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?

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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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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.

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.

What is the cost of raising a child?

Anyone who has a child – a daughter, son, niece, nephew, grandchild or step-child – knows that raising a child places many demands on the adult. Raising a child takes patience, time and – as we all know – MONEY

 The majority of us who have the privilege of caring for a child of any age relish in the joy a child brings to our lives. We unassumingly and lovingly invest in the child by providing for their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter as well as less tangible needs such as spiritual, physical, cognitive, emotional and others. The goal is always to raise a child to be healthy, happy and successful.

Yet there are hundreds of thousands of children who cost much more than others to raise. These are the innocent victims of child abuse and neglect. A recently released report underscores this sad fact. Costs to bring up children who are abused and neglected include hospitalizations, therapy, counseling, criminal justice and special education among others. Consider the story of Curtis Ray, Alabama’s multi-million dollar child.

The most depressing and perhaps cruelest cost though is that of funeral expenses for children who do not survive abuse. Not only have we lost a child, but their subsequent significant contribution to our world went with him/her. Anyone who has enjoyed the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life  knows that one life impacts the lives of many, many others.

Today’s depressed economy and the high incidence of single-parent homes combine with other factors to increase child abuse and neglect in our community. Although the problem occurs at all socio-economic and education levels, studies show that children from lower socio-economic families experience more incidents of abuse and neglect. 

Family finances are indicative of the family’s ability to manage the cost of raising happy, healthy children. When money is scarce, stress levels increase and innocent, helpless, often voiceless children bear the brunt of their parent’s or guardian’s anger, resentment and bitterness.

What can we do to reduce and prevent these horrifying statistics? We know that prevention works. Family support programs are one way. Providing financial assistance to lower the costs of child care tuition helps too.

Alabama is in particular need right now, as funding for the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention is being severely jeopardized in the 2013 proposed budget. We encourage you to take action now to protect funding for this vital state agency.

What do you want to do to help? What are your concerns? Let us know.

New Study Says Working Moms are Happier than Stay-at-Home Moms

Perhaps you saw this mentioned on the local news a few weeks ago:  A recent report published in The Journal of Family Psychology found that a 10-year study of over 1,300 women living in the United States indicates that working moms tend to be happier than stay-at-home moms. Indicators of the higher happiness levels include better overall health and fewer symptoms of depression.

Considering that approximately 60 percent of Alabama women in the workforce have young children, this is good news! (For more information on the status of chidren in Alabama, check out the 2011 Alabama Kids Count Book.)

 Employers benefit from happy employees, who tend to be more productive and more likely to be at work.

 It is then logically necessary that child care be of high quality. What does high quality child care look like?

  • Trained teachers
  • Clean, safe learning environments
  • Involved families
  • Low teacher-to-child ratios
  • Appropriate group sizes
  • Accredited

Childcare Resources is the child care resource and referral agency in central Alabama that “makes quality child care happen!” We recognize that working moms have much to offer to our communities and the economy. We also know that all children deserve to get the best start in life to ensure their overall life success.

We want to know what you think about this report: How do you strike a balance between work and family time? What factors do you consider when choosing child care? Please comment below or contact us:
205-252-1991 or childcare@ccr-bhm.org

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