Happy National Provider Appreciation Day!
May 4, 2020
Thank you to all of our Care and Education Professionals on National Provider Appreciation Day, May 8th!
Provider Appreciation is appropriately celebrated the day before Mother’s Day. Certainly not to take away from the care and education a mother gives to their children, but to celebrate the love and care that child care professionals give to children while families work.
Never before have our Care and Education Professionals been more important than today! In March, we began to think about child care for the nearly 80,000 children of essential health care employees. Then, there began a growing consensus that we needed our Care and Education Programs to stay open and operating. In a matter of a few weeks, many began to realize what some of us have known forever; Child Care Teachers, Staff, Providers, Educators, Professionals ARE ESSENTIAL.
I have personally worked in Early Care and Education for 40 years. I have seen what the twist and turns of the economy have done to the industry, but I have never witnessed the struggle that we have seen in the last few weeks. My heart has been broken so many times by the stories that I have heard of hardship. But it also has been mended just as many times by the stories of victory and triumph.
Our Governor and First Lady addressed and spoke on the need and importance of child care. Tears filled my eyes and my heart grew as they spoke. I knew how much this meant to anyone that had ever worked with young children and had never gotten this kind of recognition and support. I’ve never been so proud to be a part of this great industry.
The Impact of Child Care Professionals During COVID-19
But it doesn’t stop there. I am not sure I have seen the child care community come together as they have and be so resilient. As a child care program, you have held the weight of our state on your shoulders. YOU kept our medical personnel and first responders working. This wasn’t easy, decisions were tough, and sacrifices were made by all.
Across Virginia 37% of centers, 37% of religiously exempt, and 77% of family child care stayed open. As the next few weeks unfold, many programs will be opening their doors but for others, they have become a causality of COVID-19. Programs need the support of the community now more than ever!
What can you do to support child care professionals?
- They need sanitizers, gloves, masks, paper towels, and toilet paper. Pick it up when you see it and donate it to a local program. You can leave it on their front steps.
- As a parent, follow all special policies related to COVID-19 that programs have set up for children and families. Programs are held to different guidance during this time. Each may have different policies that need to be adhered to. It is helpful to have families willingly adhere to these requests.
- Pay on time!
- If your child has not been attending and you have not been paying, consider adding an extra $25 per week for the next few months to help your child care re-build.
- Send a child care program a small thank you for staying open within your community even if you don’t have children! Send them a pizza, gift certificates, fruit basket for staff, basket of lotions, or think about volunteering in a program to answer the phone.
- Buy an extra box of snack crackers or fresh fruit for your child’s classroom.
- Anything that you may think of to acknowledge their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice will be beneficial.
My heroes do wear capes! (Especially in Dramatic Play!)
In conclusion, let’s all give a salute to the unsung heroes of COVID-19. On this very special Provider Appreciation Day 2020 please stop and say thank you to a very exceptional group of individuals. They have kept us afloat and will continue to keep us working long after this pandemic is gone.
YOU, my peers, are amazing. YOU are resilient. YOU are essential!
Janet Burke is the Director of Child Development Services at ChildSavers, a nonprofit organization that believes that all children can be safe, happy, healthy and ready to learn. She manages six core programs that support this belief; Child Care Aware of Central Virginia, Child Development Training, Child Development Associate Certificate Program, Virginia Quality Central Region, Voluntary Registration for the Central Region and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Janet joined ChildSavers in 1992 where she has worked as a trainer, supervisor, coordinator, program manager and director.
She has been a Master Rater and Master Trainer for Virginia’s Quality and Rating Improvement System since 2007 where she was trained in the first cohort of trainers. Along with 36 years of experience of working in early care and with early care professionals, she has a Certificate in Early Childhood and a Certificate in Supervisory and Leadership and has taken many other child development and business classes over the years. This includes being trained by the authors for CLASS, Environmental Rating Scale, Here, Now and Down the Road, MyTeachingPartner and DECA. She holds current certifications.