Homeless doesn’t mean no care for your children

Kara was referred to the Child Care Resources Homeless Program after completing a substance abuse treatment program and being reunited with her son, Kailas. The CCR Parent Representative, Terrie, visited Kara's home to help her enroll in the program, assess her child care needs and choose the right child care. Kara was surprised that Terrie cared enough to come to her home and meet her and Kailas.

Kara had completed treatment, become employed, survived a serious auto accident and recently lost her job at the time she entered the program. Terrie helped her understand the child care system and choose the type of child care she was comfortable with.

"I told Terrie my goals – to go to school and to go to work – and she really encouraged me to take time to reach my goals. I had a lot of questions about child care, she patiently answered every single one and she gave me options. The message was always 'We're going to be there for you' and they always were," said Kara.

CCR supported Kara as she received training in Peer Counseling, became certified and found a new job. Meanwhile, Kailas was happy in child care.

"He can go on being a kid, learning all there is to learn and being the vibrant and joyful little person that he is. I'm comfortable knowing where he is and it allows me to focus on my goals," said Kara.

More about the Homeless Program

The Child Care Resources Homeless Program provides case management, child care referral and subsidies for families who are homeless. It is the only program of its kind in King County, helping homeless families address the challenges they face in finding and paying for child care.

Homeless children are known to experience a higher level of emotional and relationship difficulties, behavior challenges and developmental delay. Many have experienced violence prior to becoming homeless. High-quality child care can help children by providing a nurturing and stable environment and promoting school readiness through early education. The Homeless Program serves more than 500 families and more than 1,000 children and pays for more than 1,100 child care subsidies each year. Learn more…

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What does quality care really look like?

Jane was searching for just the right child care program for her 3-year-old son, Aaron. She had narrowed her choices to two potential family child care programs near her home. Jane arranged to visit Kathy's program during a morning, bringing Aaron along with her.

Jane and Aaron joined the teacher and children on a regular Wednesday morning. The children were happily engaged in a variety of activities, including dress-up, building with blocks, playing at a sand table and silently looking at books. The teacher moved from child to child, observing and commenting on what they were doing. She was smiling and standing or kneeling close to the children, and when she addressed them, her voice was calm and warm and respectful, and she made eye contact with them. The children returned her enthusiasm and engaged with her while maintaining their focus on their activity.

Aaron ventured to the sand table, and Kathy gently encouraged him, introducing him to the other children at the table and pointing out some of the toys in the sand table that he might want to use. Typically a shy child, Aaron responded to the teacher’s warm and caring demeanor and began to play happily with the other children.

Jane was touched by Kathy’s nurturing attitude and support of the children in her care, something she couldn’t have seen on paper. Although this wasn’t the only factor in choosing care for her son, it made quite the impression and is something Jane remembers to this day.

More about choosing child care

An important step in choosing child care – one not to forget – is the visit to a potential provider. Here you can observe the interactions between the caregiver and your child and get a feel for the child care center’s atmosphere. We suggest visiting more than once at different times of the day, when activities are structured (like story time) and unstructured (like playtime), to fully understand each caregiver and center.

Research suggests that interactions between students and adults are the primary mechanism of student development and learning. Awareness of and responsiveness to students' learning needs and emotions are key elements of a supportive relationship; children's interests, motivations and points of view are important in developing classroom activities. A teacher's ability to provide clear expectations for students’ behavior and ability to effectively prevent or redirect misbehavior sets a positive tone in care. Learn more...

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Kaleidoscope Play & Learn program designated a Promising Practice

Child Care Resources’ Kaleidoscope Play & Learn program was recently awarded Promising Practice designation by the University of Washington’s Evidence-Based Practice Institute. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn earned the designation by building the program on sound theory and foundational research and by producing evidence through evaluation that shows consistent, positive results for program participants.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a program of weekly, facilitated play groups for young children and their Family, Friend and Neighbor caregivers and their parents. In the groups, families learn about child development and what they can do to support their children’s learning at home and in their neighborhoods.

“Kaleidoscope’s success and Promising Practice status is the result of the good-thinking and vision of dozens of community partners and funders and thousands of families who helped us shape and develop the program over the last 10 years,” said Lisa Conley, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Program Coordinator. “It’s been an incredible and inspiring process to work with such committed and innovative people who were willing to try new ideas, learn and try again until we found what works best for children and families.”

From the outset, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn has measured its impact on the families it serves. ORS Impact has been our evaluation partner from the start.

“It has been amazing to see Kaleidoscope Play & Learn go from an idea that was being experimented with to meet the needs of underserved families and communities around Seattle to where it is today -- a program that can be implemented with confidence that makes a real difference to children and their caregivers,” noted Sarah Stachowiak, ORS Impact CEO and one of the founding members of Kaleidoscope’s evaluation team.

Tanya Laskelle, Family Support Services Director at Center for Human Services, has also been part of the team since the beginning. Tanya started as a group facilitator and now manages the Center for Human Services’ nine weekly Kaleidoscope groups. She hears from families about the positive impact the program has on their lives and the lives of their children.

“We receive such overwhelming feedback from our participants that Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is such a good fit for them because it impacts the entire family,” Tanya observed. “The program meets families where they’re at. It takes them on a journey that connects them with resources, ideas and experiences that lead to their child’s school readiness and build parents’ and caregivers’ confidence.”

To learn more about Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, click here


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The true costs of child care

Even though the recession is officially over, families are still feeling its effects as they pay child care costs each month. Child care providers are attempting to keep costs affordable, but maintaining high-quality child care is expensive. The average annual cost of care in Washington for an infant in a child care center is $10,920 (the 16th highest in the nation) and is only slightly less than the average annual rent of $10,848.

For information about the cost of child care nationally and in Washington, view the Child Care Aware of Washington report Parents and the High Cost of Child Care.

More about how Child Care Resources can help you pay for child care

A number of local, state and national resources exist to help parents pay for their child care, including state and local subsidies and scholarships, tax credit programs, flexible spending accounts and free preschool programs. Learn more…

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Steps to Finding Quality Child Care

Our experts in the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center, a program of Child Care Resources, can help you understand different types of child care and what to consider when searching for a program suitable for your family. We can provide referrals to specific programs, information about financial assistance and ways for you to identify what quality child care looks like.

1. Start early and think about your family’s needs and values

There are many types of child care. Give yourself as much time as possible to find the best situation for your child. Think about your needs: Do you want child care close to work or home? Do you need full-time or part-time care? Does your child have special care needs? What is most important to you about a child care setting? "Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines”  describe behaviors and skills that children may show birth to grade three and ways that parents and other family members and  early learning professionals can support their healthy development and early learning.  

2. Talk with our child care search experts

Experts are available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to assist you in your child care search. Not only can we help you identify child care facilities based on your unique search criteria, but we are here to answer questions and share important information about quality standards, what to expect when you visit a child care center and what questions to ask. Call us at 206-329-5544 or get started now with an online search for child care.

3. Call, visit and ask questions

Call potential child care centers and caregivers, ask about openings, hours, the enrollment process and fees, weekly/monthly costs, and whether subsidies are accepted. If a child care program seems like it could work for you, make an appointment to visit. Spend time talking to the provider, observe activities and interactions and imagine your child in the environment. Use this checklist to help you decide whether it will work for your family.

Check the center or caregiver’s history of licensing complaints and violations by contacting the Department of Early Learning.

Make sure to find out what the program is doing to maintain and increase quality and how they meet quality indicators. Click here to view the Elements of Quality Care. Ask about Early Achievers, Washington State’s quality improvement initiative for early learning. Is the provider a participant? Are they considering joining? To learn more about Early Achievers, click here.

4. Make a choice and find the best fit

Choose the program that best suits your family’s needs. It may be necessary to have alternates if your first choice falls through.

5. Stay involved

A key to ensuring quality child care is to stay involved. You should have parent-caregiver meetings regularly and get to know the other families. Be there for your child’s birthday and, when you can, take part in field trips and other special events. Keep as close to agreed-upon drop-off and pick-up times as possible and spend a few minutes each day talking to the caregiver about your child – show your appreciation and ask questions. And always talk to your child about his or her day, what did he or she do, what did he or she learn?