Circle Time Summer 2018

Child Care Resources Newsletter                                              Summer 2018

Circle Time: noun 1. a time in which young children sit together and share news and stories

I hope that as summer is coming to a close you are looking forward to fall with expectation.  Fall is filled with new beginnings—starting kindergarten, high school, college, or even a new job. With mixed emotions, I’m dropping my youngest daughter off far from home this month to start a two-year graduate program. All of these transitions are exciting and scary at the same time; for the children and the adults! Here is what I’m watching and celebrating within the early learning landscape as we head into Fall 2018!

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is now the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)

On July 1, 2018 DCYF became the state’s newest agency overseeing several services previously offered through the Department of Social and Health Services and DEL. These include all programs from the Children’s Administration in DSHS such as Child Protective Services, licensed foster care, [Early Intervention?] and adoption support. Also included are all DEL services, such as child care quality improvement, child care licensing, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) for preschoolers, Working Connections Child Care Subsidy, and Home Visiting. We are excited to see all public services and supports for children now under one roof to better serve Washington’s children!

Early Achievers provider ratings in King and Pierce County show amazing results

Early Achievers is a rating system for child care programs based on observable, research-based elements of quality that we know are good for kids. The majority of CCR staff spend their days in child care programs coaching and supporting providers as they prepare to be rated and re-rated by an assessment team out of the University of Washington. On a five-level scale, a rating of three or higher meets state-determined quality standards.

Over the past three years, CCR has coached 763 King and Pierce County child care programs through the quality improvement phase (1 – 3 years), that have now been rated. And the results are astounding; 87% of the programs have achieved a Level 3 rating or above! This means the majority of child care programs in our region have been deemed high quality and are better preparing our kids for success in school and in life. We are currently working with 549 more programs who will be rated by December 31, 2019. 

Enjoy your fall. I wish you all wonderful fresh starts!


Copays and grace periods: what we learned by tracking homeless families’ path to child care.

If you found yourself living in your car with your young family, would four months be enough time to get back on your feet? Last year Washington State’s Department of Early Learning rolled out a significant change to child care subsidy distribution for homeless families. Previously, these families had to apply through the traditional public subsidy system, requiring them to meet the same criteria as their housed peers to qualify. Most homeless families are now approved for fulltime public child care subsidy for a grace period of four months, during which common barriers such as employment activity and hefty copayments do not apply. After the four-month grace period, families need to meet a list of requirements to qualify for an additional eight months of child care subsidy.

While CCR applauded the idea of a homeless grace period before it went into effect in July of 2017, we warned that families would be intimidated and overwhelmed by the public subsidy application and eligibility process. Fortunately, the State listened, and chose CCR to provide system navigation assistance specifically for homeless families, since CCR’s statewide referral and resource center is often a first point of entry into the local network of homeless service agencies. For the past 15 years CCR’s Homeless Child Care Program has been providing intensive case management and safety net child care subsidy for homeless families who are not eligible for public support, and since last July, we have taken on this additional navigation service with passion and intention. Now we have the opportunity to closely monitor homeless families’ child care journeys to identify and report recommended improvements to help even more homeless families access and afford child care.

Photo above by Lisa Bontje.

Courtney is our Professional Development Manager who oversees the teams that plan and execute the more than 100 trainings and educational opportunities CCR organizes each year for child care providers. Courtney and three other CCR staff attended the National Equity Project’s Coaching for Equity conference in Oakland this past June to help inform CCR’s racial equity work. Read below for Courtney’s thoughts on the experience.
What are you currently working on? Right now, the PD team is currently working on our Fall Child Care Conference. 
What is your favorite thing about your job? What I love most is engaging in meaningful conversations with the providers about their programs, families, and children. They understand the importance of their ongoing professional development and how it relates to the work they are doing. 
What has been a recent challenge in your work? Ensuring all our providers meet the deadline for completing the Electronic Time and Attendance System trainings, which will prepare them for state-mandated digital attendance tracking of all children starting this fall. The PD team has been working hard to add in as many trainings as possible, with various times and locations to meet the needs of the providers. 
What is your favorite children’s book? I am in love with children’s books! It is hard to choose just one. I would say that my favorite children’s book is Skippyjon Jones. The story is about a Siamese cat with large ears that thinks he is a chihuahua. He pretends that he is a great sword-fighter ready to battle banditos all over the world! I really love this book because Skippyjon has the best imagination and doesn’t let anyone or anything get in the way of it. He is very confident and loves everything about himself. 
What is something cool that people don’t know about you? A lot of people do not know that I am from Las Vegas. I moved to Washington almost 17 years ago, but I try to go back home at least twice a year, to see my family and friends and soak up as much sun as I can. I miss the heat!! 
You recently attended a training put on by the National Equity Project (NEP); what did you learn there? The NEP hosted a three-day Coaching for Equity training this past June in Oakland, CA. Three of my colleagues and I had the opportunity to join early childhood professionals, K-12 educators, principals, deans, and others to practice approaches for understanding, raising, and addressing equity issues through the practice of coaching. I learned about some of the ways oppression affects teaching, learning, and leading. I also learned about different types of coaching interventions. 
How did this training connect to CCR’s mission? This training taught us to interrupt inequitable practices, examine biases, and create inclusive, multicultural classroom environments for adults and children. 
Did this give you any ideas to implement at CCR? We are working on an Equity Theory of Action at CCR, which will guide staff in incorporating equity practices into their daily work. Specifically, it will give staff a tangible tool that supports them as they act with courage to interrupt, and examine our roles in, perpetuating systems that keep us from realizing opportunity for all children. 
What was your biggest take away? One thing that has stuck with me since the training is learning about The Art of Conversation. Following these norms can help deepen a conversation:
  • We acknowledge one another as equals (humanize)
  • We try to stay curious about each other
  • We slow down so we have time to think, reflect, and feel
  • We remember that conversation is the natural way humans think together
  • We expect it to be messy
  • We recognize that we need each other’s help to become better listeners


Trying to spot all the frogs in Nancy's pond this summer. Photo by Lisa Bontje.