The Child Caregiver of the Year award honors outstanding caregivers in center-based programs. Nominations are accepted for two different awards each year, based on center enrollment. The small center award goes to an outstanding caregiver in a center with fewer than 50 children enrolled, and the large center award goes to an outstanding caregiver in a center with 50 or more children enrolled.

Award criteria

Recipients of the Child Caregiver of the Year award must meet the following criteria:

  • GAYC member*
  • Outstanding employee at a  child care center who demonstrates exemplary work with children

*Know a qualified caregiver who is not yet a GAYC member? Joining is easy, and GAYC members receive many benefits.

Recipients of the Child Caregiver of the Year award

  • 2016: Darius Phelps (large center)

darius-phelpsDarius Phelps is the lead teacher in the infant classroom at the University of Georgia’s Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center. He routinely goes above and beyond to provide enriching experiences for the children in his classroom. From field trips around the UGA campus to fun sensory activities, Darius keeps his classroom fun, exciting, and engaging. He puts countless hours into each child’s progress report and regularly meets with parents to discuss developmental milestones and the progress the children are making in his class. Darius’ professionalism and commitment is obvious through his efforts to engage families by inviting parents to participate in the classroom and organizing events to help connect families. Not only is he amazing with children and parents, but he manages to go above and beyond as a teacher while balancing additional graduate level coursework as he works towards a Master of Education degree. Darius is an outstanding teacher demonstrating exemplary work, an immense love for children, and a commitment to the field of education.

  • 2016: Billie Walker (small center)

billie-walkerBillie Walker serves as the Early Childhood Education Director at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (ACS). Billie has been an early childhood educator for almost 15 years and has dedicated her career to ensuring that some of our most vulnerable children – homeless children under the age of 5 – receive free, high quality early childhood education during their most formative years. Since 2007, she has helped over 700 homeless children from over 500 homeless families achieve their developmental milestones while a teacher at ACS. Her personal connection with homelessness, domestic violence, shelter life, and the challenges created by the lack of affordable quality child care in Metro Atlanta has fueled her work. Billie instills a love for learning in these young, homeless children enrolled in the program while at the same time creating a respect for learning in their parents. Billie carries this moral obligation with a sense of urgency each day whether she is in the classroom, at home, or in the community.

  • 2015: Siobian Minish
  • 2014: Lawanda Duff
  • 2014: Michelle Smith Lank
  • 2013: Meredith Lynn Seibert
  • 2012: Amber Waggoner
  • 2012: Tinnie Lee
  • 2011: Amanda Lankford
  • 2010: Rose Parker-James
  • 2009: Darlene Ferguson
  • 2009: Carmen Crosby
  • 2008: Mitzi Hoffman
  • 2008: Evelyn Russell
  • 2007: Janna Rookis
  • 2006: Phyllis Strobridge
  • 2005: Leonor & Kevin Jackson
  • 2005: Sherron Murphy
  • 2004:  Jamie Miller
  • 2003: Mandi Maloon
  • 2002: Pamela Letchworth
  • 2001: Elaine Pittman
  • 1997: Lynda Crapo