Shop and support thread in advancing the quality of early care and education for our children.
Washington, D.C. -- On Thursday in Washington D.C. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced three new bills supporting those working in the field of early care and education. The new legislation was introduced as a package designed to address access, quality and affordability in early education programs. "The payoff is clear. Every dollar invested in early education programs today returns 16 dollars in better outcomes for individuals, families and communities," Begich said. "You can't find a better investment and return than this -- and all of us benefit when our kids have the tools they need to succeed." [Read More... ]
More than 160 premiere events will showcase Best Beginnings' Babies on Track, a 14-minute DVD for parents highlighting early learning and healthy brain development. The DVD and accompanying baby board books provide at-home and convenient ways to interact with your children. 7,500 sets of the DVD and board books will be distributed free throughout Alaska to families with children under 2 years of age.
Babies on Track focuses on brain development that happens in our earliest years, before 3 years old. This is a time when talking, conversation, singing and other language are critical to a baby's healthy development. [Read More... ]
One way is through improving the quality of child care through the early care and education workforce. “A colleague once said to me, ‘we don’t start building a pipeline at mile 5, we start at 0’,” says Stephanie Berglund, the CEO of thread, Alaska’s Child Care Resource & Referral Network. “The same can be said for our children; we should be investing more starting at birth and earlier in their care and education.”
It is during a child’s youngest years, from birth to 3 years old, when what and how children are learning can shape their future. Increasingly, studies are showing when young children experience positive early care and education at home or in child care, they are more ready for school, have higher wages when they get jobs, are healthier and stay out of jail. These benefits not only impact individuals, they help reduce the costs we all pay for things like juvenile justice programs and health care.
There is a link between early learning and quality child care because of today’s economy and more working families than fifty years ago. [Read More... ]
thread staff will join early educators and early childhood professionals from around the state at the 31st Annual Early Childhood Conference this Thursday through Saturday, February 2-4 at the Hilton Anchorage. The conference is hosted each year by the Anchorage Association for the Education of Young Children (AAEYC).
thread is promoting professional development opportunities like special training topics, online training and financial support or mini grants. Look for these opportunities throughout the conference:
Community Cafe: What It's Like to be a Center Director? Collaborate and converse with other directors and get a jump on your conference day. thread staff invites directors to the Portage Room at the Hilton Anchorage at 7:00AM, Thursday through Saturday.
Alaska SEED Registry: Find out how you can join the SEED Registry and receive a new SEED thumb drive to help keep track of your training and other professional information, right at your finger tips.
ChildCare Aware Training Academy: Check out new online classes available and designed specifically for early childhood professionals.
thread's Quality Initiatives: Visit the thread booth to find out more about the mini grants, training and onsite consultation available in your community.
Early educators are also invited to join thread and Senator Begich for a Town Hall for early educators on Friday, February 3rd from 5:30pm-7:00pm at the Snow Goose Restaurant in Anchorage. Senator Begich wants to hear your thoughts and concerns about early care and education in Alaska. Early educators are eligible to receive 1 thread training hour for attending.
In 2011, thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource and Referral Agency received $2400 in individual donations through the Pick.Click.Give program. thread has seen an increase in Pick.Click.Give donations each year in support of quality early care and education in Alaska. Pick.Click.Give. allows Alaskans to make charitable contributions to one or more of over 400 eligible nonprofit organizations when they file online for the annual dividend. [Read More... ]
By Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO (from thread's family newsletter, past Fall/Winter 2011 issue)
My daughter broke her arm this past August while traveling and through every stage of her injury - from the initial emergency and needing help from strangers to navigating care and understanding her recovery needs, I was reminded of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors. Through this reflection, I have felt proud of thread's important work with families and how we, as a community, work together to support families. [Read More... ]
"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.