2015 State Fact Sheets: Highlighting A Complex Early Care Landscape

SFS2Each week, millions of children are shuffled between child care providers due to unpredictable schedules and limited child care availability. The landscape for child care and early education is evolving as more families rely on two-parent incomes, and costs for early care increases. States have a pivotal role in implementing policies that aim to improve the quality of early care and ease of access for millions of families across the country.

The 2015 State Fact Sheets, released today, will provide community leaders and policymakers with important data regarding the state of quality child care and early learning in their respective states.

The fact sheets detail services provided by Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, costs, health and safety, the supply and demand of child care in individual states, as well as family characteristics related to the need of child care, and the child care workforce. These fact sheets are particularly important this year given the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant 2014 Reauthorization and as states plan for implementation of its requirements.

We at Child Care Aware® of America will continue to make the investment in data to improve and expand the quality of child care and early learning.

Please share the 2015 State Fact Sheets with those in your community!

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We Raise America

#WeRaiseAmerica

At Child Care Aware® of America we believe information sharing, advancing discussion, and taking action are critical to affecting positive change for our nation’s children and families. We want to spark the conversation about early childhood and the future of our nation, which is what The Raising of America series and associated public engagement campaign are all about.

The documentary series The Raising of America takes us inside the brain and brings to life recent scientific research that reveals how early experiences, beginning in the womb and continuing through early childhood, can alter brain architecture and developmental trajectories.

Through the stories of families, we discover how the lack of paid parental leave and high-quality affordable childcare, stagnant wages and overcrowded housing, depression and social exclusion, and perhaps most of all the time crunch, too often undermine the efforts of parents and child care providers struggling to create the nurturing environments all children need to thrive.

We’re also proud to highlight the work of Renee Boynton-Jarrett, M.D., Sc.D., pediatrician and Child Care Aware® of America board member. As a contributor to the series, Dr. Boynton-Jarrett adds her expertise on the importance of early growth and development as a precursor to future success, and as a member of our board, we’re excited to have her breadth of knowledge

Screenings are happening all over the country – find one near you and join in the discussion, or host one of your own!

As child care providers and advocates we know how important our work is to the growth and development of America’s children. So join in and share your thoughts with us on social media! We’ll be following the hashtag #WeRaiseAmerica on Twitter to see what you’re talking about.

Ask yourself: So how is it that children in the U.S. have worse outcomes on most measures of health, education and well-being than other rich nations? How can we do better?

Watch this short intro to the series and hear from some of the experts, including Boynton-Jarrett, who are advocating for more involvement in children’s health and growth in their earliest years.

The Raising of America Series – TRAILER (11min) from California Newsreel on Vimeo.

Celebrate the National Day of Summer Learning

The nationwide Day of Summer Learning is Friday, June 19, 2015! This is a national advocacy day led by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and meant to show the importance of continuing learning, safety and wellness for children during the summer months.

While participation in summer learning programs has increased, there is still a tremendous unmet demand for more programs according to a new America After 3PM study, which shows that 33 percent of families say that at least one of their children participated in a summer program in 2013 while 51% of parents say they want their children in a summer program.

Some of the demographics of children in summer learning programs, according to the America After 3PM study:

  • 42% are African-American
  • 39% are Hispanic
  • 34% are in a federal free or reduced-price lunch program

According to NSLA:

Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. The math and reading skills low-income students lose each summer are cumulative and contribute significantly to the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income kids.

Our children need support and resources to help close the achievement gap and give them a chance to move ahead, not play catch up! As a supporter of early education initiatives and childhood learning, Child Care Aware® of America would like to join NSLA in asking everyone to take the pledge to #KeepKidsLearning this the summer. You can find events around the country taking place on Friday, June 19!

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The New CCAoA Website Is Live!

We’re proud to announce the newly redesigned Child Care Aware® of America website!

The new CCAoA website features a modern and more attractive design with easy-to-navigate search functionality and a content-rich experience. The website is now mobile-compatible so users can easily access the site and utilize all of its new features from any personal device.

This redesigned site will better showcase our organization as a leading national child care resource and encourage more advocacy, engagement, and support for quality child care across the nation.

The new features of the CCAoA website include a streamlined navigation architecture that allows users to find content in three clicks or less. The new fly-out menu provides an at-a-glance site map to guide visitors to their desired destination. The child care search feature, which is one of the most accessed tools on the CCAoA site today, has even been optimized for a more user-friendly experience.

Stop by the new Child Care Aware® of America website and see what’s new! And if you come across something not working the way it should, we want to hear about it. Let us know by sending an email to feedback@usa.childcareaware.org.

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Why National Poetry Month is Important for Children

April is National Poetry Month, which may seem silly and perhaps even frivolous with everything else going on in the early childhood education space, but it’s actually quite important.

Started in 1996 by the National Academy of Poets, the stated goal of the month was to:

  • highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
  • encourage the reading of poems
  • assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms
  • increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
  • encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
  • encourage support for poets and poetry.

Poetry often employs the use of rhyme and rhythm – helpful especially to young children still learning to build language and comprehension skills! It also allows children to use their creativity to discuss subjects of interest to them in a fun way that can help them learn to love reading, and can even be used as a great exercise for English language learners.

Some resources and ideas to help you celebrate poetry during National Poetry Month and throughout the year:

April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month

AutismAwarenessMonthAwareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been in the news recently, with more and more advocates and celebrities sharing their stories – whether it’s helpful to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or not.

But when Jordan Spieth won the Masters championship at Augusta National at the age of 21 last week, tying the record set by Tiger Woods in 1997, Spieth quickly turned from thoughts of his big win to his sister Ellie, who was not able to attend the tournament, and has autism.

“I love having her around. She’s an incredible sister, my biggest supporter. She is somebody who you can watch and then reflect on the big picture of life and understand that all these frustrations in a day, or in a round of golf, are really secondary.

“We wouldn’t have that realization without her.”

It’s that kind of acknowledgement and love that reminds us all of the true purpose of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month.

During the month of April, we want to take a moment to recognize the unique abilities and strengths of individual children with ASD, and share a few insights and resources from partner organizations.

In 2014, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, announced their partnership with Autism Speaks and other major autism awareness groups. Their campaign, “See Amazing in All Children” aims to reduce the stigma surrounding children with autism by dispelling some of the common misconceptions around autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and sharing quality resources for children and their families.

Autism Speaks offers a Puzzle Piece Project Tool Kit for grades K-12, meant to increase children’s understanding of autism through age-appropriate lesson plans and activities. It even includes samples of frequently asked questions from kids, so you know what to expect and how to respond to the natural curiosity of children around ASD – and we all know how curious our little ones can be!

The Administration for Children and Families has reaffirmed their commitment to individualized learning and development support for all children, including those with ASD, as well as the continuation of individualized, high-quality early learning programs to young children with disabilities through Head Start.

New Report Could Be a Game Changer for the Child Care Workforce

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IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council). 2015. Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

We have long known that adults who interact with young children have the potential to add significant value to their development and overall health and well-being. Much is known about what works, what children need to thrive and what professionals who work with children need to know and be able to do. However, until now, we have not had a blueprint for action to guide us from aspiration to reality. Until now!

Earlier this month, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) released its long anticipated report “Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation”, which, if adopted by local, state and national policymakers, educators, and the early childhood field, could prove to be one of the most important studies of the child care workforce in our nation’s history.

The report, which explores the science of child development and the implications for the professionals who work with children birth through age 8, offers 13 policy recommendations that connect science, practice and policy with a goal of moving us from what “should be” to “what is”.

Noting the challenging nature of strengthening the ECCE workforce due in part to the diverse and often decentralized roles, systems and services, the report emphasizes the importance of bringing local, state, and national leadership together in support of a unified approach. Done correctly, the ECCE workforce improvements will not only create a more cohesive system to support children birth through eight, but also support effective, research-based practices that reinforce quality early care and education for our nation’s youngest learners.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Improving higher education and professional learning for all sectors who work with young children with specific training and learning supports based on professional roles;
  • Strengthening qualification requirements based on knowledge competencies that provide phased, multiyear pathways to transition to a minimum bachelor’s degree requirement; and
  • Developing new approaches for assessing and evaluating professional practice that leads to continuous quality improvements.

The science is clear on this. Children begin learning at birth. The only way to give children the start in life that they deserve is to ensure that the workforce nurturing them is receiving the support it needs to thrive. The IOM/NRC report provides a unique opportunity in this moment in time to let go of the status quo and embrace the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Child Care Aware® of America is actively working at the state, local and national levels to change the conversation and create an environment where we can transform the workforce!

Learn more about the report and create a free account to download the full PDF version for free from the Institute of Medicine website.