For Your Back to School List: Take Action This August

As August winds down and we get ready for a new school year we all have plenty of tasks to cross off our “Back to School” list – getting school supplies, nailing down school and activity schedules, hurriedly helping our children finish their summer reading, and even sometimes helping our children start their summer reading!

But at Child Care Aware® of America, we’d like to add one more item to your list. And we promise it’ll help with school readiness…for all children.

We know that early childhood education and child care promotes school readiness, which increases the chances of strong academic performances and subsequently higher graduation rates. But investments in early learning opportunities are vital to the growth of our economy and are lagging behind where they need to be to fully fund states so they can comply with new CCDBG requirements.

In addition to fully funding CCDBG, Child Care Aware® of America also encourages you to support the President’s request of $10.1 billion for Head Start. Funding for Head Start will help expand access to critical early education programs for low-income children, as well as expand the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Program. Both of these budget items are critical for the future success of our children.

The last item on your “Back to School” list for all children is to contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to prioritize children in the federal budget for next year.

takeactionWe make it easy for you to do with our draft messaging – take action today! And help us spread the word to other advocates using CCAoA’s August Recess Toolkit, which includes:

  • A sample letter to you member of Congress,
  • Sample letter to the editor of your local newspaper,
  • Sample invitation to your member of Congress to visit a local child care facility,
  • Talking points for a meeting with your member of Congress,
  • And pre-written social media posts and graphics.

Send a message to your member of Congress today using our online action center!

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

Read Where You Are!

academy-2816Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) is happy to join in the effort to prevent the “summer slide” by signing on to the Read Where You Are campaign put together by the Department of Education!

Wednesday, July 29 is the Read Where You Are day of action – join us in taking time out to read to a child, and then share your photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ReadWhereYouAre.

The Read Where You Are campaign is a reminder that reading can happen anywhere – on a train, on a bus, in a park or library, or even at home or in a child care setting. Why not use the last few weeks of childrens-books-570121_1280summer vacation to help all young people – even the littlest ones – keep their minds sharp and get ready to go back to school in the fall.

Ready to get started? You can find a great list of books for summer reading here: http://www.read.gov/booklists/

So dig in, and start reading where YOU are!

Talk, Read, Sing – Start Early With Children to Fight the Word Gap

“We know that right now during the first three years of life, a child born into a low-income family hears 30 million fewer words than a child born into a well-off family. By giving more of our kids access to high-quality pre-school and other early learning programs, and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their kids succeed, we can give those kids a better shot at the career they are capable of, and a life that will make us all better off.”
– President Barack Obama

TalkingIsTeachingResearch has proven time and again that talking to children, especially when they’re still too young to speak, gives them a leg up when they reach school age and beyond.

Talking to children and encouraging them to engage in discussion using the words they do know will help them grow their vocabulary and set the pace for their educational development moving forward.

Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and Too Small to Fail have just launched a new toolkit for families, providers and health professionals to help them engage children in speech: Talking is Teaching: TALK, READ, SING TOGETHER EVERY DAY!

The materials come in English and Spanish and were completed in partnership with Sesame Workshop and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and they include a roadmap of speech milestones for children birth to age five so parents and caregivers know what to look for in speech development.

Check out their milestone road map online, and then download these amazing tools to start engaging the children in your care in language growth – then share these resources with the parents and providers in your community!

_SB15778CCAofA Daycare 11.08.14

Bringing Emotional Development to the Big Screen

scream-cartoon-painting

There have been a lot of articles floating around online about the exploration of emotional development of children since the release of Inside Out, Disney’s new animated film based on the personification of an eleven year old girl’s emotions.

Some have the perspective of using the film to look into sadness and depression while others talk about the science behind the emotions and how they interact to create reactions and behavior.

One perspective I particularly appreciate is that of Claire Lerner, LCSW, at ZERO TO THREE. She focuses on the complex emotional lives of children as shown in the movie, and shares tools that parents (and child care providers) can use in their everyday lives to help children deal with their feelings and grow into emotionally aware adults.

To quote Lerner:

Young children are deeply feeling beings. Starting in the earliest months of life, well before they can use words to express themselves, babies have the capacity to experience peaks of joy, excitement, and elation. They also feel fear, grief, sadness, hopelessness, and anger—emotions that many adults understandably find it hard to believe that such young children can experience. But just as Riley in the film needs her parents to hear and empathize with her difficult feelings of pain and loss—which helps her move on in positive ways—so do babies and toddlers.

Her post, Inside Out: A Film for Parents of Young Children, Too, is a must-read for all child care providers, early childhood educators, parents and others who interact with or care for babies and young children.

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!

AA3_summer-learning