Circle Time Winter 2017
Investing in Early Learning is a necessity, not an option
CCR in Action - A Grandma's Double Dilemma
Staff Spotlight - Natalie Lente, Director of Family Services
Why I Give - Steve Leahy
The Back Page
Child Care Resources Newsletter Winter 2017
Circle Time: noun 1. a time in which young children sit together and share news and stories
Well, 2017 has taken off and we are back in full swing at Child Care Resources. As the CEO it is my privilege and my job to face each new year thinking about where we need to go as an agency. How can we make progress towards meeting CCR’s vision and mission in substantive ways? How can we move forward in this ever-changing world with confidence and clarity of purpose?
Our vision since our founding 27 years ago has been “Every child has a great start in school and in life.” This got me thinking about the difference between ALL children versus MOST children. ALL children will never fit into the same box nor should the way we serve them. For example, often we refer to the fact that only 45% of ALL Washington children were assessed as “ready” for kindergarten last year and constantly ponder how we can improve school readiness for ALL of our children. But a closer and comparative look at those same kindergartners reveals that 20% fewer children of color are ready for school than white children. The challenge then becomes how we can address that gap in preparedness experienced by our communities of color in the work we do in early learning. Taking that closer look to address inequality in the early learning system is something I’m proud CCR has always prioritized, and something our Board of Directors even formalized in 2015 with an agency Racial Equity Policy. We take our commitment to success for ALL children seriously and continue to improve our skills around identifying and addressing racism in early learning as the world changes around us.
To truly meet the needs of ALL children we must understand the cultural context, challenges, and values that are held by the communities we serve—families, child care providers, and caregivers. Given the tension and uncertainty that surrounds us today, we recognize that CCR’s pivotal role in supporting some of our communities is more important than ever. What does this look like? One recent example has been the change in immigration policy which has a direct impact on the 200+ King County licensed child care providers who are Somali and indirectly affects many teachers and children in the child care programs we work with. How can we support these providers in maintaining their commitment to high-quality care when many are unexpectedly navigating family travel hurdles and managing a flood of personal emotion and insecurity about the stability of their future and the children they care for? How do we coach them so they can reassure the children in their care that our community values them and wants them to succeed, when that may conflict with what they are hearing in the community? As you can see, one size does not fit ALL—but CCR staff bring the skills to accomplish this level of customized support, consistently applying early learning best practices alongside the cultural context, as we endeavor to ensure ALL children grow and flourish.
Because ALL of our children, not just MOST, need to believe that we value their dreams for tomorrow and that they can trust us to tirelessly work to ensure that their future is bright.
Imagine a future with inadequate investments in early learning; we are left with an under-educated workforce that has lower earning potential, is making fewer tax contributions and spends more on preventable social services.
It may seem odd to make the argument for investing in young children in terms of economic returns. Shouldn’t we invest in children simply because it’s the right thing to do?
High-quality child care does more than help children.
James Heckman, Nobel Prize-winning economist, director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development and author of The Heckman Equation, contends that investment in young children produces the greatest return in human capital when focusing on skills that most influence success in life that develops between birth and age five.
In a new study released in December 2016, The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program, Heckman and associates show that the annual investment return of high-quality early learning can be as high as 13 percent, producing $6 for every dollar spent, a significant increase over the 7-10% return estimated in earlier research.
“The data speaks for itself,” Heckman says, “Investing in the continuum of learning from birth to age 5 not only impacts each child, but it also strengthens our country’s workforce today and prepares future generations to be competitive in the global economy tomorrow.”
Heckman is not alone in his determination that investment in our youngest learners provides extraordinary returns—higher than other human capital investments. A growing body of research reinforces the idea that a strong early learning experience—especially for at-risk children—reduces the need for spending on social programs later in life.
The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a Chicago nonprofit focused on quality early learning experiences for all children, emphasizes that children without a high-quality early learning experience are more likely to drop out of school, become a teen parent, never attend college, be placed in special education or be arrested for a violent crime. High-quality child care is the most cost-effective way to mitigate these negative outcomes.
Not all early learning programs produce positive results. High-quality programs that invest in rich programming, materials, and instruction lift children to their full potential to make the most of future opportunities. As Heckman stresses, the focus should be on the value of high-quality programs, not the cost. Short- and long-term outcomes far outweigh the cost.
Investment in early learning brings you more than what you pay for—something every investor wants to see.
1Garcia, J. L., Heckman, J. J., Leaf, D. E., & Prados, M. J. (2016) The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program. “The Heckman Equation” Retrieved from http://www.heckmanequation.org/content/resources/lifecycle-benefits-influential-early-childhood-program
2“Why Investments in Early Childhood Work.” (2016) Retrieved from http://www.theounce.org/who-we-are/why-investments-in-early-childhood-work
3The First Five Years Fund, Invest in US. (2016) Early Childhood Education: America’s Best Investment [Multiple infographics] Retrieved from http://www.ffyf.org/resources
A Grandma's Double Dilemma
Grandma Jean has full custody of her three-year-old twin grandsons—both with learning challenges. It has been a long time since she has raised children and she worries she is not up to the task. Unlike when raising her own children, she now works full-time and children today are expected to know more when they start kindergarten.
Jean contacted the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center looking for help. Here, she found information about the benefits of different types of child care environments. Jean decided that a family child care setting would be best for her high-energy twins. She found a patient and loving family child care provider with the expertise and capacity to take both boys, allowing her to work knowing the twins were well-cared for and gaining skills to be ready for the transition to school.
Natalie Lente, Director of Family Services
Natalie is the Director of Family Services, the department which provides support to families and to those who serve them. She has been with CCR since August of 2016.
What I'm currently working on: Performance evaluations to celebrate each of my hard-working staff!
Favorite thing about my job: I love working with the passionate staff at CCR! The kindness and warmth of the human beings here, all aligned to impact the future of children, feels absolutely amazing!
A recent challenge in my work: Budget! We need more to do more!
My favorite children's book: Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Something cool that people don't know about me: I love video games (adventure games: vision quests, treasure hunting, fighting to save the world from total collapse, and the like.)
[Because] American families are under more economic and social stress than ever. More families need to put younger children in child care and pre-K so that parents can work. An extensive body of research shows that quality child care and early learning programs produce better education, health, social and economic outcomes for children, families, and our nation.
We’ve got to make sure that early childhood environments are as high-quality as possible to promote cognitive and social-emotional development. Child Care Resources plays a critical leadership role in delivering quality information and assistance to parents, caregivers, and childcare professionals.”
--Steve Leahy, Former WA State Director, ReadyNation & Mission: Readiness and CCR Supporter
At CCR's all staff year-end celebration in December, teams were tasked with creating runway ready fashion fun using only discarded and recycled materials. These were a few of the winning creations, modeled by Viv, Fario and Brad.