child Care Inc. for eight years, where she assists and supports other providers in accessing important training.

Abrahamson, who said she's excited by the Providers of the Year honor, started babysitting at age 9. She started her own daycare called Kayla's Kids Child Care, soon after her daughter was born 11 years ago.

"I knew right away it was going to be my career. It's always been my passion to work with kids. This is what I'm doing," she said.

Stacy Boysen, who was named Family Child Care Provider of the Year in 2013, said providers are nominated by parents from their child care programs, colleagues and peers.


A backyard daycare makes sense for Rownd, who said she has always shied away from the spotlight. While she never sought out the award, she was thrilled to be honored by others in her industry.

"I think it's important that we as providers get recognized. It's hard work, but you got to have a passion for it, and I definitely have that passion. I love it," Rownd said.

Kayla Abrahamson

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