Laura Gonzales Lead Infant Teacher for Carpenter’s Shop Christian Daycare I developed a love for working with children when I was quite young. I first began babysitting at 11 years old and any job I’ve had since has been related to working with children in one way or another. Overall, I have worked with young children for 39 years; 26 of which has been in a professional setting. Although I have a Bachelor's degree which encompasses birth through 6th grade, my passion lies with the youngest of children. For the past 18 years, I have specifically worked with infants at Carpenter's Shop Christian Daycare. I provide a nurturing environment that encourages secure attachments and free exploration. I also strive to develop relationships with families which encourages them to freely reach out with any questions or concerns. Ultimately, my goal is to make the time that the babies are away from their parents just a loving extension of home. I love the relationships that I have made with my children, parents, and coworkers. I often have coworkers that come to me for advice, help, and encouragement. I consider my place of work as a second home and everyone within as part of a family. The cohesiveness that exists provides an excellent environment for the children, parents, and staff. Historically it has been the case that child care providers don't attain an income that represents the importance of what they do. While there are many talented people seeking a career in early care and education, once they learn how much they will be making, many are disappointed and decline accepting a position. With the surge in brain development research, it is clear that the earliest experiences a child has impacts their brain development for life. This fact emphasizes the importance of attaining and retaining high-quality caregivers, paying them fair wages so that they wouldn't need to hold multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Sometimes I am asked by others why I don't get a real job in a real school and my response is always the same...what I do is very real, because the earliest experiences a child has plays such an important role their overall brain development. The government really needs to become more involved to help support early care and education so that it is viewed (to those outside of the ECE field) as critically important.