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

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August 2015 Footnotes

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I’m writing this as I ride the train from New York City headed back to Washington, D.C. on the last day of summer. Tomorrow the kids will return back to school in Virginia, and I am certain that there will be anticipation and perhaps a bit of (unadmitted) anxiety for what’s to come in the school year ahead. But before I too begin to think about the launch of the year ahead, I must share about our last weeks of summer!

Around the Country

This month we launched the Healthy Child Care, Healthy Communities project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand technical assistance activities in targeted states to emphasize health, nutrition, and obesity prevention. You can find out more about the project and apply on the CCAoA website. The project will be managed by Krista Scott, Sr. Director of Health Policy.

KS glassesKrista has her bachelor’s degree in political science and her M.S.W. with a focus on management and policy. Most recently, she served as the Early Intervention Monitor for District of Columbia’s Early Intervention Program, which provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families and as the District’s Lead for Preschool Special Education. She has over a decade of experience providing quality assurance reviews, developing policies and procedures for early childhood programs, overseeing program budgets, providing access to health care to children with special health care needs, providing case management, providing reflective supervision and performing legislative bill analysis. She holds expertise in group facilitation, reflective practice, early childhood mental health, early childhood education, early childhood special education, policy and procedure development, training, technical assistance, coaching, mentoring, systems and program development, quality assurance, and special education regulations. We are thrilled to have her join our team!

Way to go!

We are proud to announce that one of the 50 participants in our Office of Refugee Resettlement project, Aizezi Dilidaer, recently received her State of Maryland Family Child Care License. Her home-based business is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. The mission statement for her family child care home is:

We believe that all children are special and unique, which is why through our program we will work to find your child’s inner strengths and even unusual features and to nurture them – giving your child the best success. It is our goal to provide children with a safe environment that nurtures self-esteem and security. We provide a quality child care program in an academic and loving environment.

Due to the extended period of time required to resolve county zoning and fire issues, it took Dilidaer 3 years and the support of her local CCR&R agency to achieve licensure for a home-based business. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from her home country of Xinjiang in China, and her standards-based curriculum will have a focus on nature and the arts. Congratulations, Aizezi Dilidaer!

Online and On-Air

Earlier this month CCAoA participated in a joint Twitter chat with MomsRising to discuss the needs of parents. Together we reached over 128,000 accounts with 324 tweets and 51 contributors participating. You can find an archive of the chat on Twitter with the hashtag #WhatParentsWant.

For many children and families August means back to school, which is why we joined ABC News in a Back to School Health Tips Twitter chat with Dr. Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor. As a group, we sent over 3,523 Tweets which are available for review using the hashtag #abcDRBchat.

Member Connections

Child Care Aware® of America is pleased to announce the dates and location for the 2016 Symposium: Celebrating Milestones, Collaborating for Results.

We hope to see you at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. April 4-6, 2016! Mark your calendars and be prepared to join in discussion on topics around policy, research, practice and innovation.

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ICYMI: August in the News

Bringing home the point that child care issues are workforce issues, the Washington Post had a front page article on the cost of child care. In it, they cited a recent WaPo poll that said more than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers in the United States say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit to tend to their children. A lack of affordable, quality child care was the primary factor in this decision. You can learn more about the poll results and how CCAoA statistics were used to come to this conclusion in, “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids.”

On August 10, I appeared on the Fox 5 News morning show to discuss the cost of child care, especially in light of the recent poll commissioned by the Washington Post.

Martin Austermuhle of NPR station WAMU interviewed Michelle McCready, deputy director of policy, on the cost of child care in Washington, D.C. Michelle weighs in on some of the aspects of the cost of living that are more expensive in the D.C. area, and how that contributes to the overall cost of care. it’s definitely a must-read: D.C. Is One of the Most Expensive Places in the U.S. For Child Care. But Why?

What Happens With Child Care When Children Go Back to School?

bus-878697_1280School buses are back on the roads again for most of the country, which means day time child care may not be an issue for many school-aged children right now. But what happens to children whose parents work long or irregular hours? Where do they go for care after school?

For many families in the U.S., after-school and transitional care are an important part of the child care equation, and something the media often overlooks when reporting about families and their child care needs.

According to a report from the Afterschool Alliance (PDF), 10.2 million children participate in an after school program – this leaves 11.3 million children on their own in the hours after school, and another 19.4 million children that would participate in an after school program if one was available to them.

The importance of these after school programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) which serve children living in high-poverty areas and attending low-performing schools, cannot be overstated.

While parents across the country continue to work long or nontraditional hours, after school programs are keeping their children safe, helping to improve academic performance and behavior, and supporting working families.

But millions of kids are still being left out: For each student enrolled in a program, two students who want to participate won’t be able to go back to after school this fall due to funding shortfalls in their state.

Learn more about the quality and importance of after school care from AMERICA AFTER 3PM in their latest survey on trends in after school program participation (PDF). And as we send our children back to school, let’s keep in mind the ones who need care after school hours as well.

Take a minute to support after school programs by contacting Congress and asking your elected officials to expand funding for after school and summer learning opportunities in ESEA using the Afterschool Alliance’s online action center!

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!

Kristy Whitley and the Mount Moriah Child Development Center – July 2015 Provider of the Month

Congratulations to Kristy Whitley and the deserving staff at Mount Moriah Child Development Center in North Carolina – July 2015 Provider of the Month!

We’d all love to have a child care provider who welcomes our child into their care every day with a smile, and spends quality time with our child when we’re not able to be there. For Fleece Pierce, her four month old sons’ provider does just that. According to Pierce’s nomination for Kristy Whitley and the Mount Moriah Child Development Center, her son is in more than capable hands:

As a working mom I was hesitant of leaving my baby in daycare, thinking he was not going to receive the attention, interaction, or love needed that I could provide… I am beyond happy I have found the quality service at Mt. Moriah – our baby boy comes home smiling, giggling, rested and happy each day… when you see happy children each time you know you have chosen a great facility.

Whitley and her staff at the Mount Moriah Child Development Center go above and beyond every day with the children in their care – they set the bar for all other providers with their open door policy for families to come and interact with their children throughout the day, multicultural activities as part of their weekly lesson plans, and developmentally appropriate toys, materials, and activities.

Mentored by Bonnie Long, current supervisor for Cabarrus County Schools (North Carolina), Whitley said, “God placed it in my heart to become a child provider… I went to school and received my Early Childhood Education degree. We opened our facility with only one child. Since then God has blessed us to have 40 children.”

We’re grateful to exemplary providers like Whitley and her staff – they’re adding significant value to the development and overall health and well-being of the children in their care.

Nominate a Provider

Know an outstanding provider or early childhood educator who is deserving of the Provider of the Month award? Visit www.providerappreciationday.org for details on how to nominate them, and help Child Care Aware® of America and partner organizations honor those providers that go above and beyond every day!

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July 2015 Footnotes

Footnotes-Blog-Header_FINAL-1200x400I had a beautiful drive into our office’s in Arlington, VA today – not only is it a sunny clear day, I have the good fortune of driving along the Potomac River with a breathtaking view of the nation’s Capital. Even more amazing about this morning’s drive? Very little traffic! Ah, August is here and for the next several weeks many are taking their summer vacations…

That said, July was busier than ever!

Around the Country

Child Care Aware® of America is pleased to announce an exciting partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation focused on encouraging family engagement through, a national initiative that empowers parents to turn everyday activities into brain building moments for their children. Vroom provides interactive tools and resources that highlight the science behind early brain development, showing parents how they can build their children’s brains in everyday moments like bath time and meal time. The tools are free of cost, simple enough to fit into parents’ daily routines, and right at their fingertips.

On the Hill

SAVEreportOn July 15, Lynette Fraga participated in a panel discussion hosted by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighting the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what gaps remained based the recommendations from the former National Commission on Children and Disaster, which was published in 2010.  The event, which was held on Capitol Hill, was moderated by NPR contributor and New Orleans native, Cokie Roberts, and in addition to Lynette, the panel also included:

  • Rich Bland, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, Save the Children, US Programs
  • Dr. Steven Krug, Chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council
  • John Bischoff, Executive Director, Missing Children Division, National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, and
  • Dr. David Abramson, Director of the Program and Population Recovery and Resiliency at New York University

You can review the report from Save the Children here.

CCA-CCDBG-logo_WEBsmallCCDBG Implementation Station

Child Care Aware of America policy team introduced the CCDBG Office Hours as part of the CCDBG Implementation Station. This one-on-one designed member benefit has received tremendous responsiveness. The first session was held July 17th and focused on the impact of the reauthorized CCDBG Act of 2014 on after-school programs. The Office Hours sessions will continue through March 2016.

Online and On-Air

On July 20, Lynette Fraga joined the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) along with a panel of experts from FFYF, NBCDI , and NAEYC on a national call to discuss making funding for early childhood programs a priority.

On July 30, Child Care Aware® of America hosted a webinar on Family Engagement. Over 160 people participated, and it was headlined by Michelle McCready, Deputy Chief of Policy, Jay Nichols, Director of Federal Policy and Governmental Affairs, and Dr. Kim Engelman, Senior Advisor and Director, Family and Community Engagement. Additionally, Lauren Hogan, Vice President of Programs and Policy with the National Black Child Development Institute participated as well. You can view the slides here.

Member Connections

Several CCAoA staff attended BUILD in Washington, D.C. July 15-17 visiting with many of our colleague CCR&Rs from around the country who also attended.

We are gearing up for the State Network and Membership Council meetings on October 18-20 in Arlington, VA. More information coming soon

Please also continue to explore our new website and provide us with feedback. Check out the ENGAGE page and connect with us on social media or contact us with any questions!

ICYMI: July in the News

July was a great month for media coverage, with more than 3900 media hits in such digital resources as Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Money and MSN.com. Lynette was interviewed by Good Morning America for a story on child care safety after an incident at an unlicensed child care facility in New York City. While the actual interview was not aired, ABC News shared our resources online on how to find a child care provider, what questions to ask in selecting a provider, and how to access CCR&Rs for information.

Children and Obesity Prevention – What Works

healthy_eating_kidsWe’ve seen recent numbers showing that rates of obesity are continuing to increase among some low-income children ages 2-5 – but there is hope on the horizon.

New results from the first of its kind study show that obesity measures significantly improved among children ages 2-5 who participate in Head Start Center-based nutrition and healthy living programming, such as Thriving Communities, Thriving Children (TC2), when compared to children not in the program.

This is both a welcome relief and an upcoming challenge as government funding for these critical health and nutrition programs come under fire.

Special funding partners like the Kellogg Foundation have been making great strides with these programs in states like Mississippi and Louisiana, which expand previous school-based obesity prevention efforts by focusing on several key factors at Head Start Centers:

  • Addressing foods served by Head Start Centers,
  • Food-based education
  • Daily physical activity, and
  • Health education.

Child Care Aware® of America recently received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand technical assistance activities in targeted states along the same lines – focusing on health, nutrition and obesity prevention as part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

We’re excited to launch this partnership and do the important work of educating CCR&Rs and community partners on health and early care and education.

Let's MoveIn the meantime, here are a couple of our go-to resources for health and nutrition information for kids:

Top photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Flickr