2024 Quality Improvement Program of the Year Award Recipient – Family Child Care Home

Tonya’s Berry Patch, Anchorage

Owner of Tonya’s Berry Patch, Tonya Dickerson, began her career in Early Childhood education in 1989, as a caregiver in a local daycare center. Her own children were little, and it gave her an opportunity to stay close to them and make an income. In 1992, after the birth of her fourth and youngest child, Tonya was encouraged by a good friend to open an in-home child care program. Her friend was operating her own licensed child care home and mentored Tonya through the first steps to become an approved provider with the Municipality of Anchorage. It was an easy and natural transition for Tonya to obtain her license, as she already had a great understanding of the field and was already applying all the regulations and guidelines required by the Municipality.

In the mid 1990’s, Tonya became involved with the Alaska Family Childcare Association and really enjoyed her time serving on the committee, getting to know all the other childcare providers. Tonya served on the AFCCA Board of Directors for many years, and it was a very rewarding experience.

2020 brought a whole new level of uncertainty and adversity, for those navigating the COVID waters, as child care providers. These challenges were made easier for Tonya, with all the wonderful support she received from thread, United Way, and the Child Care Program Office. The guidance and financial assistance Tonya received from these agencies enabled her to remain open and operate her child care business, Tonya’s Berry Patch, with confidence.

Through thread, Tonya has been able to continue her education with quality training and involvement with the SEED and Learn and Grow Programs. Tonya’s Berry Patch LLC is currently at Level 2 in the Learn and Grow Program. 

Tonya states, “It truly has been my pleasure to have had the opportunities afforded me during my childcare career.” Tonya’s 35 years as an early educator have allowed her to foster lasting relationships with her provider peers and so many wonderful families. What started as an opportunity to stay home with her own children and financially support her family, has turned into a labor of love. Tonya feels so blessed to have been instrumental in helping so many children grow and learn in a safe and nurturing environment. Tonya appreciates all the trust that her childcare families have given her over the years, by allowing her to share their children with them. “It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it!”