Bringing Emotional Development to the Big Screen


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


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.

The New CCAoA Website Is Live!

We’re proud to announce the newly redesigned Child Care Aware® of America website!

The new CCAoA website features a modern and more attractive design with easy-to-navigate search functionality and a content-rich experience. The website is now mobile-compatible so users can easily access the site and utilize all of its new features from any personal device.

This redesigned site will better showcase our organization as a leading national child care resource and encourage more advocacy, engagement, and support for quality child care across the nation.

The new features of the CCAoA website include a streamlined navigation architecture that allows users to find content in three clicks or less. The new fly-out menu provides an at-a-glance site map to guide visitors to their desired destination. The child care search feature, which is one of the most accessed tools on the CCAoA site today, has even been optimized for a more user-friendly experience.

Stop by the new Child Care Aware® of America website and see what’s new! And if you come across something not working the way it should, we want to hear about it. Let us know by sending an email to


Why National Poetry Month is Important for Children

April is National Poetry Month, which may seem silly and perhaps even frivolous with everything else going on in the early childhood education space, but it’s actually quite important.

Started in 1996 by the National Academy of Poets, the stated goal of the month was to:

  • highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
  • encourage the reading of poems
  • assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms
  • increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
  • encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
  • encourage support for poets and poetry.

Poetry often employs the use of rhyme and rhythm – helpful especially to young children still learning to build language and comprehension skills! It also allows children to use their creativity to discuss subjects of interest to them in a fun way that can help them learn to love reading, and can even be used as a great exercise for English language learners.

Some resources and ideas to help you celebrate poetry during National Poetry Month and throughout the year:

Child Care Leaders Address 2015 Child Care Aware® of America Annual Meeting and Conference

Child Care Aware® of America’s (CCAoA) 2015 annual meeting and conference in Washington, D.C. brought together child care providers, CCR&Rs, and leaders from government agencies and the White House to address many issues including Early Head Start and Child Care Partnerships, implementation of CCDBG, CCAoA’s strategic planning, and cultural competency in family engagement.


Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Education, Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), addressed annual meeting attendees. Photo by Steve Barrett.

We were so fortunate to have Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Education, Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and Rachel Schumacher, Director of the Office of Child Care, join us on day one of our annual meeting! Smith kicked off the events on Monday morning with her opening keynote on opportunities and challenges affecting the child care community and potential changes coming down the road, while Schumacher spoke later that afternoon about CCDBG implications for the early childhood community generally and for CCR&R’s specifically. It was a great discussion with questions from attendees on how these issues would affect their communities.

Day one also included a presentation by Shannon Moodie and Manica Ramos with Child Trends on the report “Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs”. Presenters offered tips and resources on how to engage parents from diverse communities in child care and early learning settings – something many attendees in the audience had questions about and perspectives to share after their presentation.

A panel on Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership included Dr. Cheri Vogel from Mathematica, Steve Rohde from the Maryland Family Network, and Dr. Walter Gilliam of the Child Study Center at Yale University and a CCAoA board member. Panelists discussed the issues and core competencies that support partnerships between Early Head Start and Child Care providers.

For those in attendance on Monday afternoon, Dr. Abby Thorman of Thorman Strategy Group facilitated a discussion to get membership input on CCAoA’s evolving Strategic Plan. Members will have more opportunities to engage – be on the lookout for more opportunities to share your ideas and perspectives as we all look forward to embracing new goals and objectives for the future later this year when we release the final plan.

BODpresidents_Barrett sm

Left to right: current board president L. Carol Scott, Ph.D., CCAoA Executive Director Lynette Fraga, Ph.D., and president-elect Steve Rohde. Photo by Steve Barrett.

Please join us in congratulating Steve Rohde, Deputy Director for Resource and Referral Services of the Maryland Family Network, on his successful election to the position of president-elect of the CCAoA board of directors!

Rohde has been a preschool classroom teacher, a child care center director, a child care specialist with municipal and county licensing programs, a trainer, and a county and state administrator for licensing. He has a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University, and was also adjunct faculty with Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College) for five years.

His expertise and leadership will be a great asset to the Child Care Aware® of America board. We are looking forward to him joining us at the next board meeting in May.

Two of our newest board members Ann McCully and Tonja Rucker were also on-hand for the annual meeting, and participated in the discussion and events. You can learn more about them, and another recent addition to CCAoA board leadership, online.


Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President on education gave the keynote luncheon address. Photo by Steve Barrett.

Day two of the annual meeting and conference began with Linda K. who spoke about understanding the new landscape of early learning systems during the morning session, with a luncheon keynote from Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President on education.

In his role advising the White House on education and early learning policy, Rodriguez said to attendees, “A child’s zip code should not be a predetermining factor in the opportunities he or she has to grow and succeed.” We at Child Care Aware® of America couldn’t agree more!

In a fantastic exchange of ideas, attendees participated in our first open session, where groups gathered to talk about issues they were most interested in. The open forums then reported out at the closing session on Tuesday afternoon on some of their key takeaways.

If you missed the 2015 annual meeting and conference, we’ve got you covered! Check out our Facebook album for pictures from the event, start to finish.

And be sure to keep an eye out for details on the spring 2016 symposium! Plans are currently in the works for this big event, to be held in Washington, D.C.

Welcome, New Board Members!

New CCAoA board member Ann Duluth.

New CCAoA board member Ann McCully.

Before our 2015 Annual Meeting begins, I’d like to unofficially welcome Child Care Aware® of America’s three newest board members – Ann McCully, Tonja Rucker, and Renée Boynton-Jarrett, M.D., Sc.D.

These three champions bring an extraordinary amount of expertise in childhood development, education, health, and resources to the Child Care Aware® of America board of directors. We’re honored to have them lend their knowledge and leadership to our organization at such a critical time in our country for child care issues.


New CCAoA board member Tonja Rucker.

The new board members all will be officially welcomed at the 2015 Annual Meeting in March but you can learn more about their diverse backgrounds and  expertise in our latest press release.

And I hope to see you at the CCAoA Annual Meeting, held in partnership with the National Head Start Association Conference and Expo, March 29-31.


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.