What is QRIS? Webinar series continues Thursday

As Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) have expanded across the country, states are focusing on the “I,” improving quality.

Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) are important players in the quality improvement landscape and have a large stake in the structure and functioning of QRIS.

Our “Raise Your Hand” webinar series continues on Thursday, with Gerrit Westervelt, Ph.D., Executive Director of the BUILD Initiative and its QRIS National Learning Network, leading an interactive discussion of the evolution of QRIS, the increasing attention to QI strategies, and how QRIS are shaping state early learning systems.

We invite you to join us for this important webinar, Raise Quality, part of our ongoing series that is designed to increase awareness about federal and state opportunities to support child care, connect participants with content experts, and promote meaningful action to get the job done.

Register here.

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Parents and the high cost of child care: A Report

Cost of Care graphicChild care is unaffordable for many families. The costs leave children in questionable environments that can have long-term consequences for them and for our nation’s future.

We explore and analyze these costs in our annual report, released today, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Report. The report lays out the cost of child care by state, region and age ranges and explores why child care is so expensive as well as recommendations to improve child care in the United States.

This is our seventh report on the cost of child care, and while the story has not changed, the need for change has. Here’s why:

Child care influences early development.
Breakthrough research tells us the early years are a unique period of development and that early experiences form the foundation for future success.

Child care is early education.
Children who start kindergarten behind too often stay behind. Among children who arrive at school without the skills needed for success, over 85 percent are still behind in 4th grade.

Child care is a national security imperative.
Fully 75 percent of 18-year-olds are not qualified to serve their country through military service. To address this national security issue, military leaders have identified the need for quality early care and education for all children as a top priority to ensure children get off to the right start.

Child care is an economic imperative.
Dr. James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics and professor of economics at the University of Chicago concluded after decades of research on labor economics:

“The real question is how to use available funds wisely. The best evidence supports the policy prescription: Invest in the very young.”

We recognize this report asks difficult questions about child care. But ask them we must: How can quality child care be made affordable for all families? What can we do as a national community to invest in the 11 million children who may need child care programs? This report will help inform the important conversations ahead.

Visit www.usa.childcareaware.org/costofcare to view the full report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Report.

We thank the Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies who provide data to build this report. Without their support, this publication would not be possible. Learn more about CCR&Rs.

Oklahoma has the spirit.

OK visit Lynette 2013

Oklahoma’s Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R) community kicked off the state’s annual leadership meeting in the Oklahoma City Zoo Aquarium Building last month. I was thrilled to be one of the speakers as part of a two-day visit to the state. It was the first time I shared speaking time with a seal, who occasionally appeared in the porthole behind me. The spirit of  camaraderie and fun among the attendees reflected what I’ve seen at the many states I’ve had the pleasure of visiting during my year since I joined Child Care Aware® of America.

The trip reminded me of the important work these professionals do every day – help families make informed child care decisions for their children.

Big job, changing resources
That’s why when I reported on the latest policy news from Child Care Aware® of America, 30 minutes of Q&A followed. We also discussed the future of Child Care Aware® of America and the continued focus on special populations such as immigrants and tribal communities within Oklahoma. I visited local offices and heard their issues, challenges and hopes for Child Care Aware® of America as we all work under uncertain financial resources.

Facing challenges and rising up
My trip also took me to the site of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. There, nearly 20 years ago, 19 children and 149 adults perished when a truck filled with bombs exploded beneath the child care center’s window. More recently, communities in this state experienced deadly tornadoes that destroyed homes and schools. The stories of heartbreak and heroism are numerous, as are the sentiments to support and sustain the community.

On the ground, making a difference
On the second day of my visit I had the opportunity to meet with early childhood professionals from various communities in Oklahoma. I was  inspired by their stories of success supporting children and families, the challenges and opportunities they experience and their passion for moving the field forward.

Let’s do something!
Every day, each of us can do something to give children their best chance in life.

We can create strong policies, effective programs and educate families about the many possibilities for our children when they get the right start in child care.

I hope you’ll join me and the team at Child Care Aware® of America in this journey. If you care about children and our country’s economic future, you want to be a part of this movement. Here are three ways to get involved right now:

• Sign up for our monthly e-News to get the latest from the industry
• Share our Facebook page with your friends and family
• Take action at the Child Care Aware® of America policy action center

Lynette is the Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America.