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"Supporting Alaska's children isn't just a feel good message, it is one of the smartest investments we can make as a community," says Stephanie Berglund, thread's CEO."

Investing early on in a child's life makes even better sense. Brain research has repeatedly shown that a majority of our brain, including its size and wiring, is developed by the age of four. However, less than 4 percent of public investments in education or early education are made at that time. The earlier the investment in early education, the higher return on the investment. That means healthier and stronger children, higher graduation rates, better employees, a more competitive workforce and ultimately, our children's success in life.

thread is committed to supporting children and families find quality and affordable child care that fits them. thread also works with early educators to provide training opportunities whether they live in Anchorage or Nome, through distance learning like online classes and self-studies. Throughout Alaska, thread supports communities in having quality early care and education choices.

"Investing in Alaska's children is paving the way for our next generation of leaders," Berglund says.

You can join thread in supporting quality early care and education by:

  • Clicking on thread's "donate" button at the top of our website and give online today!
  • Choosing thread or another favorite charity through Pick.Click.Give. Thank you to the many supporters who pledged almost $2,500 in 2011 to support quality early care and education!
  • Giving through your place of work: Ask your employer if you have a workplace giving program. Your employer might be able to match and double or even triple the size of your gift!
  • Volunteering with thread: We have a variety of volunteer activities that happen throughout the year.

Thank you for your support and happy holidays from thread

And follow thread on twitter and "like" us on Facebook too!

 




ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies or NACCRRA released its We Can Do Better 2011 update earlier this year, ranking state child care centers nationwide. The report ranks states on ten program requirements and five oversight benchmarks. The State of Alaska’s score, according to the report, is a 72 out of a possible 150 (48 percent) – a failing grade in any classroom – and is ranked 43 out of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense.

While Alaska was noted as having several areas of strength including health and safety standards, unannounced inspections and a comprehensive background check on early educators working with children, there is room for improvement.

“Alaska can do more to support professional advancement of the 7,300 early educators that make up the early care and education workforce, whether it is through training and education support or advocating for higher wages” says Stephanie Berglund CEO of thread, Alaska’s statewide Child Care Resource and Referral Network and a member of NACCRRA.

The report makes recommendations for improvements in Alaska, including increasing the education requirements for both child care center directors and those who work with children.

“Investing more in professional development opportunities along with providing a livable wage for the early care and education workforce could lay the groundwork for increasing the quality of child care in Alaska. Research has shown early educators’ training and education is one of the highest indicators of quality care,” says Berglund.

“Early educators would be motivated to pursue more training and advanced degrees if they could obtain a better job and/or increase their salary as a result,” she added. 

thread supports increased public investment in early care and education programs to address NACCRRA’s report recommendations. These include improving the State of Alaska’s capacity to increase child care inspections, better promotion of national child care accreditation standards and providing more information online, including inspection and complaint results.

Alaska residents agree. An economic impact study of early care and learning services in Alaska by The McDowell Group, says urban and rural residents alike think public funding for early care and learning in Alaska is important, with 87 percent of households supporting state government to provide financial support for these services.

“We know there is a huge gap in the well-being of children between states that have made additional public investments in quality child care initiatives and those that have not,” Berglund says. “Research shows that when states have made significant investments in early care and education services, children are more likely to be healthy, graduate from high school and be successful later in life.”

For more information about NACCRRA or the We Can Do Better: 2011 Update: NACCRRA's Ranking of State Child Care Center Regulation and Oversight, please visit www.naccrra.org. Click here for the complete 2011 Update: Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska report.




Based on a survey of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs), a new national report shows that FY 2011 budget cuts drastically affected children and family services within their states. The report was released last month by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), Every Child Matters Education Fund and Voices for America’s Children.

“Children are our most vulnerable citizens, yet states are cutting critical programs that are needed to ensure their healthy development and well-being,” said NACCRRA Executive Director Linda K. Smith. “As Congress debates spending cuts for FY 2012,  and as the Budget Super Committee drafts deficit reduction recommendations for the next 10 years, it is essential that our nation’s children are protected and that key initiatives with a direct effect on the economy, such as child care assistance, are fully funded and not diminished.”

NACCRRA supports propsals to help children and families during these challenging times like providing aid to states so that they don't have to cut children's health care, reduce child protection or close schools. NACCRRA is also proposing a 10-year  "Invest-in-Kids" effort to fund child abuse prevention and treatment programs, access to affordable child care for all working families and health insurance for every child. Click here to view online the State Budget Cuts: America's Kids Pay the Price, 2011 Update.




thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource & Referral Network, is a hub of information for the early childhood workforce. thread announces the launch of a new and cutting-edge tool for early educators, an online distance learning program and a volunteer opportunity through AmeriCorps.

“It is the right time to support people working in early childhood and those that might be interested in the field and a change in their career,” said Stephanie Berglund, thread’s CEO. “Some people may consider going back to school during a time when the economy is making it hard to find jobs.”

thread has three current programs focused on supporting the early childhood workforce that includes child care providers, certified teachers, early interventionists, administrators and others working in jobs that support children. These programs include:

  • The Alaska SEED Registry – a database with information about the early childhood workforce. The database is also a tool for early educators to document their professional accomplishments as well as be first in line to receive funding opportunities. (www.seedalaska.org)
  • Child Care Aware Training Academy – an online program offering high-quality and self-paced courses available to child care center and family child care providers. thread partners with the Child Care Aware Training Academy to provide a variety of course topics designed for the Alaska early childhood professional.
  • thread’s AmeriCorps Strengthening Families Project – an AmeriCorps volunteer opportunity at selected early care and education programs around Anchorage, supporting families and children. AmeriCorps members receive a monthly living allowance of $1008, an education award of $5550 after a year of completed service, health insurance and child care assistance.

In Alaska, the 7,300 residents that are directly employed in the early care and learning workforce generate $150 million in payroll and support over 32,000 working families with child care services.

“We know over 7,000 Alaskans are working in the early care and learning profession right now and more are interested in finding jobs in this field,” Berglund says. “This interest is good for people seeking jobs, it is good for working families seeking child care and it’s good for Alaska’s economy.

For more information about thread programs, please visit www.threadalaska.org or call 907.265.3100.




Taking time-out for yourself is just as important as taking care of the children in your life. Self-care tips were the topic at a recent Parent TALK at thread, where Kids These Days! joined participants to talk about how they find their own "me time."

Recently, thread joined Kids These Days! (KTD!) an award-winning radio program airing in Alaska on KSKA and KRUA, to highlight topics of interest to families raising children in Alaska. With support from Wells Fargo, KTD! has created an on-air Early Education Desk to help highlight quality child care and early learning stories. thread's Parent TALK is a free group where parents share ideas and ask questions about the joys and challenges of parenting.

Listen to Kids These Days! recent show featuring self-care for parents. Also, be sure to listen in to KTD! every Tuesday at www.kidsthesedays.org. Check out more resources for parents and thread's monthly Parent TALK series under the "Families" tab at www.threadalaska.org




It has been a year since thread launched a new online training opportunity and the Child Care Aware Training Academy continues to grow in popularity. The Child Care Aware Training Academy is an online, self-paced training for early educators.  thread is able to offer this distance learning through a partnership with NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

"We are continually looking for new ways to offer high quality training to those working in the field of early childhood," says Stephanie Berglund, thread's CEO. "The Child Care Aware Training Academy is a great way for early educators to receive the training they need, delivered directly to them and can be completed at their own pace."

thread continually looks for ways to expand access to trainings for early educators statewide. All thread courses provide a variety of engaging topics designed specifically for the early childhood professional. For more information about thread courses, visit the training calendar or the Child Care Aware Training Academy list of classes.




thread's CEO, Stephanie Berglund will join a panel at UAA, Thursday, October 6th at 7:00pm for a community conversation about poverty in Alaska, how it affects our children and how it shapes our child care options. The community forum is part of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and Alaska Pacific University's (APU) Books of the Year program (booksoftheyear@uaa.alaska.edu). The UAA/APU Books of the Year program is a partnership bringing together faculty, staff and community members to understand common themes. The books serve to begin a discussion of larger issues impacting our communities.

The 2011-13 Books of the Year include The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis and The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler. The theme of the upcoming panel is "Money and Morality."

Along with Berglund, panelists include Samantha Farmer, a UAA student and parent, Connie Wirz, Executive Director of Cook Inlet Native Head Start and Virgene Hanna, from the UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research. The panel is moderated by Bonny Headley, UAA Early Childhood Education Faculty.

The community forum will be at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, Room 307 and parking is free. For more information about the Books of the Year program, please visit www.uaa.alaska.edu/books-of-the-year.




thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource & Referral Network, is recruiting up to ten AmeriCorps members to support early care and education programs in Anchorage involved in a Strengthening Families project. AmeriCorps members who complete a year of service hours will be eligible for:

  • A monthly living allowance of $1008.00
  • A Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5550.00 per full-time completed service year
  • Health insurance for the term of the service year
  • Child care financial assistance, if necessary
  • Valuable experience and training in the growing field of Early Care and Education

“This is a great opportunity for someone to receive on-the-ground experience in early care and education, along with a living allowance, health insurance and a sizable educational stipend,” says Stephanie Berlglund, thread’s CEO. “This project is timely, as Alaska, like many other places around the country, is facing challenging jobless rates.”

thread’s AmeriCorps Strengthening Families Project was recently awarded funding through Serve Alaska to expand Strengthening Families to reach more families in Anchorage.

thread hopes to recruit up to ten AmeriCorps Family Support Specialists. These members will connect families to resources like food pantries, financial assistance and transportation.  For more information and how to apply, click here!

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thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource & Referral Network

thread is Alaska's Child Care Resource & Referral Network, advancing the quality of early education and child development by empowering parents, educating child care professionals and collaborating with our communities. thread supports Strengthening Families (SF), a national effort among early care and education programs, child welfare departments and communities providing families and early educators with tools and information to help children thrive.

What is Strengthening Families?

Strengthening Families is a proven and cost effective way to improve child outcomes and help reduce child abuse and neglect through building the following protective factors in families:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Healthy social and emotional development for children

Recently, thread received support from AmeriCorps Alaska to expand SF to reach more families and early care and education programs in Anchorage, Alaska. thread is seeking 10 AmeriCorps members to serve at selected early care and education host program sites around Anchorage to support the families whose children are enrolled in the program as well as staff working at the program using the SF Protective Factors.

thread AmeriCorps Member Family Support Specialist Position Overview

The successful candidate will serve in an early care and education program (host program) to support the families whose children are enrolled in the program as well as the staff working at the program using the Strengthening Families Protective Factors as a framework. thread will engage 10 AmeriCorps members to serve at selected early care and education host program sites around Anchorage and be supported at the Anchorage thread office, located at 3350 Commercial Dr. Ste 203 Anchorage, AK 99501.

AmeriCorps Members will serve one year. Members will be expected to serve at least 1700 hours within the service year.

Benefits of AmeriCorps Service

Serving at thread as an AmeriCorps member will give you:

  • A monthly living allowance of $1008.00
  • A Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5550.00 per full-time completed service year
  • Health insurance for the term of the service year
  • Child Care Assistance, if necessary
  • Valuable experience and training in the growing field of Early Care and Education
  • Training and experience working with the national framework of Strengthening Families
  • Professional contacts within the early care and education field both locally and at a state level
  • A supportive and caring professional environment

Specific Responsibilities and Skills

thread is seeking AmeriCorps Members who:

  • Have a willingness and ability to learn and take direction
  • Are able to relate to people of all ages, genders, abilities, and diverse backgrounds
  • Are knowledge about child and family development
  • Have experience working in an early childhood setting
  • Are able to maintain effective communication with providers, parents, staff and members of the community
  • Are able to maintain confidentiality and maintain professional boundaries
  • Can pass a background check and FBI fingerprint check

Learn more about specific responsibilities and activities and download the service description here! To apply, download the AmeriCorps application here and return to thread at info@threadalaska.org.

Additional Information and Resources




thread was recently awarded a $133,000 grant from ServeAlaska to expand the Strengthening Families Initiative (SFI) with AmeriCorps members. This program will grow and sustain the SFI throughout the state. AmeriCorps members will be assigned to Strengthening Families programs to provide assistance with planning and implementing SF strategies.

Strengthening Families is a nationally recognized effort highligting parents as their child's first and most important teachers. thread staff, through Strengthening Families, works with early care and education providers to better support the families they serve, reduce child abuse and neglect and optimize children's early development. Strengthening Families highlights five strategies or "protective factors" that have been linked to reducing abuse and neglect and increasing healthy child development:Protective Factors

1. Parental resilience - the ability to cope with and bounce back from challenges

2. Social connections - friends, family members, neighbors, and other members of a community who provide emotional support and assistance to parents

3. Knowledge of parenting and child development - accurate information about raising young children, appropriate expectations for their behavior, and knowledge of alternative discipline techniques

4. Concrete supports in times of need - financial security to cover day-to-day expenses and unexpected costs; formal supports like TANF, Medicaid, and job training; and informal support from social networks

5. Children's social and emotional competence - a child's ability to interact positively with others and communicate his or her emotions effectively

thread is currently recruiting up to ten AmeriCorps members to serve at selected early care and education host program sites around Anchorage to support the families whose children are enrolled in the program as well as staff working at the program using the SF Protective Factors. For more information about thread's AmeriCorps volunteer opportunity, please check it out here!

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