The Time is Now

Imagine this:
You spend $150 per week on care for yourself. This “care” is advertised as supposedly preparing you for a future career, exercising your mind and body.
What you end up getting is several hours a day with a group of others like yourself, all being cared for by someone who doesn’t understand the best ways to teach you and isn’t clear on exactly what you should be able to do.
Would you demand a refund by the end of the week?
My guess is yes. And yet, for roughly 40% of our children under the age of five in Alabama, this is their reality. Child care in the United States is too often seen as glorified babysitting. Programs advertise using a curriculum and offering activities, but, more often than not, children are simply allowed to do as they please (within reason…most of the time). Our “standards” are not where they should be; they don’t look out for our children’s best interests.
Why, you ask? Easy: our society doesn’t put enough emphasis on the importance of the earliest years. We worry about our children once they get to the public school system, but pass over them until then.
It’s hard to turn on any media source without hearing or seeing the latest “hot topic” these days, mainly gun control. Society is crying out for the right and responsibility to protect our children, but what about their right to a solid educational foundation? Where are those supporters?
Social change doesn’t happen with silence and passivity.
The time has come, dear friends, to start getting angry at the injustice of early childhood education and our young children; after all, these will be our leaders and lawmakers soon enough. Shouldn’t we want them to have the best start?
Learn more about what Childcare Resources does to assist local early childhood teachers, families, the community, and what you can do to help!
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Will the Old Woman in the Shoe Make it to the Ball?

With three days to go, the Old Woman in the Shoe is about to cry. She has all these children but has no idea what to do with any of them. She’s so busy she might have to miss the Fairy Tale Ball!

Thankfully, she recently decided to turn her shoe into a child development center, hired a few child care providers and enrolled other children to attend as well. Now she is eligible for four of Childcare Resources’ great programs!

The first thing the Old Woman did was sign up to participate in the Early Learning Resource Library and Van. Now the Old Woman can check out children’s books, make die cuts and laminate materials. Yesterday, when she realized one of the teachers wanted to teach her class about insects, she was able to check out a book to help that teacher plan the lessons, as well as a theme box full of insect activities! Plus, once a month, a van with library resources visits the shoe school for teachers to browse and check out items.

(Oh, and the best part? Parents can join too! Stop by and fill out an application!)

One of her classroom teachers is having difficulties with implementing circle time activities. Thankfully, Childcare Resources has “Training with a Purpose,” a program designed to provide topic specific, hands on technical assistance in this classroom. Now, in addition to specialized training, the teacher will have the opportunity to see an experienced child development consultant “in action.”

I’m sure the Old Woman’s infants and toddlers take up a great deal of her time—they have so many needs! The Old Woman could apply to participate in the Infant Toddler Program. The Infant Toddler Program offers free training, one-on-one consultations, program assessments, and classroom stipends to participating child care centers to improve the quality of care in their infant and toddler classrooms.

In a few years, the Old Woman might decide to apply to an accreditation program.  Childcare Resources will assist her through RISE (Reaching Improvement through Self-Evaluation). The program offers free training, one-on-one consultations, program assessments, and classroom stipends to child care programs interested in working towards reaching national accreditation standards and improving the quality of early care they offer at their child care center.

The Old Woman never would have been able to attend the Ball without the support of Childcare Resources. To show her appreciation, she’s bringing her shoe for all the children to play in at the Ball—don’t miss out!

(At the moment, the Old Woman is busy at the doctor’s office with a handful of sick children—good thing she has great health insurance through one of the Fairy Tale Ball’s corporate sponsors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama!

There’s always a wait, but thankfully she brought along the lastest edition of Birmingham Magazine to read. (They are a 2012 Fairy Tale Ball Sponsor too!)

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!

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.

No Need to Fear: CDA Amnesty Renewal is Here!

Often, not meeting a deadline is a bad thing. As in: “Oops, I missed out on that opportunity” bad.  Has anyone ever been pulled over for an expired car tag? Had a coupon not scan because you didn’t read the use by date? (I’m not even going to ask about expiration dates in your refrigerator!) 

Early Childhood Educators with a Child Development Associate Credential have deadlines too. One is CDA renewal after three years of award date and every five years after that.  Throw that in on top of all of your cutoff dates and things can easily slip your mind.

Fortunately, the Council for Professional Recognition realizes this too!

If you have earned or renewed a CDA in the last 10 years (January 2002 or later), even if it has expired, you are eligible to renew it through the Renewal Amnesty Program.  The program runs from now through December 31, 2012.

(Go ahead: smile and breathe your sigh of relief here. We’ll wait!)

Childcare Resources’ training opportunities are a valuable, cost-friendly way to receive the Continuing Education Units (CEUs) necessary for CDA renewal. We also offer CDA specific classes and individual consultations.

So, whether you are looking to brush the dust from your expired CDA, or you are interested in learning more about the CDA process, visit our website to learn more about this and other exciting opportunities in early childhood education. (Now, go ahead and click through before you forget!)