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Happy Provider Appreciation Day!

Happy Provider Appreciation Day ! P rovider Appreciation Day is celebrated annually and is a special day to recognize child care providers, teachers and other educators of young children everywhere.  Alaska's early care and learning field is growing, with a workforce numbering 7,300 compared to 6,500 estimated in 2005. This includes individuals working at child care centers, family child care, Head Start, private and public preschool and pre-kindergarten, infant learning programs and other early childhood setting.

"Alaska's early care and learning field is employing a growing number of people, with some of the lowest paying wages in the economy and providing child care services allowing over 32,000 Alaska residents to join the workforce," Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO said. Berglund is referring to data from thread's *2011 update to an Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska report.

Today, as more adults in families are seeking employment, children are in an early care and education setting outside of the home. Our economy is driving a workforce where over 60 percent of households with children have all of the adults in their homes working. Child care is a necessity for most working families. At the same time, many early learning studies indicate the level of training and education of a child care provider is one of the strongest indicators of quality care. While studies show the strong correlation between teacher skills and quality of care, in Alaska less than 10% of the early childhood workforce has above a high school diploma. This greatly impacts the overall quality of care throughout the state

Provider Appreciation Day is about recognizing Alaska's early childhood workforce, those caring for and teaching our young children. For thread, this also means supporting early education professionals by providing tuition assistance, on-site consultations and mini-grants (quality initiatives) focused on improving skills.

Investments in early education benefit Alaska's children, families and communities. The earlier the investment impacts children directly, preparing them to enter Kindergarten, to graduate from high school and to be successful later in life. These investments also have greater benefits by reducing the costs we all pay for things like juvenile justice programs and health care.

With nearly 30,000 children in early care and education programs daily, let's all celebrate Alaska's early educators who are caring for and teaching Alaska's next generation of leaders.

Started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, Provider Appreciation Day is appropriately celebrated each year on the Friday before Mother's Day. The founding organizers saw the need to recognize the tireless efforts of those who care for children of working parents.

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