A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Fall 2017 Volume 16, Issue 4
WHAT IS IT AND WHAT
4 DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Child Care Aware ®
is a publication of
Child Care Aware ®
Angie Saenger, Deputy
Julie Hess Design
On the Cover
Ariana Davis-Taylor, age 3,
daughter of Amanda Davis-Taylor,
from Haysville, KS, enjoys the
beautiful fall weather.
Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,
1508 East Iron, Salina, Kansas 67401,
publishes Kansas Child quarterly,
and is made possible through the
financial support of the members
of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas and
sponsorships from our corporate,
private, and foundation partners.
Kansas Child is intended to provide
a forum for the discussion of child
care and early education issues and
ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful
discussions within the field and to
help those outside the field gain a
better understanding of priorities
and concerns. The views expressed
by the authors are not necessarily
those of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
or its sponsors.
Copyright © 2017 by Child Care
Aware ® of Kansas, unless
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Engaging all families
I grew up with a “non-traditional” family, because my mom was one
of the few moms, among my friends who worked outside the home.
My mom set a great example for me. I remember how hard she
worked; in addition to her “real job,” she loved to tend her iris bed and
her small garden; she also loved to sew (I had very few store-bought
clothes because she sewed most of my clothing), all the while caring for
her ailing spouse. Many life lessons were learned from my mother.
Today, my family would be considered pretty traditional. Families
come in all different shapes, sizes, cultures, religions — the list could go
on and on. According to U.S. Census data, Kansas has a total of 332,652
families with children. Of those, 97,795 are single-parent families.
The Census also tells us that there are 97,191 children in two-parent
families with both parents in the labor force.
This issue of Kansas Child looks at today’s Kansas families and
examines how our work can have a positive impact on those families.
We call this work “family engagement.”
So, what is family engagement? It starts with relationships!
Relationships that are based on strengths, trust, and honoring the role
of parents as their child’s first and best teacher.
We recognize that families can choose to care for their children in
a variety of settings, including their own home, the home of a family
member, or in a wide range of early learning settings.
No matter the setting, we need to pay attention to all Kansas
children, from birth to school-age. This includes low-income families,
dual-language learners, and children with special needs.
How do we start this intentional relationship-building and what do
we hope to achieve? The first and foremost goal we have for all young
children is to be ready to enter school and eager to learn! For that to
happen, we need to ensure that families are healthy and well-prepared
to support their children, whatever their environment.
The task is huge. More than 100,000 children in Kansas enter a child
care provider’s door each and every day! We can help by working to
create positive caregiver relationships with both the child and their
family. Families also find support from each other. Currently, we
are working on a project to help families connect with other families
within their child’s early learning environment.
With your help, we’re up to the task! Together, let’s work to create
family-friendly environments where all children learn and grow.
To find out more, engage with us on our social media platforms.
Also, be sure to make an annual financial commitment to Child Care
Aware of Kansas. Your support will help us continue to succeed in this
very important work!
Let’s work with all families, traditional or non-traditional, so they
have the support they need to raise children who are active learners
and succeed in school.
IN THIS ISSUE
What is it and what does it look like?......4
Safe Play Spaces
Educate yourself and others
about safe play..........................................6
The Child’s Lab......................................... 7
Families are the Key
The Power of Genuine and
Intentional Relationships......................... 8
A Parent’s Perspective............................ 10
Inspire, Inform, Empower.......................12
Children and Families
Experiencing Homelessness.................. 14
Supporting Families in
Stressful Times with a
Protective Factors Approach.................. 16
Everyone is a brain builder!.....................18
moments are everywhere........................18
Milestones Matter.................................. 19
Preparing Children for Healthy Lives.....20
Getting on Board with
Today’s Families...................................... 22
What is it and what
does it look like?
Every week in the United
States, nearly 11 million children younger
than age 5 are in some type of child care,
where many will spend 30 hours or more.
More than 100,000 Kansas children are
served through early care programs. Early
care and education settings are a critical
extension of the family home, and continuity
between the two is of prime importance.
Good home-child care partnerships
help family members feel recognized for
their expertise about their child and might
encourage collaboration with providers
and programs. Ongoing, intentional, and
effective family engagement facilitates
safety, trust, encouragement, and caring
that affect the well-being of both the child
and the family.
Engagement with families benefits the
early care workforce as well. Professionals
feel more job satisfaction, experience
greater alliances with families, and are more
confident and open in their interactions.
Established partnerships with families also
make it easier for early care professionals to
have conversations involving uncomfortable
or challenging topics or issues, such as
concerns about development or behavior.
Family engagement, what is it?
“Family Engagement” is a buzzword
that has been floating around for some
time in the Head Start and Early Head
Start sectors. It recently has become more
in vogue in the early care and education
field as a whole (i.e., the rest of the child
care system). Family engagement has been
occurring all along in mainstream early
care and education programs. But recent
early care and education policy updates
(e.g., The Child Care and Development
Block Grant Reauthorization in 2014) and
mounting evidence of the benefits of family
engagement for children (and families) from
birth through school age have made heads
turn more directly toward it.
So … WHAT IS family engagement
and how can families and early care and
education professionals (in all positions
4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
DR. KIM ENGELMAN
Chief Family and Community
Child Care Aware ® of America
Dr. Engelman has 20 years of experience
in the public health outreach, research,
and education arena as well as over
10 years as a local and national family
advocate for high-quality child care. Dr.
Engelman strategizes and directs national
initiatives focused on building mutually
respectful and evolving relationships
between families and their communities to
unite and enhance academic, family wellbeing
and lifelong success of children with
a particular lens on the child care setting.
throughout the child care program
operation, such as direct care and education
providers, administrative staff, specialists,
etc.) DO IT?
Think of family engagement as an
interactive process that brings together
parents and other family members,
children, and early childhood professionals
at all levels. Everyone works together in
partnership in service of children’s learning,
healthy development, and wellbeing.
With families in the driver’s seat, they and
program personnel share their unique
knowledge of the individual children they
teach and care for, and the contexts and
communities in which they live.
Key features of family engagement
The National Center on Parent, Family
and Community Engagement (NCPFCE),
a federal early care and education training
and technical assistance center, posits
the following key values of quality family
Cultural & Linguistic Responsiveness
— the program reflects the diversity of
families (including but not limited to:
gender, employment/occupation, disability
status, culture, language, income, age, race/
Equity — which might be described as
the elimination of privilege, oppression,
disparities, and disadvantage.
Inclusiveness — every child truly is
included, and the individual needs of each
child are considered and valued.
Positive & Goal-Oriented Relationships
— program staff create and sustain
relationships with families through
positive communication that is responsive
to families’ preferences. Program staff also
collaborate with families to identify family
and child goals, develop action plans,
and jointly make decisions about how to
The NCPFCE also recommends that
family engagement efforts be Systemic
and Comprehensive. Think of family
engagement as being baked INTO the
cake, not just as icing on the top of the
cake that looks nice. It is best when family
engagement is integrated throughout all
aspects of programming.
How can families and early care
professionals be engaged with one
another? What does this look like?
There are four key program areas
to consider during the development
and implementation of a systemic and
comprehensive family engagement
plan. When considering quality family
engagement tactics to employ in
programming, integrate each of the values
noted above (i.e., cultural and linguistic
responsiveness, equity, inclusiveness and
positive & goal-oriented relationships). For
comprehensiveness, use the four program
areas noted below as a roadmap for
planning efforts (professionals) or as a guide
for key aspects of the child care program
where you should be engaged (families).
Examples of family engagement practices
are noted following each program area:
Continued on page 6
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5
Continued from page 5
Multiple, different ways to communicate are
offered to families with an effort to match
family communication preferences with
daily communication practice.
Information is provided to families related
to early childhood development, including
social, emotional and physical health, and
how to track and support child progress – in
culturally and linguistically responsive ways.
Engage families around their child’s
Families are engaged in an authentic
manner and time is made for meaningful
Family Needs & Feedback Inform Program
Opportunities for regular feedback
are encouraged with a system put in
place for family feedback. Family input is
acknowledged and used to form program
planning and policies.
Programs are adapted to meet the needs of
children and families.
Hiring practices of staff and volunteers
reflect the diverse backgrounds of families
Collaborative Activities with Families
Opportunities are provided for families to
socialize and form lasting relationships with
Built-in opportunities exist for families and
staff to interact meaningfully and learn from
The child care program offers and
encourages family volunteer opportunities
that match family strengths, interests and
Community Resources and
Families are provided with information
about child care options if the child’s needs
dictate or family circumstances necessitate
a child care placement change.
Coordination occurs with child and family
serving agencies to support overall family
wellbeing (e.g., financial, health care, health
insurance, or mental health services).
Partnerships are established with public
agencies and private entities to support
linkages to comprehensive services for
families (e.g., community health center,
early literacy through library partnerships,
domestic violence shelters, communitybased
organizations that serve the needs of
families experiencing unstable housing)
The children served through early care
and education programs carry with them
an evolving and rich background reflective
of their family. Early care and education
programs that partner with families
engage families as programmatic drivers,
employ positive, two-way communication
strategies; and make efforts to reflect the
culture, values and preferences of families
within their program that will reap many
rewards in the form of maximized child
and family outcomes.
Early care and education professionals:
Take an inventory of your family
engagement practices. Is there room
to expand your efforts by thoughtfully
integrating more core family engagement
values into your programming and
Families: What do you want your
child care provider to know about you
and your family? What are ways you can
communicate your ideas with your child
care provider or share your culture with
other children in the program?
The family and early care and education
partnership is critical to the success of
child care programs, families, and most
importantly, children! n
Educate yourself and
others about safe play
By Whitney Rodden
Parent and Advocate
Do you know what your child care
provider’s procedures are for dropoff
and pick-up time?
Our sweet, 14-month-old daughter,
Harper, was pulled under a truck
and killed in an accident at her
in-home child care facility during
pick-up time. The child care
children were playing in the front
yard as they waited for parents to
pick them up. This was a tragic, yet
Please review your child care
provider’s procedures and ask
questions about any situation that
makes you feel like a child could be
in danger. It’s very tough to control
little ones, especially in areas
without adequate barriers between
them and vehicles.
Child Care Providers
Consider setting a policy that you
will not be outside with the children
within the timeframe of pick-up
and/or drop-off. Consider using
a large retractable fence in the
middle (not end) of the driveway
instead of using the little green
plastic guy. The little green plastic
guy is what the driver thought he
hit in our situation.
We know that adults can become
distracted by other children, get
in a hurry and make mistakes
during drop-off and pick-up times.
We cannot rely solely on adult
For more information, visit
6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
The Child’s Lab
Play is often talked about as if it were
a relief from serious learning. But for children,
play is serious learning. — Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogers could not have said it better. Early childhood play is what children
do and is their way of life. Play is the child’s lab.
As parents and teachers, we need to understand why play is so important.
Over the years, I often found myself promoting importance of play and the
learning it provides in early childhood programs. Teachers work diligently to
organize a classroom with resources to promote different types of play. They give
consideration to how children will learn from each classroom play center. As
providers, we must allow children play choices.
Early childhood guru Jean Piaget used the term “discovery learning” – the idea
that children learn best through doing and actively exploring. Piaget said play
often mirrors what is important in children’s lives. They are often making models
of life or certain parts of life…simple, fair models that represent the world. This
helps them attain some idea of how the world works and what they might do in it.
When children are able to choose what play to engage in, they are
relating it to what they already know; they become more competent
and confident and are better able to deal with day-to-day
challenges that confront them.
When I think about personal experiences with my
granddaughters, I’m repeatedly reminded why setting
up play opportunities trumps being an observer of “the
screen.” When they play restaurant, there is a wealth
of learning taking place…. writing menus, taking
orders, setting prices, adding numbers, cooking,
making food choices and conversing with patrons and
their children…the list seems endless! In just this one
activity they are developing their creativity, imagination,
literacy skills, math skills, social/emotional skills, problemsolving
skills and physical abilities – while having fun!
Play should be fun and challenging for both children and adults. By helping
children explore different types of play on their own and with others, and by
providing a well-resourced play environment inside and out, adults can greatly
enrich a child’s learning opportunities. So, taking advice from Mr. Rogers, “Let the
serious learning begin.” n
RITA GEDNEY Retired Early Childhood Professional
Rita’s career encompasses teaching, owning and directing an early
childhood program, starting and directing new programs for nonprofits,
and ending with 20 years at USD305 Heartland Programs, where she
initiated and oversaw classrooms, the nutrition program, transitions
and the therapy program.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7
The Power of
In early childhood education, the topic
of building relationships with the families
can fall somewhere between “bring a batch
of cookies” to “great to have you bring your
guitar and play for the children.” The wide
spectrum of participation and engagement
of families often reflects the disposition
and attitudes of the directors and teachers.
Of much importance is the willingness to
build a bridge of common interest with
For starters, let’s reaffirm a few basic
principles embedded in our professional
ethics and principles. A positive
relationship with families is the key in
building the initial steps of falling in
love with learning and school. Together,
teachers and families build a foundation
that propels curiosity, exploration, and
possibilities in each child. That relationship
can determine future success in school.
That child building a tower with blocks
today might be the next engineer in town.
The hard work begins with me:
reflections on my experiences in
establishing relationships with families,
either as a teacher or even as a parent.
What are my attitudes about all families,
some families, or individual families? How
are success stories about families shared?
Or are we stuck on negative anecdotes
about “those” families?
As we look at the values and benefits of
having intentional relationships with each
family, a great route is to revisit or discover
the research, studies, and ideas about the
dynamics in meaningful relationships.
For example, check out the long academic
work history produced by NAEYC –The
National Association for the Education
of Young Children. As the premier early
childhood education national membership
organization, NAEYC provides direction
and guidance on topics such as working
effectively with families. In my estimation,
the seminal work is Developmentally
Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood
Education Programs (NAEYC, 2009). In
essence, this book guides early childhood
educators to work with meaning and
purpose in making decisions that enrich
relationships with children, families, and
At the heart of this work are core
considerations that should be embedded in
our professional practice. To intentionally
work with families, three areas of
knowledge come into play:
Core Consideration #1
“Know Your Stuff ”
Know the foundations and current
research about age-related child
development and learning – including
family engagement – and the strategies
that best promote children’s learning and
As professionals, we want to highlight
the importance of our work as it relates to
concerns and expectations of the families:
8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
LUIS A. HERNANDEZ
Training & Technical
Western Kentucky University
One way to establish a sense of respect
and trust with families is by sharing
your knowledge and expertise. Let the
parents know about your qualifications
to work in this important and significant
profession – be proud!
Highlight the importance of an ongoing
relationship with each parent, since
each of you have the child’s best interest
at heart. This might include divergent
views on reading and writing and how
storytelling, reading books, finger
painting, and clay molding all lead to
important academic skills.
With immigrant families, offer
reassurance that the child and entire
family are welcome at the center. Offer
confidence that the child will eventually
learn English, but also let them know
you recognize the importance of
speaking the language of the home
so that child can communicate with
Core Consideration #2
“It Is About My Princess”
Just about every parent considers their
child a member of the Royal Family – and
rightly so! For every child is a unique
individual. A key best practice in early
childhood is to know and understand each
child as an individual – learning about
the child through observations and from
family interactions – and being responsive
to individual variations.
With families, share anecdotes about
their individual child’s strengths, emerging
personality traits, special temperaments,
and major milestones achieved – “She
rode the trike on her own today!” And
when needed, share particular concerns
and ways to address them.
Based on this core consideration on
the individual child, we want to minimize
Comparing and contrasting one
child with a sibling, cousin or the kid
Young children are just too young to be
labeled as “difficult,” “hyper,” “slow,” or,
my favorite, “just very quiet” – every
child deserves the respect to be who
For children learning English, recognize
that learning a new language is an
individual process; some will pick it up
quickly and others might take until the
last week of school; reassure families that
they are actively listening and observing
and will speak at their own pace.
Core Consideration #3
“Mama In Her Pajamas”
A work challenge for many of us is
to understand the circumstances and
dynamics in families today. And as we
continue to provide a safe and secure
learning experience in our centers and
homes, we need to know the social and
cultural context in which children live –
values, expectations, behaviors, language
– life factors that shape children’s lives at
home and in communities.
We indeed can face a challenge – like
the mama that arrives every day in her
pajamas to drop off her child. While our
heads may be spinning with judgment,
assumptions, and stereotypes – we might
fail to notice that her child is developing
and learning in our care, we might fail by
not making a simple inquiry to learn that
she works the midnight shift and is just
getting ready to sleep.
A meaningful and intentional
relationship takes lots of work. And getting
to a point of respect can be a long stretch;
even longer is the journey to gain a sense
of trust. Many times, we have to overcome
internal biases about families and learn to
see the strengths each family brings. A few
things to consider:
Be cognizant of what your body and
facial expressions say. Your body is 90
percent language; your words are only
10 percent of blah blah blah.
Children are constantly observing;
Luis A. Hernandez, T/TAS Early
Childhood Education Specialist, holds an
M.A. in Bilingual/Multicultural education
from the University of San Francisco. Luis
brings solid expertise based on his work
history in Head Start, child care, Pre-K
programs, college and universities, child
care resource and referral administration,
and professional development design.
At TTAS-WKU, his work focuses in a
wide range of early childhood education
and professional development topics.
His expertise includes early literacy,
dual-language learning, adult learning
practices, changing demographics and
diversity, and ECE management and
leadership topics. As a regular presenter
and keynote speaker at national, state,
and local conferences, Luis is highly
regarded for his motivational and
In addition, Luis recently published
his first book, “Learning from Bumps
on the Road,” focused on leadership
topics in early childhood education. The
book is a compilation of presentations
and conversations with three fantastic
leaders in the field.
they can tell how we feel about their
family. And if we are not nice to
mama, I will not be nice to you and
will not like school.
Smile! It is the universal language of
welcome. And for those new families
not familiar with our language
and culture, you are the American
ambassador! Learning a few phrases in
each other’s language is like opening a
universe of civility and understanding.
And keep smiling.
Keep in mind that no matter how
talented, charming, gifted, wonderful,
funny, and beautiful children think you
are, their bond with mama and papa
will always be stronger. While we play a
significant role in children’s development
and learning, a child’s most important
teacher remains the family. To that
end, we continue to work on better
relationships. Let’s continue sharing the
joys of the early years with each family.
Indeed, families are the key. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9
Ever wonder what parents value in their relationships with child care
providers? I wanted to know what it takes to meaningfully engage families, so I turned
to an expert! Meet Katey, a vivacious mom from Kansas. During a Q & A session, Katey
provided a glimpse into what family engagement means to her family as she opened up
about her relationship with her 2-year-old son’s family child care provider.
Like many families, after only a short time home with her newborn son, Katey and
her husband realized that they needed two incomes to support their family. While
her husband worked long, irregular hours, Katey began to pick up late night shifts
serving tables to guarantee daily cash flow. She reflects that “it takes a village,”
mostly her mom and a close friend, to cover gaps during the hours when child
care isn’t traditionally available. Listen in as Katey’s story gives a voice to family
engagement in child care.
Tell me about how you first met your child care provider?
In July of last year, so 2016, I was referred to her by my husband’s
stepmother. I guess she had watched her children when they were younger.
Reflecting back, what questions would you have liked your provider to
ask you about your family?
Maybe a little about whether we lived in a bit of a stressful environment.
When she noticed that he was starting to be more of a whiny child, she didn’t
really show any concern about what was going on at home. I thought that
was a little weird. She did ask a little about an eating schedule, but didn’t ask
if he had a blankie that he slept with. He is just like that Peanuts character.
Loves his blankie.
Any question you wish you would have asked your provider?
I wish I had asked about activities. Like, I didn’t ask if they do them at a
certain time. I guess I still don’t know what time lunch time is – I should have
asked about their schedule.
Early on what did the provider do to make you feel comfortable with her?
I think kids are very intuitive. It made me feel very comfortable seeing how
comfortable he was. He would go right to her in the morning. Even on the
second or third day he would go right to her. It kinda broke my heart a little
bit thinking, ‘Oh, but you’re my baby.’ But, I felt a lot better because he was
happy to be there.
What opportunities have you had to get to know your son’s
child care provider?
I had a grandparent pass away like two months into my son going there.
She and I got into a very adult conversation about our grandparents and
how much they taught us. I thought it was a lovely talk because I got to know
a little bit about her: Why she works the way she does and how she likes to
10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Matter A Parent’s Perspective
How does she make you feel included in your son’s day,
even when you aren’t there?
After he has developed a new sentence or ability to solve a problem, she’ll let
me know about it. I think that is really cool. It’s like, they take a nap and wake
up 20 times smarter. She’ll tell me a new sentence he said or that he started
walking... I was really sad I couldn’t be a part of that.
She’s always kept me informed about things like how far he walked or how he
sat up by himself. That was all very exciting and helped me not feel like I was
missing as much.
The experiences reflected in Katey’s
comments, like so many other families,
illustrate the critical role child care plays
in the ‘village’ families build around their
children as they learn and grow during the
early years. Katey, thank you for sharing
with us how Moms like you are the best
first teacher for your child. n
Let’s talk about the boundaries! What are some boundaries that your
provider should know about?
So, our boundaries in our house are that you keep to yourself. You can help
others, you can tell others the truth, but don’t reveal too much information. It’s
not like everybody needs to know your business. Well, my child care provider
has been telling my friend about my child. Like, [him] being too whiney during
the day. That really upset me. She even told my friend about the other child in
the home. I guess the other child is acting whiney at home as well now. She’s
telling my friend that the other parent is blaming my child. It’s not even my
It sounds like privacy is a valued boundary in your family. Now let’s talk
about things she does to make you feel respected?
Specialist, Child Care Aware ®
April has more than a decade of experience
providing a wide range of professional
services to children and their families. Her
contributions to regional, state and national
workgroups have been key in impacting
early childhood programs and policies. April
has a Master’s degree in Social Work.
[My son] is lactose intolerant. This may sound silly, but even down to giving
him non-dairy snacks. My own mother-in-law will give him Cheezits.
She never interrupts me! When I am telling her how my son is feeling that
morning she fully acknowledges me and takes it into consideration. I really
appreciate that because I feel like she actually listens to me.
Everything we’ve talked about today describes “family engagement”
in child care. How do you define that term?
Really getting to know the parents. Seeing what kind of parent they are so
they know how to talk to the parents.
What are some examples of family engagement that really stand out?
For holidays, I definitely feel like she engages us. She gets everybody a
sweet little Easter basket so that everybody is included. She’ll write a little note
about why she likes your child. I remember the last holiday, she said she liked
my son because of how smart he is and how he notices these little things.
Just her being involved with my child makes me want to be involved in that
relationship with them. Being able to see how they have this special kind of
love for each other. She is teaching him things that I can’t teach him.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11
There may be no more powerful advocate for a
For most people, the idea of approaching a
legislator or testifying in front of a committee is
daunting. What if I don’t know the answer to a
question? What if I can’t remember a fact? It’s not
uncommon for these questions to pile up until a
would-be advocate is moved to near paralysis.
The good news is that by understanding the
power in each families’ expertise, this pitfall can be
Families are experts on their own personal
experiences, and that makes them powerful
advocates for children, other families, and the
programs and services that support them. Early
educators play an important role in empowering
families, by helping them understand that the
wonderful and unique part of being YOU is that
you are an expert on matters that impact you and
your children. YOU are fully capable of responding
to questions about things impacting YOU in any
Statewide organizations and advocacy groups
are able to present statewide and local statistics,
trend data and rankings on how Kansas compares
with other states. This information is important to
lawmakers as they consider different policies and
proposals. This information is distributed through
various networks and platforms to help create
awareness and inform constituents about how they
might be impacted by different proposals.
But, equally important to the legislative process
are the stories that come from people. Stories that
aren’t laden with graphs and statistics. Stories bridge
the gap between what a policy looks like on paper
and what it looks like on the face of a child or in
the streets of a community. They have the ability to
inspire, inform and empower.
12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
child than a person who gives that child a voice.
Inspire: Stories from families and individuals who are impacted
by an issue have the power to motivate and generate ideas. Most
proposals come forward because a legislator or someone in their
community is seeking to address an issue.
Inform: Lawmakers are everyday citizens; they are not often
multi-subject experts. This means that they are dependent on
others to help them understand how a program or service works
in their community. They want to know how much children or
families are being served and whether more resources are needed.
Families can help educate lawmakers about why accessible,
high-quality, affordable child care is important to families in their
Empower: Personal stories are hard to forget because they are
based on a human or an emotional connection that is made. Even
when exact details are forgotten, people will remember the impact
of a story.
This is all well and good … but, a family might ask, HOW do I
connect with my legislator to share my story?
First, it is always easier to ask legislators for something if you’ve
developed a relationship with them beforehand. Here are few
suggestions that might be helpful:
Communication should be positive, proactive, and motivating,
but it also needs to be authentic.
Create a 30-second story. Seriously. Long stories are good and
need to be told, but always have a 30-second message in your
back pocket. If that was all the time you had, what would you
want to say?
Attend “eggs and issues” breakfasts and other legislative forums
(and, take a few friends). You will have the opportunity to hear
from your legislators and to ask questions both publicly and
Invite legislators to community events. You can do this
individually or as an organization. Use already scheduled events
or create new opportunities. These don’t need to be formal
speaking engagements. Invite them to participate as a member
Kansas Action For Children
Jake joined the KAC team in September 2015 as an outreach
specialist. After graduating May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree
in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas,
Jake returned to his home state of Kansas to work in grassroots
organizing in the Lawrence and Topeka communities.
of the community and then acknowledge them when they are
During the legislative session, respond to action alerts and
prompts to thank legislators. These messages can be short and to
the point – notecard size (whether you email it or mail it) – and
most importantly, they should be timely.
Sign up for online newsletters and action alerts and follow
groups on social media that advocate for issues you are passionate
about. These are great ways to stay informed by groups who are
close to the political process; they help weed out background
noise and keep the issue front and center. You can sign up for
Kansas Action for Children’s regular communications at www.kac.
The truth is this: advocacy is about personal relationships
and passion. It is about maintaining open and respectful
communication – even when people disagree. It is about
making sure that ALL voices are heard and that EVERY voice
makes a difference. Kansas families are a powerful voice in the
policymaking process, and Kansas early educators can empower
families by connecting with them about the importance of early
education and the opportunities to make a difference. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13
14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
More than 9,000 Kansas children, and more than a million children
nationwide under the age of 6 experience homelessness.
More than 9,000 children in Kansas,
and more than a million children
nationwide under the age of 6 experience
homelessness (Administration for
Children & Families, 2016). These
children face an increased risk of
developmental delays, as well as physical
and social-emotional problems (McCoy-
Roth, Mackintosh & Murphey, 2012).
Early childhood, specifically infancy, is
the stage of life correlated with the highest
risk of residing in a homeless shelter
(US Department of Housing and Urban
High-quality early childhood education,
including trusting relationships with
early childhood professionals, can buffer
children and families from many of the
challenges associated with homelessness.
Overwhelmed parents and caregivers
can better focus on stable housing,
employment/training, and other important
goals if they know their child is in a
secure, stable, and nurturing environment
that supports his or her development.
This article provides guidance on how to
identify families of young children in your
community who might be experiencing
homelessness, and information on valuable
local and federal resources to help them.
Identifying Families of
Young Children Experiencing
According to the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act (“the Act”),
“homeless children and youth” are
defined as lacking “a fixed, regular, and
adequate nighttime residence …” The
Act provides specific circumstances as
examples, such as, sharing the housing
of others due to loss of housing, living
in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp
grounds “due to the lack of alternative
adequate accommodations;” children
living in emergency or transitional
shelters, abandoned in hospitals, and those
whose primary nighttime residence is
not designed for use as a regular sleeping
accommodation for human beings. Read
the full text at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/
Early childhood programs supported
by the Child Care and Development Fund
Final Rule and the Head Start Program
Performance Standards are required to use
this definition to identify and prioritize
children experiencing homelessness and to
provide an allotted grace period to submit
immunization and other health and safety
records so that children may receive child
care services right away.
Local and Federal Resources
You may receive additional assistance
determining whether a child’s
circumstances meet the definition of
homelessness or other related questions
by contacting the National Center for
Homeless Education Helpline at (800)
Get connected to local resources such
as the Kansas Coordinator for Homeless
Education and your local Homeless
Education Liaison at (800) 203-9462
(Kansas residents only) or visit: http://
Connect families to child care subsidies
and other family well-being services
through the Kansas Department for
Children and Families at (888) 369-4777.
Link families to high-quality care through
local Child Care Resource and Referral
agencies such as Child Care Aware of
Kansas at (855) 750-3343.
For families you already serve, build a
resource list of community partners to share
in times of need. Finally, continue to engage
families and foster relationships so you can
be a partner to them through the challenges
and the triumphs of caring for children. You
are a critical and valued resource in the lives
of children and families. n
Writer/Associate, Child Care
Aware ® of America
Teresa supports efforts to bring the
child care voice to the National Center
on Parent, Family, and Community
Engagement where CCAoA participates as
a consortium partner. Experienced in both
the fields of advocacy and family support,
Teresa previously served as a Bilingual
Parent Liaison Specialist on the Child
Care Aware ® hotline and website, where
she had the privilege of engaging with
families from all over the country who
were seeking high-quality child care and
services. Before joining CCAoA, Teresa
served children and families residing in
a shelter and transitional housing, who
were experiencing homelessness. In
addition, she has served as a school social
work intern for Falls Church City Public
Schools and a Case Manager for Tenants
and Workers United, a local advocacy
group for immigrants and low-income
communities of color in Alexandria, VA.
Mrs. Valdez-Bain earned her Master’s
degree in Social Work from Virginia
Commonwealth University in 2011.
Administration for Children and Families. (2016, January).
Early childhood homelessness in the United States:
McCoy-Roth, M., Mackintosh, B.B., & Murphey, D.
(2012, February). When the bough breaks: The effects
of homelessness on young children. Child Trends: Early
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
(2012, September). The 2012 6th Annual Homelessness
Report (AHAR) to Congress.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15
Senior Associate, CSSP
Cailin O’Connor is a Senior Associate
at the Center for the Study of Social
Policy, where she works to promote
better outcomes for young children and
their families, with a focus on promoting
the protective factors that children,
families, and communities need to thrive.
She coordinates the Strengthening
Families National Network of 35 states
using CSSP’s Strengthening Families
Protective Factors Framework, and
supports communities in their work to
build innovative early childhood systems
through the Early Childhood Learning
and Innovation Network for Communities
(Early Childhood-LINC). With roots in the
field of family support and child abuse
and neglect prevention, Cailin’s work
has addressed a wide range of issues,
including adverse childhood experiences,
cross-systems coordination, effective
prevention strategies, and evidenceinformed
program improvement. She
is a graduate of Macalester College,
and holds a master’s degree in Human
Development and Family Studies and a
graduate certificate in Prevention and
Intervention Science from the University
Supporting Families in Stressful Times
with a Protective Factors Approach
The Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework offers strategies that
might be helpful to a parent or family under stress. The protective factors identified in
the framework are characteristics that all families need in order to promote optimal
development of their children and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. These
protective factors become even more critical when a family is going through a divorce,
experiencing serious illness or death of a family member, having legal or financial trouble,
living in fear of deportation of family members, or going through another stressful time.
All families need support at different times in their lives to build and reinforce these
protective factors. Depending on the circumstances for any given family going through a
hard time, there are things you can do to help them build one or more of their protective
factors to help them weather the storm.
16 Kansas Child Continued on page 6
A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Managing stress and functioning well when
faced with challenges, adversity and trauma:
If you have a trusting relationship with
a parent who is going through a difficult
time, and they are open to conversation,
some questions you might want to ask are:
What are some strategies you’ve used to
get through difficult times in your life?
(Prompt them to remember their own
strengths and that hard times come and
go – and build their confidence that they
can get through this.)
What can you do to take care of yourself
this week? (You might need to remind
them that it doesn’t have to take a lot of
time or any money, but can make a big
difference. For example, exercise, time in
nature, rest, and talking with a friend all
can be restorative.)
What are you looking forward to once
you get through this challenging time?
(Help them see the light at the end of the
tunnel and cultivate hope.)
Point out the positive things they are
doing as a parent, the positive decisions
you observe them making, and the love
you see between the parent and child.
Positive relationships that provide emotional,
informational, instrumental, and spiritual
Offer to help a parent connect with
another parent in the program who
could pick their child up on certain
days, or have the child over for a
playdate on the weekend, giving the
parent needed time to deal with a crisis
or just some time to herself.
With permission from the family,
arrange a meal train to give the other
families in the program a way to help
the family under stress.
Knowledge of Parenting
and Child Development
Understanding child development and
parenting strategies that support physical,
cognitive, language, social, and emotional
Help parents to understand that their
children’s behavior might regress to an
earlier developmental stage in response
to stress, and give them some tips to
manage behavioral challenges.
Talk with parents about how they can
buffer their children from the stress
the family is experiencing, such as
maintaining routines around bedtimes
and mealtimes, and reducing the
children’s exposure to disagreements or
tense discussions between adults.
For older children, encourage parents to
talk calmly with them about the stress the
family is going through, to reassure them
that family problems are not their fault,
and to answer any questions they have.
in Times of Need
Access to concrete support and services that
address a family’s needs and help minimize
stress caused by challenges:
If a family is in need of support
from another service provider (such
as mental health or substance abuse
counseling, housing assistance, or a
food pantry), make a “warm hand-off ”
to the other provider. This means not
just giving the parent information and
hoping they will follow through, but
making a phone call with them, handing
them off to someone by name in the
other organization when possible, or
even going with them to access a service
for the first time.
Social and Emotional
Competence of Children
Family and child interactions that help
children develop the ability to communicate
clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions,
and establish and maintain relationships:
Maintain the child’s routines within
your program as much as possible.
Remember that consistent, loving
responses are more important than ever
when children and their families are
going through stressful times.
When parents are receptive to it,
model productive ways to respond to
children’s challenging behaviors, such as
separation anxiety at drop-off or refusal
to put on a coat when it’s time to leave. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17
Did you know that every time parents
and child care professionals engage with
young children—by looking into their
eyes, reading, giggling or babbling—they
turn ordinary moments into exchanges
that profoundly impact a child’s lifelong
learning? These exchanges not only help
children’s brains to grow to their potential
but just as importantly, they can inspire
parents and child care providers to see
themselves in a new light, as brain builders.
Science tells us that learning begins
at birth and that brains grow fastest in
the first five years. So, we know these are
the most critical years in a child’s brain
What makes these connections strong?
Positive interactions between a caregiver
and child. We call this brain building.
A cool fact: Every time we connect with
children, their eyes and their brains light
up. In these moments, one million new
neural connections a second are made,
taking in all the things we say and do.
The good news is that brain building
doesn’t require extra money or extra
resources. It’s free, fun and easy.
“Child care providers often get little
respect, yet child care and earlylearning
providers are brain builders
who are critically involved with the
early learning of our children.”
— Jacklyn Bezos, president
Bezos Family Foundation
The Bezos Family Foundation harnessed
the best of brain science to help parents
maximize early childhood learning and
created Vroom, which offers a mobile app
with 1,000+ brain-building tips.
What’s inside a Vroom tip? You’ll find
research from leaders in early learning,
distilled into bite-size activities that
enhance brain growth from birth to age 5.
Vroom makes brain building easy for
all the adults in a child’s life, including
extended family and professional child
care providers. n
Everyone is a
“Parents couldn’t wait to
download the app. They were
thrilled that there was nothing to
buy or set up with Vroom, and
loved that the only thing they
needed to further their baby’s
brain was them!”
— Barbara-Ann Mattie
Child Care Council, Rochester, NY
We’ve heard exciting Vroom stories
from parents and professional child care
teachers across the U.S. and beyond,
in homes, hospitals, museums, prison
systems, refugee camps and schools.
Vroom is active in more than 100 U.S.
communities, including counties, cities
and states, reaching 400,000+ families.
National nonprofits, including
Child Care Aware® of America, are
bringing Vroom to communities across
Childcare providers, such as
Kindermusik, Kindercare and Bright
Horizons, are fostering family
engagement by incorporating Vroom
tips into content and curriculum.
In Colorado, Vroom tips are in
grocery store aisles, at health clinics and
incorporated throughout the Children’s
Museum of Denver at Marscico
Popular media and businesses,
including Fred Rogers Company,
Johnson & Johnson, Goya Foods and
Baby Box Company, place brainbuilding
tips on packaging and
programming, reaching millions.
The International Rescue Committee
translated Vroom into Arabic for use in
the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and
Lebanon, with the potential to reach the
families of over 800,000 children under
Visit joinvroom.org for fun tools,
resources, science-based activities and
videos, and a link to download the free
18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Centers for Disease Control
Julia Abercrombie, MPH is a Behavioral
Scientist with the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC)’s “Learn
the Signs. Act Early.” program, which
aims to improve early identification of
children with developmental delays and
disabilities, including autism, so children
and families can get the services and
supports they need as early as possible.
At CDC, she has supported early
identification, health communication,
surveillance, and research efforts on
developmental disabilities. She holds a
BA in Psychology from Emory University
and a Master’s of Public Health in
Behavioral Science and Health Education
from the Rollins School of Public Health,
As a child care provider, how often does a parent ask you, “Is this
normal?” or, “By what age should my child be walking, talking, or making
friends?” Parents see you as a trusted partner in their child’s care, and they
look to you for information about how their child is developing. Child
care providers are positioned to be excellent observers of developmental
milestones, things most children do by a certain age in terms of how
they play, learn, speak, act and move. It’s important to equip parents with
information about developmental milestones so they can better help their
child learn and grow.
Working together with parents to monitor a child’s development and
making sure milestones are reached can also help detect any developmental
problems early. This is important because developmental delays and
disabilities are more common than many people realize. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 children has a
developmental disability. Unfortunately, many children are not identified
early enough for them to benefit from early intervention services.
The best way to monitor a child’s development is to track developmental
milestones. Milestone domains include the following:
Social/Emotional: How children interact with others and show emotion
Example milestones: smiling spontaneously, especially at people; cooperating
with other children; showing affection for friends without prompting
Language/Communication: how children express their needs and share what
they are thinking, as well as understand what is said to them
Example milestones: cooing; babbling; pointing to show others what he or she
wants; singing from memory a song such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
Cognitive: how children learn new things and solve problems
Example milestones: reaching for a toy with one hand; building towers of at
least four blocks; exploring things in different ways, like shaking, banging, or
Movement/Physical Development: how children use their bodies
Example Milestones: crawling; walking; catching a bounced ball; eating with a
If you’re not already tracking children’s developmental milestones,
it’s easy to get started. By using checklists of developmental milestones
for each child’s age, like those offered free from the CDC’s Learn the
Signs. Act Early. program, you can get a good idea of whether a child’s
development is on track.
Watch Me! Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns (www.cdc.
gov/WatchMeTraining), a free continuing education training, shows
exactly what to do. Many resources are available for you to share with
families, including children’s books, a photo and video library, and
a Milestone Tracker App, to engage them in learning about healthy
development and tracking their child’s milestones.
If there are children in your care who are not meeting developmental
milestones as expected, there are tips sheets and training you can take to
help support and encourage a family to act early on concerns. Visit the
website at www.cdc.gov/ActEarly.
In your work caring for and teaching children, remember that
milestones matter! Tracking milestones is a fun way to engage families
in their children’s development, and it is an important step in identifying
children who might need extra supports to reach their full potential.
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author and
do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19
Child Care Health Policy,
Child Care Aware ®
Krista Scott is the Senior Director for
Child Care Health Policy at Child Care
Aware ® of America. In her current role,
she is charged with supporting policy
initiatives that make child care settings
healthier communities for children and
providers. Ms. Scott started her career in
public service during college, where she
worked for several nonprofits that served
youth in after-school activities. She
has experience working in Head Start/
child care settings, providing disabilities
services, mental health consultation and
family services. She also has many years
working in state special education and
disabilities programs, working towards
creating inclusive environments and
ensuring that services are delivered in
accordance with federal law. Ms. Scott
has her bachelor’s degree in political
science and her M.S.S.W. with a focus on
management and policy.
Preparing Children for
Child care prepares our littlest people share one common experience – child
for the future by helping them learn and care. How powerful could it be if all
grow. A lot of time and energy is spent child care settings, but especially those in
making sure that children are healthy in food deserts (where families might not
the here and now. Today, in child care, we have access to healthy food for family
create safe environments, we do health meals) served fresh vegetables, fruits and
checks, and we’ve designed licensing and whole grains?
monitoring visits to minimize public
The Office of Disease Prevention and
health and safety threats.
Health Promotion states that “health
But what if we looked at health the starts in our homes, schools, workplaces,
way we look at learning – not just as neighborhoods, and communities.” For
things we do to keep children and
many children, families and child care
their families healthy today, but as the professionals, child care is their school,
building blocks for long, healthy lives? their workplace, their community. Making
What if the meals we serve weren’t just small but impactful changes to child care
about giving kids something to eat to fill environments to help children, families
their tummies now, but also were seen and child care providers lead healthier
as giving them experiences that develop lives is critical, because “the conditions in
preferences for food that fuels their which we live explain in part why some
bodies and protects them from chronic Americans are healthier than others and
diseases, such as diabetes?
why Americans more generally are not as
What if we thought of active play as more healthy as they could be.”
than just fun, but as a strategy to release Also consider what we would gain if,
stress, teach self-regulation and as a way to in communities where violence keeps our
prevent osteoporosis and heart disease? children and their families indoors when
While there is great diversity between they get home at night, child care always
local communities, many of our children found a way for children to be physically
20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
By Donna Hudson-Hamilton
and Sharon Beougher
Data, data, data …. Looking at data
tells a team where they are, but not the
direction towards improvement. The
data can show a need but from there
it can take many paths to reach the
Our program regularly reviews our child outcome and family outcome data to
analyze strengths, areas to be strengthened and patterns or trends that are emerging.
During this review, one particular school readiness goal came to light: Children
will demonstrate the ability to connect numerals with their quantities. We were not
reaching our targeted level of proficiency. Upon further review, a greater concern to
our team was that this goal had been targeted in past program improvement plans.
The program plan had included professional development, coaching, changes in
As the team (including parent involvement coordinators) analyzed the child
outcomes, we realized we had not truly accessed the vital strength of our program
… the families. From that “ah-ha” moment, we started to develop a plan to integrate
the math readiness goal into our program in a more meaningful way. As a team, we
address a goal thinking about what is best for the child and the family.
We regularly share information about child development with families and saw
an opportunity to share this goal in a more concrete way. The team developed a plan
on how to include this important and untapped resource. The plan needed to start
by first sharing our program child outcomes with families (which we do), but now
highlighting the targeted area.
Families understand the importance of reading to their children, but the team felt
Continued on page 23
Early Education Director,
USD 489 Early Childhood
Donna Hudson-Hamilton is the Early
Childhood Director of USD 489 Early
Childhood Connections. She has served as
the Director for the past 14 years. Donna
has been with the USD #489 Hays School
District for 25 years previously serving
as a School Psychologist. She has served
on various local and state boards; a few
of these include previously serving as
President of Kansas Head Start association,
board member of Kansas Association of
Infant Mental Health and board member of
United Way of Ellis County.
Early Childhood Connections
Sharon Beougher is in her 17th year as
education coordinator at Early Childhood
Connections. She has a BS in elementary
education with the emphasis in early
childhood and MA in early childhood
special education along with an
endorsement in ESOL.
active AND safe?
Child Care Aware® of America spoke
with child care providers in six states
across the country —Alabama, Colorado,
Indiana, Missouri, New York, and North
Carolina. In each, providers agreed that
when they or when their centers had
enhanced nutrition standards that required
meal variety and nutrition education, or
when they had access to training about the
importance and effect of active play, both
providers and children were more likely to
try new foods and to be more active. The
providers, recognizing their status as role
models, began changing their behavior in
front of the children.
We also know that when children
have experiences with food – through
gardening, food tasting and repeated
introduction of “new’’ foods – they begin
to eat a broader variety of foods. In some
cases, this impacts what they eat at home.
This happened in my family; one day, my
5-year-old came home and asked us to buy
plums the next time we went shopping.
Why? “We had them at child care.”
The greatest and most impactful health
promotion opportunities might be
through parent, family and community
engagement. Take nutrition, for example.
Food is deeply cultural; offering
opportunities for family engagement
around meals can bridge family and child
care food cultures.
Child care professionals are passionate
about helping grow and shape young
children – they are in a unique position
to extend this passion to help all of our
children grow up strong and healthy.
Investing in training and resources for
child care providers and teachers to help
children have rich experiences with food
and to have opportunities to build strong
bodies through play is critical – and so are
policies that require these opportunities be
available to all child care communities.
See what training exists in your
community, explore what policies your
center or family child care home has in
place now. If you aren’t satisfied with
what you see, talk to your friends and
colleagues – share your passion with
others. To paraphrase an inspiring child
care professional, Margo Sipes, doctors
save lives and child care saves lives, too. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21
Getting on Board with Today’s Families
By Alice Eberhart-Wright, Family and Child Specialist
I felt like I was Rip Van Winkle when I went to our library to check on books about
families. I knew that our ideas about families had changed. I just didn’t know how
much. The books I have chosen to review are as much for the adults as they are for
children. Our ability to engage with families means that we must really work on our
own judgment. We no longer have many of the Dick and Jane type of families that were
the norm in my generation when the fathers were the wage earners and the mothers were
expected to be the homemakers.
Jing’s Family, by Elliot Riley and illustrated by Srimalie Bassani, features an Asian child
who is adopted by a Caucasian family. Jing has a cousin who has two dads, her uncles.
When Jing goes to the zoo, she sees all kinds of animals and also
families that come in different colors. The book also includes a
picture glossary that offers some new vocabulary. A family fun
section suggests drawing and talking about children’s own families.
Very simple. Few words. Important concepts.
Stella Brings the Family, by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated
by Hilly Clifton-Brown, features a child with two dads and no
mom. This presents a dilemma for Stella when her class
has a Mother’s Day party. Stella has all kinds of worries and questions from her
classmates who can’t imagine that kind of family. No mother? Who will read
bedtime stories or kiss you when you’re hurt? And who can be your special guest
for the Mother’s Day party? Another child suggests she bring all her special
family members, and she does, hoping it will be OK. Another child brings a
grandmother and one child brings two moms. Of course, the teacher was worn
out by the end of the day but Stella told her not to worry — she wouldn’t bring so
many people for Father’s Day.
Families, Families, Families!, by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang with one
illustration by Rikke Asbjorn, is a book about families that uses animals and
makes you laugh. It ends with a great message: “So no matter if you have a ma, a
pa, a hog, this llama, ten frogs and a slug, a cousin named Doug, a Great-Granma
Betty and a Great-Aunt Sue, Uncles Hal, Al, and Sal, and Uncle Lou, too, one
stepsis, three stepbros, two stepmoms, and a prize-winning rose, a robot butler
to serve you tea, the world’s biggest grandpa, or whatever it might be … if you
love each other, then you are a family.” I can see this book being a real winner for
both adults and children, who might want to memorize the end and say it together.
Still a Family, by Brenda Reeves Sturgis and illustrated by Jo-Shinn Lee, deals with a
difficult family situation: a homeless family living in two separate shelters has a little girl
who wishes to be with both parents. In particular, she wishes to celebrate her birthday
all together and somewhere outside. The little girl has only her doll, Molly, that can be
with her wherever she goes. The author’s note states that she wrote this book for children
living in homeless shelters and then urges people who have homes to recognize how
important it is to help. She provides a number of websites for more information about
Finally, Family Is a Family Is a Family, by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Qin Leng,
is an extraordinary book that tries to present the many types of families as one might
encounter. Each is presented with incredible illustrations that truly tell the story. We
see mixed-race families, foster families, single parents, families with two moms, two
dads, and grandparents raising children.
These books all show that there are all varieties of families, and in each there are
children who need love, like to have fun, and value relationships. They encourage us
to look inside at old prejudices and beliefs, and become supportive and helpful of all
families. A close friend said, “Hurrah! These books can have a tremendous impact
on our world today.”
Whenever there are discussions and activities dealing with families, it’s important
to stop and think about whether every child will feel that his or her family is
understood, acknowledged, and accepted. Books like these can help. n
22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Continued from page 21
that math readiness skills did not receive the same attention. We
shared with families the research regarding math readiness as an
overall predictive indicator of school success, and how parents
could help their child’s success by being informed and involved.
Our next step was to offer to partner with families on this
specific school readiness goal. The staff worked with families to
provide them with targeted home activities specific to their child’s
current developmental level. The activities were shared through
a face-to-face visit with parents as well as in the form of a parentfriendly
The activities are provided one at a time. Parents are given
a magnet to keep in a prominent place at home to encourage
them to focus frequently on the skills. Ongoing communication
between the family and classroom staff helps to assess the child’s
progress and readiness for activities that reflect a higher skill
level. The parents take the lead in determining when the child
has mastered an activity and then are provided another activity
for the child’s further skill development.
A home activity library was developed by the teaching staff.
There are multiple activities for every developmental level so
families have choices. Because of the time it took to develop the
home activity library, last year was a “soft roll-out” year for the
With the home activity library complete, the program will be
able to start immediately at the beginning of this school year. At
parent orientation, parents will be provided the information on
the school readiness goal and our need to strengthen this skill so
that the children leaving our program and entering elementary
school (with this math skill solidly in place) will have an increased
likelihood of overall school success.
During the first education family visit, the staff will share that
this school readiness goal is being targeted by the whole program.
In the past, staff have partnered on individualized school
readiness goals for each child, which will continue. The staff
encourages families to not only teach the skill but also to assess
how their child is mastering the skill and when he or she is ready
to move on. Parent-teacher conferences, home visits, and ongoing
daily communication will be utilized to continue the process of
supporting the child and the parent to increase the child’s skill
level and to celebrate the child’s success.
The program is already seeing a positive effect in our outcomes
from this intervention, and we anticipate greater outcomes
this coming year. As a piece of our accountability, the families
will not only be given individual updates on their children, but
program-wide data will be shared with the parents through the
policy council, a program newsletter, and an annual report.
Parents are an untapped resource. While we have the children
for a only short time, empowering parents to see the impact they
can make with their child and their child’s school with regard to
school readiness can have a lasting impression. The activities they
do every day with their children, no matter how small it might
seem at the time, make a big difference! n
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environments for young children in Kansas.
At Child Care Aware ® of Kansas, we sow the
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CULTIVATE families in their most important role
of nurturing their children and balancing the demands
of family and work.
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and focus on resources that support the development and
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