OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Brad Henry has proclaimed May 12 Provider Appreciation Day for all child care providers in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services Division of Child Care, along with partner agencies,e encourages all Oklahomans to show their appreciation to providers who care for more than 300,000 children statewide.

“Research shows that children attending quality child care programs perform better on measures of both cognitive and social skills in child care and through transition into school,” said Mark Lewis, OKDHS Division of Child Care director. “Also children who receive warm and sensitive caregiving are more likely to trust caregivers and enter school ready to learn and able to form relationships with other children.”

More than 292,000 children under age 6 call Oklahoma home. Of these, nearly 156,000 children with working parents need child care at least part time. An additional 206,000 school-age children with working parents need some form of child care outside of school time, and teachers in licensed child care facilities ensure that children spend this time productively.

Child Care Oklahoma, an early childhood coalition composed of representatives from the Division of Child Care, Oklahoma State Regents Scholars for Excellence program, Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, Center for Early Childhood Professional Development and Smart Start Oklahoma, is planning recognition efforts statewide. Many communities plan local celebrations for child care providers, as well.

“By calling attention to the importance of high quality child care services for all children and families, these groups hope to improve the quality and availability of such services,” said Lewis. “We encourage parents with children in child care to take this day to show their child care provider how much they appreciate them. It takes a special person to work in this field and these individuals are often unrecognized and under-appreciated.”

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