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!

Kristy Whitley and the Mount Moriah Child Development Center – July 2015 Provider of the Month

Congratulations to Kristy Whitley and the deserving staff at Mount Moriah Child Development Center in North Carolina – July 2015 Provider of the Month!

We’d all love to have a child care provider who welcomes our child into their care every day with a smile, and spends quality time with our child when we’re not able to be there. For Fleece Pierce, her four month old sons’ provider does just that. According to Pierce’s nomination for Kristy Whitley and the Mount Moriah Child Development Center, her son is in more than capable hands:

As a working mom I was hesitant of leaving my baby in daycare, thinking he was not going to receive the attention, interaction, or love needed that I could provide… I am beyond happy I have found the quality service at Mt. Moriah – our baby boy comes home smiling, giggling, rested and happy each day… when you see happy children each time you know you have chosen a great facility.

Whitley and her staff at the Mount Moriah Child Development Center go above and beyond every day with the children in their care – they set the bar for all other providers with their open door policy for families to come and interact with their children throughout the day, multicultural activities as part of their weekly lesson plans, and developmentally appropriate toys, materials, and activities.

Mentored by Bonnie Long, current supervisor for Cabarrus County Schools (North Carolina), Whitley said, “God placed it in my heart to become a child provider… I went to school and received my Early Childhood Education degree. We opened our facility with only one child. Since then God has blessed us to have 40 children.”

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

Nominate a Provider

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!



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:

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

Playing Pretend…With Math!

makebelievewithmathA post from our partners at Sesame Street

Join your friends at Sesame Street for a FREE online course for early childhood educators entitled Make Believe with Math.

This self-paced course is designed for all early childhood educators – whether you are working in a classroom, center-based program, or family child-care setting. The course will enable educators to explore the fun of math in children’s make believe play and how math moments can be incorporated into everyday learning.

The online course will:

  • Highlight the importance of math and pretend play in children’s lives
  • Explore how a facilitator can integrate “math moments” into children’s pretend play
  • Offer an interactive learning experience during which educators can connect with others

Educators will have two sessions to choose from:

  • August Session: August 1– 31 (Registration opens July 15, 2015)
  • October Session: October 1 – 31

To be notified when course registration opens, and for more information on the course, please visit: and choose a session. Sesame Street will then send you more details about registering for the course.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email Sesame at


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.

President Obama visits the Sunflower State to Talk about Quality, Affordable Child Care

By: Leadell Ediger, Executive Director, Child Care Aware of Kansas:

When an email from the White House came into my inbox, I paid attention!  That’s the situation I found myself in, in mid-January.  I was delighted to find that Child Care Aware® of Kansas was being offered two tickets to attend the President’s Remarks at the University of Kansas.   It really didn’t take me more than 2 minutes to look at my calendar and send a quick response back to the White House, stating Absolutely!  Much to my surprise, on Wednesday (the day before the President’s visit) we were offered another seven tickets!  Of course I said we’d take them.  Within a matter of one hour, I called the CCR&Rs in Kansas, two child care center directors and one high school teacher to extend the offer.  All 7 people immediately said “YES”!

Dean Olson (The Family Conservancy), Elaine Edwards (center director) Deb Crowl (center director), Leadell Ediger (CCR&R Network Director), Cheryl Firsching (Child Start), Amanda Ediger (High school teacher), Angie Saenger (CCR&R Network), Tanya Koehn (CCR&R Network).

Dean Olson (The Family Conservancy), Elaine Edwards (center director) Deb Crowl (center director), Leadell Ediger (CCR&R Network Director), Cheryl Firsching (Child Start), Amanda Ediger (High school teacher), Angie Saenger (CCR&R Network), Tanya Koehn (CCR&R Network).

From the email from the White House, I learned that there was a specific procedure to picking up the tickets, so off to Lawrence, Kansas, we went on Wednesday afternoon.  The pickup time was between 4 – 6 pm.  We got there at 5 and waited an hour to get our 9 precious tickets.  Much discussion took place because we got a “red” ticket, versus a “green” or a “white” ticket, how close to the front would we actually be?

Thursday morning dawned quite chilly in Lawrence, Kansas but an electric feel was in the air when we snaked our way through the waiting line.   We made arrangements to meet one of our colleagues from the Kansas City area outside the arena where the event was being held; luckily I got his cell phone number just to be safe.  Standing was the name of the game that day, standing outside in the cold, standing for 3 hours inside waiting and standing, applauding, cheering for a short 35 minute window when the President spoke.  What an exciting 35 minutes though!  When the President finally made his entrance, we were within 30 feet of him and had perfect viewing!

Front: Deb Crowl, Cheryl Firsching, Leadell Ediger Middle row: Elaine Edwards, Tanya Koehn, Dean Olson Back row: Reva Wywadis and Angie Saenger

Front: Deb Crowl, Cheryl Firsching, Leadell Ediger
Middle row: Elaine Edwards, Tanya Koehn, Dean Olson
Back row: Reva Wywadis and Angie Saenger

President Obama strolled in with his shirt sleeves rolled up, ready to go!  It was very obvious, the President knows how to excite a crowd, and he did so by starting off with saying “he’s a Kansas boy”.  This statement got a big roar from the crowd.  Yes, the President has deep roots in Kansas.  He then shared his message, that middle-class economics should be the focus!  This included a healthy discussion about child care!   After listening only days before to the State of the Union address, I knew he had big plans to strengthen child care, but again in Lawrence the President said “It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us”, which brought, again, a huge roar from the crowd.  During this short address, I heard the President’s passion for young children and their working families.  His persistence and dedication to wanting to help the middle-class and how much he values and supports, not only early learning, but learning for all!  He showed his impatience to get the job done.  An added bonus for me and something I didn’t expect to see was his delightful humor.

After the speech, the President interacted with the crowd by shaking many hands.  Because we were so close to the stage, before he left the auditorium he shook the hands of four of the nine early childhood folks that went with us!   This clearly will be a day that we’ll remember for years to come.