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May 10 set to recognize child care providers

By Alicia Barnes
MSU School of Human Sciences

Penny Lee helps a 2 year-old with an art project.
Penny Lee, a teacher at Global Connection Learning Center in Jackson, helps 2-year-old Jacob Sargent with an art project. Early care and education providers like Lee will be honored on Provider Appreciation Day May 10. (Photo by MSU School of Human Sciences/Alicia Barnes)

MISSISSIPPI STATE - Families who use child care may want to pick up an extra bouquet while shopping for Mother’s Day.

While the second Sunday in May is a day to honor mothers, the Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network encourages families to also celebrate Provider Appreciation Day on Friday, May 10. This annual event recognizes early care and education providers for their contributions.

“Providers work hard to lay the best foundation for our young children,” said Ellen Goodman, project manager at the network.

“This special day is one way communities can show their appreciation for the valuable services caregivers provide for our young families,” Goodman said. “We all know the importance of our child care centers and the many providers who work in them, but we forget to tell them thanks.”

Early care and education providers keep communities thriving by supplying safe and healthy environments that allow parents to work.

“These providers are striving to enhance the learning environment with hands-on, engaging, age-appropriate activities for our young children” said Brittney Rye, project manager for Project Navigator, one of the network’s programs.

Whether providing infant or afterschool care, early care and education professionals support child development.

“Providers have the opportunity to spend a large portion of children’s days with them. During this time they are able to guide a child's social, emotional, and academic development in a positive direction,” Rye said. “In return they build a bond and trust with that child that they both remember for years. Those relationships with children are why childcare providers continue to do the work they do.”

Celebrating Provider Appreciation Day can range from a simple thank you to more elaborate gifts. Parents can work with children to write thank you notes that describe what they appreciate about their teachers.

Goodman also suggested families donate school supplies to providers, who may be working with tight budgets.

Provider Appreciation Day began in 1996 when a group of volunteers in New Jersey saw the need to recognize the efforts of providers who care for children of working parents. Momentum for this event has grown each year, with support from individuals and government organizations throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

From the kitchen staff and administrative assistants to the teachers and directors, early care and education is a team effort. The day is for all those who are responsible for the education and care of children including school-age program staff, center directors, and administrative and support staffs.

“The entire staff at the child care center is important,” Goodman said. “Everyone who works at the center is a provider as each provides a valuable service and works to have a quality learning environment for the children.”

The Provider Appreciation Day website http://www.providerappreciationday.org has resources and additional ideas for celebration.

The Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network offers resources, training, and referral services to early care and education providers, parents, and communities. The network is funded by Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Early Childhood Care and Development.

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Released: May 2, 2013
Contact: Ellen Goodman, (662) 325-3083

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