August 2015 Footnotes


I’m writing this as I ride the train from New York City headed back to Washington, D.C. on the last day of summer. Tomorrow the kids will return back to school in Virginia, and I am certain that there will be anticipation and perhaps a bit of (unadmitted) anxiety for what’s to come in the school year ahead. But before I too begin to think about the launch of the year ahead, I must share about our last weeks of summer!

Around the Country

This month we launched the Healthy Child Care, Healthy Communities project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand technical assistance activities in targeted states to emphasize health, nutrition, and obesity prevention. You can find out more about the project and apply on the CCAoA website. The project will be managed by Krista Scott, Sr. Director of Health Policy.

KS glassesKrista has her bachelor’s degree in political science and her M.S.W. with a focus on management and policy. Most recently, she served as the Early Intervention Monitor for District of Columbia’s Early Intervention Program, which provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families and as the District’s Lead for Preschool Special Education. She has over a decade of experience providing quality assurance reviews, developing policies and procedures for early childhood programs, overseeing program budgets, providing access to health care to children with special health care needs, providing case management, providing reflective supervision and performing legislative bill analysis. She holds expertise in group facilitation, reflective practice, early childhood mental health, early childhood education, early childhood special education, policy and procedure development, training, technical assistance, coaching, mentoring, systems and program development, quality assurance, and special education regulations. We are thrilled to have her join our team!

Way to go!

We are proud to announce that one of the 50 participants in our Office of Refugee Resettlement project, Aizezi Dilidaer, recently received her State of Maryland Family Child Care License. Her home-based business is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. The mission statement for her family child care home is:

We believe that all children are special and unique, which is why through our program we will work to find your child’s inner strengths and even unusual features and to nurture them – giving your child the best success. It is our goal to provide children with a safe environment that nurtures self-esteem and security. We provide a quality child care program in an academic and loving environment.

Due to the extended period of time required to resolve county zoning and fire issues, it took Dilidaer 3 years and the support of her local CCR&R agency to achieve licensure for a home-based business. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from her home country of Xinjiang in China, and her standards-based curriculum will have a focus on nature and the arts. Congratulations, Aizezi Dilidaer!

Online and On-Air

Earlier this month CCAoA participated in a joint Twitter chat with MomsRising to discuss the needs of parents. Together we reached over 128,000 accounts with 324 tweets and 51 contributors participating. You can find an archive of the chat on Twitter with the hashtag #WhatParentsWant.

For many children and families August means back to school, which is why we joined ABC News in a Back to School Health Tips Twitter chat with Dr. Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor. As a group, we sent over 3,523 Tweets which are available for review using the hashtag #abcDRBchat.

Member Connections

Child Care Aware® of America is pleased to announce the dates and location for the 2016 Symposium: Celebrating Milestones, Collaborating for Results.

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

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ICYMI: August in the News

Bringing home the point that child care issues are workforce issues, the Washington Post had a front page article on the cost of child care. In it, they cited a recent WaPo poll that said more than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers in the United States say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit to tend to their children. A lack of affordable, quality child care was the primary factor in this decision. You can learn more about the poll results and how CCAoA statistics were used to come to this conclusion in, “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids.”

On August 10, I appeared on the Fox 5 News morning show to discuss the cost of child care, especially in light of the recent poll commissioned by the Washington Post.

Martin Austermuhle of NPR station WAMU interviewed Michelle McCready, deputy director of policy, on the cost of child care in Washington, D.C. Michelle weighs in on some of the aspects of the cost of living that are more expensive in the D.C. area, and how that contributes to the overall cost of care. it’s definitely a must-read: D.C. Is One of the Most Expensive Places in the U.S. For Child Care. But Why?

Children and Obesity Prevention – What Works

healthy_eating_kidsWe’ve seen recent numbers showing that rates of obesity are continuing to increase among some low-income children ages 2-5 – but there is hope on the horizon.

New results from the first of its kind study show that obesity measures significantly improved among children ages 2-5 who participate in Head Start Center-based nutrition and healthy living programming, such as Thriving Communities, Thriving Children (TC2), when compared to children not in the program.

This is both a welcome relief and an upcoming challenge as government funding for these critical health and nutrition programs come under fire.

Special funding partners like the Kellogg Foundation have been making great strides with these programs in states like Mississippi and Louisiana, which expand previous school-based obesity prevention efforts by focusing on several key factors at Head Start Centers:

  • Addressing foods served by Head Start Centers,
  • Food-based education
  • Daily physical activity, and
  • Health education.

Child Care Aware® of America recently received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand technical assistance activities in targeted states along the same lines – focusing on health, nutrition and obesity prevention as part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

We’re excited to launch this partnership and do the important work of educating CCR&Rs and community partners on health and early care and education.

Let's MoveIn the meantime, here are a couple of our go-to resources for health and nutrition information for kids:

Top photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Flickr

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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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!


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

IOM_Birth to 8_hi res cover

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.

Office of Science and Technology Policy Spotlights the Importance of Early Literacy

Editor’s Note: This guest blog was written by Child Care Aware of America staff member Michelle McCready. Michelle is our Director of Public Policy, a working mother to her young son, Aiden, and a dedicated advocate for child care policy.

Yesterday Child Care Aware of America joined the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to highlight early literacy challenges and successes in communities across the country and share best practices and lessons learned. The word gap refers to children in low income communities starting school with 30 million less words  than their peers of higher socioeconomic status. The day consisted of advocates, led by Too Small to Fail, alongside top researchers and scientists, as well as federal and local policymakers, discussing the importance of creating a strong literacy foundation for all children.


This strong literacy foundation helps prepare students for kindergarten and  sets children up for better outcomes throughout their life. This foundation also supports a workforce needed to compete in the global economy and create a prosperous future for generations to come. In the first three years of life early language and rich literacy experiences are especially important. As research has proven, the brain undergoes its most dramatic development during this time as children acquire the ability to think, speak, learn, and reason. As a mother of a 19 month-old son, I get to witness this dramatic development every day. On our ride home from child care, I talk, read, and sing with him and see how his vocabulary is exponentially blossoming.

But it’s not just my son. On a typical day more than 11 million children under age 5 spend an average of 35 hours a week in the care of someone other than their mother. About one-quarter of these children are in multiple child care arrangements. In these settings, children are naturally communicating with their caregivers on what they think, feel and are experiencing. This “conversational duet” not only promotes language skills, but also critical thinking skills, and strong social and emotional development.

Speaking and honoring home language is also critical.  Children  need to have lots of fun and meaningful chances to talk, read, and pretend-write in their home language. Each of the opportunities to interact build skills that will help all children be prepared for a successful life.

Make sure to visit to get more information on how you and your child’s caregiver can best build your child’s early reading and writing skills. A call to your local Child Care Resource & Referral agency (CCR&R) can give you additional information about literacy resources.

Also, make sure to check out what some of our coalition partners are doing: Too Small to Fail’s Talk, Read, Sing Campaign And ZERO TO THREE’s new web portal, Beyond the Word Gap, which offers multimedia resources to help parents, professionals, and policymakers to support early language and literacy.

Supporters rally for change at first-ever Family Advocacy Summit

Parents and real families are a powerful voice for children and child care. Many of our parent and family advocates have participated at past Symposiums, sharing their stories with Members of Congress and strengthening their advocacy skills through workshops and training. This year we decided to do things a little differently and hold another kind of event, separate from Symposium, fully focused on families and amplifying their messages. If you weren’t able to participate, here’s a quick run-down of the two-day Summit.

Parent Advocates

Parents and quality child care advocates from all across the country landed in Washington D.C. as early as Sunday for the first-ever Family Advocacy Summit.  Monday morning kicked off with an advocacy training presented by Jennifer Greppi, Efuru Lynch and Michelle Garcilazo of Parent Voices of California. Advocacy leaders Efuru and Michelle spoke to fellow family advocates on developing brief but powerful personal testimonies.

Here’s a quick rundown of their surefire tips for capturing the attention of policymakers:

  1. Start with the basics. State your name, the state you’re from, and what groups you are connected to (i.e. I am Jane Doe, a family advocate and member of Child Care Aware® of America/Parent Voices/etc. from Virginia).
  2. Follow with why you took the time to reach out to them. Paint a clear picture of the issue you want addressed and how it is affecting you and those in your community or state (i.e. I am here because last May, I was forced to leave my job because I had no access to quality, affordable child care…)
  3. Finally, leave the policymaker with a call to action. Tell them what they can do to help solve the issues you’re facing (i.e. reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant this November).

Efuru and Michelle also reminded family advocates to share their plans for following up, especially if the meeting is with policymaker staff rather than the elected official. By letting staff know when to expect your call or email, it gives them a deadline for regrouping with his or policymaker to gather his response to your message.

Efuru speaks to the crowd

After the first workshop ended, parents Avonda Fox, from Texas, Vicky Dougherty from Pennsylvania, and Elly Lafkin, of Virginia shared their own compelling and inspiring child care experiences with the group during a panel discussion. Avonda talked about her efforts to pass Jacob’s Law on behalf of her son, who died from heatstroke after his caregiver left him in a van for an unknown period of time in 103 degree temperatures. Vicky, who lost her son Warren when he was placed to sleep in a faulty crib, discussed her grassroots advocacy for the licensing and inspections of all child care providers. And Elly, an experienced campaigner for comprehensive background checks, discussed her experiences working with press and the media to gain exposure on the tragic and preventable death of her daughter Camden. Elly and her husband helped pass Cami’s Law in 2013, after their daughter died in the home of a provider who used five different aliases to hide a criminal history. All three of these women demonstrated their courage and conviction by sharing their tragedy and committing to taking powerful action toward change.

Parents Efuru and Avonda

Staffers from U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) offices joined the group for lunch. Both talked hopefully about the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant when Congress returns from recess in November, and shared updates on what their respective officials were doing to support quality child care and early learning.

In the afternoon, parents gathered for a facilitated discussion around building a national policy agenda that would reflect child care and early learning issues facing parents from all walks of life. Health, safety, access and quality were key themes of the conversation. The parents also came up with solutions and advice they would give to all working families grappling with finding and affording quality child care. The discourse was thoughtful and eye-opening and left us energized as we concluded the day with preparation meetings for the following day on the Hill.

Parent Advocates

The next morning, over sixteen family advocates from eight different states boarded a bus with Child Care Aware® of America staff and travelled just over the Arlington Country line into D.C. The advocates separated into small groups as we all arrived at Capitol Hill and the families dispersed for their respective meetings with Congressional staff. As each group returned, they recounted their stories on camera and to each other. Together the families celebrated an overwhelming feeling of progress as a result of sharing their voice.

families and bus

The Family Advocacy Summit attendees returned to Arlington for lunch with the former Child Care Aware® of America executive director and current Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families. The conversation ranged from the progress the Administration has made on issues related to children and families, to how our parent group could be an action task force for child care across this nation.

The Family Advocacy Summit was an incredible success and left both our family advocates and Child Care Aware® of America staff with renewed energy to work toward solving the complex issues with our current child care system. Our first hurdle is just around the corner, as we continue to push for the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) when Congress returns from recess in November. We know one thing for sure, without our exceptional  family advocates we would not be on the brink of celebrating such a win for millions of children and families across this nation.

family advocates

We hope that those of you who were unable to attend the Summit will be inspired by the work and dedication of these families to take action in your own way and help us in the campaign to strengthen the quality of child care for working families in every state.

We look forward to sharing important updates on CCDBG in November, and in the meantime, ask you to keep your advocacy efforts going. Child Care Aware® of America will continue to share ways for you to raise the volume on child care and early learning issues. Be sure to bookmark and watch for video clips from the Summit coming soon, including videos of our families telling their story on Capitol Hill.