There’s a new puppy in my house. Sophie’s a precious corgi when she’s sound asleep. But she’s a dynamo wide-awake, racing through the house on an invisible racetrack only she can see. She is fond of bare feet and wrapping around my leg for trips across the house. It’s like living with a toddler.

My job is to figure out what’s in her mouth, how long since she’s been outside, and where she is exactly. So, I’ve been reading and watching YouTube videos on all things puppy. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have two, three or a dozen all at the same time. So, I’ve become a constant trainer, or am I running a puppy daycare?

August is full of reminders that school is about to start, like the police car I passed last week at the beginning of a school zone.

However, not all children are preparing for the start of school. Children in daycare do not get a typical summer break. Their teachers work without summer vacations, winter holidays or spring breaks. They are unrecognized, underappreciated and underpaid. They are daycare teachers.

Working for minimum wage, most often with little more than high school education and limited professional training, daycare teachers care for and educate our most important asset – very young children.

Parents research the best daycares, early learning centers or early childhood prep academies they can afford for their children.

They tour centers looking for cleanliness, organized classrooms, and the appearance of patient, nurturing and responsible adults to care for their children.

If you google a list of characteristics for the essential skills for early childhood education, you will also find good communication skills and child development knowledge listed. So, how do you measure the latter?

It would be highly unusual to discover that more than a couple of the teachers at your daycare or early education center have an actual early education diploma with two or more years of college.

Many working in the classroom are childcare assistants with a high school diploma and state-required training.

If you’re curious, look up the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Minimum Standards for Childcare Centers.

The overly simple version is a couple of days of training on early childhood development, emergency, and safety practices within the first 90 days of employment and then about three days of training annually on various required early childhood development issues. And yes, there are multiple ways to be exempt from the requirements.

Our childcare centers are full of incredible, caring, under-educated workers. They are in charge of our very young children’s critical developmental years for as many as 2,000 hours a year.

As donors, we ensure the success of early childcare. Here in Smith County, we are fortunate to have the Smith County Champions for Children that provide professional daycare training.

Since 1996 Champions has focused on training and tools for caregivers, teachers, and families to increase every opportunity for success in daycare centers across East Texas. Additionally, they provide critical development and support services to families, such as Brain Gym, children’s counseling, and Autism education and support.

Champions for Children excel at what they do and provide. But did you know they are a nonprofit organization that must do fundraising and special events to raise funds required to serve daycares and families?

Without us, the daycare workers in this corner of Texas would lack professional training that prepares very young children for their next education step – kindergarten and beyond.

While talking about daycares, let’s not forget we have two nonprofit daycare centers, Tyler Day Nursery and North Tyler Developmental Academy, located here in Tyler.Most communities have at least one nonprofit daycare center that depends on donors to serve children from under-resourced families. Both organizations have served this community for many years.

Look around at the grocery store, your church, or the neighborhood park. Your young children, young grandchildren and every child at an early childcare center deserve great care. So, give well now to ensure they are off to a great start.

She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at Comments and questions are welcome. Send to


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— Dawn Franks, the author of the e-book Giving Fingerprints, is CEO of Your Philanthropy. She provides high-touch advising services to families, businesses, and foundations to maximize impact and enhance the giving experience.