**This article was taken from our Quarterly newsletter the CRS CONNECT. To read the entire newsletter visit our PUBLICATIONS page online.**

FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2016, IS PROVIDER APPRECIATION DAY! It is a special day to recognize child care providers, teachers and educators of young children everywhere. Started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, Provider Appreciation Day is celebrated each year on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

YMCA Childcare Resource Service has held annual recognition events for child care providers for over a decade. We have hosted events at the San Diego Padre’s Petco Park, San Diego Junior Theatre, Reuben H.Fleet Science Center, New Children’s Museum and YMCA Camp Surf. We recognize that it takes a special person to dedicate themselves to the care and well-being of children. This year CRS will host child care providers for a fun-filled day at YMCA Camp Surf in early September, 2016. We expect better weather and warmer water, and we will have lots of activities and a luncheon for providers. (PROVIDERS:
Look for an email invitation in August!)

Why do we recognize Child Care Providers?
According to the 2011 U.S. Census, over 60 percent of children aged 0-5 years old were in some form of child care each week on a regular basis1 (includes center-based and home-based, nonrelative caregivers). Preschool age children of working mothers spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care1. Quality child care is essential to a child’s healthy development. Whether care is given by the parent, relative caregiver, or child care provider in a home or center, children are dependent upon adults to guide their mental, physical and social-emotional development. Provider Appreciation Day is a day to honor the dedicated providers who care for our children of all ages.

Provider Appreciation Day is only one of the ways to recognize the child care providers who educate and nurture our children during their most critical years of development. Parents can recognize their child care provider by becoming an advocate for early childhood educators. Contact community groups, child care agencies, government leaders and others to support child care providers in your community. Vote for candidates who support early education and paying child care providers and teachers a living wage.

Another way to personally recognize your child’s provider is to write a thank you note, bring flowers or a gift card, donate art supplies, or volunteer time to help on a field trip. When parents and child care providers work together our children reap the rewards. Remember, it takes a big heart to shape little minds.

1Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2011

Check out past issues of CRS CONNECT on ways to recognize your child care provider.