To the editor:

The Week of the Young Child in April passed by quietly - no fanfare, no community celebration.

I couldn't let it pass without sharing that I have been humbled to observe the responsiveness of early care professionals to the pandemic that began over a year ago.

While we were adjusting to closures, they were figuring out how to reopen safely. They quickly provided care for parents of young children who were considered essential workers.

When employers needed parents to return to work, early care providers were ready.

As families realized how difficult it was to work from home and care for infants and toddlers, they were there.

Family care providers put their own family at risk by opening up their homes for care.

Center programs sacrificed needed revenue by keeping group sizes small.

Providers continued to provide care although many would have received almost twice their income by collecting unemployment.

Across the country hundreds of childcare providers left the profession, leaving families unable to access care . . . but not here.

Our providers stayed -- for our community and our children.

If you are a employer who has parents of young children working for you, please reach out to a provider to say thank you.

If you are a patron of a business that is open due to the ability of parents to return to work, please extend your thanks.

A list of licensed and registered providers can be found at the SD DSS Childcare website at https://apps.sd.gov/ss45provinfo/search.aspx

Join me in letting them know we see them, we appreciate them, and we recognize the importance of their work. The children in their care have not just survived a pandemic, but have flourished by being cared for in safe, relationship based, high quality and engaging environments. Early care providers ARE the backbone of our economic recovery.

Carmen Stewart

Vermillion

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