Meet our Direct Employment Services Team

Together the Direct Employment Services Team offer management support to 32 groups across Highland and 1 in Moray, of which 26 are fully managed and 7 staff managed. The groups consist of Early Learning and Childcare, Out of School and Daycare centres.

Debbie Campbell, Head of Services 

Hi, my name is Debbie, I have worked in childcare for over twenty years in a variety of roles, the last 13 of which have been with Care and Learning Alliance, with whom I started as a Childhood Practice Manager, working up to my current role as Services Manager.

I hold numerous childcare qualifications culminating in my PDA Level 9 Childhood Practice.

I am responsible for the management of our Office team, CALA Staffbank and Service Coordinators, tasked with ensuring the smooth and professional running of all services.

Out of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and numerous animals.

Ruth Gomes, Operations Manager

I began my career in childcare eleven years ago volunteering in a school nursery. This inspired me to gain some formal qualifications in Early Education. I began studying and went on to complete my BA in Childhood Practice. This led to me managing an outdoor preschool in the Highlands. I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in outdoor education and really value the benefits of outdoor play for children of all ages.

After some time off to care for my young family, I joined CALA as a Childhood Practice Manager in April 2018.

At home I am kept busy with my three boys; walking our dogs, going on trips, watching movies together and trying to beat each other at Monopoly!

Kirsty Hunter, Mentoring Support Officer

I have lived and worked in the beautiful Highlands my whole life. My career journey began with volunteering at Raigmore’s Children’s Ward as a Play Services Worker. I went on to support young families, mentor vulnerable young people and work in residential care for looked after young people. I have enjoyed incredible roles where I have coordinated an outreach service for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, developed youth work participation projects and forums and coordinated media based youth lead campaigns and projects. Throughout all of these amazing roles I have drawn on my passion for empowering children and young people to feel listened to, have a voice and be heard. And above all, have hope.

Following an interrupted adolescence and education due to illness I studied for a BA in Child and Youth Studies as a mature student, alongside raising my young family. I then completed my SVQ III during my time as a residential childcare worker. I love nothing more than spending time with my little family and our many rescue animals. When I ever have any free time I volunteer at a local animal sanctuary and create pretty things with glass.

Childhood Practice Managers


Julia McNeil, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been with CALA since September 2006; starting off travelling around managing ELC and OSC from Foyers to Inverness. 

During this time I have had the opportunity to gain a degree in Childcare plus various other opportunities to increase my knowledge. 

I am delighted to be the family centre manager for Wimberley Estate Childcare Centre, in Inverness, we are a very busy centre with babies to 5yr old children, every day our children bring a smile to our faces and remind us why we enjoy our jobs. 

her of two grown-up girls, whom both are embarking on their chosen careers and life’s, leaving myself and my husband to enjoy walking, cycling, motorbikes and holidays. 

Alison Morrison Smith, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been working in Junior World in Nairn for 10 years in a variety of roles, starting off as a part-time helper in Out of School Care, then spending some years in Early Years as a Playworker and as a one to one support. I then became a Senior in Out of School Care which is where I found I was most comfortable and enjoyed this role and working with the older children.

In 2012 I became the Senior in the new Daycare facility and with the rest of the team, we now have a very busy and successful service for children aged 2-5-year-old.

In 2014 I reduced my hours at Junior World to mornings to able me to fulfil my role as a CPM in the afternoons. Within the role, I am responsible for 4 Out of School Services and a breakfast club. I enjoy this new position and the different people I get to work alongside many different professions and background.

Annarie Heneghan, Childhood Practice Manager

I have worked for CALA for the last 16 years and during this time I have gained qualifications to match the childcare roles I have held. I most recently gained a BA Childcare Practice and am currently the Manager of Sutherland Stepping Stones Childcare Centre and Golspie ELC.

On a personal note, I have two daughters and a son and am also blessed with three beautiful grandsons. In my spare time I like to spend time with my family and new puppy Hunter who is very lively. I enjoy reading, socializing and anything crafty. 

Donna Sinclair, Childhood Practice Manager

After spending many years working within safety and works control, an opportunity arose to change career path after having my 3 children.  Since then I have spent 9 years in childcare running my own childminding business and acting as a relief practitioner in Highland Early Learning Centres.  

After completing my SVQ 3 and beginning my degree in Childhood Practice I now manage 3 Early Learning Childcare Centres, Reay, Watten and Norlin and also provide support to the CALA Childminder Members.   I am enjoying the challenges this position provides whilst caring for my 3 children.

Philip Hull – Childhood Practice Manager

I have been fortunate to have worked with children most of my adult life, after having lived above a Nursery School as a child. I worked in a few settings in London and Oxford before joining a childcare group in Kent eventually becoming its owner. After adopting two girls we needed a lifestyle change and decided on relocating to the Highlands and joining the Care and Learning Alliance.

Karina Pawszok – Childhood Practice Manager

My name is Karina Pawszok, I am a Childhood Practice Manager at Care and Learning Alliance.

My work within the company started years ago, first as staffbank, then as Senior Practitioner. I also worked for local authority nursery in Inverness and in a private nursery school in Edinburgh. While working I was gaining qualifications in Early Education and Childcare; first through college then onto university, where I gained my degree in Childhood Practice.

I come from Poland and live in Inverness with my family, I am a mother of three (now grown-up) children and grandmother to twins (boy & girl).

I love reading books, travelling – especially camping, art – oil paint and pencil drawing, and theatre.   

Amanda Kelly – Childhood Practice Manager

I grew up in Wales and fell in love with Scotland when I came to work on the Isle of Mull when I was 18. We moved up in 1999 and I still consider myself lucky to live and work in such a beautiful place.

I have worked with children for over 25 years with experience in playgroups and as an au pair and childminder before becoming a teacher. I have worked as a Secondary School Teacher for 22 years, mostly as an English Teacher but also supporting children with additional needs.

I am delighted to be joining CALA and working with the Early Years Sector again. It is such a wonderful stage of development and I feel privileged to be part of that joyful exploration of the world.

I have two daughters, one in Primary and one in Secondary School. They love art, nature and creativity as much as I do. We usually spend our weekends indulging in numerous artistic endeavours before getting out into nature, then curling up with a good book.