What Children Learn in a High Quality Preschool Program

Some may question the need for preschool as they explain, “We didn’t have that when I grew up.” Besides being the child care many working families rely upon, high quality preschool programs do so much to build necessary skills to help children (especially those at risk) be ready for school and life within a window of critical learning time before age five. The National Association for the Education of Young Children explains it here in this article about What Children Learn in Preschool.


Helping Young Kids Through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis

As adults, we may tend to overlook or minimize how even very young children are affected by current events.  However, even very young children are watching and listening to what is happening … [more]

What Happens When a Family Runs Out of Food

We all know what happens when we’re hungry…  Impulse buying at the grocery store, making food choices of questionable nutritional value, being cranky and distracted.  You know the feeling.  Now, imagine this happens to you regularly, maybe every month.  Several new studies tell the story of what happens to children and families when they run out of food stamps and how their health and education suffer.  What Happens When Families Run Out of Food

Five Numbers Everyone Should Know

What’s your Early Childhood IQ? Can you match these numbers to the corresponding statements below?

700… 18… 90%… 3:1… $4

  • Number of new neural connections/second in a healthy brain
  • Odds of developing heart disease as an adult due to childhood trauma
  • Minimum return on investments made during early childhood
  • Age (in months) when vocabulary disparities begin to appear
  • Chances of developmental delays when 6 or more risk factors are present

Find out here: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/multimedia/interactive_features/five-numbers/#

Employee Wellbeing and “The Hell of American Day Care”

The cover story in the April 29, 2013 issue of New Republic contains a heart-wrenching account of one working mom’s personal tragedy. In her struggle to keep a new job and find childcare for her young daughter, she gambled on the unknown and the trade-off cost her daughter’s life. Read “The Hell of American Day Care” and listen to the author being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Is the outcome of this story typical? No, thankfully. But, parts of this story play out daily in the lives of working parents. Nationally, the percentage of children living in single-parent homes continues to rise. Data reported in the just-released Right Start in Michigan’s Great Start Collaboratives tell the story for Michigan. Births to unwed moms are up. Half, actually 51%, of births to women in the Traverse Bay/Manistee Collaborative service area in 2012 were to uninsured, low-income women.

What does this have to do with childcare? It’s simple, really. Working single-parent families spend, on average, more than 40% of their income on childcare. Low-income working women are more likely to be in hourly jobs with not-traditional hours making it hard to find any childcare that meets their needs. Quality gets trumped by cost and availability.

But, there is some good news. We found local examples of how employers and employees are successfully working together to find mutually beneficial solutions.

One small restaurant in Traverse City adjusted its schedule so that working parents shifts were a better fit to their childcare and children’s schedules. It wasn’t a big change but it’s made all the difference: fewer absences, improved employee retention, fewer distractions on the job. This win-win solution adds up to increased productivity (good for the bottom line) and improved employee wellbeing (good for everybody).

Another business in town maps out deadlines well in advance so working parents can plan ahead, and offers on-site childcare on Saturdays during especially busy times of year. Munson Healthcare operates on-site childcare facilities that cater to the needs of their employees, including a system for flexible week-to-week scheduling. In Kalkaska, a chronic shortage of skilled staff was solved when Kalkaska Memorial Hospital began offering on-site childcare.

What all these businesses, and many others, have in common is a strong employer-employee partnership. Understanding the challenges of being a working parent is the first step toward finding solutions that work in the workplace. Here are some small but significant changes you can make in your workplace:

  • Connect—talk with employees and colleagues about their experiences as working parents and start building connections between management, supervisors and employees around shared concerns.
  • Learn—sign up for ReadyNation E-Mail Updates at www.readynation.org
  • Reach out—sponsor a Strong Families Café in your workplace. Based on the Strengthening Families approach, the café supports employee wellbeing by providing opportunities to share challenges and successes in a safe, welcoming environment. Our GSC has trained facilitators who can bring the café to your location at no charge. Contact Robin at rhornkohl@tbaisd.org for more info
  • Join—the Great Start Collaborative & Great Start Parents. Contact Mary at mumanner@tcchamber.org for info