National Provider Appreciation Day, then Mothers Day
By Crystal Thompson
National Provider Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother's Day to recognize those important individuals who care for children on a daily basis.
Provider Appreciation Day, which falls on May 11 this year, began in 1996 with a group of volunteers in New Jersey who saw the need for a day of appreciation and recognition for child care providers. The group initiated a pilot program locally, which was met with great enthusiasm by parents and providers. With the success of the pilot program, the group expanded the initiative and made Provider Appreciation Day a yearly event to recognize child care providers across the world.
Since its beginnings, information about Provider Appreciation Day has been sent out nationwide and has been supported by groups in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Europe and Asia. Supporters have initiated proclamations that have been signed by local governments and have gained media coverage and planned events to honor child care providers on this day.
As of April, Hill, Liberty and Blaine counties are home to 43 licensed child care facilities. At First Lutheran Preschool and Daycare, Provider Appreciation Day means fun for the entire family according to daycare provider Renee Knowlton. Last year's activities included a special lunch with parents, children and the providers. Providers were given notes of thanks and gifts. Knowlton said that the biggest rewards a provider receives is seeing the kids grow up and succeed.
"The biggest reward is what the kids give back to you," she said.
The child care profession is often called one of the most under-recognized and underpaid professions in the country, although a majority of critical development takes place during a child's early years. Quality child care is key to creating a positive future generation, and recognizing quality providers is one step in ensuring proper care for all children. Licensing and registration does not always ensure a proper program, however, and it is important to thoroughly check out a facility before sending your child there.
According to the experts at www.teachingstrategies.com, quality child care depends on a partnership between caregivers and parents. Sharing information at drop-off and pickup times, in notes, phone conversations and during conferences gives the parent and the provider a more complete picture of the child. When the parent and the provider share information, it builds a bridge between home and child care for the child, who will, in turn feel more secure when the caregiver's actions mimic the parent's.
Debbie McCormick, of Debbie's Daycare in Havre, said that child care is a highly rewarding profession. McCormick said that besides caring for other children, daycare providers are allowed to stay home with their own children as well. She said that the biggest benefit of all is the ability to make a difference in a child's life.
Finding the right caregiver is often challenging, but is one of the most important decisions a parent can make. Although parents are generally the most important people in a child's life, the relationship a child has with his caregiver has been shown to greatly affect how he feels about himself and the world around him. When infants and young children receive warm and responsive care, they are able to feel safe and secure, as positive relationships with caring adults encourage positive brain development.
Tamara Barkus, of Havre, is a working mother of two children who attend daycare three days a week. She said that she began celebrating Provider Appreciation Day a few years ago, and has made it a tradition to bring a special treat to her children's providers on that day. She said that she interviewed a lot of daycares before deciding on her current provider, ultimately it was the providers' attitudes that molded her final decision.
If you currently have a regular child care provider, remember to take time today to let them know that you appreciate all they do for your children and you. If you are interested in becoming a child care provider, or would like a list of licensed facilities, contact Child Care Link at District IV HRDC at 265-6743 or Pam Filler, Child Care Licenser at 262-9790.