From TFC President and CEO Paula Neth
As thousands of parents in our community are currently forced to balance caregiving and careers, I hope we all will take time to consider how critical a role child care plays in our community, our careers, and the futures of their children.
Early education is arguably the greatest tool our community has to initiate positive change. The most critical period of human development occurs from the time children are born, to around age 5. During this time, children process and retain far more information than at any other point of their lives and, with the help of engaged parents and child care providers, cement critical foundational skills we often take for granted.
Child care providers are well aware of these facts and the great responsibility placed on their shoulders. They hold themselves to a much higher standard than their title implies. They are certainly not babysitter, or simply keeping children safe while parents are at work. Even titles like “caregiver” and “child care providers” are selling them short.
Early educators wear many hats. Beyond meeting basic needs like changing diapers and serving meals, they teach a group of children with drastically different needs, manage relationships with parents and often address an array of complex issues that get in the way of learning. Not only are they meeting basic needs and ensuring your child’s safety, they are experts in child development who engage children in brain-building activities that form a strong foundation for all future learning. They are an avenue for children to reach their fullest potential.
Given all of the information I’ve previously shared, what are these highly-skilled, highly-educated professionals, who prepare children for success worth? They are definitely worth far more than the poverty wages many in the sector earn.
If providers were not giving enough already, as essential workers, they have been on the frontlines during the current crisis. As the long-standing challenges facing the sector became amplified, they continued to make sacrifices to do what is best for children and families. Our appreciation and support are needed more than ever.
How we can show our appreciation for child care providers:
- ADVOCATE. The child care funding model is broken, but together, we can fix it. Join our advocacy alerts email list to receive timely opportunities to influence change.
- Reframe the profession. Share your appreciation for early educators on social media.
- Say “Thank you.” We’re not going to fix this overnight, but while we work toward a future that adequately values early educators, gratitude is a good start. Say “thank you” with cards, letters and social media posts.