The importance of high-quality, affordable child care affects everyone. Child Care Aware® of America is pleased to share with you our final story in Faces of Child Care, an eight-week series of stories from individuals of various walks of life who are affected by child care.
Read Ann’s story to learn more about our local child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R) and how you can help Child Care Aware® of America ensure that every family in America has access to high-quality, affordable child care.
I have always worked in the nonprofit sector, but I found my calling 14 years ago when I began as the Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of Minnesota. Formerly the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network, Child Care Aware® of Minnesota serves as the backbone to 14 agencies that support child care providers, families, and children in Minnesota. We are a statewide system of agencies that have helped more than 600,000 families find quality child care and have supported the professional growth of more than 100,000 child care professionals.
The biggest change to the child care field that I’ve seen over the years is the heightened awareness of the importance of child care. When I began, there was barely any focus on child care and early education issues at the state level and funds were often cut.
Now we have grown to a place where child care and early education has become a core focus. Recently Minnesota’s governor, House, and Senate had sessions to specifically discuss funding early education because they ran out of time during the general session. The disagreements during the session was not about if it was important to invest in child care and early education but how to best fund child care and early education. Never in our lives have we seen this issue become so important that a special session had to be called. People may disagree about what the most effective approach is for funding child care, but its importance is no longer up for debate.
As a state, we are still trying to figure out how to fit child care into the bigger pre-Kindergarten discussion. Child Care Aware® of Minnesota is working with Child Care Aware® of America to get our leaders to understand that child care is synonymous with pre-kindergarten. Pre-kindergarten is for any child under the age of five. The other big nut we are working to crack is fair compensation for teachers and child care providers.
We have come a long way in building constructs and measures within the child care system. We know what makes a quality program. The issues now are about accessibility and affordability because the vast majority of children who need quality child care can’t afford to have it. We know child care is a great investment. According to researchers, quality child care has an 8:1 return on investment. We know that quality child care is good for the economy. Parents need good child care programs for their children so they can focus on their jobs instead of worrying about the safety of their children when they are at work.
We know that an investment in Child Care Aware® of America, is an investment in America’s future. So the real question now is, what kind of an investment are you willing to make to ensure the best future possible?
As a national membership-based nonprofit organization, Child Care Aware® of America partners with more than 400 state and local child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R), like Child Care Aware® of Minnesota to advance affordability, accessibility, development, and learning of children in child care. Learn more about our membership services.
Ann is making a difference in the lives of children and families every day. We need more leaders like Ann who are making high-quality child care accessible to all families. When you support Child Care Aware® of America, it’s an investment in America’s future. Your donation helps to provide training and technical assistance to our local members, advocacy efforts to ensure high-quality, affordable child care for all.
Every day Ann invests in children and families. Make your investment in America’s future.