To the Editor,

Everyone benefits from child care, even those without young children. A lack of access to child care affects parents’ abilities to work and has a major impact on our local economies. Child care educators work long hours for minimal pay, are tasked with keeping our children safe and happy, and rarely receive the gratitude they deserve. So, let’s take a moment to thank our child care educators. 

Provider Appreciation Day is a national holiday celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day, which lands on May 10 this year.  

Over the past few years, the Early Childhood Initiative partners coordinated efforts to recognize child care educators in west central Minnesota. This year, we’re working with early child care collaboratives, county licensing, Child Care Aware, First Children’s Finance, and the Early Childhood Dental Network to celebrate Provider Appreciation. 

Whether your child attends a child care center, a home-based program, or is in the care of a family, friend, or neighbor, our child care educators become an extension of our family. As beneficial as it is to recognize child care educators on a designated day, it is equally important to show our gratitude throughout the year. 

Thanking your child care educator can be easy and inexpensive. Here’s a quick list of ways for parents to show appreciation for your child care educator year-round: 

1. Give them grace. We’re all human, and we all have off days. Whether your child care educator didn’t sleep well, stepped on a Lego on their way for a cup of coffee, or received bad news, we all deserve a little grace, but your child care educator has a full day of caring for and keeping children safe. Improve your provider’s day by offering to bring lunch or delivering their favorite treat. 

2. Work together on your child’s care. Child care educators must follow regulations to keep their license active and in good standing. Trust the educator’s training, wisdom, and experience. Sharing important family rituals and beliefs helps the educator see your perspective. 

3. Offer Respect. Showing respect can be as simple as paying by the due date, picking your child up on time, and keeping them home when they are sick. 

4. Show them love! Appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy. A simple handwritten thank you note, a small gift, or a hug goes a long way. Working with other parents to purchase a more expensive gift or a gift card can ensure your provider has a special day. 

Don’t wait until May 10. Show your child care educator you appreciate them today!

Marsha Erickson, West Central Initiative Early Childhood Specialist