It’s that time of year again, the one when we show appreciation to our moms, our teachers and our child care providers. That day or week when people go out of their way to show appreciation to the people who do the most important work in our communities - raise our next generation of well adjusted, kind and capable human beings.
I think it is wonderful to have national days or weeks to remind us to acknowledge something or, in this case, show appreciation but I’d like to argue, we should be doing that all year long. Especially for those who are caring for and educating our young children. Child care providers.
There is the most obvious reason - child care providers are talking to, hugging, teaching and loving our most valued treasures when parents are earning the living to care for their children at home.
There is the other obvious reason - they do this for multiple treasures. All. Day. Long. I’m going to be honest with you for a minute, I have two children under five and I can’t comprehend being able to do this. Child care providers have a unique skillset of multi-tasking, caring, mediating tough behavior, problem solving, drying tears, attending to owies, listening, making the most of teachable moments and the list goes on. All while taking a moment to understand that they are talking to a young child and maintaining that ever-so-calming “teacher voice.”
Oh and then there’s this - in addition to caring for children all day long they document how they cared for each and every child. What developmental milestones were reached or is a child showing signs of needing extra help? How many wet or poopy diapers were there? How much did they eat? How long did they nap? Who did they play with? What did they play with? What adorable thing did they do? What difficulties did they have? And, And, And…
Let’s not forget about all of the regulations, best practices and extra things they’re doing to provide the best quality care possible! With all of these things comes additional paperwork, conversation, learning and monitoring from agencies that child care providers address every day, week and month.
And What’s the Wage?
In most cases it's not good and actually pretty terrible. In many circumstances, unlivable. In 2015, the national average of a child care worker was $9.77. (Early Childhood Workforce Index 2016)
So Why Do They Do It?
If you ask a child care provider why they do it, many will say they love the hugs. That you can’t start or end your day any better than that. Which, I mean, is pretty awesome. But let’s be honest. Hugs aren’t paying their bills or giving them their time back. Believe it or not, child care providers have their own families to support, love and be patient with.
SAY THANK YOU - EVERY DAY
So, aside from the simple fact that they are helping us grow the best little humans possible, they are doing a slew of other things that we might not be wholly aware of and we should thank them. EVERY DAY. THANK YOUR CHILD CARE PROVIDER EVERY DAY when you pick up your kids. It’s hectic and crazy and you have to get home and get dinner ready and any other number of things, but take a moment - look your provider in the eye and say thank you.
Child care providers have one of the most important jobs in society and in the grand scheme of life, what they do is under appreciated. In addition to the card, flowers, certificate or gift we give our providers this year on provider appreciation day, let’s also make a pledge to say “thank you” every day.
Take the Pledge
Early Childhood Workforce Index 2016
Copyright © 2016, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley
Accessed on 5/4/2017: http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2016/Median-Wages-by-Occupation-and-State-2015.pdf