‘Cream-of-the-crop’ child care providers honored

By Mia Simpson

Child care plays a vital role in many families. In 2006, 192,000 children ages 0 to 5 attended child care or early education programs each week. Providers help raise the children of working parents, and the good ones cultivate an environment intended to nurture development, learning, nutrition and self-esteem.

"It truly is their home away from home," said Rochester resident and parent Jessie Kesler, in reference to her child care experience. "They have such an important job."

Kesler nominated her provider, Carol Galde, for the 2007 Olmsted County Providers of the Year award, sponsored by Family Child Care Inc., a local association.


Galde, along with provider Jackie Harrington, were announced as the winners Feb. 12 at the first of several celebratory events.

"This is a very big honor," said Galde, who started her business five years ago. "I feel there are so many providers who deserve this who will never be nominated."

Harrington, a provider for eight years, shared those sentiments as she stood at the door of her child care space, a room off the entry way of her home. The area bursts with color and includes props, toys and materials aimed at penetrating young minds.

Both providers have built dozens of school readiness and other learning-rich features into their daily routine.

"It’s all about trying to create that exposure and that intentional experience," Harrington said. "The purpose of this is preparation for school."

For children, this means learning numbers, letters, sounds, shapes, vocabulary, book and print rules, manners and more. Harrington and Galde essentially incorporate a mini-preschool experience for their toddler-age children through curriculum-based lessons every morning. Galde uses the Mother Goose program and Harrington uses Social, Emotional, Educational Development, or SEED.

Both providers also recognize the importance of proper nutrition, motor skills, social skills and structure. And, lest not forget, they know fun.

"I love the children’s energy, enthusiasm and zest for life," Harrington wrote in the questionnaire she submitted for the award. She, like Galde, structures a period of play time and facilitates music, dance and games into the day.


As parents, the providers also understand the struggles inherent in raising children and leaving them in the care of another. Thus, they are sensitive to separation anxieties and even teach sign language to better child-to-parent communication.

According to Cheryl Riley, a provider and public relations representative for Family Child Care Inc., Galde and Harrington both possess the qualities of the "cream-of-the-crop" providers.

She identified several important considerations, including how seriously they take their role as children’s provider, how advanced their level of professionalism — both Galde and Harrington over-achieve their training requirements —and how fun they make their practice.

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