Building a Framework for Early Learning: Delaware

This past weekend, members of the Public Policy team at Child Care Aware® of America hopped in the car and drove to Newark, Delaware for a day-long training “Building a Framework for Early Learning.” Delaware was given this opportunity to spend a day learning about federal and state child care laws as well as different advocacy tools and ways to help strengthen child care in their state following an application for “Taking Advocacy to the Next Level.” They were selected, along with four other states, to receive training this past year.

Upon arrival, the members of the team were greeted by a group representing a wide variety of people in the early childhood field in the state. Members arrived from non-profit organizations, for-profit child care centers, family child care home providers, child care advocates, early childhood instructors and more. There was a voice from every sector in the room.  The morning started off with a brief overview of early childhood in Delaware, what plans were in the works (including new recommendations by the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council).   Following the state background, there was an overview of federal funding and an update from the national level. There was a review of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the federal law that allocates funds to states and sets the parameters for state child care laws and discussion about what Congress is doing in terms of reauthorization (the process of reviewing and renewing the law).

After the federal update, participants divided into small breakout groups to discuss opportunities and barriers in the state with regard to ensuring the children in Delaware are in affordable, quality child care. There were many rich discussions, which would be used later in the day to help participants create a policy agenda and roadmap for quality child care that works best in the state of Delaware.

The afternoon was full of new ideas regarding parent engagement, advocacy tools including social media, online action centers and how to locate resources on the Child Care Aware® of America website. There was great discussion about how to implement these tools and how to determine what platforms are best for different organizations (and audiences).

The day wrapped up with more discussion groups and a basic outline of what the state would like to see in creating a roadmap for quality care for Delaware’s children.  It was a great way for individuals from a diverse array of organizations and walks in life to come together and make their voices heard on behalf of young children.

If you would like your state to be a part of a two-day quality child care advocacy training, you can learn more here and apply today!

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Georgia House Bill 46 Petition

Le’Vaughn Johnson is one of Child Care Aware® of America’s parent leaders fighting for stronger child care laws.  Le’Vaughn’s 2-month-old son, Quale, died in a licensed family child care home in Dekalb County, Georgia.

Le’Vaughn did what many parents do. She asked around the community for recommendations for good child care providers.  She checked out several and made a selection.  She was told the state of Georgia required a background check and so she felt comfortable that the provider she selected was safe.

The death certificate for Quale listed “SIDS” – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  But, Quale was found in a pool of blood under his head. Le’Vaughn didn’t believe the cause was SIDS.  She pressed and pressed for an investigation.  Later, the cause of death was changed to “undetermined.”  What she found was shocking.

  1. The state of Georgia requires a background check, but that does not include a check of the state child abuse registry.
  2. The child care provider caring for Quale had numerous licensing violations and citations – including her lack of first-aid training, lack of CPR certification, and citations for inadequate supervision.

The provider that Le’Vaughn selected had a history with the GA Child Protective Services agency, but with no required check of the child abuse registry, the provider was granted a child care license.  Le’Vaughn is working hard to ensure that no parents have to go through what she did – that kind of life lesson is just too tough.

Currently, legislation has been introduced in Georgia by State Rep. Billy Mitchell that would require a comprehensive background check for all child care providers (those employed in child care centers as well as those operating family child care homes).  A comprehensive check would include a fingerprint check against state and federal records as well as check of the child abuse registry.

Le’Vaughn has started a petition to the Governor and other state legislators to support Rep. Mitchell’s bill.  Children should be safe in child care.

Add your name to Le’Vaughn’s petition today.

LVJ

Parent Leader Meets with Virginia State Senator

Parent Leader Meets with Virginia State Senator
to Urge Stronger Background Checks for Child Care Providers

RICHMOND , Va., Jan. 24, 2013 – Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leader Elly Lafkin met with the Chairman of the Virginia State Senate Education and Workforce Committee, Steve Martin (R- 11th District) last week to discuss more effective ways to make sure children are safe in child care.  Lafkin’s infant daughter died in a McGaheysville, VA child care program in May 2012.

“We knew a background check on any child care provider was important to us. We had a court-run check conducted.  We assumed that was thorough. We didn’t know it was only a name check and the criminal history that our provider had would not be revealed,” Lafkin told Steve Martin.

Elly and her husband, Cameron, placed their 3-month old daughter, Camden, in a family child care home after receiving positive referrals from two friends. The background check that the Lafkins conducted revealed nothing suspicious.  It only searched under the name the provider was currently using in the state of Virginia.

Child Care Aware® of America recommends a comprehensive background check, which includes a fingerprint check against state and federal records, a check of the child abuse registry and a check of the sex offender registry.  “That’s why a fingerprint check is so important,” said Sara Miller, Senior Policy Advisor for Child Care Aware® of America.   “There is no way that parents can discover alias’ on their own. This really is a public safety issue.”

“Had a comprehensive  check been done, the Lafkins would have known about the previous felony convictions and likely would have selected a different child care provider,” said Miller.

“Virginia does not require fingerprint checks for child care providers – whether staff are employed in a child care center or individuals are operating a family child care home.  In the case of the Lafkins, it is unthinkable that the child care provider was known by five other names,”  said Grace Reef, Chief of Policy and Evaluation.  “The law needs to be fixed.”

Elly Lafkin is one of about 100 parents that Child Care Aware® of America is working with throughout the states to strengthen state and federal child care laws.  As the consumers of child care, parents have a loud voice to work with policymakers to better understand the reality around child care.

For more information about becoming a Parent Leader with Child Care Aware® of America, please email Sara.Miller@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 all families have access to 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 improve 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.

We are Looking for Parents!

We are currently recruiting parents for our Parents @ Symposium program! Parents @ Symposium is all about parents sharing their personal stories related to child care on Capitol Hill. This helps Members of Congress understand why child care policies need to be strengthened so all families have access to affordable, quality child care that promotes the healthy development of children. Parents @ Symposium  is a partnership between Child Care Aware® of America, Child Care Resource and Referral agencies and parents who come together for one common goal: to strengthen the quality of child care nationwide.

Since 2009, Parents @ Symposium has brought nearly 100 parents to Capitol Hill to share their child care stories with policymakers.

Parents @ Symposium participants take part in advocacy training at Symposium – to be held April 10-13, 2013 in Washington, D.C. – and many return home to become advocacy leaders in their states and communities. Last year, 15 parent advocates from 12 states met with staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including Deputy Secretary Bill Corr and Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families George Sheldon.

More information about the Parents @ Symposium program, please check out our website or email Sara Miller at Sara.Miller@usa.childcareaware.org or Michelle Noth at Michelle.Noth@usa.childcareaware.org.

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