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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It’s the Day Before the Ball!

The land of Fairy Tales is in a frenzy today; everyone is busy taking care of last minute details for the Fairy Tale Ball.  Fairies are polishing their wings; princesses are inspecting their dresses; superheroes are testing their powers; and wizards are perfecting their spells.

Childcare Resources’ Junior Board and staff members are busy as well, loading supplies, finalizing plans, and making decorations. A lot of time and effort has gone into preparations, and we can’t wait for you to see it! We appreciate all the support we have had from corporations, such as Alabama Power. (It takes quite a bit of energy to put on a Ball!)

What are you doing? Are you still thinking about attending? Have you purchased your family pack of tickets? Has your princess decided which dress to wear?

We hope these are some of the questions you are contemplating today. Moreover, we hope you have learned more about Childcare Resources, our mission and our work as we have prepared for the Ball. We’d love to share this experience with you and your family!

Remember: tickets may also be purchased at the door!

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!

10 Days Before Fairy Tale Ball: Cinderella’s Wish

Poor Cinderella! Her evil stepmother is taking her two stepsisters to the Fairy Tale Ball, but she’s being forced to tend to the house.

Good thing she has a Fairy Godmother; she arrived just in time to cheer Cinderella up by telling her wish to attend the Ball would be granted!

So Cinderella keeps her chin up, scrubbing the floors and hanging the laundry out to dry…

Childcare Resources’ staff members are busy too! It takes a lot of work to get ready for the Ball, especially when they still spending the work weeks providing services to Central Alabama’s young children and families.

Consider, if you will, our mission as our “wish” from the Fairy Godmother: “to make quality care and education of children happen by providing information, education, and assistance to families, providers of child care, and the community.”

We believe our children and families are providing for our future. It is our vision to help them along.

So, what’s your wish? 10 days before Fairy Tale Ball, I’m hoping one of them is to assist in meeting our goal by attending the Ball—tickets sales benefit our work!

Let’s start a “Wishing Well” in the comments: What do you wish for young children and families?

(Getting excited about the ball? Listen to the story of Cinderella online too!)

Your Voice, Their Voice, My Voice: Equal Voice, One Vision For America’s Families

By Samantha Elliott Briggs

Nearly 45 million Americans struggle every day to meet their basic needs.

It’s time for fairness for families.

On May 20th, you are invited to join me and thousands of families and communities across the country to vote on a new national family platform. Make sure your voice and other voices from Alabama are heard by participating in this very important online Convention.

Four years ago I had the opportunity to join thousands of like-minded citizens at a similar event for the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s “Equal Voice for America’s Families” campaign.

That day some 3,700 families, who were bused in from Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas, gathered locally and connected via simulcast to nearly 15,000 families nationwide. There were also hubs in Los Angeles and Chicago that were set-up similar to ours in Alabama. The mission was to celebrate the voice of families and to ratify the Equal Voice for America’s Families Platform in hopes of gaining better child care, education, more jobs and immigration reform.

Since this experience in 2008, I have remained connected with the work by doing my part as a community volunteer in the education community, as a local educator of future educators and of course, through my board work with Childcare Resources. I keep the passion alive in the hearts and minds of all that I encounter and do my best to help foster and implement change.

I am so excited to learn that The Marguerite Casey Foundation has continued to push the platform and is re-igniting the fire (not that it ever burned out) by hosting the first online Equal Voice national con­ven­tion. The goal is to update the Equal Voice for America’s Fam­i­lies National Fam­ily Plat­form. “Through the use of tech­nol­ogy, tens of thou­sands of fam­i­lies will come together to call for an Equal Voice in the deci­sions that affect their com­mu­ni­ties and their families.”

Birmingham was selected as one of only three sites in the country that will be broadcast nationally while thousands watch at house parties, town halls and other gatherings. There is reserved seating for up to 250 people. Advance registration is required, and participants should plan to arrive by 1:00 for lunch and seating before filming begins at 2:00. The event is being held at B&A Warehouse which is directly across from the lovely Railroad Park.

The gathering is organized by the Alabama Organizing Project (AOP)  . Child care will be available for those who request it when they register. For registration and inquiries, contact Kate Shuster, Coordinator of the Alabama Organizing Project at 334-263-2898, or by email (kate.shuster@gmail.com).

If you are unable to attnd in person, you may still participate in the Convention. Log on to http://www.equalvoice2012.org to watch the Convention and vote on the platform by text message.

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.