In this age of dual-career marriages and more single parents raising their children, child care providers can be a godsend. That's why May 9 has been designated Provider Appreciation Day. It's a time to recognize child care providers, teachers, school-age program staff, child care center directors and staff, and all those who work with children in a variety of ways and are responsible for their education and care.
It is estimated that there are nearly 2.8 million child care providers in the United States, with close to 12 million under age 5 in their care. Still, many parents will attest to the difficulty of finding providers, especially in rural areas. Plus, they want the best care for their children. And providers will tell you it's hard sometimes to work in isolated areas where learning opportunities for themselves AND for the kids in their care are few and far between.
In west central Minnesota, there are organizations and individuals who are working to expand childcare capacity and provide activities and programs for childcare workers and their charges, including West Central Initiative and the 10 Early Childhood Initiative communities in west central Minnesota.
In March, area providers and early care and education professionals were invited to attend "Building Relationships for a Child’s Success," a professional development teleconference organized by the Partners for Child C.A.R.E. (Convenient-Appropriate-Reliable-Excelling), a sub-committee of the regional Family Economic Success Council.
Nearly 200 people attended at 12 televised sites across the nine-county region. The session focused on equipping early childhood programs with a consistent message to parents and others about the importance of high quality care and early experiences to impact optimal brain development and subsequent school success. "Never, ever, underestimate the importance of how you are and what you do for children in the everyday moments you spend with them. You are planting seeds that have the potential to change the world in ways you may never see," said Michele Fallon, MSW, LICSW, Center for Early Education and Development.