This Blog Has Moved!

We recently upgraded our website (www.usa.childcareaware.org) and the Child Care Aware Parent Update Blog will now be integrated into our Early Directions Blog.

Please add http://earlydirections.usa.childcareaware.org/ to your blog reader or RSS feed to keep up with our updates and latest blog posts.

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We look forward to staying in touch with you!

-The Child Care Aware® of America Communications Team

5 Ways to Easily Transition Back-To-School

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Back-to-school can be stressful  for many children and families.  Use these five tips to help your child, and yourself, be ready for school.

  1. Stay up-to-date.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends parents take their child for a physical and eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations and may need documentation. To learn more about immunizations for back-to-school, register for our webinar here.
  2. Get everyone on a schedule. Children find comfort in routine. “A regular routine will give a sense of control to both parent and child,” says Kathy Eugster, child and family counselor. Get back into bedtime and dinner and other routines about one week before school begins. If you child has questions,  be sure to talk to them and make them feel comfortable with the upcoming transition.
  3. Visit the school. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends that if your child is starting at a new school, visit the school with your child. Meet the teacher, tour the school grounds and find the classroom. This will ensure that your child feels safe moving into a new school or class. Call ahead to make sure the teacher will be available to meet your child when you arrive.
  4.  Let your children know you care. Put a personal note in their lunch box or backpack. Make sure you are always available  to listen and talk about the change or answer any questions  going into the first day of school and beyond. (Tip from NASP)
  5.  Make time for breakfast. Eating breakfast before you head out the door will boost your energy and help you keep your focus on the day ahead. Here are a few healthy suggestions from the American Institute for Cancer Research:
  • A nonfat or lowfat yogurt parfait layered with fresh fruit and cereal, nuts or raisins
  • Lowfat yogurt mixed with fresh fruit in a blender for a vitamin-rich smoothie
  • Whole wheat toast with a little peanut butter and banana slices
  • Instant or quick-cooking oatmeal or whole grain cold cereal with raisins or fresh fruit and lowfat dairy or soy milk
  • Fish, such as leftover salmon, on a whole grain bagel with reduced or nonfat cream cheese
  • Homemade bran or fruit and nut muffins, made on the weekend and frozen.

Giving our Children a Chance

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During President Obama’s State of the Union address, the President shared his vision for strengthening early learning throughout America. “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” he said. “ In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.  We know this works.  So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.” The Strong Start for Children campaign is working with advocates across the country to support Early Learning Day of Action on June 5th.

As a part of the Strong Start for Children campaign, we are excited to support an expansion of Early Head Start to more communities and more children.  The research is clear – the first years of a child’s life are critical for their development. Children who have a high-quality prekindergarten experience are more likely to do well in school and find better jobs.  One of our parent leaders knows firsthand how much quality education can make a difference early on.

Codie Warner, a Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leader, is very excited as well. As a Head Start child herself, she is a huge advocate for the program. She was able to enroll her children in Early Head Start and sees the impact the program is making. Not only are her children learning daily, her daughter is also able to receive occupational therapy and other services to support her healthy development.

Since 1965, nearly 30 million low-income children and families have been a part of Head Start services. We are thrilled to see the priority placed on quality early childhood settings for children beginning at birth.  Too many children today do not have access to quality child care. State laws vary greatly, not just with regard to state preschool initiatives but also with regard to state child care programs and the training and education of the early childhood workforce. The President’s plan will challenge states and communities to do their best for children so that children can do their best when they enter school.

Harrisonburg Parent Speaks at HHS Quality Child Care Press Event

Elly Lafkin, Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leader, praises U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Proposed Child Care Regulations

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ARLINGTON, Va., May 17, 2013—Elly Lafkin, a Harrisonburg parent, represented parents across the country at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press event Thursday where Secretary Kathleen Sebelius proposed new health and safety guidelines for child care settings, including fingerprint background checks of providers.

Elly Lafkin, whose 13-week-old daughter died while in child care, spoke at the event, which was held at Centro Nia, a bilingual, multicultural early learning center in the nation’s capital. “To me, anyone in the business of caring for someone else’s child ought to have a comprehensive background check,” said Lafkin.

“This is an important step for children, and we’re pleased to see many of our longstanding recommendations in today’s announcement, such as CPR certification, safe sleep, and background checks based on fingerprints,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America. “Millions of working parents depend on child care and assume certain safety measures are already in place for their children, however state policies vary widely. Parents need to know their children are safe and in a setting that promotes their healthy development.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at the event, “Many children already benefit from the excellent care of high quality child care providers who are meeting or exceeding the proposed requirements. However, too many children remain in settings that do not meet minimum standards of health and safety. These basic rules ensure that providers take necessary basic steps to shield children from an avoidable tragedy.”

Lafkin and her husband, Cameron, decided to put their infant daughter, Camden, in a family child care home after a referral from two friends. The Lafkins ran a Virginia court-operated, public knowledge background check, and nothing suspicious was found. They did not know that the background check was not based on fingerprints so it did not reveal a list of alias names their provider used in the past.

After only four weeks, they received the call no parent wants to receive. Their daughter was found unresponsive while in the provider’s care. After further investigation, the Lafkins found out that the child care provider had methamphetamine and marijuana in the home, as well as six children, which should have required a license.

Elly and Cameron are now strong advocates for comprehensive background checks, including fingerprint checks against state and federal records, for all child care providers to ensure that no family has to suffer the tragedy that has happened to them.

Today, nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care setting every week. On average, children of working mothers spend 35 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that quality child care helps children enter school ready to learn.

For more information, please contact Tracey Schaefer at 703-341-4148 or tracey.schaefer@usa.childcareaware.org.

Child Care Aware® of America is our nation’s leading voice for child care. We work with more than 600 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable child care. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about Child Care Aware® of America and how you can join us in ensuring access to quality child care for all families, visit us at www.usa.childcareaware.org.

Eleven Parents Represent Local Families at National Policy Symposium

Parents will meet with policymakers on Capitol Hill to voice concerns and advocate for quality child care during Child Care Aware® of America’s National Policy Symposium

ARLINGTON, Va.,– Eleven parents from across the country were chosen to represent local families at the National Child Care Policy Symposium hosted by Child Care Aware® of America, which will be held April 10-13, in Washington, D.C. At the Policy Symposium, parents will have the opportunity to meet with their Members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill to share child care concerns and advocate for affordable, quality child care for all children.

“We are thrilled to have eleven parents from nine different states attend our Policy Symposium,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America. “By attending the Symposium and voicing their concerns, they are educating Members of Congress who have the ability to strengthen the quality of child care.”

Parents attending this year’s Parents @ Symposium program represent nine states including California, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Today, nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care setting every week. On average, children of working mothers spend 35 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that quality child care helps children enter school ready to learn.

For more information about Child Care Aware® of America’s policy Symposium, please click here or contact Tracey Schaefer at 703-341-4148, tracey.schaefer@usa.childcareaware.org.

Child Care Aware® of America, is our nation’s leading voice for child care. We work with more than 600 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable child care. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about Child Care Aware® of America and how you can join us in ensuring access to quality child care for all families, visit us at www.usa.childcareaware.org.

Parents want affordable, quality child care!

Affordable, quality child care is something every family is looking for. Whether parents need child care Monday- Friday, 9-5 or just a few days a week in the evenings, safety and affordability is at the top of every parent’s mind. Without that peace of mind, parents cannot go into work focused, the safety of their children will always be a distraction.

In 2011, the average annual cost of full-time child care for an infant in a center ranged from about $4,600 in Mississippi to nearly $15,000 in Massachusetts. These fees for an infant exceeded annual median rent payments in 22 states and the District of Columbia. With the cost of care so high, many parents believe they are receiving quality care, which is not necessarily the case.  Many parents logically assume that background checks are required for licensed child care providers. The reality is that the logical assumptions of parents far exceed federal and state laws.

Only thirteen states require staff hired to work in child care centers to have a comprehensive background check: a fingerprint check against state and federal records, a check of the child abuse and neglect registry and a check of the sex offender registry. Not to mention, most states have only minimal training requirements– with some having none.

The video above showcases the skyrocketing cost of child care. Parents are looking for alternative ways and many times will sacrifice safety for cost. Parents should not have to sacrifice anything to afford quality care for their children.

Parent Leaders in the News

In the past week, two Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leaders have been highlighted by local television stations looking to share their child care stories. Each parent has a unique story to tell, yet are both equally important.

The first parent who was featured, was Jennie Dexter from Oklahoma. She focuses on the lack of accessibility in finding affordable, quality child care. She has had to move her daughter to four different facilities in the last three years due to centers closing.

Jennie also discusses the cost of child care in her area, which at one point reached $900 per month. She and her husband are not eligible for a child care subsidy, which at times, has left them struggling to make ends meet. To hear more about Jennie’s story and others like her in Oklahoma, click here to watch the news story from OETA.

The second Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leader who was featured on a local television station this past week was Le’Vaughn Johnson in Georgia. Le’Vaughn met with state legislators in Georgia to reintroduce a bill to require those working in child care to get a comprehensive background check prior to working with children. Le’Vaughn’s son, Quale, died in a child care program (click here to read her story).  To watch Le’Vaughn’s interview with WSBTV, please click here.

Are you a parent advocate in your state? We would love to hear your story! Please click here to share your story today!