Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Defining New Horizons: Full Steam Ahead

I clearly remember the first national conference I ever attended. It could be because I know that the brain stores emotional memories first and being at my first national child care conference was a very emotional experience for me. In my little world, coming to a national conference meant that I was a part of a group of “leaders.” It meant that “I had arrived.”
It was very exciting to be sitting in the ballroom listening to the keynote speaker with nearly 800 of my peers. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know a soul there. I was among friends. That feeling was driven home when speaker Ellen Galinsky, of the Families and Work Institute, told a story about how her morning had been going. She said, “You know you’ve been in early education too long when you go to the counter at the deli and order a Sesame Street bagel for breakfast.” Laughter filled the room as many of us could imagine us doing the exact same thing. In fact, the woman sitting next to me repeated the order and said, “What’s wrong with that?” Nothing, as far as I was concerned. I would like to think that for anyone who works with children, a Sesame Street bagel is the breakfast of champions.
Fast forward 10 years and here I was at the National Association for Family Child Care’s 2009 national conference in Baltimore, Maryland and who was making a magical appearance? None other than Elmo direct from Sesame Street. I felt at home in more ways than one.
For 10 years I provided family child care in Maryland and during that time I was honored to be a part of a tremendous force of early care and educational professionals who have worked tirelessly to advance the field. MSFCCA (Maryland State Family Child Care Association) showed the same level of professionalism as they hosted the NAFCC conference, welcomed over 1,000 guests from across the globe and celebrated with 2009 award winners like Betty Bardige, Ed.D., recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Bridget Murray, Maria Otto Leadership Award, Odessa Davis, The Ruby Brunson Community Advocate Award and Anne Walsh Mitchell, Presidential Award Winner.
Keynote speaker Diane Trister Dodge from Teaching Strategies™, excitedly launched the release of the newly retooled Creative Curriculum® for Family Child Care which was highly anticipated by the field. And always a crowd pleaser, Lisa Murphy, The Ooey Gooey Lady® enthralled the participants with her humor and true tales of the joys and challenges experienced by family child care providers. I left hoping that her uplifting message reached a first time national conference attendee who could now say “I have arrived.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Join Us At The 2009 NAFCC Conference!

The National Association for Family Child Care is presenting its most exciting conference to date - June 25 to 27, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland at the beautiful Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. The conference is being hosted by one of the country’s most successful family child care associations, the Maryland State Family Child Care Association.
This year’s conference will feature two terrific keynote presentations – Diane Trister Dodge, founder and president of Teaching Strategies and lead author of the NEWLY Updated Creative Curriculum® for Family Child Care and Lisa Murphy, the Ooey Gooey Lady. Both keynote addresses promise to be exciting and motivational and are a MUST SEE.
The conference is bringing more than 100 presenters to Baltimore to offer presentations in a variety of topics: association development, working with children, business practices, public policy, family relations, accreditation and many more. And you won’t want to miss visiting the many vendors exhibiting all of the latest in available materials and resources. Other special events will include the Accreditation Celebration, the National Black and Latino Caucus Networking Reception, and a very special appearance from everyone’s favorite Sesame Street character - Elmo.
We invite all family child care professionals to join us in Baltimore, Maryland. We are looking forward to our time together, meeting new friends, sharing information, and learning from each other. For more information, see NAFCC’s website www.nafcc.org. ~ Linda Geigle

Pictured L to R: Linda Geigle, Susan Eckelt, and Deborah Eaton, former Presidents of NAFCC Share a Moment at Last Year’s Conference!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Head Start Family Child Care, the Final Frontier - Dr. Calvin Moore

There have been a lot of efforts recently to formally include family child care into Head Start programs. These efforts included the development of Head Start Family Child Care Regulations by the Office of Head Start in Washington, DC. These new regulations provide a framework for Head Start and Early Head Start programs interested in implementing a family child care program option. This is an exciting development for those of us in the family child care community. The question is whether enough has been done to help programs see the value of including family child care as a viable option for families? I would like to share a personal story.
As working parents I remember my wife and I looking at all options when choosing where my child would be placed in child care. We visited private child care centers, church day care programs, and family child care providers. We chose family child care because of the home atmosphere, adult child ratio, and the proximity to my workplace. We learned that families need options. Family child care has historically been left out of those conversations, particularly in Head Start and State Pre-K programs. However, the tide seems to be turning a bit, which means that the advocacy work of the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and our partners is paying off. The Office of Head Start has made it possible for family child care providers across the country to be included at the table, but there is more work to be done. We have to find ways to educate local programs about family child care and NAFCC Accreditation. Family Child Care is the final frontier. There are many program directors and administrators who are just discovering family child care and we must be ready to provide them with information, invite them to visit our programs, and share our success stories. Let’s talk about ways this can happen. Please share your ideas and thoughts about working with Head Start and Early Head Start programs in your area.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Welcome from Sue Williamson President, National Association for Family Child Care

Welcome to the new family child care blog facilitated by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and hosted by Discount School Supply. NAFCC is very excited about this new communication tool and we hope that you will mark it as a favorite site on your computer and visit often. Together we will explore the many issues we are facing as a profession: accreditation, quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), zoning and restrictive covenants, family child care in Head Start and Early Head Start, men in child care, national standards for quality in family child care, the role of family child care in the national system of early care and education systems, business and marketing tips, and others. We are looking forward to offering you an opportunity to add your voice to our blog as we hear from local, state, and national experts in the field of early care and education and family child care. We will have a new message about every two weeks and welcome your questions and comments.

I firmly believe that family child care offers families early care and learning for their children which is a foundation for the future. It offers children strong personal relationships that build trust – an essential building block for school readiness and success in life. Family child care promotes learning through play, fostering creativity and critical problem solving skills in young children. Parents choose family child care because it supports their home culture, language acquisition, and literacy. Children explore math and science in a natural setting that allows their learning to emerge in a logical progression from curiosity to experimentation. Family child care providers who have grown in their own experience and professional development understand how to link these basic skills to more in-depth learning, helping our children to become life-long learners.

NAFCC provides the infrastructure for our proud profession which supports authentic relationships between providers and children, providers and providers, and providers and families. In turn, it strengthens our communities and our country. The mission of the National Association for Family Child Care is to promote quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care.

NAFCC has six goals:
· To strengthen state and local associations as the primary support systems for individual family child care providers;
· To promote a professional accreditation program, which recognizes and encourages quality care for children;
· To represent family child care providers by advocating for their needs and collaborating with other organizations;
· To promote the diversity of the family child care profession through training, state and local associations, public education, and Board positions;
· To deliver effective programs through strong organizational management;
· To secure the fiscal health of NAFCC through strong financial management and fund development.

We hope you will join us June 25-27, 2009 in Baltimore, for our annual conference. The theme for this year’s conference is Defining New horizons: Charting a Course to Quality Early Learning. This conference is dedicated to you, our members, and to all of the providers who have gone before us to build such a strong foundation for family child care providers, for children, families, our communities and our country. Please visit our website, http://www.nafcc.org/ and join NAFCC if you are not already a member. Together, we can build a strong profession! ~ Sue