APC Receives Funding to Expand Donít Be In The Dark About Child Care Campaign
The Alabama Partnership for Children announced the expansion of Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care, a partnership public awareness campaign of the Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children.  The campaign educates parents and others on why quality child care is important, what it looks like, and how it can be attained for all children in Alabama. The campaign brings to light the unknown and possibly dangerous situations in which we might be placing our youngest, most vulnerable children each day.
 
The project is funded by a $395,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, to be expended between July 1, 2015, and December 31, 2016.
 
High quality early education programs are proven to help bridge the learning gap and prepare children to succeed in school.  A scan of available programs in the state reveals that for basic child care, very few are accredited and many are not even licensed and inspected by the Department of Human Resources for basic health and safety. A trend over recent years shows that by 2014, only 55% of child care programs were licensed and inspected.  That means that 45% of programs available to working families were “exempt” from inspections for such things as background checks, emergency plans, ratios (the number of children that each staff person is responsible for), facility and playground safety.
 
“We learned through a survey that many parents are not aware that some programs are operating without regular inspection. There is an assumption that if a program is open for business, has a business license, and is accepting children – that it is regulated by the state and regularly inspected. This is just not the case, and we will continue our efforts to help parents make informed decisions about where they leave their children each day” said Gail Piggott, M.Ed., executive director of the Alabama Partnership for Children. 
 
Efforts will focus on informing parents and families of Alabama’s lack of regulation of care and directing families who are evaluating child care options to resources that will help them select the best options.  The campaign will also inform the community of the growing health and safety crisis in child care in Alabama to build public understanding and momentum for changing the system that allows programs to operate without inspection. “By age five over 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed, underscoring the need for safe, quality early care and education experiences for young children,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW, VOICES for Alabama’s Children’s executive director. “Also critical to note, is the much needed role of policy change in Alabama to remove broad-based exemptions in our state statute and ensure every program caring for young children is required to undergo basic inspection and adherence to minimum health and safety standards. Regardless of zip code or family resources, every child deserves a safe and healthy environment in which to learn while their parents are working or attending school.”
 
As part of the new funding, the APC will also support non-licensed providers in becoming licensed with technical assistance, support and resources to bring the programs up to the minimum standards of care.
 
To learn more about the Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care Campaign, interested parties should visit www.AlabamaChildCareFacts.com.
 
 
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About the Alabama Partnership for Children
The Alabama Partnership for Children is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit www.SmartStartAlabama.org.
 
About VOICES for Alabama’s Children
VOICES for Alabama’s Children is a statewide nonprofit that works to ensure the well-being of Alabama’s children through research, public awareness, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.alavoices.org.
 
 About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.