Keeping Children Safe on Child Health Day and Every Day

Child Health Day is October 30, and while we care about child health, nutrition, and obesity prevention every day of the year, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the specific issues of lead poisoning and fire safety.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 25-31! To celebrate, let’s learn how to keep the children in our care safe from lead exposure in toys, homes, and child care.

According to the CDC, children under the age of six are most at risk for lead poisoning. If your house or apartment was painted before 1978, your home or child care space should be tested for lead in both the paint and dust to be sure toxic levels are not present. Your health department can test it for you to be sure it’s lead-free and safe for the children in your care.

fire-189841_1920October 4-10 was Fire Prevention Week, and the National Fire Protection Association has a great checklist that children can help with as they go through their house to make sure they’re prepared in the event of a fire. Their campaign “Hear the Beep While You Sleep” reminds everyone in the family where smoke alarms should be placed around the house, and to test them every month. They even have printables, music videos, and a monthly calendar to help get children involved in fire prevention at home!

Additional resources:

Use these resources to keep your kids and family safe and healthy!

Earth Sciences and the Importance of STEM Education

BoysFishingEarth Sciences Week is October 11-17, and your little ones are never too young to learn about the world we live in. Think of it as part of their STEM education, and a way to encourage good stewardship of the Earth year-round!

There are plenty of great, educational websites that include activities to get the children in your care up and moving in the great outdoors.

The Earth Science Week website even has contests and lessons for children K-12, and some can even work for children younger than age 6. Check out their visual arts contest on depicting how and, water, air and living things interact in the world around us.

Additional resources:

Planning a great Earth Science Week activity? Let us know about it!

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month

This week marks the 25th anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month, and kicks off the Latinos Achieve White House Initiative.

Outgoing Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, describes the importance of the Latinos Achieve initiative to our children and our nation:

“Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure they have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country. In just the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three American workers. It’s clear; the future of our nation is closely connected to the future of our Hispanic communities. When we lift up the Hispanic community, we strengthen our nation. When we create more ladders of opportunity, we provide the chance for all Americans to reach their greatest potential.”

There are currently 230 programs, models, and organizations that are part of the “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education ” – ongoing efforts across the country at all levels, meant to support Latino educational attainment and excellence. These programs are helping to close the achievement gap. If you’d like to nominate a “Bright Spot” you still can! Get more information on the program and nominating process at

Follow the call of Senior White House Advisor, Jaqueline Cortez Wang to take part in the Latinos Achieve Day of Action! Use the #LatinosAchieve hashtag on October 15 to highlight Latino achievement and inspire a positive narrative on Latino contributions across all social media platforms. Share what Latinos Achieve means to you, and why it’s important. Tell us what you’ll do to ensure that Latinos Achieve.

September 2015 Footnotes

Footnotes-Blog-Header_FINAL-1200x400As we settle into our fall schedules and wait for the changing of the leaves here in Northern Virginia, I always feel a little nostalgic for the warm months of summer.

Looking back on the month of September, we were quite busy wrapping up our summer work and welcoming back Congress. Take a quick peek at some of what you may have missed here at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) headquarters…

Around the Country

CCAoA’s Healthy Child Care, Healthy Communities project is currently reviewing applications and selecting participants. This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-supported project provides two years of technical assistance from Child Care Aware® of America to 6 selected state groups on incorporating child health, nutrition and obesity prevention in child care plans. Participant selection is underway and will be announced in mid-October.

Child Care Aware® of America has enlisted individuals from diverse settings including national groups, Child Care Resource & Referral agencies, and higher education settings to serve on our new Research Advisory Group. Co-chaired by Dr. Dionne Dobbins, Senior Director of Research, CCAoA, and Dr. Kim Engelman, Senior Advisor and Director of Family and Community Engagement, CCAoA, this group will help us build a new research agenda that aligns with the needs of the child care community and positions our organization to address the challenges and leverage the opportunities in child care

We’re looking forward to our first meeting in November 2015. Stay tuned for more information.

CCAoA’s Bonnie Storm Senior Director, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), attended the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Respite Council Working Group meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 15 and brought back a wealth of knowledge from other respite care workers and programs.

On the Hill

Child Care Aware® of America participated in the 2015 Biennial NICCA Conference at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. Members from the public policy team presented Capitol Hill advocacy strategies that included how to advocate and have successful meetings with members of Congress and staff. The team also provided support to NICCA and advocates for their ‘Day On The Hill’ to advocate for CCDBG funding.


Jay Nichols, CCAoA’s director federal policy and governmental affairs, on the Hill with some of the dedicated NICCA advocates.

On September 30, CCAoA participated in a “Head Start Rally” on Capitol Hill sponsored by the National Head Start Association (NHSA). The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Head Start program, and it included a number of Congressional speakers including:

  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
  • Senator Time Kaine (D-VA)
  • Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)
  • Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD)

We were proud to stand alongside Head Start and other organizations supporting the early education of our children.

Online and On-Air

CCA-CCDBG-logo_WEBsmallOn September 29, CCAoA hosted its fourth CCDBG Implementation Station webinar highlighting the health, nutrition, and obesity prevention opportunities and mandates under the new law. The webinar was hosted by Jay Nichols and Krista Scott of CCAoA, and included Julie Shuell, Project Director, Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention, and Beverly Lynn, Chief Executive Director of Programs for Parents, Inc. in New Jersey. More than 100 attendees participated in the webinar and discussion. If you missed it, don’t worry, you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Member Connections

We hope to see you at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. April 4-6, 2016 for the 2016 Symposium: Celebrating Milestones, Collaborating for Results! Mark your calendars and be prepared to join in discussion on topics around policy, research, practice, and innovation.

RFPs for panel topics and discussions will be coming out soon – stay tuned for more information.

April Dodge-Ostendorf is joining the CCAoA team as our Family and Community Engagement intern so you may see more from her in the future. April is in her second and final year of a Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She has worked for the Missouri Children’s Division since 2004 where she has gained a wealth of on-the-ground experience related to foster care programming and child services. She has a heart for serving vulnerable children and families and is a remarkable, well-rounded and highly motivated person. April works remotely in the Kansas City area with Dr. Kim Engelman, Child Care Aware® of America’s Senior Advisor and Director of Family and Community Engagement. April’s internship with Child Care Aware of America will span the 2015-2016 academic year.

ICYMI: September in the News

MSN had an interesting article on how salary experts would calculate the value of stay-at-home mothers. Of course this includes the cost of child care, citing data from CCAoA’s 2014 Cost of Care Report. Check it out to see what else they included in their calculations.

Fulfilling the Promise of Early Childhood Education: Advancing Early Childhood Education As a Professional Field of Practice


By Stacie G. Goffin, Rhian Evans Allvin, Deb Flis, and Albert Wat

Early childhood education (ECE) is in the spotlight as never before. Being in the limelight, however, has highlighted the field’s fragmentation and the variability in the quality of children’s formal early learning experiences. This reality is unlikely to change, though, unless the ECE field comes to terms with its lack of organization as a unified field of practice with defined accountabilities for a competent and responsible workforce.

A budding movement is emerging in response to this crisis of fragmentation—a drive to organize ECE as a professional field of practice unified by a common overarching purpose, defined body of knowledge and practice, shared professional identity, and internal and external accountability. This movement was apparent at a plenary session of the 2015 QRIS National Learning Network’s national meeting, which explored questions critical to advancing ECE as a professional field of practice.

Stacie G. Goffin, Principal of the Goffin Strategy Group, organized the plenary session and provided its introduction. Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director of the National Association for the Education for Young Children, and Deb Flis, Program Quality and Accreditation Specialist, Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, were panelists, and Albert Wat, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Division, National Governors Association, was a respondent. Panelists were encouraged to voice their differing viewpoints, and we share some of those views below. We hope you’ll join us in thinking about an alternative future for ECE.

Acknowledging ECE as a Professional Field: What Needs to Happen?

Becoming a recognized profession will involve deep systems change. Because of the nature of ECE’s work, few would question that it ought to be a profession. Yet, as John Goodlad reminds us, “A vocation (occupation) is not a profession just because those in it choose to call it one. It must be recognized as such.”

  • To qualify as a recognized profession, ECE has to include attributes that define professional occupations—criteria such as a prescribed scope of work as a field of practice and formal preparation as a prerequisite to being licensed to practice.
  • ECE needs to move beyond its fragmented state and its history of willingly accepting people into the “profession” with varying education levels, credentials, and competencies, and restructure itself as cohesive, interlocking systems of preparation, practice, and accountability bound by a unifying purpose.
  • We should consider tools available to us, such as QRIS. Describing QRIS as an organizing framework, Rhian identified it as a vehicle for moving quality to scale in a consistent and rational way. Deb, however, cautioned against considering QRIS as a singular approach and doubted its ability to remedy all of our field’s challenges. Trying to be an all-inclusive framework, with multiple sets of differing standards across the country, she suggested, has had the unintended consequence of undermining the work of unifying ECE as a professional field of practice.
  • Given the transformative nature of what lies ahead, deep and broad conversations are needed, Deb maintained—conversations that are inclusive of the field’s diverse roles, settings, and aspirations.

Exploring Challenging Questions

We wanted to move beyond attempts to solve existing problems, and focus instead on creating the future we want for ECE as a professional field of practice. Toward that end, some of the questions explored during the plenary follow, along with answers provided by panelists.

  1. Should the ECE profession, like the nursing and medical professions, include specialty practices? Could this structure unite the field around a unifying knowledge base and practice expectations while also acknowledging that different roles may necessitate additional specialized expertise? If so, would one option be practice specialties based on practitioner competencies required by early learning environments with differing purposes?

Rhian contended that we know too much about the science of early learning and the impact of competent early childhood educators on children’s developmental trajectories to parcel professional competencies by workplace. For too long, she continued, we’ve derailed conversations by focusing on early learning settings rather than on the competencies required by the educator’s role. Landing solidly on the side of a shared, core knowledge base in conjunction with specializations, Deb argued that expecting all educators to possess the field’s identified core knowledge, skills, and dispositions is not only an ethical responsibility but also essential in dismantling perceptions that anyone can function as an early educator.

  1. How should we address existing teaching staff unable to meet required preparation standards?

Deb and Rhian emphasized role-based specializations and linking these with specified competencies. Creating consistent competency expectations across states also was considered essential, as was the availability of different pathways toward fulfilling the profession’s requirements. Yet Deb also cautioned that this approach should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that ECE is a suitable career choice for everyone.

  1. Albert challenged us by asking, Why do we have the policies we have for preparing and supporting ECE teachers? If we were to develop the ECE profession from scratch, would we have what we have today?

In response to his first question, Albert underscored that ECE policies rarely are rational or based on what children and adults need; instead, they typically reflect what the field thinks is affordable—a questionable way to develop policies for a workforce critical to children’s near- and long-term success. Thus, a resounding no was the response to his second question, accompanied by an assertion that the field needs to dismiss the notion that diversity and high standards represent competing values and put a stake in the ground about who gets to “function as an early educator.”

Moving Forward

Our attention focuses primarily on uplifting the existing workforce, according to Albert. Developing an alternative future for ECE requires also devoting our considerable energies to developing a profession that will be attractive to those we want to be educating and caring for young children.

After decades of attempts by policy makers and civic and business leaders, the time has come to restructure ECE as a field of practice from the inside out. As stressed by Rhian, “early childhood educators need to lead this effort. They need to be the drivers of ECE’s destiny.”

Do you agree? Please join this conversation by sharing your comments below or by participating with others at ECE Pioneers For A New Era, an informal online community where we share our experiences discussing these issues.

References and Resources

“Beyond the Status Quo: Rethinking Professional Development for Early Childhood Teachers,” by P.J. Winton, P. Snyder, & S.G. Goffin. Chap. 4 in Handbook of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 2016.

Early Childhood Education for a New Era: Leading for Our Profession, by S.G. Goffin, 2013.

“The Occupation of Teaching in Schools.” Chap. 1 (p. 29) in The Moral Dimension of Teaching, 1990.

Professionalizing Early Childhood Education as a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era, by S.G. Goffin, 2015.

Ilse Wilson and Fairyland Family Child Care – August 2015 Provider of the Month

August 2015Photo courtesy of Ilse Wilson, Fairyland Family Child Care

Congratulations to Ilse Wilson and the staff at Fairyland Family Child Care in Sandy, Utah. They have been named Provider of the Month for August 2015, and they are the first home care provider to be honored through the new campaign!

Creating a fun, caring, healthy, and educational environment for children as they learn and grow is the first step to a lifetime of healthy development, and Ilse Wilson and her staff at Fairyland Family Child Care go above and beyond every day with the children in their care.

Wilson and her team do this through creative play, including spaces for playing with sand, water and mud; an outdoor music and art area; and a reading “nook”. They even have a fairy garden in the front yard!

Fairyland is also TOP Star-endorsed (an obesity prevention program in Utah) and Let’s Move! Certified, making health and obesity prevention a clear goal.

At the beginning of each school year, the staff at Fairyland have parent-teacher conferences to set learning goals for the children in the upcoming year.

We’re grateful to exemplary providers like Wilson and her staff – they’re adding significant value to the development and overall health and well-being of the children in their care.

Nominate an Outstanding Provider
Do you know an outstanding provider or early childhood educator who is deserving of the Provider of the Month award? Visit for details on how to nominate them, and help Child Care Aware® of America and partner organizations honor those providers that go above and beyond every day!

Highlighting Corporate Investments in Early Education

Strengthening the economy and building a competitive workforce starts with high quality child care and early childhood education – and not all corporations understand that. Now, you have a chance to bring recognition to business partners who not only understand, but who take action.

readynationReady Nation is seeking the help of state networks and local CCR&Rs to highlight these partnerships in a resource list on their website called “Ready2Go”.  This site is visited most often by business leaders across the nation looking for “best practice” ideas for getting their own companies involved in early childhood education.

Ready2Go is a collection of early childhood initiatives that have significant business involvement, including through their corporate social responsibility efforts. The database provides a wide range of ideas to help business leaders support local early childhood programs, using their expertise, employees, networks, time and resources to help children in their communities succeed in school and in life.

Ready Nation views “investment” broadly, as do we – it includes time, staff, materials, funds, and other resources.

This is a great opportunity to increase business, government, and public awareness for the value of Child Care Resource and Referral as a convener and leader in early childhood investment.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to
  2. Under the “Programs” tab, click on “ready2go”
  3. On the lower left side of the page you will see a “Submit a Project” link. Click here.
  4. Complete the simple form and submit.
  5. The submissions are reviewed by Ready Nation prior to posting.

Thank you for all you do to further the field of child care and early childhood education. We rely on you!