Forty one years ago, the National Association for the Education of Young Children Association made the decision to set aside one week each year, Week of the Young Child (WOYC) to focus on the needs of young children and their families. The intention was to educate communities on the importance of those early years. It also gives us a chance to recognize our early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. WOYC 2012 is April 22 28. The national theme is The Early Years Are Learning Years. Quality early childhood education is important, and this is a great time for us to spread the message and celebrate all the great things we have done throughout the year. We need to share that more than 14 million children are in non-parental care in the United States, and research shows more than 80 percent of all brain development takes place before the age of five. Do our programs, directors, and teachers know how important and valued their roles play in a child's life? Do parents and members of the community realize the importance of the first 2,000 days of a child's life? Here in Marshalltown we will be observing this week. Mayor Gene Beach will proclaim it Week of the Young Child on Monday at 10 a.m. at Bright Beginnings Child Care Center; young children's artwork from various centers and programs will be displayed at many businesses in Marshall County drawing attention to the importance of those early years AND the importance of early literacy for a child's future success; providers will be recognized for the important role they play; and a provider appreciation dinner will take place May 3 to honor all those who care and teach our young children.