Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month

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This week marks the 25th anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month, and kicks off the Latinos Achieve White House Initiative.

Outgoing Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, describes the importance of the Latinos Achieve initiative to our children and our nation:

“Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure they have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country. In just the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three American workers. It’s clear; the future of our nation is closely connected to the future of our Hispanic communities. When we lift up the Hispanic community, we strengthen our nation. When we create more ladders of opportunity, we provide the chance for all Americans to reach their greatest potential.”

There are currently 230 programs, models, and organizations that are part of the “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education ” – ongoing efforts across the country at all levels, meant to support Latino educational attainment and excellence. These programs are helping to close the achievement gap. If you’d like to nominate a “Bright Spot” you still can! Get more information on the program and nominating process at ed.gov/hispanic-initiative.

Follow the call of Senior White House Advisor, Jaqueline Cortez Wang to take part in the Latinos Achieve Day of Action! Use the #LatinosAchieve hashtag on October 15 to highlight Latino achievement and inspire a positive narrative on Latino contributions across all social media platforms. Share what Latinos Achieve means to you, and why it’s important. Tell us what you’ll do to ensure that Latinos Achieve.

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Are You Prepared? Getting Ready for Emergency Preparedness Month

It’s no coincidence that we’re headed into hurricane season just as Emergency Preparedness Month is beginning. Hurricane Katrina, now ten years ago, has shown us where we’re lacking in disaster and emergency preparedness as a country, and where we need to step up as organizations and individuals.

In order to help families better prepare for the unexpected, organizations like FEMA.gov, Save the Children, and the American Red Cross have created resources to help child care providers and families organize processes in case of an emergency.

Hurricane Katrina led to 5,000 reports of missing children. A decade later, do the children in your care know who to contact in case of an emergency, when cellphones may be unreliable? Save the Children has a new tool to help create emergency contact cards that can serve as a lifeline for families, so that they can be reunified quickly after a disaster. Make your cards here: www.savethechildren.org/Connect

emergencypreparedness

Bringing Emotional Development to the Big Screen

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There have been a lot of articles floating around online about the exploration of emotional development of children since the release of Inside Out, Disney’s new animated film based on the personification of an eleven year old girl’s emotions.

Some have the perspective of using the film to look into sadness and depression while others talk about the science behind the emotions and how they interact to create reactions and behavior.

One perspective I particularly appreciate is that of Claire Lerner, LCSW, at ZERO TO THREE. She focuses on the complex emotional lives of children as shown in the movie, and shares tools that parents (and child care providers) can use in their everyday lives to help children deal with their feelings and grow into emotionally aware adults.

To quote Lerner:

Young children are deeply feeling beings. Starting in the earliest months of life, well before they can use words to express themselves, babies have the capacity to experience peaks of joy, excitement, and elation. They also feel fear, grief, sadness, hopelessness, and anger—emotions that many adults understandably find it hard to believe that such young children can experience. But just as Riley in the film needs her parents to hear and empathize with her difficult feelings of pain and loss—which helps her move on in positive ways—so do babies and toddlers.

Her post, Inside Out: A Film for Parents of Young Children, Too, is a must-read for all child care providers, early childhood educators, parents and others who interact with or care for babies and young children.

Preventing Child Vehicular Heatstroke

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It’s that time of year again – when temperatures start to rise all over the country and life altering accidents have the potential to occur when we’re least expecting it.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths of children now according to SafeKids.org. On average, one child dies every 8 days from heatstroke in a vehicle – and it’s an event that can happen to any family at any time. Responsible parents can have a bad morning or a change in routine that allows them to forget their child in the backseat of their car for hours, or even an entire day.

Vehicular heatstroke can lead to long term injury to the child, or even death. But you can take action to help prevent it.

Some facts:

  • 53% of children who died from vehicular heatstroke were simply “forgotten” in the car by their caregiver.

To help prevent this, take Ray Ray’s Pledge to affirm with your child care provider that you will let them know if your child will be tardy or absent on any given day, and in return your provider will pledge to call you if your child hasn’t arrived at the center as normally scheduled.

  • 17% of vehicular heatstroke deaths occurred because a parent intentionally left a child in the car. Heatstroke can occur even with outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t leave children in a car alone even for a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. If you see a child in a car alone, take action – IMMEDIATELY call 911, follow their instructions, and wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene.

And one of the best ways to prevent a potential accident is to download an app or reminder service for your phone.

The Kars4Kids Safety App was created and recently improved to make it more user-friendly and effective in preventing this type of tragedy. Check it out – the app is completely free!

You can find more information about the app on their website: http://www.kars4kids.org/safety-app

Don’t believe how dangerous it is in a hot car? Watch this powerful video that drives home the point of how hot it really gets in cars and how dangerous it is for anyone, especially children.

 

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.