Steamboat Springs In order to show their appreciation for early childhood educators, parents and First Impressions of Routt County are buying teachers dinner at Old Town Pub tonight.
"This is an opportunity for us to say thank you for everything you've done for the year," said Mindy Marriott, who has been the dinner organizer for two years.
During the nationally-recognized Month of the Young Child, First Impressions of Routt County has gathered 85 recipients for the sixth annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner.
Marriott said early childhood educators are not even close to being compensated for the services they provide.
Research from First Impressions suggests that the average cost to pay a child care provider is between $40 to $45 a day per child for proper wages and benefits.
Parents are paying about $28 a day for this care, said Renee Donahue, community liaison specialist for First Impressions.
She said they couldn't ask parents to pay more because they may take their children out of professional, educated care.
"As a community, this is the very least we can do to demonstrate admiration of such commendable individuals," Marriott said.
Parents are encouraged to meet with their child-care providers when the Old Town Pub opens its doors to the public at 9 p.m. However, children are not allowed to attend.
Marriott said guest speaker Medora Fralick will talk to educators of kindergarten, first and second grade, home providers and licensed preschools and daycares about the importance of educating children in communities.
"This is the one evening that early childhood educators can unite and celebrate all the exceptional gifts they offer to children and families of Routt County," Marriott said.
First Impressions is a non-profit community board focused on all aspects of early childhood care and education.
"The goal is to foster an understanding and support for the essential role that quality teachers and programs play in the development of young children," Donahue said.
Following the dinner, a slide presentation will show the different educators and the sites of their centers.
A raffle drawing also will provide teachers with gift certificates and other prizes donated by local businesses.