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THE PARENT LINE

May/June 2008

Volume 9 Issue 3

CELEBRATING CHILD CARE PROVIDERS: Provider Appreciation Day and Every Day

When you’re looking for child care, you want the best care you can find. You look for a safe, lov- ing program where your child will feel happy and secure. You look at the following things to judge the quality of child care:

Good health and safety prac- tices Clean, fun, learning environ- ment Right number of providers to children; providers are with children at all times Skilled, trained and educated providers The program welcomes parents and families to visit when they want Well-managed program

High-quality child care has all of these qualities, and more. But when you are choosing child care, what is it that you’ll be looking at first and fore- most? Your biggest interest will be who is providing care for your child. The provider, teacher, or staff person is the person you trust with your child’s health, safety, and overall well-being when you are not there.

Why Celebrate Your Child Care Provider?

Being a child care provider is not an easy job, but it certainly is one of the most important. It is also one of the lowest paying and least celebrated. There are nearly 2.3 million child care providers who care for children under age 5 in the U.S. The average wage for providers is only $8.68 an hour or $18,060 a year— close to the national poverty level. These wages certainly do not reflect the importance or the

demands of a child care provider’s work.

Further, even though child care providers work hard and have a very important job, sometimes the nature of the job means that they don’t have access to health care or other important benefits. As a pro- fession, they don’t always get the respect they de-

serve. And, working with children all day, even though it is rewarding for many child care providers, is also isolat- ing work with little adult contact.

You already know that your rela- tionship with your child’s provider is key to good child care. It is really impor- tant that you and your provider have good, open communication. That way you can express your feelings and views, ask questions, and get to know just how the child care program is working with your child. In turn, your caregiver should be available to listen and support you when you need it. You should always feel well informed and welcome to observe and contribute to your child’s program.

When you think about the training, skills, and responsibilities good child care providers have, it is important to acknowledge their roles and support them with positive feedback. Child care providers, like all workers, need to be recognized for the work they do. As a parent, you are in the best position to do this.

CHILD CARE PROVIDERS, LIKE ALL WORKERS, NEED TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR THE WORK THEY DO.

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