Not a perk. It’s work!

Doctors have it. So do engineers and CPAs. Teachers do, too. Virtually every licensed or certified profession has a requirement for annual continuing education or professional development. After all, how would you feel if your nurse, lawyer or dentist never learned anything more after obtaining his/her initial license to practice? Continued professional growth is a good thing!

What about early childhood professionals? Isn’t ongoing learning and continued professional growth just as important for those who work with little children and their families as it is for health professionals and financial planners?

Parents as Teachers is about to kick off its 20th annual early childhood conference. Close to 700 early childhood professionals will be attending. Sure, they’ll learn about autism, music and play, and tips for feeding toddlers. But they’ll also benefit just as much from the networking that goes on between sessions.

Just like the office water cooler, national conferences bring folks together who might otherwise not meet. That, says Erin Vonder Bruegge, Parents as Teachers conference planner, is one of the greatest benefits of face-to-face conferences. Hearing the questions other attendees pose and sharing best practices, resources and contacts over lunch or between workshops is where the real learning takes place.

Richard Wollenberger, Parents as Teachers IT director, agrees. He just returned from attending a national IT conference where he picked up innovative ways others are using the same CRM system Parents as Teachers is about to implement…along with tips and suggestions based on their experience. Invaluable advice!

Employers who limit access to this kind of professional growth by cutting professional development budgets or by restricting out-of-state travel are doing their employees a disservice. Professional growth and development isn’t a perk; it’s work.