Let’s Move! Child Care Celebrates 3rd Anniversary—Sign Up and Take the Quiz Today!

Editor’s Note: This is a special announcement from our partners at Let’s Move! Child Care. 

This June marks the 3rd anniversary of Let’s Move! Child Care and we’re having a special drawing to give away classroom toolkits sponsored by Nemours, a child health system. These toolkits are full of kid-friendly physical activity materials that can be used in classrooms with children ages 2-5.

Early Care and Education providers who sign up and take the checklist quiz between June 1st and June 13th will have their names entered into the drawing for a chance to win a toolkit. By signing up, you can join the nearly 13,000 child care providers who have committed to working towards the Initiative’s best practices for healthy nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding support, and screen time. Watch this video to see how it all began.

Getting started is simple. Signing up and participating are free.
To enter the drawing, visit http://www.HealthyKidsHealthyFuture.org between June 1st and June 13th to sign up and take the Let’s Move! Child Care Checklist Quiz. You will receive a participation certificate, have access to free tools and resources, and the checklist quiz can help your program build an action plan to start meeting the Let’s Move! Child Care best practices. There’s also plenty of information and tools on the website for parents to help their children learn healthy habits.

Sign up today and take the quiz to become a recognized Let’s Move! Child Care provider!

If you are already registered and have taken the quiz, send us your success stories!  Send your story to LMCCStories@cdc.gov with the subject line “LMCC 3rd Anniversary” by May 28, 2014. Entries should be no longer than 500 words. Be sure to include a contact name, phone number, and e-mail address.

Thanks so much for your support and hard work to ensure young children grow up healthy!

The Let’s Move! Child Care Team

Additional Resources from Child Care Aware® of America

Suggested Tweets:

@letsmove Child Care turns 3 in June. Learn how you can celebrate and win! #RYH4ChildCare

Are you signing up for the @letsmove Child Care drawing? #RYH4ChildCare

Child Care providers can help children build healthy habits. Learn more @letsmove Child Care

Links:
Let’s Move! Child Care with Child Care Aware® of America

Full text, Ann O’Leary’s opening keynote at 2014 Symposium

This blog is republished from the Next Generation blog dated April 2.

NOTE: The remarks below were delivered by Ann O’Leary on April 2, 2014 when she opened the 2014 Child Care Aware of America Symposium on early education policy, research, and practice. 

_SB11777Child Care Aware America 3.02.14 Barrett

Thank you Lynette for inviting me here today and to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, led by Linda Asato, for encouraging me to join you.  And thank you to Linda Smith for your leadership inside the government to make quality child care a priority.

Lynette told you a bit about my professional background, but let me tell you how my professional background aided me in being a mother and a child care consumer.

In 1997, just after the Child Care Development Block Grant was last updated, I started working on education, early learning and childcare policy in the Clinton Administration.  It was such an exciting time because it was when we were learning about how rapidly the brain was growing in the first years of life and how much these early years really mattered.  I personally learned at that time about the importance of talking to your baby from the earliest days and about how challenging it was for parents to get access to high-quality child care.

Ten years later – in 2007 – I had my first child.  And it was these professional credentials that had me calling up child care providers to get on the wait list just after telling my friends and family the news that I was expecting.  I remember going to the National Education of Young Children (NAEYC’s) website to find which child care centers in my area were NAEYC certified.

The former director of the infant/toddler program at my chosen preschool in Berkeley still tells the story of me showing up at her doorstep every day when I was nine+ months pregnant to find out if I’d be able to get off the wait list.  She finally was so worried that I was showing up at her doorstep every day instead of getting some rest before the baby came, that she relented and gave me a spot.  My daughter, now seven, was lucky to be able to attend the school for five years and my son, who is four years old, is still there.

Everything about my experience is something I wish for all parents.  To be able to search online for a quality child care center and really know that licensing or certification means something.  It means that the center is safe, the child care providers are professionals who have real training to work with young children, and that together you’ll be able to work as a team to support your child’s development and early learning.

But I also want families to benefit from some of the things that schools don’t offer, but that states should provide to families as child care consumers. States should do unannounced inspections so that they can find small and larger things for the school to correct—from ensuring that parents really do sign in and sign out our children, to ensuring that the school has appropriate safeguards on all the doors so that children can’t get out without an adult.

Together, the school—with its amazing focus on child-centered learning and the scaffolding children need to develop in these early years—and the basic promises made to ensure that licensing means my child will be safe while my husband and I are at work, is what every parent deserves.

Everyone needs and deserves minimum levels of safety and quality standards.  And YOU are making sure that is happening.  I applaud you wholeheartedly for what you have done to ensure passage of the Child Care Development Block Grant in the Senate and the work you are doing in the House to make these critical changes the law of the land.

CHALLENGES

When we started Too Small to Fail, which is a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of our youngest children, we really looked hard at what we know about children today and what we knew about the investments needed to address the challenges faced by children.

We were motivated by three big challenges:

  1. That we have a changing demographic in America that makes the educational achievement gap between minorities and whites no longer just a civil rights issue, but an issue that must be addressed as an economic imperative;
  2. That more than a quarter of our children—which is a doubling from the early 1990s—now have a chronic health condition from asthma to autism to obesity.
  3. That despite important investments in poverty alleviation, we still have persistently high childhood poverty and poverty still remains that best indicator of a child’s educational success.

But we were also incredibly motivated by what we saw as a tipping point moment in the early learning field.  Because today, we know more than ever about the importance of early education.

Brain scientists have documented what we have long intuited: talking, hugging, singing, and playing build critical hardware in a baby’s brain.

Leading economists tell us that investments in the early years provide a tremendous return. The likelihood of a child achieving success in school and in the workforce is largely set before her first day of kindergarten.

We have better and more sophisticated ways of reaching parents than every before thanks to technology and behavioral science.

WORD GAP

We were also very struck by the important new research coming from Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam. Dr. Putnam is studying today how economic pressures on parents translate into less time and support for kids who start off behind and struggle to catch up.  In the 1960s and ‘70s, parents with different income and educational achievement levels were all spending similar amounts of time reading to their children, but over time, a gap emerged.  Dr. Putnam and his team have looked at what they call “Diaper Time,” when parents address the immediate needs of their young children, and they’ve also looked at what they call “Good Night Moon Time,” when they talk, read, and interact with their kids.

Now the research shows that nearly everyone does Diaper Time. But parents with lower income, less education, who struggle to work two jobs with few benefits or flexibility—many of them single moms, and parents without strong support networks—they are spending significantly less Good Night Moon Time each day than more affluent families and less than parents in comparable positions did 30 and 40 years ago.  This lost time adds up.

You all know that children build their vocabularies by listening to and interacting with their parents and caregivers, and by age four, children from low income families with less Good Night Moon Time have learned, on average, half as many words as children from middle and upper income families, so that by the time they enter school, they have substantially smaller vocabularies than many of their classmates.  Experts call this the “word gap.”

Studies have found that by a child’s fourth birthday, children in well-off families have heard 30 million more words than children from lower-income families. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words.  In fact, on average, higher income four-year-olds know an average of 1100 words compared to just 500 words for lower-income children.

This research has been replicated and strengthened in recent years by Professor Anne Fernald at Stanford University who has shown that not only is there a word gap, but that there is already a gap in language comprehension of six months by the time a child is two years old.  And we know from another Stanford Professor – Sean Reardon – that this early gap in learning is the best predictor for the persistent educational achievement gap in the K-12 system.

And that puts our children born with the fewest advantages even further behind.

So we decided to focus our Too Small to Fail efforts on closing the word gap.  But to close the gap, you have to understand the barriers.  There are two large barriers:

First, many low-income parents and caregivers are simply not aware of the importance of talking directly to their babies and toddlers to build their brains and prepare them for later learning and good health outcomes.

Time and again, we have heard parents express surprise when told that by talking, reading, and singing to their babies from birth, they can actually build up their child’s vocabulary and help develop their brain.

We have an enormous opportunity to empower parents and help them understand how their simple actions can have a large impact.

Our goal is to help parents integrate talking, reading, and singing into their everyday routine with their children – just as they would brush their child’s teeth before bed.

The campaign is focused on examples of simple actions – talking during bath time, telling a story while changing a diaper, singing in the car, playing peek-a-boo – that can help prepare children for academic success.

This is why a strong partnership between families and child care providers is so critical. Parents look for information about their children’s well-being from family, friends, and trusted sources such as pediatricians and child care providers.  We need your help to close this gap.

I just got back from Tulsa, OK, where we launched our first local campaign called “Talking is Teaching.” (You can watch a video of the event here.)

 

We are partnering with local community organizations —engaging pediatricians, business leaders, librarians and others—to empower parents and caregivers to boost young children’s brain development and build their vocabularies by increasing the number of words they hear spoken to them every day.

According to recent field research conducted among low-income parents, grandparents and other caregivers in Tulsa, approximately 90 percent recognize that they personally have an impact on their child’s brain development.  Yet, many of those surveyed admit that they could be doing more on a daily basis to help their children increase their vocabulary:

  • Only 55 percent of parents and 47 percent of grandparents report reading to their children every day.
  • Fewer than half report telling their children a story, singing a song or playing a non-electronic game every day.

Our “Talking is Teaching” campaign will show how simple actions—like describing objects seen on a bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories for just five minutes—can significantly improve a baby’s ability to learn new words and concepts.

Creative messages will appear as ads on public buses, billboards, grocery carts and in places where Tulsa families congregate.

Community partners will talk directly to parents and caregivers using family toolkits developed with Sesame Workshop; and to pediatricians using clinical toolkits on early literacy developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The campaign will also test new technology developed by the Bezos Family Foundation that will help parents remember to build these activities into their daily lives.

We hope that our work in Tulsa will serve as a model for other communities across the country to motivate increased talking, reading and singing to babies and toddlers. And Too Small to Fail will launch additional campaigns in several more cities this year.

In addition, we are working to magnify attention to the word gap through media partnerships with Univision and show integration with Hollywood.

But we know that the second reason for the word gap, is that there is simply a lack of access to high-quality child care and preschool.  With parents working, we simply cannot afford not to invest in high-quality child care that is available from infancy onward.

Just the other day I was driving home after picking up my children and my son, who just turned four, started kicking the back of my seat and laughing and then he yelled “AVALANCHE.” And I asked him how he knew the word avalanche.  He told me that he had heard it in a book his teacher read him at school.

There has to be a continuum and a partnership between parental action and high quality child care and this takes real public investments.

In 1971, the year I was born, President Richard Nixon famously declared that universal child care would have “family-weakening implications” as he wielded his veto pen to block a universal child care bill passed by Congress.

We may look back on this moment with disbelief, but at the time – it really was a close call for America with real divisions about whether women should work outside the home. Those conversations may still occur among the elite, but nearly everyone else is working.

Today, over 70 percent of families are headed by two working parents or a single working parent – compared to under 40 percent in the early 1970s.

Unfortunately, President Nixon’s veto of universal child care became the last best chance for decades for the federal government to support working moms and dads trying to raise their children and earn a living at the same time.

We are here because today is FINALLY our moment to make greater access to child care and early childhood education a reality.

FUTURE VISION

While we have made progress, it is clear that we need more of our leaders to fully embrace early learning as central to the future of our children and our economy.

The Senate’s recent passage of the Child Care Development Block Grant bill is a great step in the right direction – and with such a strong, bipartisan vote! The President is using his bully pulpit to push for change.  But it is up to us to make it happen.   And it will truly take all of us.

If we set our sights on a vision that includes these three principles, I believe we will be able to fully support families to help children thrive in the early years and beyond:

1. We need a common understanding of the importance of early child development

  • All Americans should have a deep appreciation of the importance of brain development of very young children – not just among advocates and researchers, but among grocery store managers, elementary school administrators, public transit operators, and governors.
  • I believe that understanding will lead to more family interaction that supports children. It will lead to workplace changes that support families. And it will lead to federal policies that better support our child care providers.

2.  We need more training for those who care for infants and toddlers

  • There must be a much greater support system to provide training and guidance to all who provide care and teach our youngest children, including parents.
  • Throughout training, care givers should hear about the importance of talking, singing, hugging, and playing, as a critical component of brain development and life-long learning.

3.  We need a robust, high-quality system of infant and toddler care

  • The United States must distinguish itself as a country that values quality learning for young children, as evidenced by high quality child care centers.
  • Parents, providers, and policymakers should develop a common, evidence-based definition of quality. Families should be able to enroll their young children in programs with confidence. And state- and federally-funded reimbursement rates should reward high quality programs.
  • Low-income families should have the same range of choice as upper and middle-class families, so that their children can also receive the type of support that is best for them.

To get there, we must start with a clear vision and set of convictions: our country can and should take a stand on early learning and development. Through thoughtful and collaborative work, we can continue a nationwide conversation about these issues.

That is why it is so critical that you have all travelled here to DC to share your message with our legislators. But you must carry the message back home with you as well.

Conversations about early development belong in every doctor’s office, place of worship, grocery store, and barbershop. Only when communities are reminded and convinced of the long-term gains made when we invest in young children will our politicians respond.

So I hope you will join us in partnership at http://www.toosmall.org to work together on closing the word gap and creating an early learning nation.

 

Ann O’Leary is vice president and director of the children and families program for Next Generation,  which includes spearheading “Too Small to Fail”—Next Generation’s joint initiative with the Clinton Foundation to help parents and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages zero to five.  

Recap all of the 2014 Symposium.

Early literacy programs give young children a bright start

Learn more about what Nemours BrightStart! is doing to get children ready to read in this guest blog post from Caroline Schierle. Caroline and her colleague Kerry Eldred will present at the 2014 Symposium

If a child is not reading on grade level by the end of first grade, there is only a 10 percent chance he will read on grade level in fourth grade. This is a frightening statistic considering most children with reading difficulties are not identified until the second or third grade.

But there is good news. The vision of Nemours BrightStart! (NBS!) is that every child becomes a reader. Through innovative programs, research, advocacy, leadership and partnerships, NBS! works to promote reading success and prevent reading failure in children.

NBS! is rooted in the belief that early identification of reading difficulties is paramount. Children are most likely to become successful readers when they begin kindergarten with strong reading readiness skills. Pre-kindergarten is an ideal time to identify at-risk children and provide early intervention when children’s brains are adaptable and responsive. Further, providing exposure to important early literacy skills at a young age is easier and more economical than paying for remedial services if a child has fallen behind later in school.

Research has shown that the NBS! program significantly improves early literacy skills of pre-kindergarteners at risk for reading failure, with two-thirds of children who receive the small-group, multi-sensory instruction moving to the typical range in their reading readiness skills. Due to its success, the program has expanded to reach more children at-risk for reading failure and is now in child care centers and schools across 18 states, including Florida, California, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia.

In addition to providing classroom instruction and training teachers across the country to implement the program in their own classrooms, NBS! provides free early literacy screenings for children in the community where early learning experts explain to parents what their children’s scores mean about their level of early literacy skills.

NBS! recognizes the importance of parents as a child’s first teacher. NBS! is currently developing and piloting informational workshops for parents to share knowledge of child development, shared book reading techniques, and ideas for everyday learning activities. NBS! is also wrapping up a two-year research study examining the effectiveness of training parents how to do early literacy activities with their children at home.

For more information, visit the NBS! website at http://www.nemours.org/service/health/brightstart.html.

Caroline Schierle is a Research and Evaluation Specialist at Nemours BrightStart! where she manages data from ongoing projects within Jacksonville, FL. Prior to working as a researcher, she worked one-on-one with young adults with learning disabilities. As a result of this rewarding work combined with her educational background with degrees in Sociology and Psychology, she has a unique perspective and drive to understand and improve early childhood education through both research and applied best practices.

Nemours BrightStart! researches, develops and offers evidence-based tools targeting young children at risk for reading failure. The goal of NBS! is to effectively instruct children at the very beginning of their reading journey to ensure long-term reading success. Nemours BrightStart! helps parents, educators, health care professionals and community leaders understand key concepts and actions needed to promote reading success for all children through a variety of specific tools, services and resources.

Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns

Guest Blog by Camille Smith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you have not already had a child in your care with a developmental delay or disability, chances are, you will. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1 in 6 children has a developmental disability. Children with developmental problems are at increased risk for poor outcomes in many areas important to health, well-being and success in life.

Early treatment and services can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, and earlier identification will maximize children’s opportunities to benefit from services. Most children with developmental delays are not identified early enough for them to benefit from early intervention services. You can help change that.

You spend the day caring for and teaching children and are instrumental in determining many of the experiences they have. You celebrate milestones children reach and you are concerned when they do not reach those very important milestones. You are a trusted partner and valuable resource to families. They look to you for information on how their child is developing, because you often have good observations about their child’s strengths and needs.

You can play an important role in the early identification of developmental delay by tracking the development of each child in your care, sharing materials and resources with families so that they too can monitor their child, and talking with families about their child’s development. Monitoring each child’s development is easy with the right tools and resources.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. program has free materials to help you monitor a child’s development, have  important conversations with families about their child’s development, and take early action on developmental concerns.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.” offers:

  • Developmental milestone checklists
  • Tips for helping children grow and learn
  • Guidance on how to take early action on developmental concerns, and
  • COMING SOON: online training for early care and education providers for FREE CE credit!

“Learn the Signs. Act Early.” materials are research based, parent-friendly, and even customizable! Best of all they are free and easy to download from your computer.

Don’t Wait. Tracking milestones and acting early on developmental concerns can make a big difference!!

For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/ActEarly or email ActEarly@cdc.gov.

Please visit the Child Care Aware® of America Symposium page for details about Camille’s Symposium session.

5 reasons the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant matters

ccdbg reauthorize2The Senate will consider the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) as early as next week. As you know, this federal law outlines how child care funding and quality initiatives are funded in the states –yet it has not been reauthorized in over 17 years, making the Senate debate next week one of the most critical conversations about children in child care in recent times.

This piece of legislation, S. 1086, is something for which Child Care Aware® of America has long fought and we’re thrilled and hopeful that the bill has come this far.  There are many steps to take still, but if passed, this legislation would help ensure working families have access to safe, affordable child care in ways that do not exist today.

Children and families in America are counting on you and I to rally behind every step the CCDBG reauthorization takes towards becoming reality. That’s why we are urging everyone to contact their Senators and ask them to support S.1086 right away.

Need more? Here are five reasons the reauthorization of CCDBG matters:

  1. Comprehensive background checks. Did you know under the current law, many states do not require child care providers to have comprehensive background checks to work in child care? This means that it’s possible for anyone to receive child care funds and work with children… even sex offenders. This CCDBG reauthorization requires providers undergo a comprehensive background check, which include state and federal fingerprint checks, sex offender registry check and a child abuse and registry check. It’s a common sense requirement to keep children safe.
  2. Increased quality funds to states. The current CCDBG law requires that states use 4 percent of funding from CCDBG for quality dollars. These quality dollars help Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies support quality initiatives like training and parent education. This number of quality dollars increases dramatically with S.1086 requiring that states set aside no less than 6 percent of funds in 2014, 8 percent of funds in 2016, and 10 percent of funds by 2018 to improve the quality of child care.
  3. Increased awareness for families. This CCDBG reauthorization requires states to electronically post the results of monitoring and inspection reports, including substantiated complaints of child care programs. Additionally, states would be required to collect and make public the number of deaths, serious injuries, and instances of child abuse. Transparency is necessary to help parents choose the right child care setting for their family.
  4. Inspect child care programs before licensing. Many states do not require inspections prior to issuing child care licenses. Some states even allow self-certification prior to receiving a license. The CCDBG reauthorization, S.1086, requires states to inspect programs at least once before licensing and at least one unannounced inspection annually. These reports must also be posted electronically.
  5. Continuity of care. S.1086 ensures each child who receives assistance through CCDBG will continue to be eligible for child care assistance for no less than 12 months, as long as family income does not exceed 85 percent of state median income for a family of the same size. This is extremely important for our youngest learners because we know how crucial continuity of care is in a child’s early years. The ability to keep a child in a program consistently will help ensure the child receives appropriate developmental activities and prepares them to start kindergarten ready to learn.

This is a critical moment for the future of children in child care. You can send an email to your Senators through our Action Center here and to learn more about the bill, please visit our website here. Don’t delay. Your senators will need to know your position as they prepare to discuss the bill.

Thank you for your support for children in child care.

Congratulations to Let’s Move! for reaching four years

February marks the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!, America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. As a Let’s Move! Child Care partner, Child Care Aware® of America joins in celebrating this milestone. We have worked with Let’s Move! Child Care on many projects over the past years.

Here are a few of our favorite moments:

Let’s Move! Child Care Physical Activity for Trainers

Farm to Preschool: Digging in to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Taking Care of You With MyPlate

Focusing on the Whole Child
We’ll be talking about the health and education of the whole child at our second Health Aware event, as part of the 2014 Symposium. Join us on Friday, April 4 for Health Aware with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Save the Children, Child’s Environmental Health and Let’s Move! Child Care.

Learn more about how Child Care Aware® of America works with Let’s Move! here.

Raise Your Hand discussion continued at Symposium

Child Care Aware® of America hosted its first Raise Your Hand for Child Care virtual event. This event included a live reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and Twitter chat to conclude our Raise Your Hand for Child Care five-month webinar series, which was created to build awareness about federal and state policy opportunities to support child care.

18500129_ryh-social-media-ad-redditThe Raise Your Hand series united coalition partners and early childhood advocates nationwide and the virtual finale event gave the public the chance to ask questions about early childhood policy, the child care subsidy system, the Preschool for All movement, and more. To view the entire reddit event, click here. support child care. 

Not only did our virtual event help us engage parents and families around the country, but it also generated lots of questions that we’ll be addressing at our 2014 Symposium.  Many of 27 breakout sessions taking place at Symposium will talk about the new funding for Early Head Start – Child Care partnerships, research about families and best practices for training providers, and so much more we chatted about during the Raise Your Hand virtual event.

Get more at Symposium
The Child Care Aware® of America 2014 Symposium will take place April 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. This three-day event will focus on child care and early education policies and bills currently before Congress, as well as research, practice and innovation approaches for child care that are shaping how families access quality child care. To register for Symposium, please visit our website here and follow the conversation on Twitter using #RYH4ChildCare.

Sneak Preview
Be sure to check the Early Directions blog often. Over the next few weeks you’ll get a peek into some of the 2014 Symposium sessions through guest bloggers who will also present at Symposium.  We are proud to present sneak preview blogs from:

Join us in preparing for the 2014 Symposium where we’ll celebrate our field and keep the momentum forward as we do something BIG for children in child care.

Congress Set to Pass Spending Bill with Investments for Early Learning

Tweet your thanks with this image!Wednesday, Congress will begin voting on a spending bill that includes investments in early childhood education.

Late Monday night, Senate Appropriations Chair Senator Barbara Mikulski and House Appropriations Chair Representative Hal Rogers announced an agreement on a spending bill that will fund the government through September 30, 2014. The spending bill consolidates the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the government each year into one “Omnibus” spending bill.

The Omnibus spending bill would set spending for the rest of Fiscal Year 2014 at $1.012 trillion, which allows for some relief of the sequester, which had set spending at $967 billion for the year, but falls short of the $1.058 billion proposed by the Senate and the Administration.

Some of the highlights of the bill’s investment in children and families include:

  • $2.36 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which is an increase of $154 million over the FY2013 levels.
  • $8.6 billion for Head Start, which is an increase of $1.025 billion over the FY2013 level.
  • $500 million from the above $8.6 million will be put towards expanding access to Early Head Start, including the development of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants to help improve the quality in child care programs.
  • $250 million for Race to the Top- Preschool Development Grants to help states develop, enhance, or expand quality preschool programs for children 4 years old or older from low-income families.

Leaders of both parties in Congress and the Administration support this Omnibus spending bill, sending a clear signal there is a federal commitment to invest in early childhood education.

Tweet Thanks
Although there is still work to do, join us as we tweet thanks to those Congressional members who supported children and families through this budget process.

  • Senator Tom Harkin @SenatorHarkin  Chair of Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski @SenatorBarb  Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee
  • Congressman Hal Rogers @RepHalRogers  Chair of House Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Jerry Moran @JerryMoran  Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services  (Labor HHS) Subcommittee
  • Senator Richard Shelby @senShelby  Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Committee
  • Congresswoman Nita Lowey @nitalowey  Ranking Member, House Appropriations Committee
  • Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro @rosadelauro  Ranking Member, House Appropriations LaborHHS Subcommittee
  • Congressman Jack Kingston @JackKingston  Chair, House Appropriations Committee
Tell them you appreciate their commitment to a quality early learning experience for young children and families. 
Get More
Bill details on the policy blog: Mikulski and Rogers Unveil Omnibus Spending Bill

2013: Setting the Stage for Young Children in 2014

For years Child Care Aware® of America has shared one message: affordable, high quality child care matters. It matters for children and it matters for families.

This year, the White House took notice, with President Obama making expanded opportunities for high quality child care and early learning not just a part of his policy agenda, but a central focus of that agenda so that “none of our children start the race of life already behind.”

This unparalleled attention to an issue that impacts the more than 11 million children in out of home care was met with welcomed hope and renewed inspiration.

Perhaps finally our pleas for focus and attention to quality and safety would be heeded.

Maybe all states that participate in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would have to ensure minimum health and safety standards in their programs.

Perhaps training, which is currently required in only half of the states would be extended to all.

Maybe states would be expected to conduct routine inspections more frequently than every 5 or 6 years and background checks would be conducted on all who accept a fee for child care.

President Obama embraced this challenge early on, sharing his vision for a quality early learning system for all in his 2013 State of the Union address; promoting early learning as an economic development strategy and as essential to ensuring that children enter school ready to learn so we can prevent achievement gaps before they begin.

It didn’t end there. He backed it up with a promise to fund states who embraced quality. He proposed new regulations for CCDBG, a program which hadn’t been reauthorized in more than 17 years.

Later, in his budget, President Obama proposed a new $75 billion investment in a high quality, coordinated early learning program that would ensure all children would have access to preschool. The Obama administration leadership shed light on how few children have access to quality child care and that state laws vary greatly. They did so by focusing attention on five areas:

  • Improving the Quality of Child Care: Access to affordable, safe, quality child care is essential for all families: without it, many families are left with the untenable choice of leaving their children in substandard care, or risk losing their jobs. New comprehensive rules proposed by the Obama administration are pending and have been echoed in the first bi-partisan reauthorization proposal for CCDBG in more than 17 years. The proposed rule and CCDBG reauthorization set the stage for significant improvements in 2014 for the largest program funding child care services in the United States.
  • Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: The President also announced plans to expand the supply of early learning for children from birth to age 3 by making a $1.4 billion investment in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. This means Early Head Start grantees would partner with child care providers who agree to meet high standards of quality.
  • Preschool for All: In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America. As part of that effort, the President will propose a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5. By doing so, the President would invest critical resources where we know the return on our dollar is the highest: In our youngest children.
  • Empowering Parents: We all know the important role that families play in promoting the healthy development of their children, yet not all families are equipped with the information and support they need to create positive environments for their children to develop and learn. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program created under the Affordable Care Act expands evidence-based home visiting programs in states to serve the most vulnerable children and families to better ensure that children are healthy and prepared for school and life. The President put forward a proposal to extend funding of this $1.5 billion program for another 10 years in the 2013 State of the Union address.
  • Raising the Bar for Early Learning through Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants: The Obama administration has invested in comprehensive improvements to state early learning systems through Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), a new competition that challenges states to deliver better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful education and training for early educators. This program represents an unprecedented opportunity for states to focus on early learning and development systems in their states and build a more unified approach to supporting young children and their families to make sure that more children, especially those with high needs, enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

We have much to be thankful for, and yet much more to do. Last year was a launch pad for action in 2014. Major legislation has been introduced and needs our sustained voices to gain momentum and convey the sense of urgency needed to propel it into law.

Child Care Aware® of America is not alone. We stand with hundreds of other committed organizations who share the same mission and goal. We stand with the parents and children whose stories tell us why we must demand action from decision makers.  Child Care Aware® of America has raised its hand and stands at the ready to make those decisions happen. Raise your hand. Stand with us in 2014.

Get more: Raise Your Hand webinar series on child care and early education in America.

Top 5 most read blogs in 2013

The year is coming to a close and Child Care Aware® of America wishes its members, partners and colleagues a safe and happy holiday season.

As we reflect on 2013, here are our top five blog posts:

#5  -  Dual Language Learning: Benefits and Practice
This Q&A with the National Council of La Raza generated lots of buzz, exploring the experiences of Latino children in child care and early education.

#4  - Harkin, Miller, Hanna propose Strong Start for America’s Children Act
The Harkin-Miller-Hanna legislation was a vital step forward validating the importance of quality early learning experiences nationwide. Get the details of the day.

 #3 – Parents and the High Cost of Care: A Report
This report went viral. With more than 400 news stories about the report, our analysis around child care costs in the United States struck a chord. Read the blog launch of the report on our 3rd most popular blog post of the year.

 #2 – Early childhood education major + college degree = low pay
An NPR report citing research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education found an early childhood education degree among the least lucrative of all college majors. See the other majors that made the list.

#1  Most read blog of the year: Child Care Provider Reacts to Cost of Care Report
A guest post from Kathy Banks, M.Ed., the executive director of the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center in Virginia, was our most visited blog. See what she had to say about the Parents and the High Cost of Care: 2013 Report.

Did you read a blog that stuck with you? We’d love to hear about it. Send the title of your favorite blog at news@usa.childcareaware.org and tell us why it’s great.

Happy New Year from the team at Child Care Aware® of America.