2014 Symposium kicks off with a great start

Read about days 2 and 3 of the 2014 Symposium

Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS), received the Sandra J. Skolnik Public Policy Leadership Award during the opening session for the Child Care Aware of America 2014 Symposium, Wed April 2.

symposium 4Linda’s acceptance speech brought the nearly 300 attendees to their feet as she praised the Child Care Resource and Referral Community for their hard work to help the country advance its child care policies, as evidenced by the Senate passing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization just weeks ago. “The country understands the importance of quality child care,” Linda said.

symposium 1The day was filled with celebratory moments. From photos with the Walkaround Cookie Monster provided by Sesame Workshop to simply being in the nation’s capitol for the first time.

“The opening was very well done,” said Yuoeven Whistler, with Crystal Stairs, Inc in Los Angeles, CA. “The award for Linda was very moving and a great way to start the day.”

Too Small to Fail
symposium 5 Ann O’Leary, Vice President of Next Generation and Co-Director of Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, opened the event as the first keynote speaker.

“Children can make terrific gains if they have access to high quality child care,” she said.

Recalling her experience trying to get her child on a wait list for a quality child care center she said, “My wish for all parents is that they can search online and know they can find licensed child care and that a license means something.”

Ann added, “Quality early learning is not only about bridging an achievement gap, but it’s an economic issue.”

Breakout sessions
With nine breakout sessions following the opening luncheon, attendees had lots of options. From Family Engagement to Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to Coaching Preschool Providers to success – every session was full.

“I could have listened for another hour,” said Nancy Thomson, from Child Care Connection in New Jersey. “With all the resource and referral agencies doing the technical assistance for QRIS, the session by Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) really showed an ideal picture of what we all should have. They have a lot of financial resources and put a lot of professional development into the staff working with the providers.”

 symposium 7Federal Panel
The day ended with a Federal policy update from Shannon Rudisill, Director of the Office of Child Care in the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Steven Hicks, Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Many questions surrounded the Early Head Start- Child Care Parnterships. The panelists said they were encouraged that the program would help build relationship between EHS and child care advocates. Learn more about EHS-CC.

symposium 6Preparing for Day on the Hill
A room packed full of representatives from states across the country gathered for the final meeting of the day to prepare for Day on the Hill. They prepared their talking points and picked up their Hill packets. But mostly, they were ready to thank Congress for supporting CCDBG and the many other positive policy actions taken throughout the past year on behalf of children and families.

1K for Kids
For those here in DC and at home, we’ve challenged eveveyone to make their voice heard for children. We’re asking everyone to help generate 1,000 actions for kids – or 1K for Kids – throughout Symposium.

In just a few hours we were nearly a quarter of the way to our goal! You generated more than 220 tweets, facebook posts, likes, and shares with #RYH4ChildCare.

But we have a long way to go. Learn how you can help grow our voice for children and get entered to win some fun prizes. Visit symposium.usa.childcareaware.org.

Meanwhile, find your photo from Sesame Street’s Walkaround Cookie Monster photo booth!

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Partnering for families with Sesame Workshop

We are so pleased to collaborate  with Sesame Workshop to distribute free resources through our membership from trusted characters children know and love! A big welcome to Sesame Workshop as part of Child Care Aware® of America’s official partner.  ~ Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director, Child Care Aware® of America.

Guest blog by Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, Community and Family Engagement, Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop

Thanks to Child Care Aware® of America, Sesame Workshop’s Little Children, Big Challenges resources will reach more parents and educators than ever before, to help children develop the resilience they need to overcome everyday challenges. From saying goodbye to a parent in the morning, being patient, overcoming bedtime blues, sibling rivalry, and even relocating, the lovable and relatable Sesame Street Muppets™ can show them how. Many people think that resilience is an innate part of a child’s personality, but by helping children cope with the challenges that come their way, children can actually learn the skills they need to build resilience, and in turn grow healthy and school ready.

To help parents and children make everyday challenges into learning moments, Sesame Workshop has created bilingual (English/Spanish) multimedia resources including Sesame Street videos, print resources, and a guide for educators to use in the classroom.

We want to do everything possible to make sure our resources are accessible to families when and where they need them. That’s why a dedicated partner like Child Care Aware® of America is such an important relationship to the Workshop. With their established network through the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) field, our multimedia materials about resilience will reach more than 860,000 families per year, and we can continue to develop and improve our resources using feedback from those families. This pilot program will allow CCR&Rs who are members of Child Care Aware® of America to submit requests for proposal to participate in the pilot, and distribute materials to children and families in their community. Updates around the rollout of materials and how to submit requests for proposal will be announced on this blog.

For more than four decades, the Workshop has been focused on helping children achieve their highest potential. Today we continue our efforts, with the help of partners like Child Care Aware® of America, by tackling essential skills that can help children learn and grow as they encounter new challenges every day; they also provide the adults in their lives with tools to help young children build these crucial skills in a fun and furry way that only Sesame Street can – with the help of Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street Muppets.

Sesame Workshop’s Little Children, Big Challenges initiative seeks to help children ages 2-5 in military, veteran and general public families build important resilience and perseverance skills that allow them to overcome challenges large and small. One of the most important factors in building these skills is the presence of a caring, supportive adult. This is why this new initiative is providing tools for adults to empower the children in their lives to transform everyday challenges into opportunities for growth, development, and lifelong success.

Dr. Betancourt has directed Sesame Workshop Outreach projects in the areas of bilingual education, literacy, music, health and safety, resiliency, and child care.  She has overseen content development for Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat and advised on Dragon Tales. She is also the series content advisor for the award-winning parenting programs A Place of Our Own and Los Niños en su Casa.

Sesame Street Walkaround character at 2014 Symposium
Press Release: Announcing partnership with Sesame Workshop

White House, Sesame Street Endorse Healthy Options for Children

Today I joined First Lady Michelle Obama, Sesame Street and many coalition partners at the White House to continue the mission to end the childhood obesity epidemic. Let’s Move! and Sesame Workshop are partnering with the produce industry to use Elmo, Cookie Monster and Sesame Street’s other furry characters free of charge to help market fruits and veggies to children. Elmo and Rosita joined the First Lady to talk about how important healthy options are.

Michelle Obama with Rosita and Elmo

Michelle Obama talks healthy habits with Rosita and Elmo

“We have seen wonderful improvements across the country among child care providers giving healthy options for children – 98 percent of child care providers report children either ‘improved’ or ‘greatly improved’ their food choices while participating in the program,” said Mel Ming, CEO of Sesame Workshop, in his introduction of Mrs. Obama.

Families and caregivers play a key role making healthy choices for children and teaching children to make healthy choices for themselves.

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love, up and down the produce aisle,” Mrs. Obama said.

Starting healthy habits early can help children make better choices for life. Child care providers across the country deserve a “pat on the back” for making wholesome foods a priority for the children in their care.

Learn more about Let’s Move! Child Care.