Friday, May 12th is National Provider Appreciation Day. This is a day dedicated to thanking our child care providers for all of their hard work to support young children and their families. 

On any given day, child care providers are singing songs, reading books, playing dress-up, changing diapers, and kissing boo-boos. Along with providing children with a safe place to be while their parents are at work or school, providers are interacting with young children during the point in their lives when they are learning and growing the most. Child Care Provider Appreciation Day is traditionally celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day. Although a child’s mother holds a spot in a child’s life that can not be rivaled, a child care provider is also a key relationship in a young child’s journey through development. 

This Friday, Governor Beshear will be declaring Kentucky’s Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. Advocates will be hosting tours of child care programs in regions across the state for our elected officials to see the amazing work that happens each day in Kentucky’s child care centers and family child care homes.

Aside from the debt of gratitude that our families owe to the child care providers caring for their young children, our communities also benefit from the hard work of our early educators! Child care is the industry that supports all other industries. Without reliable child care, working mothers, fathers, and caregivers do not feel safe leaving their children to go to work. That means that without child care, valuable employees would quickly leave the workforce. 

We saw this phenomenon at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when many child care programs closed down. When child care was not accessible, families chose to care for their children instead of going to work causing companies to lose skilled workers. Companies are still struggling with employee shortages, and child care is one of the major reasons.  

Child care providers have been caring for America’s children for hundreds of years, but now America needs to turn its focus towards appreciating and caring for our child care providers! With more and more providers leaving the field of child care, we need to look at the reasons that could be causing this mass exodus. 

Our early childhood educators are underpaid, under-respected, and having a difficult time meeting the needs of their own families due to their salaries and job expectations. Everyone has a role to play in supporting our child care providers.

  • Families: make sure your child care provider knows how much you appreciate them! A daily effort to say thank you can go a long way.
  • Communities: It is time for the business community to advocate for more high-quality child care programs. Without available child care, businesses will struggle to find the most qualified staff members. 
  • Elected officials: State leaders need to invest in child care in the same way that they invest in other core infrastructure, like road maintenance or emergency response systems.  

If the state needs a strong workforce for major employers, working families need a strong child care workforce. And, if child care programs want to hire educators, they must provide them with a wage on which they can care for themselves and their families. The greatest show of appreciation that the state can offer its child care providers is a boost in funding so that each early childhood educator can receive a wage they deserve.  

Kentucky will now begin to prepare for the 2024 legislative session that includes a two-year budget for the state. It is essential for families and businesses to reach out to local elected officials and share how important the child care system is for working families.  

The gubernatorial primary election is Tuesday, May 16th with election day in November. Registered voters can make sure that they are voting for a candidate that is going to support the child care system. Kentucky’s governor must ensure that there is accessible child care for each new business that opens its doors in our state.  

Say thank you to our state’s child care providers by speaking out on their behalf. In the next several months, pandemic funding for child care providers will end, and our child care system is at risk of collapse. You can show your appreciation for these irreplaceable men and women by telling the local businesses and elected officials that they need our support.

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