Meet, Meet, Meet. Advocate.
by Vicki Caramante, 1.18.18
New Year, new start – or at least to re-group and look to where and how to make an impact without getting overwhelmed.
I have been a bit overwhelmed the past few weeks – and I am sure the CCRR staff has been, too – because of the sheer number of meetings in which I’ve participated. Don’t get me wrong, they are important, and I am learning something new at each one. But my color-coded calendar (yes, I am one of those people) is a daily rainbow. At least it looks pretty.
Often after these meetings, or later on in the evening when I’m thinking about how my day went, I wonder how we can strengthen the partnerships CCRR has and how we can create new partnerships. What should those partnerships look like? What can we accomplish together?
Several nonprofits in Rockland have taken to using the hashtags #WeAreRockland and #CommunityUnity when sharing their partnership successes via social media. How simple. How effective. We are all in this together and should celebrate our common goals. So CCRR will join on social media with our counterparts and use the hashtags #WeAreRockland and #CommunityUnity as a celebration of nonprofits.
Of course, many of our partnerships revolve around advocacy – for the people we serve, for the programs we assist, and for ourselves. As we look to state budget season, our advocacy will focus on the Governor’s proposed budget. Hopefully, it will clearly state that quality early care and education is a priority. With our statewide and local advocacy partners, Child Care Resources of Rockland will be a voice for children. I invite you to join us by sending letters and emails, making phone calls, or even posting or reposting something about quality early care and education on your social media platforms. Learn more about advocating in CCRR’s latest newsletter. The cover article entitled, “I Am An Advocate and So Are You,” sums up how we can all do our part for children, families, and Rockland. #WeAreRockland #CommunityUnity
Is It Best For the Children?
by Vicki Caramante, 12.21.18
At the end of next week, Jane Brown’s tenure at CCRR comes to a close. I hope Jane truly realizes the impact she has had on the world and the impact she has had on each and every individual with whom she has come in contact. She inspires us all to be better and do better, and I will always aspire to ask, as Jane always does, “Is it best for the children?”
Doing what is best for children has meant meeting with our state elected officials to advocate for sound child care policy and a state budget that reflects those policies. We, along with our statewide resource and referral partners, are asking for $5 million of additional funding to train those who work with infants and toddlers, and to build capacity and quality in programs to serve those children.
Doing what’s best for children has meant meeting with school districts to discuss the upcoming pre-K application process for the 2019-2020 school year; discussing the inquiry-based pre-K curriculum that emphasizes constructive, purposeful play; and advocating for funds and policies that support a truly universal pre-K program for all four-year-olds across New York State.
Doing what’s best for children means licensing new programs; providing regulatory oversight; providing guidance and training for programs and families on how to reduce sodium intake; working with partners to set up breastfeeding-friendly spaces (we have one in our office!); and closely reviewing our budget to ensure we are on target and meeting our goals.
As one can imagine, the last two months have been jam-packed as Jane and the CCRR staff have shared with me a smidgen of their expertise. As a Board Member for 10 years, I had a good understanding of how the staff executes CCRR’s mission and vision. As I’ve learned, the depth and breadth of their responsibility and knowledge is boundless, and I have learned so much more about the impact CCRR has on Rockland and beyond.
The drive to do what is best for children comes from the inspirational leadership of Jane Brown. There have been parties full of laughter and tears as we celebrate our accomplishments and celebrate Jane. We will always be inspired by her, and we will always ask ourselves if what we are doing is best for children. Farewell, Jane. Thank you.
Here’s to 2019.
Partner With Us
by Vicki Caramante, 12.7.18
I have been thinking a lot about partnerships the past couple of weeks as I’ve attended dozens of meetings. If we think about our relationships, we are all effectively partners with each other. One of CCRR’s most valued partnerships is with those who offer their time, share their expertise, and support us financially.
You have by now received our Annual Appeal in the mail or your email. These seem old-school to me – and in a good way. Having that card arrive in the mailbox is a tangible reminder of the important work nonprofits provide to our community – especially as government funding stays stagnant or is reduced.
Nonprofits have always relied on the philanthropy of others. I know when I give money I want to know those funds are being spent on something tangible – so here's a list of a few of the things CCRR does with your donations to cover costs outside our contract requirements:
- Child Care Tuition Scholarship Program
- Conduct compliance visits to early care and early education programs, ensuring children are safe and well cared-for
- Create workshops and accompanying materials on topics such as child development; health and safety; creating breastfeeding-friendly spaces; and curriculum development
- Provide reading materials for our Tales for Tots classrooms and program volunteers
- Subsidize the true cost of training for child care providers and early educators
- Subsidize the cost of student materials for UPK programs
CCRR has produced three short videos that explain a little bit about why quality child care matters; about the economy of child care and the bottom line; and how CCRR helps families looking for child care. Please take a look at them and share them.
We know investing in children from the age of birth to five yields a return of 13% on that investment. Where else can your money do that?
Please partner with us and donate to our Annual Appeal.
Executive Director Blog
by Vicki Caramante, 11.23.18
‘Tis the time of year to reflect on what life has given us the past year. We’ll hear a lot about being thankful, about being grateful. Maybe we’ll donate some time to a soup kitchen or a food pantry or a hospital. We are and should be more aware of how we can help others; how we can give our time, talent, and, very importantly, our treasure to those in need. Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc. is one of those very important organizations in Rockland for whom donations are vital because the need to support early care and early childhood education is crucial. Please consider celebrating #GivingTuesday by donating to CCRR.
I am an introspective person – always have been. Considering what I have done to impact the world, to be a better person, to be open to giving and receiving positive and negative experiences helps me to be better. I am grateful for constructive criticism because it makes me a better person. I am grateful for my interactions with people who are not the same as me, who have had different life experiences, because I learn from them.
This year I am very fortunate to be a part of the Leadership Rockland’s Class of 2019. Last week we took a deeper look at multicultural communities in Rockland. It was an emotional, impactful day as we discussed oppression, racism, sexism, religious diversity, the immigrant experience, and the LGBTQ experience. First-hand, first-person conversations. I have a new perspective, I am seeing the world differently, and I am grateful.
As I move to completing my first full month at CCRR’s Executive Director, I find myself reflecting on the world in which I live: the big wide world; my smaller, local world; and my immediate world - co-workers, friends, family. I am incredibly grateful to the hundreds of volunteers I know for giving of themselves because giving is so very necessary. I am grateful for my friends and family, for the love and support they give me. They are my world. Not everyone is so lucky, as I was so clearly reminded. We should remember to look people in the eye and say a kind word, give a pat on the back, or give a hug to those needing a bit of encouragement, a bit of support, a bit of humanity.
What a Week!
by Vicki Caramante, 11.9.18
Today marks my first full week as the new Executive Director of Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc. And what a week! In addition to meeting with staff individually and in groups and attending external meetings with our community partners, I attended CCRR’s 44th Annual Early Childhood and School Age Conference at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill on November 3rd. Underwritten by the generosity of Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, who secured grant funding for the event and other professional development initiatives, we saw over 100 teachers, child care providers, and early educators come together to learn more about their profession.
In her opening remarks, Jane Brown reiterated that what we do is for children – children who cannot wait for policymakers to figure it out. We have to revel in our passion for children, share it, and ignite it in others! Yes!
In her keynote that morning, Cindy Terebush, an Early Childhood Consultant, Presenter, and Author, focused on the need for children to play – how simple. And eye opening. Just allow kids to be kids and play. Allow them to pick up a block and decide what it is; to look at a flower an ask questions; to make up their own stories about a playground adventure or nature walk. Because we know that’s how they learn – through play. How simple.
I sat in on a good portion of Cindy’s morning workshop Project, Craft and Art – They Are Not the Same! She engaged participants in a fantastic discussion about how these common tools used in preschools. I was particularly intrigued when Cindy described project based learning – a deeper dive into discovering. We know this type of learning builds connective synapses in the brain that support the 21st Century skills. This was particularly exciting to me because my children have benefited from project based learning in our school district. I can see in them the critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills they have built – all soft skills needed for future employment. Hearing about the foundations for these skills being built in preschool is so exciting. In this NY Times article about the maker movement, the notion that handing a preschooler a lump of clay and allowing them to figure out what it is or what it could become is exactly what Cindy was talking about.
Another popular workshop that I sat in on was Developmental Discipline: An Individualized Approach to Classroom Management with Quality Improvement Specialist, Educational Consultant, and Author Eileen Flicker. She reminded us that young children especially, communicate with their bodies and will display both positive and negative behaviors. So observing them for clues about what they are thinking and feeling is imperative to developing strategies to help them express those thoughts and feelings. How powerful!
In my first week here at CCRR, I am constantly reminded there is so much we already know about children, and we have so much more to learn about them and from them. It serves us well to try looking at the world from a child’s perspective – simply.