Courtney Pitts, Riche', Cassandra | 4/29/2009 11:15:02 PM
The Friday before Mother's Day each year honors child care providers, teachers and other educators of young children.
Provider Appreciation Day on May 8 this year recognizes the tireless efforts of providers who care for children of working parents, according to LSU AgCenter child care associate Courtney Pitts.
Momentum and support for this event has spread globally since its New Jersey inception in 1996 to include individuals and governments in North America, Europe and Asia, Pitts says.
At least 2.8 million people earn their money by teaching and caring for young children or by working in directly related jobs, according to the National Economic Impacts of the Child Care Sector study sponsored by the National Child Care Association.
“As the demand for child care continues to increase, the provider role is crucial,” Pitts says, adding, “Today's child care professionals are the world's unsung heroes. This profession is one of the most underpaid occupations in the country; yet, research shows that early childhood is the most critical developmental period in a child's life.”
Cassandra Riché, also an LSU AgCenter child care expert, says it takes a special person to work in this field, and the contribution these individuals make to the quality of life for the children and their families too often goes unnoticed.
“Provider Appreciation Day offers a unique opportunity to recognize and commend the unselfish dedication, commitment and compassion that child care providers demonstrate every day,” Riché says.
The family development expert recommends choosing one or more ways to celebrate the day as listed by the Provider Appreciation Day organization at www.providerappreciationday.org.
If you are a child care director or owner, consider these options: call local restaurants, retail stores and grocery stores to request gift certificates for the child care providers you work with; plan a luncheon or dinner honoring child care providers; hang banners or posters; ask government officials to sign a proclamation; purchase a new piece of equipment in honor of the day; or provide a scholarship for an early-care education conference or workshop.
Additional ideas for child care directors or owners include: pay for a day off so a provider may attend a conference or workshop; organize a spa day; serve the staff a continental breakfast; plan a parent/provider picnic; have a parade or dedicate a park; send a press release to your local newspaper; invite staff and parents to partner with you to plan a program-wide event; or invite neighboring early childhood organizations to join you in your celebration
If you are a parent, consider these options: get together with other parents to create a surprise; send flowers, cards or a handwritten note of appreciation; bring breakfast or lunch for your provider and for the kids; work with your child to create a special remembrance; buy something for your provider's play area; give your provider a paid day off, a raise or a bonus; key in on your provider's hobby and buy an appropriate gift; or check to see if your employer provides scholarships for toys, equipment or training that you can sponsor as a parent.
Contacts: Courtney Pitts, at (225) 578-1524 or CPitts@agcenter.lsu.edu
Cassandra Riché, at (225) 578-2402 or CRiche@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens, at (225) 578-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org