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Registration is Open For The 2015 Professional Development Conference “The Future of STEM is Here”

12 Aug

PUTTING TRAINING INTO PRACTICE

At the Child Care Solution’s Columbus Day Professional Conference in 2014, Child Care Providers Learned About Natural Playscapes with Rusty Keeler.  Rusty did a workshop on building “Fairy Huts” with the students.  Kathy’s Group Family Day Care put this into practice this summer when the children let their imaginations run wild and they worked cooperatively to build their own fairy hut. Way to go kids!

What kinds of activities will Central New York child care providers incorporate into their programs after this year’s
conference “The Future of STEM is Here?”  Conference registration is open www.childcaresolutionscny.org!  Don’t miss out!

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Changing Adult Behavior To Improve Child Outcomes

26 Aug

Pancakes for breakfast.

Pancakes for breakfast.

Imagine this…You are 4 years old and nestled in your cozy pajamas gently waking to the smell of pancakes and eggs cooking on the stove.   You slowly rise as your mother calls you down for your favorite breakfast.  You enter the brightly lit kitchen greeted by a kiss and hug from your mom and a “how did you sleep?” from your dad.  You eat breakfast together then mom heads to work and you and dad have a few minutes to read your favorite picture book together.  Dad then gets dressed for his job and you pick out your favorite shirt and pants to wear to pre-school.   Dad drops you off at your classroom and you beeline for the Legos because they are your favorite thing to play with your best friend.  Dad waves goodbye after he talks to your teacher and says “pick you up at 5.”  You spend the day playing, reading, eating, napping, building Legos, coloring, painting and being silly with your friends.

 

Now imagine this…You are 4 years old and are waking up to a silent house.  You go to the empty kitchen that makes you shiver because the landlord will not fix the broken furnace. Your mom is sleeping because she had to work the late shift.  You open the refrigerator where you pull out a bottle of soda and grab some cereal.  There is not a lot of cereal left because your older brother gave it to you for dinner the night before.  Your brother then yells at you to get dressed because he has to walk you to your neighbor’s house.  Your neighbor is a really nice person who loves children but doesn’t know what to do with you all day.  They want you to behave and not make a lot of noise so they tell you to go watch TV, which you do until your brother picks you up on his way home from school.

 

Now believe this…these two very different “scenarios in the life of a 4 year old” happen every day in our community.  And I’m pretty sure we all can guess which 4 year old is going to have greater opportunities to become a successful, productive, healthy, contributing member of society.  We have been shouting it from the rooftops that the first five years of a child’s life are critical to brain development. We tweet, we Facebook, we write letters to the editor, we speak to anyone who will listen!  Why do we do it?  Because we care about the children of Central New York.  We advocate for them because they can’t advocate for themselves.  Because we know that in order for our community to have less crime, a better educated workforce, healthier citizens, and economic prosperity we have to build a strong foundation.  This foundation starts to form the second a child is born and in truth it is developing in-utero.

But how can we create better foundations when we know that so many of the children in our community are living with toxic stressors that prevent that critical brain development from occurring?   These stressors or “brain development blockers,” include poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, drugs, and mental illness.  These are the things we all know exist but often find difficult to confront.  In the city of Syracuse 67% of children under the age of five live in poverty.  In Onondaga County 20% of families with children under the age of five live below the federal poverty level.  Many of these children are also dealing with the other toxic stressors putting them at huge disadvantages from the beginning of their lives.  The statistics are overwhelming and I have often heard it said that these problems are too big to tackle.  In reality aren’t they too big not to tackle?  This is a battle for our future. 

 

Now I’m not naive.  I don’t think we can wave a “magic paradigm shift wand” and solve these societal problems.  But I am intrigued by the work of the folks at Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) at the Harvard Center for the Developing Child.   FOI is a “community of more than 400 researchers, practitioners, policymakers, philanthropists, and experts in systems change from across North America.  The goal of FOI is to bring about substantially greater positive impacts for vulnerable young children whose needs (or the needs of their caregivers) are not being fully met by existing policies and programs.”

 

FOI is currently exploring 3 methods of improving outcomes that involve protecting children from the impacts of toxic stress.  One method that is of particular interest to Child Care Solutions is skill building of adults who care for vulnerable children.  Like the neighbor in the second scenario above, many caregivers are well intentioned but they often lack the skills, experience and knowledge to improve the outcomes of the children in their care.  This skill building is not accomplished by simply providing information or support; it is accomplished through modeling decision making and appropriate techniques for caring for children. This theory forces agencies like ours to examine the way we train child care providers and parents.  We cannot be “passers of paper,” instead we have to use our knowledge and resources in a “boots on the ground” method of demonstrating and modeling the appropriate methods of interacting with and caring for our community’s children. Fortunately we have been doing this for some time, albeit in a limited way.  But the challenge is to bring this modeling to the scale necessary to create societal change.  It requires funding to support our trainers, support from policy makers and community leaders and the desire to truly start changing outcomes for our children. 

 

Now imagine again that you are the child in the second scenario above.  The caregiver has done “skill building” with Child Care Solutions.  Our trainers visited the home and modeled activities and practices that are easy to implement.  Now instead of your neighbor telling you to go watch TV, she has a set of building blocks in the living room and the TV is off.  She has a healthy snack waiting for you because she knows you might be hungry.  After your snack you go outside for a walk and count the number of objects that are the same colors as the blocks you played with. When you come back you get to color and talk about the things you saw on your walk.  These are simple changes, but they have to be taught and modeled for many adults.  Don’t these small changes make the future seem a little brighter though?

 

For more information on the research of the Frontiers of Innovation

Visit http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/multimedia/videos/

Friday, May 10th is Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

6 May

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The second Sunday in May has long been recognized as the day to honor mothers and their commitment to children. The Friday before Mother’s Day, May 10, 2013, is Provider Appreciation Day, a special day to recognize child care providers, teachers, school-age program staff, child care center directors and staff, and all those who work with children and are responsible for their education and care. It is estimated that nearly 11 million children under age 5 are cared for by 2.8 million child care providers in the United States.

“Every day, child care providers care for more than 7,000 children under the age of 5 in Onondaga and Cayuga counties of New York, says Patrice Robinson, Marketing & Development Director of Child Care Solutions, the local child care resource and referral agency. “The children and parents of Central New York depend on our child care providers. May 10 is the day to recognize the hard work and dedication of these providers and to acknowledge their contributions to quality care.”

Provider Appreciation Day was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey who saw the need to recognize the tireless efforts of providers who care for children of working parents. Momentum and support for this event has grown each year, and recognition presently includes individuals and government organizations throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
“By recognizing the dedication of child care providers on May 10, we remind our communities of the importance of quality child care and let providers everywhere know that we recognize and value their important work,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America, the host organization of Provider Appreciation Day. “Ninety percent of brain development occurs during the first five years of life. Providing quality care for our children – especially during this critical time – will help ensure their future success.”

In recent years, local governments across the United States have joined many Governors in proclaiming this day of recognition. Around the globe, Department of Defense installations celebrate Provider Appreciation Day by recognizing those who care for the children of military parents living both at home and abroad. Events such as luncheons, parades, dedications, and other recognition celebrations are planned throughout the United States to honor and thank child care providers for their hard work and commitment to children.

“It takes a special person to work in the child care field, and these individuals are often unrecognized,” says Robinson. “This day offers an opportunity for parents to show their child care providers their appreciation.”

To learn more about Provider Appreciation Day or for ideas on how you can thank your child care provider, visit http://www.childcaresolutionscny.org or contact Patrice Robinson, marketing and development director, at patricer@childcaresolutionscny.org or (315) 446-1220, ext. 354.

Resolutions For New York’s Children

5 Dec

andrew_cuomoSoon it will be time to make New Year’s resolutions for 2013. I’d like to add a resolution to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s list: “I will use my power and influence to make more high quality early education programs available to New York’s young children.”

Back in August, the New NY Education Reform Commission visited Syracuse for one of 11 meetings held around the state to gather input from experts and advocates. Child Care Solutions was part of that discussion, and our message then is the same today: Kids who start behind, stay behind.

Soon the commission will make final recommendations to Cuomo on improving the state’s struggling education system. We join Winning Beginning NY and early childhood supporters around the state in asking the commission to include the following recommendation to the governor: Ensure access to high-quality pre-k and child care for every New York family.

Brain researchhas come a long way in recent years. Today, we know the first years are the most crucial learning period in a child’s life. Indeed, 75 percent of brain development and 85 percent of intellect, personality and social skills develop before a child starts kindergarten. At every level of education, New York state is putting systems in place to measure outcomes and improve learning. It is time that these same rigorous standards also apply to early childhood programs — including both pre-k and child care.

That is why ensuring access and quality of early childhood education must include the expansion of QUALITYstarsNY, the state’s five-star rating program for early childhood programs. Just increasing access to programs isn’t enough — they must be of high quality. The benefits last a lifetime: increased school readiness, better health outcomes, decreased teen pregnancy, and increased rates of high school graduation and college completion.

These benefits aren’t limited to the child and family. They extend to communities, reducing the need for costly remedial education and social programs. And it doesn’t stop there. For every $1 invested in early education, there is a $1.86 return in money spent in that community, making high-quality pre-k and child care programs a sound local economic investment as well.

Given theeconomic climate, we know the commission and the governor face tough choices in every area of education. There are countless needs in reforming our struggling schools — with very little funding. But to make reform efforts successful, New York state should recognize (as many other states and countries already do) that our education system starts at birth.

Next year can be the year that we begin to ensure access and quality of pre-k and child care for every New York state family with young children. It’s a winning strategy that will help children and families, strengthen schools, boost the economy and make sure the Empire State remains competitive for decades to come. Governor: Will it be on your list of resolutions for 2013?

Peggy Liuzzi
Executive Director
Child Care Solutions

Quality For Kids

7 Aug

Child Care Solutions congratulates the 46 local early childhood programs that were just accepted to participate in Quality Stars NY, the State’s new early childhood quality rating and improvement system. The 28 child care centers and 18 family child care homes will join with over 400 other programs from around the State to initiate the first wave of Quality Stars implementation.

Like restaurant and hotel rating systems, when fully implemented, Quality Stars will assign a star-rating to describe the quality of each participating program. What’s different about Quality Stars, however, is that it will make resources, training and support available to help participating programs make strategic quality improvements.

The end result for our community will be higher-quality early care and education programs and better outcomes for children, now and in the future. There is a whole body of research that shows that high- quality early learning programs provide children with the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life. We agree, and we believe that the time has come to put research into practice by making high-quality programs available here and in every part of the State.

If, as you read this, you’re thinking of a child, grandchild, niece or nephew who needs and deserves high-quality early care and education, please shares this blog and take action. It’s time to start a movement with them in mind.

For me, it’s my 2-year-old granddaughter Sabine. Who motivates you?
Peggy Liuzzi, Executive Director

The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For Is Here…QualitystarsNY is STARting.

16 May

Child Care Solutions is excited to announce that Syracuse is one of seven (7) communities in New York State chosen to participate in the implementation of QualitystarsNY. This program establishes a five (5) star rating system for child care programs in New York State. Once fully operational, this rating scale will make the process of finding high quality child care easier for the parents of our community. It will also create a quality improvement process for child care programs in Central NY so they can elevate the care they provide to our children. For years we have been advocating for a quality improvement and rating system (QRIS) for our community and state. We have worked tirelessly on this cause because we know that high quality child care & learning experiences are critical to the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of our children.

The importance of a program like QualitystarsNY cannot be underestimated. The parents of our state deserve a reliable rating system to lessen the very burdensome process of finding high quality child care. How many of us choose restaurants or hotels based on a rating system? Do you read Consumer Reports when you purchase a car, refrigerator or TV? These rating system certainly help us as consumers make wise decisions about our spending. Currently parents have to perform tedious, time consuming, often ill-informed research about child care. Sometimes it is chosen on a “wing and a prayer.” How much easier will it be for parents when they can call Child Care Solutions and ask what is the program’s QualitystarsNY rating?

For the child care providers in our community, isn’t it time your profession receives the recognition & support deserved for the very hard, very IMPORTANT work you perform every day for the children of CNY? QUALITYstarsNY is your opportunity to participate in a quality improvement process that will set standards, offer guidance, support and training so you can develop a well-respected, professional child care program that meets the needs of today’s parents & children. It is time to elevate the child care profession so it is recognized for the critical role it plays not only in the lives of children, but also as an economic necessity for Central New York.

Most importantly, every child needs & deserves a program like QualitystarsNY. Research shows that the majority of brain growth and social & intellectual development occur before the age of five. It stands to reason that if we can offer high quality early care & learning experiences for our community’s children they will be better prepared for school and life-long success. Doesn’t every child deserve that?

Child Care Solutions holds the following core beliefs:

All children deserve high quality early learning & care experiences.
All children have the right to secure, trusting, nurturing relationships with adults.
All children must have their physical, emotional and social needs met to develop to their fullest potential.
All children deserve the same respect as adults.
As adults we have to advocate for & protect all children.
Children are born ready to learn.

We feel QualitystarsNY will help fulfill these beliefs. We hope that all child care programs and parents in our area feel the same.

To learn more about QualitystarsNY please call Peggy Liuzzi or Patrice Robinson at Child Care Solutions @ 446-1220.

Obama For Children…More Than Just A Kissing Baby Photo Op!

23 Feb

Why President Obama’s Budget is Good for Young Children

Even though the country still faces economic challenges and a number of federal departments would be cut in the President’s proposed 2012 -13 budget, President Obama has made early care and learning a priority. Here’s what the administration’s proposed budget would do:

  •  The Child Care and Development Block Grant would receive an $825 million increase. $300 million of that amount would be targeted to support child care quality including rating systems to help parents identify high-quality child care and investments in the child care workforce.
  •  Head Start would be increased by $85 million. The increase would include $45 million for cost of living adjustments for existing programs and $40 million over two years to implement the re-competition process, which requires grantees that are not meeting quality measures to compete to continue receiving funding.
  • Race to the Top, competitive grants to states for education reform, would receive $850 million in funding. A portion of this funding would be used for Early Learning Challenge Grants for systemic improvements in early care and education programs.
  • The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which helps parents cover a portion of their child care expenses, would be expanded to provide increased benefits for low- and middle-income families.

Go on the web to ask your federal Senators and Congress members where they stand on funding for early care and learning programs. Remind them that 85% of the foundation for a child’s intellect, personality and skills is formed by age 5. Parents can’t do it alone; they need support. And everyone benefits when we invest in children’s school readiness.

Peggy Liuzzi, Executive Director

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