Thirteen Ed Online
Child Care Event: October 4th, 2008
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Child Care Event
A day of celebration and recognition
To most, particularly those with children, child care providers may conjure up images of people in the most casual of clothing, sometimes covered in drool or food stains lovingly left behind by their cohort of children with seemingly limitless energy. So, what exactly, were child care providers doing at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, many dressed in their best clothes?

In its second year, Thirteen's Recognized Child Care Provider contest blossomed into a full day of celebration to honor all child care provider nominees and to provide this often underappreciated group with an opportunity for further education and more importantly, with a day to feel as special as they make their children feel. On October 4, 2008, all nominees gathered for a full day of networking, professional development, and above all, to be honored.

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In the early morning, the atmosphere was anything but the usual hectic energy that many child care providers might face during the weekdays. As soft background music played, nominees mingled and were treated to a special catered hot breakfast of sausages, French toast, potatoes, along with yogurt, fruit, and pastries. Participants exchanged life experiences, ideas about best practice, and spoke of the ups and downs of their daily lives caring for other people's children.

After a hearty breakfast, nominees were invited to participate in two professional development workshops led by education expert and show personality Laura Cardenas and Thirteen's Kimberly Mullaney, who later served as the master of ceremony at the luncheon award ceremony. The nominees, who serve as a child's first educator, were given a chance to become the students as they participated in interactive, hands-on activities to create their own megaphones and unveil their own versions of sock puppets.

As the luncheon award ceremony, the biggest draw of the celebration, approached, smiling faces of non-profit administrators, Family Child Care Network leaders, early childhood advocates, and relatives of nominees arrived and were seated in a nine-table banquet hall softened by the glow of warm lights. All tables and surrounding seats were adorned in a sea of bright pink and white gift bags, filled with books and gift certificates for attendees. Each table was accentuated with individual centerpieces, later taken home as prizes for randomly selected nominees. The centerpieces, concocted with glass vases, tissue paper, twirling ribbon, and each holding eight instrument recorders, reflected the child-centric atmosphere that remained in the air that day.

The scent of warm chicken and parmesan cheese filled the room as Thirteen's Kim Mullaney took the stage and told the story of how she, as a new parent seven years ago, found her own recognized child care provider for her newborn son. "I know first hand just how valuable and meaningful the very hard work that you do is-it changes the lives of children and families every day. For that, we are all grateful," she said.

Kim Mullaney then delivered a written message from the Speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, who expressed her own congratulations to all nominees. As the audience nodded and murmured in agreement, Laura Cardenas, educational consultant for A Place of Our Own and Los Ninos en Su Casa took the stage and praised the nominees for the special and valuable work that they do each day. For many, this was an encounter with someone that they often see on their television screens every weekday in the early hours of 6 a.m.

The Recognized Child Care Providers of New York awards were then given to six particularly outstanding providers, along with DVD players, $250 gift certificates, and other Sesame Street memorabilia. Last year's award recipient, Brooklyn's Norma Gabriel, spoke of her own experiences as a provider and of her recent experience of being filmed for A Place of Our Own.

The Super Saturday celebration ended the way that many celebrations do-with a live concert, snacks, and plenty of dancing. The children cared for by the nominees jumped and danced along to live music from Parents' Choice Award winning kids' band, Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck.

From songs about bubbles to songs about cars, crowds of children and parents of all ages enthusiastically performed hand motions with the band members. The day of festivity came a close with kids receiving musical recorders to help them make their brand of kids' music in their own homes.

» Review the 2008 Recognized NYC Child Care Providers

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