For Your Back to School List: Take Action This August

As August winds down and we get ready for a new school year we all have plenty of tasks to cross off our “Back to School” list – getting school supplies, nailing down school and activity schedules, hurriedly helping our children finish their summer reading, and even sometimes helping our children start their summer reading!

But at Child Care Aware® of America, we’d like to add one more item to your list. And we promise it’ll help with school readiness…for all children.

We know that early childhood education and child care promotes school readiness, which increases the chances of strong academic performances and subsequently higher graduation rates. But investments in early learning opportunities are vital to the growth of our economy and are lagging behind where they need to be to fully fund states so they can comply with new CCDBG requirements.

In addition to fully funding CCDBG, Child Care Aware® of America also encourages you to support the President’s request of $10.1 billion for Head Start. Funding for Head Start will help expand access to critical early education programs for low-income children, as well as expand the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Program. Both of these budget items are critical for the future success of our children.

The last item on your “Back to School” list for all children is to contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to prioritize children in the federal budget for next year.

takeactionWe make it easy for you to do with our draft messaging – take action today! And help us spread the word to other advocates using CCAoA’s August Recess Toolkit, which includes:

  • A sample letter to you member of Congress,
  • Sample letter to the editor of your local newspaper,
  • Sample invitation to your member of Congress to visit a local child care facility,
  • Talking points for a meeting with your member of Congress,
  • And pre-written social media posts and graphics.

Send a message to your member of Congress today using our online action center!

June 2015 Footnotes

Footnotes-Blog-Header_FINAL-1200x400I love summer! Warm weather, even when it’s humid and sticky, beats the winter layering and trying to keep track of the extra accessories like mittens, scarves, coats, and boots. The “lazy days” of summer are here – and yet I still got that phone call. I missed an appointment today, scheduled a long time ago for my daughter – ugh! I guess I was a bit too relaxed on the summer no-school routine!

Of course we’re all likely too aware that there is really no slow down for summer. And the same is true for CCAoA. Our staff team is busier than ever and committed to a summer of activity in support of the important changes happening in child care.

We are introducing a new feature on the ED Blog called Footnotes – a monthly update highlighting a few of the activities of our dedicated staff.

Around the Country

We are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant where we will have the opportunity to provide technical assistance and leadership on health, nutrition, and obesity prevention in child care settings around the country. As required by the new CCDBG law, implementing the new requirements into a state plan has an upcoming March 1, 2016 deadline. We look forward to the partnerships we will forge and the critical data collected to address this critical issue!

Our Regional Military Child Care Liaison, Karen Lange represented us well as Governor McAuliffe of Virginia signed the Child Care Safety Bill on May 26, 2015 that requires fingerprint background checks for licensed child care providers. This legislation was the result of the contributions of many stakeholders, including Child Care Aware® of Virginia, our amazing parent advocates, and Child Care Aware® of America.

Online and On-Air connections

On June 16, Child Care Aware® of America and Save the Children hosted a webinar detailing the new disaster preparedness and response requirements under the new CCDBG law. The webinar moderators included Jay Nichols, Director of Federal Policy and Governmental Affairs with Child Care Aware® of America, and Rich Bland, National Director, Policy and Advocacy, Save the Children, U.S. Programs.

Over 200 people participated! You can watch the recorded webinar here.

On July 25, Child Care Aware® of America jointly led an #EarlyEdChat on Twitter with MomsRising, MamasConPoder, and Easter Seals to discuss children with special needs in child care. We shared a variety of early care options for parents and provided detailed answers to questions regarding quality care and resources for children with special needs in child care. According to Twitter metrics tool TweetReach Pro, this chat reached 198,035 twitter accounts for 5,238,102 potential readers! You can find this chat and other previous early ed chats by searching Twitter for the hashtag #EarlyEdChat.

CCA-CCDBG-logo_WEBsmallCCDBG Implementation Station

The Child Care Aware® of America policy team recently launched a CCDBG Implementation Station on our new website. CCAoA members will have the opportunity to engage with policy staff and subject matter experts for weekly office hour timeslots with thematic approaches dealing with the 2014 CCDBG law. Visit the CCDBG Implementation Station at usa.childcareaware.org/ccdbg.

Currently, visitors and members can stop by the implementation station and download one-pagers, webinars, and meet the policy team.

Member Connections

On June 16 I presented on the implications of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization of 2014 Act (CCDBG) on the Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures June conference call. The presentation was centered around health, nutrition, and obesity prevention as outlined in the new CCDBG law, and its impact on the child care industry. Child Care Aware® of Kansas was spotlighted for their work through the Healthy Kansas Kids Project along with Illinois (INCCRRA) for their Healthy Child Care Initiative (PDF).

Are you doing something in your state or community that you’d like to share? Please let us know! We’d love to share your innovations and successes!

ICYMI: June In the News

Forbes spoke to CCAoA’s deputy director of policy, Michelle Noth McCready, on the effect of unaffordable child care on families. Find out what Michelle had to say about the child care crisis in Child Care Is Biggest Expense For A Growing Number of Families.

Stay on top of all things CCAoA in real-time by following us on Twitter at @USAchildcare, liking us on Facebook at Facebook.com/USAchildcare, and giving us a double tap or two on Instagram at @USAchildcare.

 

From our CCAoA family to yours – have a safe and happy Independence Day!

July4th

 

 

2015 State Fact Sheets: Highlighting A Complex Early Care Landscape

SFS2Each week, millions of children are shuffled between child care providers due to unpredictable schedules and limited child care availability. The landscape for child care and early education is evolving as more families rely on two-parent incomes, and costs for early care increases. States have a pivotal role in implementing policies that aim to improve the quality of early care and ease of access for millions of families across the country.

The 2015 State Fact Sheets, released today, will provide community leaders and policymakers with important data regarding the state of quality child care and early learning in their respective states.

The fact sheets detail services provided by Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, costs, health and safety, the supply and demand of child care in individual states, as well as family characteristics related to the need of child care, and the child care workforce. These fact sheets are particularly important this year given the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant 2014 Reauthorization and as states plan for implementation of its requirements.

We at Child Care Aware® of America will continue to make the investment in data to improve and expand the quality of child care and early learning.

Please share the 2015 State Fact Sheets with those in your community!

_SB15778CCAofA Daycare 11.08.14

We Raise America

#WeRaiseAmerica

At Child Care Aware® of America we believe information sharing, advancing discussion, and taking action are critical to affecting positive change for our nation’s children and families. We want to spark the conversation about early childhood and the future of our nation, which is what The Raising of America series and associated public engagement campaign are all about.

The documentary series The Raising of America takes us inside the brain and brings to life recent scientific research that reveals how early experiences, beginning in the womb and continuing through early childhood, can alter brain architecture and developmental trajectories.

Through the stories of families, we discover how the lack of paid parental leave and high-quality affordable childcare, stagnant wages and overcrowded housing, depression and social exclusion, and perhaps most of all the time crunch, too often undermine the efforts of parents and child care providers struggling to create the nurturing environments all children need to thrive.

We’re also proud to highlight the work of Renee Boynton-Jarrett, M.D., Sc.D., pediatrician and Child Care Aware® of America board member. As a contributor to the series, Dr. Boynton-Jarrett adds her expertise on the importance of early growth and development as a precursor to future success, and as a member of our board, we’re excited to have her breadth of knowledge

Screenings are happening all over the country – find one near you and join in the discussion, or host one of your own!

As child care providers and advocates we know how important our work is to the growth and development of America’s children. So join in and share your thoughts with us on social media! We’ll be following the hashtag #WeRaiseAmerica on Twitter to see what you’re talking about.

Ask yourself: So how is it that children in the U.S. have worse outcomes on most measures of health, education and well-being than other rich nations? How can we do better?

Watch this short intro to the series and hear from some of the experts, including Boynton-Jarrett, who are advocating for more involvement in children’s health and growth in their earliest years.

The Raising of America Series – TRAILER (11min) from California Newsreel on Vimeo.

President Obama Signs Child Care and Development Block Grant into Law

Just before noon today, President Obama signed into law the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The bill, which provides child care assistance to families and funds quality initiatives for child care, had not previously been reauthorized since 1996.  Today’s signing follows an overwhelming show of bi-partisan support during Monday’s Senate vote on the legislation. This bi-partisan bicameral effort was led by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

“Every working parent with children, no matter their income level, worries about child care. What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the best care for my kid? The CCDBG program has given many families over many years peace of mind, but we can and should be doing more to improve child care for children, parents and providers alike,” said Senator Mikulski, one of the leaders and original sponsors of the legislation. “It is long past time to revitalize, refresh and reform this vitally important program.”

As you know, this is huge news for families and a moment we should all celebrate!  Many of you have advocated for a number of years on the reauthorization of CCDBG, and in partnership with Child Care Aware of America, you’ve brought attention to the importance of this legislation to support the safe, healthy development of all children in child care settings.

Today we celebrate the recognition, through legislation, that children deserve safe, healthy, quality settings across the country.  This bill will significantly:

  • Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options
  • Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers  to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections
  • Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services

And it is all thanks to you. Your support got us here. Your calls, letters and emails to Congress made this happen. Your stories showed policymakers why this bill is so important to America’s working families and to millions of children’s health and safety. Now is the time to celebrate all that has been accomplished in 2014. For those of you who attended our child care Symposium in April, our “something big” is finally here. Congratulations! And thank you to Congress and the President for making children and working families a priority.

Look for more information as we seek to support the implementation. You can send a thank you to President Obama and to Congress for standing up for working families by visiting our action center, or tweet, tag, and share the image below with your members of Congress show your appreciation on social media:

Thank you CCDBG-Reauthorize

Supporters rally for change at first-ever Family Advocacy Summit

Parents and real families are a powerful voice for children and child care. Many of our parent and family advocates have participated at past Symposiums, sharing their stories with Members of Congress and strengthening their advocacy skills through workshops and training. This year we decided to do things a little differently and hold another kind of event, separate from Symposium, fully focused on families and amplifying their messages. If you weren’t able to participate, here’s a quick run-down of the two-day Summit.

Parent Advocates

Parents and quality child care advocates from all across the country landed in Washington D.C. as early as Sunday for the first-ever Family Advocacy Summit.  Monday morning kicked off with an advocacy training presented by Jennifer Greppi, Efuru Lynch and Michelle Garcilazo of Parent Voices of California. Advocacy leaders Efuru and Michelle spoke to fellow family advocates on developing brief but powerful personal testimonies.

Here’s a quick rundown of their surefire tips for capturing the attention of policymakers:

  1. Start with the basics. State your name, the state you’re from, and what groups you are connected to (i.e. I am Jane Doe, a family advocate and member of Child Care Aware® of America/Parent Voices/etc. from Virginia).
  2. Follow with why you took the time to reach out to them. Paint a clear picture of the issue you want addressed and how it is affecting you and those in your community or state (i.e. I am here because last May, I was forced to leave my job because I had no access to quality, affordable child care…)
  3. Finally, leave the policymaker with a call to action. Tell them what they can do to help solve the issues you’re facing (i.e. reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant this November).

Efuru and Michelle also reminded family advocates to share their plans for following up, especially if the meeting is with policymaker staff rather than the elected official. By letting staff know when to expect your call or email, it gives them a deadline for regrouping with his or policymaker to gather his response to your message.

Efuru speaks to the crowd

After the first workshop ended, parents Avonda Fox, from Texas, Vicky Dougherty from Pennsylvania, and Elly Lafkin, of Virginia shared their own compelling and inspiring child care experiences with the group during a panel discussion. Avonda talked about her efforts to pass Jacob’s Law on behalf of her son, who died from heatstroke after his caregiver left him in a van for an unknown period of time in 103 degree temperatures. Vicky, who lost her son Warren when he was placed to sleep in a faulty crib, discussed her grassroots advocacy for the licensing and inspections of all child care providers. And Elly, an experienced campaigner for comprehensive background checks, discussed her experiences working with press and the media to gain exposure on the tragic and preventable death of her daughter Camden. Elly and her husband helped pass Cami’s Law in 2013, after their daughter died in the home of a provider who used five different aliases to hide a criminal history. All three of these women demonstrated their courage and conviction by sharing their tragedy and committing to taking powerful action toward change.

Parents Efuru and Avonda

Staffers from U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) offices joined the group for lunch. Both talked hopefully about the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant when Congress returns from recess in November, and shared updates on what their respective officials were doing to support quality child care and early learning.

In the afternoon, parents gathered for a facilitated discussion around building a national policy agenda that would reflect child care and early learning issues facing parents from all walks of life. Health, safety, access and quality were key themes of the conversation. The parents also came up with solutions and advice they would give to all working families grappling with finding and affording quality child care. The discourse was thoughtful and eye-opening and left us energized as we concluded the day with preparation meetings for the following day on the Hill.

Parent Advocates

The next morning, over sixteen family advocates from eight different states boarded a bus with Child Care Aware® of America staff and travelled just over the Arlington Country line into D.C. The advocates separated into small groups as we all arrived at Capitol Hill and the families dispersed for their respective meetings with Congressional staff. As each group returned, they recounted their stories on camera and to each other. Together the families celebrated an overwhelming feeling of progress as a result of sharing their voice.


families and bus

The Family Advocacy Summit attendees returned to Arlington for lunch with the former Child Care Aware® of America executive director and current Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families. The conversation ranged from the progress the Administration has made on issues related to children and families, to how our parent group could be an action task force for child care across this nation.

The Family Advocacy Summit was an incredible success and left both our family advocates and Child Care Aware® of America staff with renewed energy to work toward solving the complex issues with our current child care system. Our first hurdle is just around the corner, as we continue to push for the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) when Congress returns from recess in November. We know one thing for sure, without our exceptional  family advocates we would not be on the brink of celebrating such a win for millions of children and families across this nation.

family advocates

We hope that those of you who were unable to attend the Summit will be inspired by the work and dedication of these families to take action in your own way and help us in the campaign to strengthen the quality of child care for working families in every state.

We look forward to sharing important updates on CCDBG in November, and in the meantime, ask you to keep your advocacy efforts going. Child Care Aware® of America will continue to share ways for you to raise the volume on child care and early learning issues. Be sure to bookmark usa.childcareaware.org and watch for video clips from the Summit coming soon, including videos of our families telling their story on Capitol Hill.