Child care organizations and parents across the globe joined together to celebrate Child Care Provider Appreciation Day earlier this month. In Ada, Project Invest, a program of East Central University's Child Care Resource & Referral and Smart Start South Central, led the effort.
The day was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey who saw the need 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 typically celebrated each year on the Friday before Mother's Day.
Sara Houchin, Skye Whittman and Kristin Bailes, employees of Becky's Family Child Care Center in Ada, wait for the start of the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, part of Child Care Provider Appreciation Day in Ada. Project Invest, a program of East Central University's Child Care Resource & Referral and Smart Start South Central, led the effort, and local restaurants helped provide the luncheons at all area child care centers.
Momentum and support has grown each year and recognition presently includes individuals and government organizations throughout North America, Europe and Asia. It is estimated that there are nearly 2.8 million child care providers in the United States and that nearly 12 million children under age 5 are in their care.
"There are approximately 1,000 children in licensed child care programs every day in Ada," said Cheryl Bell, coordinator of child care resource & referral. "The children, parents and employers of Ada depend on our child care providers. During this time we want to recognize the hard work and dedication of providers and to acknowledge their contributions to high-quality care."
Local restaurants helped provide teacher appreciation luncheons at all area child care centers. Project Invest staff and other community leaders delivered the lunches and recognized the staffs for their hard work.
"By applauding the dedication of child care providers, we remind our communities of the importance of high-quality child care and let providers everywhere know that we recognize and value their important work," said Linda K. Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the lead sponsor of Provider Appreciation Day.
"It is important that the care a child receives during the first five years of life be of high-quality because 90 percent of brain development occurs during those years," Smith said.
"It takes a special person," Bell said, "to work in the child care field, and these individuals are often unrecognized for their important work. This day offers an opportunity for the community to show child care providers their appreciation."
For more information on local child care efforts, contact ECU's Child Care Resource & Referral at 559-5873.
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