Child Care Services Association Hosts 2024 Triangle Child Care Awards

Child Care Services Association (CCSA) celebrated the impact of early childhood educators, public servants and advocates on young children and their families at the 2024 Triangle Child Care Awards on Friday, March 8, 2024, with special recognitions of two early childhood champions and four other award winners at the UNC-Chapel Hill Friday Center.

Many individuals and organizations in the Triangle are committed to the success and happiness of our children. While these efforts sometimes go unrecognized, they don’t go unnoticed. This year we recognized two individuals as early childhood champions and received 12 exceptional nominations for the Mary Y. Bridgers Early Childhood Teacher Award. These early childhood educators are the workforce behind our workforce, keeping North Carolina families working while creating a safe, nurturing and effective learning environment for young children.

CCSA President Dr. Kristi Snuggs and former CCSA President Marsha Basloe

CCSA recognized the two following individuals as Early Childhood Champion Award winners: former CCSA President Marsha Basloe and former CCSA Board Member Dan Hudgins.

Marsha Basloe has more than 20 years experience as an educator, program director, resource development director and executive director. Under her leadership, CCSA added new programs including Babies First NC, Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus, Durham PreK and programs pertaining to early childhood homelessness. CCSA was also able to diversify funding sources, and expanded offerings for scholarships for early childhood educators through T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® in North Carolina and T.E.A.C.H. states added to the Child Care WAGE$® program and increased the number of meals served to children through CCSA’s meal services program.

Dr. Snuggs and Dan Hudgins

Dan Hudgins has long been a pillar of the community since he first moved to Durham, in 1977 to serve as the Director of the Durham County Department of Social Services, which he faithfully did for 27 years. Throughout his social work career, he has taken advantage of the opportunity to be engaged in advocacy efforts that bring about systemic changes in the social welfare system. Not long after moving to Durham, he was asked to become a member of the Board of the Durham Day Care Council led by Dorothy Graham at the time. He joined the Board of CCSA in 2003 and served until 2022.

These early childhood champions have gone above and beyond to support, advocate and bring real change to improve the lives of our young children and their early educators and have stepped down in their positions. We know that they will never step away from caring about our communities and our children.

CCSA also presented three awards recognizing the impact of early childhood educators, public servants and advocates on young children and their families at the 2024 Triangle Child Care Awards.

Senator Jim Burgin, Dr. Kristi Snuggs, and Representative Ashton Wheeler Clemmons

The first award, the Child Care Services Association Public Service Award, was created to honor and recognize volunteers and elected public officials who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of early education and have made a difference in the lives of young children in the Triangle. This year’s winners were Representative Ashton Wheeler Clemmons and Senator Jim Burgin.

Both Representative Clemmons and Senator Burgin served as co-chairs of the early childhood legislative caucus. The caucus worked on 10 bi-partisan bills to support early education during the 2023 legislative session.

Representative Clemmons believes strengthening our childcare system is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our state’s families and businesses. She filed several bills to address both the immediate problem of vanishing federal subsidies and the long-term problem of childhood development and the need for workforce development across the state.

Senator Burgin pushed for $300 million to continue compensation grants to child care programs that started through federal pandemic relief money. He has said, “If we don’t deal with the pay issue of child care workers, we can’t do anything else.”

The second award presented at this year’s Awards was the Dorothy B. Graham Early Childhood Leadership Award, named in honor of Graham, a pioneer in advocacy for quality early childhood education for North Carolina’s children. This award recognizes an individual who has been a leader in improving early education and has made a difference in the lives of young children in the Triangle.

Dorothy B. Graham’s daughter Scottie Seawell and Sederis Best, who accepted the award for Danielle Caldwell

The 2024 winner of this award was Danielle Caldwell. Danielle served on the NC Family Child Care Home Advisory Council in 2021, where she won an award for her advocacy. She hosts several programs including workshops for both parents and early care educators and created Grown in Durham’s first educational webinar for early childhood educators, which empowers early childhood educators by helping them to understand their rights and how to engage in the political system.

The final award presented at the 2024 Triangle Child Care Awards was the Mary Y. Bridgers Early Childhood Teacher Award, created in the 1980s to recognize Bridgers and her dedication to and advocacy for children. Finalists were selected based on an evaluation of their education and experience in early care and education, their advocacy on behalf of children and the early childhood community, references from their employers, colleagues and parents of children in their care and an on-site assessment of the nominee in their classroom.

CCSA Board Assistant Secretary Davina Bolden-Woods and Pebbles Lucas

The Mary Y. Bridgers Early Childhood Teacher Award winner was Pebbles Lucas from First Chronicles Daycare in Durham. Pebbles was also a finalist at the 2022 Triangle Child Care Awards.

Pebbles is a licensed birth to kindergarten teacher at First Chronicles Daycare Center and a lead teacher in the NC PreK program and the Durham PreK program. Pebbles studied early childhood education at Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she received her master’s in early childhood education leadership, advocacy and policy.

Rose Gemborys, Debbie Timmons, and Brittaney Murray

The finalist was Brittaney Murray from Wake Forest iSTEM Magnet Elementary School in Wake Forest. The semi-finalists were Debbie Timmons from Randy’s Five Star Academy in Durham and Rose Gemborys from The Little School of Hillsborough in Hillsborough.

“Today’s award winners remind us that good things can happen for young children in child care, Head Start and public-school settings, that leadership for early childhood is needed and can be found in all three settings and that leadership and advocacy matter,” said CCSA President Dr. Kristi Snuggs.

“We are fortunate to have so many great early childhood educators, leaders, advocates and champions. It is individuals like those that we honored here today who have made the Triangle and North Carolina the birthplace of so many successful early childhood initiatives. Early childhood teachers in centers and family child care homes build the brains of and prepare the children who will be North Carolina’s future workers, innovators and leaders. Early childhood professionals have shown their dedication, commitment, and incredible adaptability for our youngest children.”

Thanks to sponsorship from Families & Communities Rising Head Start & Early Head Start, Old Peak Finance and Environment Control Triangle, cash prizes were presented to the Mary Y. Bridgers Early Childhood Teacher Award winners, finalists and semi-finalists, and engraved recognition items were given to all of the award winners.