Do Something.

Remember those annoying camp songs you sang every year, particularly the ones that repeated themselves with the ending, “Same song, different verse, a little bit louder and a little bit worse?”

Welcome to the state of America’s children.

As this article clearly states, our future isn’t looking any better than it was a few years ago (no, we don’t need shades for this one).  The number of children living below the poverty line is increasing; families are having an even harder time raising tomorrow’s leaders.

How can we expect great things to happen here when parents spend 30% of their income on child care alone? Child care which, for the most part, isn’t even exceptional, isn’t really preparing our children for the task of starting school.

We live in a society where people will stand in line for hours just to be among the first to buy the newest smart phone, yet we won’t stand up for providing the best early care and education for our children.

We should all adhere to Frederick Douglass’s insight: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

How long will it take us to realize that we are only hurting ourselves? We don’t need to focus so much on amending the problem as we do in preventing it.

Here’s my challenge to you: do one thing this month for our children. For five minutes, get off your social network, put down your smart phone, press “pause” on your DVR. Take a few minutes to take the first step in creating a better economic future for Alabama. Here are some suggestions: {links to all will be given}

There is no better time than now: what are you waiting for?

We Need a Contest Winner!

The Fairy Tale Ball is only two days away, and Princess Merida is busy sharpening her skills for the dance floor.  (Hey, she’s already a great shot at archery, why not?)

She has also been practicing her signature and stocking up on pens, since every child receives a souvenir book with plenty of room for autographs. She just knows she’ll be the talk of the Ball and sign more autographs than any other character! After all, all of the children will have the opportunity to play in her enchanted forest and play games.

Speaking of stocking up on pens, Childcare Resources Resource and Referral team keeps a large quantity on hand too! Our Supplemental Child Care Program (SCCP) assists eligible parents with paying for the cost of child care. Based on a sliding scale related to family size and income, parents pay a portion of the cost of care and Childcare Resources pays the rest.  Lots of pens are needed to complete all of the applications necessary to apply, but it is well worth the time and effort!

Helping local families afford quality child care is a vital aspect of Childcare Resources.  Many working families turn to us to assist their needs, but when funding is low, our services are limited.  Due to decreases in government funding for SCCP, as of May 15, 2012, we have suspended further applications for this vital program.

Your ticket purchase to the Fairy Tale Ball provides the support needed to sustain and grow the programs offered by Childcare Resources – programs that help give our children the best start in life.

Birmingham was recently named the third largest metro area for charitable giving. We hope you will consider contributing to our area’s generosity by attending the Ball and making memories with your family!

You never know, you might end up on television.  Our good friends at CBS 42 are a generous supporter and will be there to check out all the fun too!

Contest Alert!

It’s always great to look your best if you appear on television, right? Make sure you princess or wizard is ready by entering our hairstyle contest! You must be a verified guest (meaning you need to have purchased tickets in advance) to enter. The winner will be chosen tomorrow at 12:00 pm. Don’t miss out on another fun experience to add to your family’s Fairy Tale Ball memories!

A special thanks goes out to XCell Academy for sponsoring the contest!

Snow White: On a Mission to Care for the Seven Dwarfs

Four days until the Fairy Tale Ball, and Snow White is as busy as ever! Not only does she have housework to do, she also serves as a teacher and mediator among the seven dwarfs!

Did you know that Alabama has Minimum Standards regarding licensed child care providers? From class size to release policies, these businesses are regulated by the Alabama Department of Human Resources to ensure basic needs of those attending child care facilities.

Snow White seems a bit stressed right now. Perhaps she needs to attend one of Childcare Resources training sessions—many of which are offered at no cost to the participant. Our professional child development consultants deliver sessions in a variety of categories, from health and safety to language development, from administration and management to positive guidance and discipline.

And the best part? These classes, while designed for child care providers, are available and free to parents as well. So, come and learn the secrets to early childhood development–you won’t regret the amount of knowledge you acquire in each session (plus, there’s the added bonus of fun, games, fellowship and the entertaining personality of each of our trained child development specialists).

If Snow White hadn’t taken a bite of that poisoned apple, I’m SURE she would have stayed awake for her session on positive guidance this week (Don’t fret: the apple tarts at the Ball won’t put you into a deep sleep –unless you want them too, that is! We won’t tell!).

So, come out and support those who will provide the leadership and vision of our economy: attend the Fairy Tale Ball and have a positive impact on our future!

{In case you missed it, please watch the video in the link above.)

And, speaking of preparing for the future, check out one of our corporate sponsors: Protective Life Corporation.


John D. Johns, Chairman, President and CEO, is this year’s Fairy Tale Ball Honorary Chairman.

What’s the llama doing Six Days before the Ball

Yes, I said llama. “But wait,” you say, “I don’t recall a fairy tale featuring a llama.”

Neither can I. (But I’m sure there were lots of llamas roaming around in the background of fairy tales. . . ).

Childcare Resources supports family activities. We believe that children learn best from their parents through daily interactions and shared experiences.  Our work supports parents in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher by offering resources, programs and “Parenting Counts” workshops.

Childcare Resources’ experienced child development consultants are eager to provide these services for you—contact us to schedule a session!

One easy way to spend time together every day is reading books.  In fact, we will be encouraging this activity at the Fairy Tale Ball.  Guess who will also be there?

You guessed it: a llama!  Make sure to visit the “Llama Llama Read-a-Rama” area during the Fairy Tale Ball. Stop by to read “Llama Llama Red Pajama” and meet Tatoo  (courtesy of AlaLlama Llama Farm – Steele). He might even pose for a picture or two!

So, as I asked before, with six days to go until the Fairy Tale Ball, what’s the llama doing?

“Llama llama
red pajama
waiting waiting
for his mama.

Will she take him
to the Ball?
baby llama
starts to bawl.

Llama llama
red pajama
begs oh pretty
please dear mama!

Baby llama,
what a fuss!
I will take you
but you must hush!

Please stop all this
llama drama
and be grateful
for your mama.

Llama llama
red pajama
quietly says thank you
to his mama.”

(Inspired by Llama Llama Red Pajama)

Pinoccio: One Week Before the Ball

We’ve all heard of Pinocchio: the puppet whose wish to be a “real boy” came true.

One week before the Ball, he’s having a great time, running and playing with all the other real boys!

But what about Geppetto, his “father,” the one who made him and controlled his movements as a puppet? What a responsibility–directing another’s life!

Childcare Resources recognizes that leadership in the early care and education field is not easy. In fact, we have a child care consultant whose primary focus is to assist, train and mentor child care directors. From opening a child care business to training staff members, Childcare Resources is here to offer career assistance to Blount, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties (we’ve even had some St. Clair county clients recently too!).

Your ticket to the Fairy Tale Ball will not only allow you to interact with Pinocchio and Geppetto, it also ensures that local child care directors have the tools and resources necessary to offer the highest quality services to their clients.

So, purchase a ticket, “have a ball,” and assist Childcare Resources in making more dreams come true!

Fairy Tale Ball: 8 Days to Go. Wake up Sleeping Beauty!

Sleeping Beauty has been sleeping for close to 100 years now. What? You didn’t know? Let me tell you the story:

At Sleeping Beauty’s christening, seven fairies were invited to be her Godmothers. They attended and lavished gifts upon her, such as beauty and wisdom. But a wicked fairy, having been overlooked, arrives and places an enchantment on her: she will prick her finger and die. Thankfully, one last fairy remains to give her gift. She partially reverses the curse, causing Sleeping Beauty instead to sleep for 100 years instead of dying.

(I don’t know about you, but a 100 year sleep sounds quite appealing on many days of my week!)

Pricking her finger must have hurt! (I myself nearly faint when giving a blood sample at the doctor’s office.) Could the accident have been avoided?  Perhaps it could have, if certain standards had been in place.

Childcare Resources worked as an integral part of the recent Health and Safety Regulations issued by the Jefferson County Department of Health. The new regulations help to ensure higher quality standards in both licensed and license-exempt child care centers in Jefferson county.  We are proud to have impacted the lives of approximately 17,600 children enrolled in child care!

Attending the Fairy Tale Ball supports our child care provider training sessions, one of which addresses these new regulations. At least twice per month, sessions are led to assist child care providers in understanding what is now required of them, ensuring that more child care provides are complying with the standards.  As a result, children are spending their days in safer, healthier environments!

Need another reason to attend the Ball this year? I heard a rumor that a Prince is coming to wake Sleeping Beauty her from her 100 year sleep—right before our eyes. I can’t wait to see it!

9 Days to Go: Peter Pan’s Preparations

 Peter Pan never wants to grow up. Being a young boy is too much fun! Nine days before the Fairy Tale Ball, he’s busy as usual: playing with the Lost Boys, of course.

The Lost Boys depend on Peter Pan. He guides their days, leading them on great adventures and introducing them to new experiences.

As a parent looking for child care, it’s easy to feel “lost” too. There are so many options: how do you know which one is best for you (not to mention the fact that you are working limits the amount of time you can spend searching)?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader like Peter Pan? Someone to show you where to look, what to look for, and which options best met your needs? Don’t worry, Childcare Resources’ Resource and Referral department is here to guide you in your search!

Let us help you find the best child care for your needs. You can search online, or fill out a search request form and speak with a consultant.

Attending the Fairy Tale Ball is an easy way to help “lost” parents find affordable child care too, as tickets sales benefit these important services.

Plus, attending the Ball means you’ll get to see Peter Pan, and play on Captain Hook’s pirate ship! Get ready for the fun!

Link

BY: Joan Wright, Executive Director, Childcare Resources

June 28, 2012

I enjoy reading Birmingham News writer John Archibald’s articles. I like his wit and information. His latest article on the rising cost of tuition at public universities really struck a chord with me.

As someone who is about to incur the recently approved tuition increase at the University of Alabama – my daughter will be a freshman in August – I can relate to his case. But let’s take a look at a similar case that often gets less attention and even less financial support.

Every person that heads off to college was once a baby. Often times, that baby had working parents who needed to place their child in child care. (Nearly 60 percent of employed women have young children. Alabama Kids Count Data 2011 ) Yet unlike the 18 years one has to prepare for college expenses, parents have roughly 8 months to prepare for the expense of child care.

You may be surprised to know that there is not much difference in the cost of college and child care tuitions:

$6,461 for one year of infant care in Jefferson County (Childcare Resources’ 2011 Status of Child Care Report ) compared to $9,200 for the new annual tuition at UA. And if you’re lucky enough, you can get your college student out in four years but kids usually need child care for at least five years.

As Archibald aptly points out, the cost of college tuition has increased substantially over the years. Guess what? Child care costs have increased too. From 2003 to 2007, the average weekly cost of child care in a licensed facility in central Alabama increased 10 percent. From 2007 to 2010, the cost in Jefferson County alone increased an additional 22 percent. (Childcare Resources’ 2008 and 2011 Status of Child Care Reports)

Keep in mind that child care costs consume approximately 30 percent of a family’s household budget at a time when they are at the low end of their earning potential, have high costs related to caring for the child – diapers, formula, health care, etc., and there is little to no financial assistance available. Have you heard of a scholarship for an infant? No matter how cute and talented they are at that early age, they just don’t qualify. When a young adult heads off to college, they can apply for student loans and scholarships, and possibly work to help pay for their expenses. Not so for a baby or toddler.

In Alabama, there is little relief for working families who need child care. As a result of federal cuts to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Funds, states have fewer funds to use for child care subsidy. This means that many would-be eligible families cannot access financial assistance because the wells are dry. Alabama is affected even more with our current state budget woes.

Even Childcare Resources, who offers their own privately and publicly funded financial assistance program, has its hands tied when trying to help eligible working families in central Alabama. http://www.ccr-bhm.org/ Federal funding reductions and city budget cuts have resulted in the agency freezing its much needed Supplemental Child Care Program.

We know costs of goods and services have risen during the past few years. We also know that education is more often than not the key to a person’s success and ability to afford the goods and services they need and want. That’s what drives our economy. We also know that in order for children to succeed, they need a good start and quality child care is where they get their start. A child who can attend quality, affordable child care has a much better chance of getting to college and earning a scholarship to help pay for the increasing costs of a college degree. So if you want to help kids out, consider that quality, affordable child care is a worthy investment.

Childcare Resources helps families locate child care, trains child care professionals, provides parent education services, and offers child care financial assistance to low – income, working families. A nonprofit organization and United Way partner agency since 1984, Childcare Resources provides services to help make quality child care available and affordable in Blount, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties. For more information, call (205) 252-1991 ext. 305 or visit www.ccr-bhm.org.

At the top, but still lagging: early child care in Alabama

By Amy Sedlis, Childcare Resources Board of Directors Member

**A shorter version of this blog post was featured in the “Your View” section of the Birmingham News on 4/17/2012.

The Birmingham News’ April 10th front page story on Alabama’s First Class pre-K program was appropriately positioned – right there in the headlines – sharing in the recognition of Alabama’s stellar 4-year old state funded Pre-K known as First Class.

Yet, like many other state funded programs First Class faces dire funding challenges. The News quickly praised Alabama for its excellence the past 6 years in which First Class has met or exceeded 10 national quality benchmarks. However, the ongoing struggle is to find enough funding to provide all 4-year old children with the same excellent learning opportunities.

We have seen, read and know that early care and education funding is neither a democrats nor republican issue. Pre K (and one would be remiss to leave out infants and toddler programming) has the potential to change the education conversation in Alabama and nationwide. Alabama’s commitment to children cannot fall to the wayside.  In fact, Alabama has an obligation to find ways to help more families as incomes and jobs are in danger.

Programming is only one part of the early care and education system. Training and continuing education for child care providers is another crucial piece of the pie.  Providing quality training is costly and requires additional funding. Agencies like Childcare Resources, which recently received National Accreditation from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, provide training for child care providers year round, and heavily relies on state funding. Childcare Resources provides a critical role in helping parents locate and pay for child care.

Without these programs, families would be desperate at such a wonderful, yet colossal time in their lives.  Such solutions do exist. Public and private partnerships in several states have proven to do both efficiently and effectively. All one has to do is look at France–Read the child care chapter from Druckerman’s best selling Bringing up Bebe.

Lots of studies have shown how other countries have successful child care systems. It’s time for America to get on board.

Thus, the question remains: will more corporations step up and invest in early care and education, or continue funding other programs that do not have as strong of a strong economic return in this investment?

I hope we find an answer and do not forget about early care and education as we debate charter schools and other educational woes. Educators, economists and child advocates know the answer and are waiting and willing to move forward.

**Read more about Pre K in Alabama’s sixth year at the top.