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

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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

Race to the Top: Can New York State Afford to Quit Now?

19 Dec

On Friday, December 16th NY State was notified that it was not a recipient of $100 million of federal Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge Grant money. NY’s application for the grant focused on establishing a statewide 5 star rating & improvement systems for all early education programs called QUALITYstarsNY, standardizing Kindergarten assessment and creating a data tracking system to better coordinate children’s services. This setback, although very disappointing, has to serve as a wake-up call to our leaders in Albany that we cannot be caught sleeping in the Race To The Top.

Child Care Solutions, the child care resource & referral agency for Onondaga & Cayuga counties, believes we cannot abandon the initiatives set forth in the Race To The Top grant application. Although the money would have obviously eased the financial burden of implementing these programs we must keep our eyes on the finish line and continue to move forward. The parents and employers of our state need QUALITYstarsNY to establish a standardized rating system for early education and child care programs. Child care providers and educators also require training & support that will improve the quality of care & learning for the children of New York. QUALITYstarsNY will provide for this. Most importantly, children need high quality early learning experiences so that they will have the tools they need to be prepared for school and life-long success.

Finding and choosing child care should not be an obstacle course or a guessing game. NY needs to raise the bar and set standards so that parents know what kind of early care their children are receiving. Child care teachers and providers need to elevate their profession to meet higher standards so that all of the children of our state are afforded equal educational opportunities.

“We now know that 75% of brain growth and 85% of intellect, personality and social skills develop before age five,” said Marsha Basloe, Executive Director of the Early Care and Learning Council in Albany. “Early learning is key. And while we did not win this grant, our proposal can still serve as the blueprint to ensure our youngest children are getting the quality early learning they need to compete in a 21st century workforce.

Please let your voice be heard in Albany and urge our leaders to continue with the initiatives set forth in the Race To The Top. For the sake of our children and our states economic future let’s continue towards the finish line.

To learn more about the importance of high quality early learning, go to:

www.winningbeginningny.org

Patrice Robinson

Marketing & Development Director

Child Care Solutions

A Confession! Shopping for Child Care or Shopping for a Car…What Drives Our Decisions?

7 Dec

Buying a car…most of us have been there. There are so many questions to ask, decisions to make, and options to choose from. Price, make, model, year, color, new, used? How do you navigate your way through this process? Last time I bought a car I was the most informed customer in the market. I read Consumer Reports, checked out Edmunds and Carfax. I built my potential models on-line then kept changing the options to find just the right fit. My head was spinning after all of the 360 degree exterior and interior views I looked at. Sales people flipped coins to see who wouldn’t have to work with me. I was a woman with a mission who wasn’t going to choose just any car for myself. I was an informed, well versed, car buying machine!

 
I am more than a little bit embarrassed to admit that when I was “shopping” for child care I did not put nearly as much effort into the research. Probably one of the biggest decisions I made for my children and I didn’t give it as much credence as I did my car. Ugh…that is awful to admit. Don’t get me wrong, I talked to friends and family. I asked their opinions. I interviewed the pediatrician to get his thoughts. They were all well intentioned people and I really thought I was doing the right thing. In hindsight, however, I realize what an uninformed consumer I was. Did I contact the local child care resource and referral agency (CCR&R)? No, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Did I “test drive” at least three different potential caregivers? No, I chose the first one my friend recommended, because it worked for her family. Did I ask the really important questions? I didn’t even know what some of those questions were. Did I use a licensed child care provider? License? What license?

Like many child care consumers, I was a young mother who had very little guidance when it came to this process.  I gave it very little thought during my pregnancy and I bet there are others out there just like me.  So now that I work for the local child care resource & referral agency it is a personal mission to help other parents make better decisions than I did.   The best place for parents to start their search is the local CCR&R.  In Onondaga & Cayuga counties it is Child Care Solutions (CCS).  Some of the best parent referral specialists in the field work at CCS.  They are dedicated and motivated to give families the information they need to navigate through a very complicated set of choices – and their services are free!   Consider them your child care GPS system without the annoying “recalculating” message.  Give them a call at 315-446-1220 or email parenthelp@childcaresolutionscny.org.

Please share with anyone you know who’s looking for child care.  Don’t let them drive down that bumpy, unfamiliar road without their child care GPS system.

Patrice Robinson

Marketing & Development Director, Child Care Solutions

Black Friday, Cyber Monday…The Best Holiday Gifts Without The Stampedes

28 Nov

Best Holiday Toys Ever

If you go on-line or check the big box store catalogs to see this year’s “hottest” toys for the holidays, you’ll see lots of toys that run on battery power. There are “interactive” toys that light up, talk, wiggle, squeak and play music. There are hand-held mini-computer games for pre-schoolers. In response, we thought it would be good to do our own list of just a few old-fashioned toys that run on kid power.

These are toys and materials that can be used in multiple ways to encourage open-ended play, creativity, imagination and language. You’ll see these playthings in high quality early childhood classrooms, and they make wonderful gifts to inspire children’s play at home. We hope you’ll add some of these gifts to your shopping list.

Wooden unit blocks: Children love to build with heavy duty wooden blocks. Watch them make houses, farms, roads, zoos, towers and mountains. Add a few toy cars, people, animals or dinosaurs, and you’ll see even more imagination at work. How can something so simple be this much fun and still teach children about shapes, sizes and the art of balancing.

Manipulatives: Legos, bristle blocks, tinker-toys and other small blocks and wooden and crepe puzzles help children build their small motor skills and practice problem-solving and sorting while they’re having fun. There are bigger versions of blocks and 2 and 3-piece puzzles for toddlers as well as smaller blocks and more challenging multi-piece puzzles for older children.

Art supplies: Crayons, markers, paint, children’s scissors and glue make wonderful gifts with different kinds of paper and bits of yarn, ribbon, cotton, even magazines to cut up to make collages. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a child’s creative juices flowing. Children respond with intense concentration and lots of language when they experiment with colors and shapes and perfect their small motor skills when cutting and gluing. You might want to add a smock for the perfect young artist’s package.

Cooking Tools for Kids: Start with an age-appropriate cookbook (or make your own laminated recipe cards with pictures). Add an apron, a wooden spoon and spatula, some measuring spoons, a plastic measuring cup, cookie cutters and a willing adult chef to make sure everything proceeds safely. Whether they’re making instant pudding, applesauce or cut-out cookies, children will learn about following directions, counting and measuring while making something special to share with the family. The tools can be used for “pretend” cooking too. Who can resist a delicious cup of make-believe soup?

Books, books, books: There are so many choices… cloth and board books for babies and toddlers, story books for pre-schoolers and chapter books for young readers. Well-chosen books that are age-appropriate and colorfully illustrated open up a world of language and imagination for children. The best present of all?… when a child sits in a favorite adult’s lap to read books out-loud. Oh, wait… that’s one of the best presents any adult could have too.

A big, cardboard box: Cut out windows and a door and color the cardboard with paint or crayons. It could be a house, a cave, a fort, a cozy place to read or a pirate ship. Get a few props and let children take the lead for hours of imaginative fun. Sometimes the best things in life (and play) are free!

Giving Thanks

23 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our supporters. Many heartfelt thanks to all of the parents we serve, providers who care for the children of our community and for our funders. We could not do the work we do without you.

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