2017 Fall Kansas Child


A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Fall 2017 Volume 16, Issue 4













Executive Director

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Kansas Child

is a publication of

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Executive Director

Leadell Ediger


BWearing Consulting

Angie Saenger, Deputy


Publication Design

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

otherwise noted. No permission

is required to excerpt or make

copies of articles provided that

they are distributed at no cost.

For other uses, send written

permission requests to:

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401

Kansas Child is distributed at

no cost to Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas donors. Single

copies are available

to anyone at $5 each, prepaid.

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.

p. 4


Family Engagement:

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

Relationships Matter

A Parent’s Perspective............................ 10

p. 14

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

Vroom: brain-building

moments are everywhere........................18

Milestones Matter.................................. 19

Preparing Children for Healthy Lives.....20

p. 19

Untapped Resource................................20

Getting on Board with

Today’s Families...................................... 22

Family Engagement:

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


Chief Family and Community

Engagement Officer

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/

ethnicity, etc.).

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

achieve goals.

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

screening information.


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

one another.


Built-in opportunities exist for families and

staff to interact meaningfully and learn from

one another.


The child care program offers and

encourages family volunteer opportunities

that match family strengths, interests and


Community Resources and

Family Support


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

preventable accident.

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

families are

The Power of

Genuine and



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

each family.

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

one another.

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

the Key


Early Childhood

Education Specialist,

Training & Technical

Assistance Services,

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

and avoid:


Comparing and contrasting one

child with a sibling, cousin or the kid

next door.


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

they are.


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

energizing presentations.

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

be outside.

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

friend’s business.

It sounds like privacy is a valued boundary in your family. Now let’s talk

about things she does to make you feel respected?



Family Engagement

Specialist, Child Care Aware ®

of America

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.

Inform Empower

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


Outreach Specialist,

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

Children and




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

Development, 2012).

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:

50-state profile.

McCoy-Roth, M., Mackintosh, B.B., & Murphey, D.

(2012, February). When the bough breaks: The effects

of homelessness on young children. Child Trends: Early

Childhood Highlights.

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

of Wisconsin-Madison.

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

Parental Resilience

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.

Social Connections

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.

Concrete Support

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.

brain-building moments

are everywhere

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

brain builder!

“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

the nation.

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

age five.

Visit joinvroom.org for fun tools,

resources, science-based activities and

videos, and a link to download the free

app. n

18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Milestones Matter



Behavioral Scientist,

Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention

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,

Emory University.

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


Senior Director,

Child Care Health Policy,

Child Care Aware ®

of America

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

Healthy Lives

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

desired outcome.

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

schedule, etc.

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.


Education Coordinator,

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

the homeless.

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

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 23




SALINA, KS 67401


PO Box 2294, Salina, KS 67402-2294


Call Toll Free 1-855-750-3343



child care

You can help grow high-quality child care

environments for young children in Kansas.

At Child Care Aware ® of Kansas, we sow the

seeds of excellence in the early childhood field.

Every day we work to:

CULTIVATE families in their most important role

of nurturing their children and balancing the demands

of family and work.

NURTURE existing and prospective early childhood

professionals through professional development and technical

assistance to promote sturdy roots.

GROW strong communities by advancing their knowledge

and focus on resources that support the development and

learning of young children.

Indeed, we have a good start, but growing these seeds of

excellence takes your support. For more information, visit our

website, www.ks.childcareaware.org, or follow us on Facebook,

Twitter and Pinterest.

Donate online via PayPal, Just Give, or by mail:

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

PO Box 2294

Salina, KS 67402-2294

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