Shop and support thread in advancing the quality of early care and education for our children.
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!
thread's 5th Annual Book Party in the Park was held Friday, August 5th from 4:00pm-7:00pm in the Garden Art Park at 3350 Commercial Drive, next to the Success By 6 building in the Mountain View community in Anchorage. With a lead sponsorship from ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. and generous support from business and community leaders like state Senator Bill Wielechowski (D - Anchorage), thread distributes at least one free book to every child and family attending the event. thread's Book Party in the Park is generously supported by: Anchorage Fred Meyer Stores, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc., Credit Union 1, HDR, Inc., the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the State of Alaska, Department of Health & Social Services and Volunteers of America.
thread thanks our community partners and Anchorage for another great Book Party in the Park! We hope to see you next year.
The State of Alaska’s Child Care Program Office (CCPO) is pleased to announce thread, Alaska’s Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, now provides Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) for the Fairbanks service area. The Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB), the previous grantee, will no longer provide these services.
“thread is excited for these expanded services in Fairbanks. Child Care Assistance is yet another way thread supports families and early educators in accessing affordable and quality child care,” said Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO.
thread will be partnering with Thrivalaska to provide local CCAP services. Thrivalaska already provides thread resource and referral services to families and training for early educators in the Interior and Northern part of the state.
“Thrivalaska has a strong presence in the community,” says Alicia Berka, the Executive Director of Thrivalaska. “Along with thread services, we also provide a summer food program, Head Start Birth to Five and a school age program. We look forward to expanding our support to families through Child Care Assistance.”
Thrivalaska will begin administering the Fairbanks area Child Care Assistance Program effective September 1, 2011. Until that time, the CCPO Child Care Assistance Program team will process all applications, renewals and other changes for the Fairbanks service area.
How to get your Child Care Assistance Program Applications, Renewals and Reports of Change to thread:
1. In-person: 1949 Gillam Way, Suite G, Fairbanks, AK. Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm. There is a drop box on the south side of the building for submission after business hours. You may contact the thread Child Care Assistance Office at 907.479.2212.
2. By Fax: thread, CCA 907.479.2295.
3. By Mail: thread, Child Care Assistance Office, 1949 Gillam Way, Suite G. Fairbanks, AK 99701.
Thank you for your patience during these transitions. For specific questions regarding Child Care Assistance or Provider eligibility, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding Thrivalaska please email email@example.com or call 907.479.2214 or toll free 866.878.2273.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 28, 2011 marked the day for safer cribs for sale at local and national retail stores. On December 15, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory crib standards, establishing the most stringent crib safety standards in the world. Effective June 28, 2011, all importers, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers must offer only cribs that meet the CPSC's new and improved full-size and non-full-size crib standards.
Some of the new mandatory rules for cribs include: (1) stopping the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) strengthening mattress supports and crib slats; (3) requiring crib hardware to be more durable; and (4) making safety testing more rigorous.
"A safe crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep. It is for this reason that I am so pleased that parents, grandparents and caregivers now can shop with confidence and purchase cribs that meet the most stringent crib standards in the world," said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "From the start, our goal has been to prevent deaths and injuries to babies in cribs, and now the day has come where only stronger and safer cribs are available for consumers to purchase."
CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs since 2007. Drop-side cribs with detaching side rails were associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000. Additional deaths have occurred due to faulty or defective crib hardware. The new standards aim to prevent these tragedies and keep children safer in their cribs.
"thread supports quality care of Alaska's children. These updated standards go a long way toward safer cribs for babies in child care and at home," said Stephanie Berglund, thread's CEO. "We look forward to working with Alaska's child care providers and other early educators to promote the transition to using cribs that meet the new requirements."
Child care facilities, family child care homes, and places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, have until December 28, 2012, to ensure the cribs used in their facilities meet the requirements of the CPSC’s new crib standards.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) required the CPSC to update the old crib standards, which had not gone through a major revision in more than 30 years, to ensure that the standards provided the highest level of safety possible.
For more information on crib safety and the most up-to-date information on how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, visit CPSC's crib information center at: www.cpsc.gov/cribs
Juneau resident and father Chris Murray joined NACCRRA's (National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) campaign and thread in support of national legislation calling for background checks for all providers working with children. Currently, there is no national safeguard to ensure the more than 11 million children in child care are cared for by providers without a criminal record.
Murray is featured in a video NACCRRA produced for utube, where he states he believes all parents want safe and quality child care for their children. Murray, as part of the NACCRRA campaign, asks parents to sign a petition asking Congress to support national legislation that ensures background checks for child care providers include:
- A fingerprint check against state and federal records
- A check of the sex offender registry
- A check of the child abuse registry
To view the NACCRRA video and learn more about the petition, click here. For more information about NACCRRA, please visit http://www.naccrra.org/
thread hosted early educators from around the state at a dynamic two-day leadership symposium June 10th and 11th in Anchorage at the Hilton Hotel. The focus of the symposium was on building leadership skills and quality in early childhood programs. Keynote speaker Julie C. Parker, with the Department of Child and Family Studies at the the University of Southern Mississippi, shared how early educators can use the mission and vision of their programs to increase the quality of care.
The symposium also highlighted ways to engage and support families, communication strategies for staff, partners and community members and training and technical assistance opportunities available through thread. Additionally, sypmposium participants from approved and licensed programs were eligible for a monetary stipend and incentive materials each day of the training.
For more information or questions, please contact Alicia Deaver at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 907.265.3105.
The Obama Administration announced in a press release today $500 million in funding for a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge for states to establish and expand high quality early learning programs. Joining U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the announcement were business, law enforcement and military leaders who have advocated for increased investments in early learning to reduce crime, strengthen national security and boost U.S. competitiveness.
"For kids, high quality early learning programs mean they will enter school better prepared with a greater chance of finishing high school and college," said Vice President Joe Biden, Chairman of the Administration's Middle Class Task Force. "Expanding access to such early education and child care programs will also make it easier for working parents to hold down a job - giving them peace of mind that their children are in a high quality learning environment while they are at work."
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development. States applying for the competitive challenge grants will be encouraged to increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and underserved families and children, increase training and support for the early learning workforce, evaluate how strategies are working toward success, and help parents make informed decisions about care for their children.
"We are excited to see this type of commitment and vision from President Obama and Congress toward quality early education and learning," said Stephanie Berglund, CEO of thread, Alaska's statewide child care resource and referral network. "We know that with investments like these in quality child care and early learning initiatives, children are more likely to be healthy, graduate from high school and be successful later in life."
The press release from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services states that research shows high-quality early learning programs lead to long-lasting positive outcomes for children, including increased rates of high school graduation, college attendance and college completion. Yet, for the first time in a decade, states are reducing some of their key investments in early learning, a recent National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) indicates.
Alaskans support public investment in early care and learning. An Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska report by the McDowell Group showed urban and rural residents alike think public funding for early care and learning in Alaska is important with 87 percent of households thinking it is important or very important for state government to provide financial support for these services.
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants will encourage states to make the best possible use of current federal and state funding in child care and early learning. Starting today, the public may provide input and find out more information online about the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants. Grants will be awarded to states no later than December 31, 2011.
May 3, 2011 was National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day and thread joined North Star Behavioral Health and Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc. (ACMHS) for a presentation highlighting the mental health and well-being of Alaska's children.
"Young children's mental health is something people don't like to talk about," said Josh Arvidson, the Director of Alaska’s Child Trauma Center at ACHMS, during his co-presentation with Alicia Deaver, thread's Director of Consultation. Arvidson and Deaver presented at a luncheon at North Star Behavioral Health which drew about 100 professionals from Anchorage and around the state. "It's a tough issue, but there are clear indicators of ways we can help improve these kids’ lives."
According to Arvidson and Deaver, one of the strongest factors influencing children's mental health and well-being is the number of negative experiences children are exposed to at an early age, such as adult substance abuse, moving frequently and domestic violence.
While Arvidson and Deaver acknowledge these are challenging issues to address, there are ways to help improve children's mental health early on. For example, children who are in and remain with a consistent care-giver build strong attachment that leads to positive well-being.
Both Deaver and Arvidson advocate when appropriate, for engaging both parents and care-givers in creating a positive relationship with a child that has experienced trauma.
This positive attachment with an early educator, even at the youngest ages, is fostered through things like a building a sense of confidence, ability to make friends and getting along with others and focusing on tasks or assignments. Children who have received consistent and positive learning experiences through their child care provider show dramatic improvements in behavior.
“The research tells us that it is important for early educators to have training and learn the skills that will help them positively support children in their care,” Deaver says. “Healthy child development can be used as an intervention tool for children.”
For more information about children’s mental health issues, please visit: www.acmhs.com/. For consultation services provided by thread, please visit: www.threadalaska.org.
On May 6th, 2011 families celebrated Provider Appreciation Day in recognition of child care providers, teachers and other early educators of young children everywhere. Started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, Provider Appreciation Day is celebrated each year on the Friday before Mother's Day.
The early care and learning workforce, including child care providers, is a growing field nationally as well as right here at home. In Alaska, the early care and learning workforce currently numbers 7,300 compared to 6,500 estimated in 2005.
This includes individuals working at child care centers, family child care, Head Start, private and public preschool and pre-kindergarten, infant learning programs and other early childhood settings.
While the numbers of people working with Alaska's youngest residents is increasing - children from birth to ages five and above - their wages are equal to some of the lowest paying jobs in the economy. At the same time, Alaska has no structure to reward early educators for increased credentials or experience. For example, an average salary of a child care worker is less than half the average salary of a kindergarten teacher in a public school system. And yet, we know the relationships between early educators, children and their families can impact a child's life far into the future. Children who have positive early learning experiences often have higher paying jobs, stay out of jail and are healthier!
thread celebrated the important work of Alaska's early educators by:
Gathering child care provider stories! Stay tuned for prize announcements, including a gift package to the Anchorage Museum, complete with guest passes for a provider, 1 adult guest and up to 10 children! Other prizes include free Boogie Wipes National Provider Day Appreciation kits.
Celebrating with AEYC in Juneau, along with Best Beginnings and the United Way, a Child Care Provider Appreciation Day on May 5th at the Juneau Empire Building. The evening's event included refreshments from Abby's Kitchen, a hand spa, chair massages, craft kits, prizes, gifts and recognition for child care providers.
Celebrating with FAEYC in Fairbanks on May 7th with a Provider Appreciation Barbecue at Pioneer Park. Provider Appreciation Awards were given out.
Holding a drawing for a 6-seater baby buggy, which will go to one of thread's registered Let's Get Moving! training participants.
Visiting thread's website for information and on-going support for early educators through trainings, the SEED Registry and financial and program improvement incentives.
The State of Alaska celebrates Provider Appreciation Day with a State Proclamation by Governor Parnell. View the Executive Proclamation for Child Care Provider Appreciation Day, along with other activities and events celebrating child care providers at www.providerappreciationday.org.
"Alaska's early care and learning field is employing a growing number of people, with some of the lowest paying wages in the economy and providing child care services that allow over 32,000 Alaska residents to join the workforce," Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO said. Berglund is referring to data from thread's *2011 update to an Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska report.
Alaska’s early care and learning workforce currently numbers 7,300 compared to 6,500 estimated in 2005. This includes individuals working at child care centers, family child care, Head Start, private and public preschool and pre-kindergarten, infant learning programs and other early childhood settings, reports the McDowell Group. The McDowell Group, who prepared the updated report for thread and the System for Early Education Development (SEED), places the number of early care and learning jobs in between seafood processing jobs at 9,500 and air transportation jobs at 6,400.
While many early educators are caring for Alaska children from birth to ages five and above, their wages are equal to some of the lowest paying jobs in the economy, with the average monthly wage of an individual in this field being $1,494 (data from the Department of Labor and Economic Development, 2009). This compares to $3,886 which is the overall average monthly wage in Alaska.
For many Alaska families, child care services and early learning programs help them stay employed. However, finding quality and affordable child care in Alaska is often challenging or even impossible.
"In some communities in Alaska there isn't a lot of choice in quality and affordable child care and in other places there might not be any licensed child care services available at all," Berglund commented. The McDowell group includes in the report a cost of care comparison for child care in Alaska versus tuition fees at a state university (see below).
Cost of Care in Alaska
Average annual cost for infant 2009
Average annual cost for 4-year-old in 2009
Average tuition and fees at state university
Public Investment in Early Care and Learning in Alaska
Alaska, like many other states, has basic programs available supporting families and early educators. However, nationally, there is huge gap in the well-being of children between states that have made additional investments in quality child care initiatives and those that have not. Research shows that when states have made significant investments in early care and education programs, children are more likely to be healthy, graduate from high school, and be successful later in life.
The report also captures opinions from Alaskans about public investment in early care and learning. Urban and rural residents alike think public funding for early care and learning in Alaska is important with 87 percent of households thinking it is important or very important for state government to provide financial support for these services.
View the entire report at: 2011 Update: Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska
* The report is an update of the 2006 McDowell Group, "Economic Impact of Early Education and Child Care Services in Alaska." Funding for this report was provided by:
Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program, Department of Health and Social Services
thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource and Referral Network
University of Alaska