Wisconsin Providers Recognized at the 2019 Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation Awards Ceremony

Recently, 50 early childhood teachers across the country traveled to historic Philadelphia for the 2019 Terri Lynne Lokoff Children’s TYLENOL®, Children’s ZYRTEC® National Child Care Teacher Awards. Since 1994, The Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation proudly recognizes the critical work child care teachers provide to children and acknowledges the need to elevate this workforce as the key to quality child care.

Tammy and Holly

This year, we’re honored to share that not one but two early childhood teachers from Wisconsin were recognized. Tammy Dannhoff, owner of Kids Are Us Family Child Care and Holly Hale, owner of Little Red Wagon Childcare received $500 for their own personal use and an additional $500 to implement a classroom enhancement project for their programs.

Tammy, who’s enhancement project involves building an outdoor water play and discover station, was also in the running for The Helen Marks Award, which brings the honor of being named the National Child Care Teacher of the Year.

“It meant so much, first and foremost, that I was be able to stand with other professional childcare providers and be recognized for a profession that is not recognized very often,” Tammy shared. “It is wonderful that The Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation provides this recognition to providers from around the country. While I wasn’t chosen as the Teacher of the Year, being picked overall and as one of the top 11 teachers was an honor. It was an amazing experience!  Out of the 50 early childhood teachers recognized, ten were family childcare providers, which made it extra special.”

Holly, another family childcare provider, appreciated the fun-filled weekend celebration which included a welcome reception, tours, meals, networking and the awards dinner. Hotel and transportation were also provided.

“This past weekend was amazing,” Holly said.  “From the minute I stepped into the limo at the airport until I boarded the plane for home, I felt like royalty.  This weekend inspired me to continue in my profession and to keep advocating for our children and the providers.  The connections that I made will hopefully last a lifetime.  Being an early childhood teacher can be so isolating, but with the support of the others at the ceremony, I know there is always someone to talk to.  Thank you to the Lokoff family and to all of those who were part of this amazing weekend.  I get happy tears just thinking about it!”

Holly’s enhancement project will involve creating a natural outdoor play area. She will be adding a waterfall table, wooden bridge and balancing logs to her program.

When asked what advice they would give to the next generation of early childhood educators coming into the field, both Tammy and Holly shared the following:

“Education is so important,” Holly added. “It will help a caring early childhood teacher understand what best practice is and how to implement it.  Continuing your education has also helped me understand the importance of advocating for our profession by being involved in other organizations, by helping others in the field, and advocating with our government.”

“First and foremost, always keep learning,” Tammy agreed.  “Get involved in the early childhood field; there is so much going on!  Reach out to other family childcare providers if you feel lonely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – from your licensor to your colleagues, to presenters at trainings – if you are wondering, ask why.”

Congratulations again to Tammy and Holly for this amazing achievement.

Why not apply next year?
Are you interested in applying next year for the 2020 Terri Lynne Lokoff Children’s TYLENOL®, Children’s ZYRTEC® National Child Care Teacher Awards? Learn more about the application process on their website.


Explore the “Wonder of Learning” with Friends!

Explore the “Wonder of Learning” with Friends!

by Peggy Haack, WECA Outreach Coordinator

Have you seen the internationally acclaimed Reggio Emilia traveling exhibit, The Wonder of Learning, yet? It’s in Madison at the Central Library and the Overture Center for the Arts until May 1, 2019. You don’t want to miss it!  And it’s FREE.  The exhibit has been described as “a catalyst for far-reaching change in how societies value early learning as a tool for making the world a better place.”  To me, this sounds like our purpose.

If you want to explore the wonder of it all with friends, I invite you to one of our remaining “Days of Exploration.”  This is an opportunity to experience the exhibit with other professionals and engage in facilitated discussion about what you see… what you think… what makes you wonder… what would you like to try with the children in your care.  Sign up and join us for 3 hours of Registry credit on March 30 or April 27.

WOL Exhibit

Pictured here are the conveners of the first of three Days of Exploration, an event co-sponsored by Wisconsin Family Child Care Association, Satellite Family Child Care, and WECA:  Janell Moran, Leah Zastoupil, Peggy Haack, Emily Hefko, Brandee Crabb, and Amy Christiansen.

If you can’t make one of these days, here are some other ways to incorporate the exhibit into your professional development plans:

  • Stop by the beautiful Youth Services Room of the Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street, Madison and take the FREE self-guided tour. Check in with the librarian to get the Study Guide.  Don’t forget that a portion of the exhibit – a very cool portion – is next door at the Overture Center in the Playhouse Gallery.  Ask a librarian if you need directions. After viewing the exhibit, you can receive 1.5 hours of Registry credit on your own by responding to several reflective questions online.  More information on how to do this is at the library.
  • Gather some friends and make it an adult Field Trip to downtown Madison!  You can make a whole day of it by also visiting the near-by Children’s Museum and/or the State Capitol. If you come during Week of the Young Child (April 8-12) there will be a children’s art show in the Capitol in collaboration with Wonder of Learning called “Opening Doors to Early Learning.”
  • Can’t get to Madison, but want to know more about the Reggio Emilia approach?  Try a new online workshop: An Introduction to Reggio Emilia, approved by the Wisconsin Registry for 3 hours of Registry credit.  To register, visit https://kodo.learnupon.com and search “Reggio Emilia”.  No prior experience with Reggio-inspired practices is necessary. There is a $35 fee for this course.


3 Essential Steps to Helping Your Family Become Sensible Digital Users

by Paula Drew, WECA Conference Team and Former Executive Director at Discovery Center

Phone appsA while back I was reading a news article about media usage and young children. It referenced a report by Common Sense Media titled, The Common Sense Census: Plugged-In Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016. This report covered all sorts of media stats like the astronomical amount of time children spend in front of screens but largely, it highlighted children’s most important role models, their parents. In one section, kids talked about how they thought parents were doing with moderating their own media usage. Essentially, what the kids said is that their parents were well, a bit hypocritical. 9 hours and 22 minutes is the average amount of time American parents spend on screens and the bulk of this time is focused on personal use [1]. Additionally, 78% of us parents think that we are good media role models for our children. So, if our kids are awake for at most 14 hours a day, how often are they competing with a screen for our attention?

Create a Family Media Use Plan

Sensible Digital Media Family

Becoming a good role model is the first step to helping your child become a responsible digital citizen.

We didn’t grow up with screens and so alongside our children, we’re learning our own capabilities and weaknesses when it comes to handling digital media responsibly. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report guiding media use by age for children. It stated that excessive caregiver use of digital media can have adverse effects on a child’s development. They suggest that parents create a Family Media Use Plan to keep everyone accountable.[2]  Just as we make personal guidelines for weight management, household budgeting and weekly chores- we need to create steadfast ways to help curb our own media addictions in order to be fully present in our children’s lives.

Plans can include such things as:

  • Content Usage: How much time are we spending on social media, news, YouTube etc.
  • Present Time: When are screens off-limits?
  • Value and Values: How is media content adding positively to our understanding of the world and does it reflect your families core values?
  • Find Your Family: What areas of the house are off-limits for screen use?
  • Stop Watch: What is the max amount of time you’re ok with giving to screen use?[3]

Become a Good Role Model
Being a good role model is the first step to helping your child become a responsible digital citizen. However, that’s not all we parents need to know and do in order to support our children in the 21st century. Let’s face it, this technology thing is not going away and our children are going to need to navigate digital platforms daily in their work and lives. How can we support the development of these skills and furthermore, how can digital media play a role in fostering other aspects of our child’s development?

Attend Lisa Guernsey’s Presentation this October
Lisa Guernsey, deputy director of the Education Policy program and director of the Learning Technologies project at New America and author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child and co-author of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens will visit Madison this fall to kick-off the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association’s annual conference. On Thursday, October 25th, she will speak to parents and educators about her research, her recommendations and her own journey as a parent in the digital age. No one is perfect in the parenting arena but when we know better, we parent better. Lisa has made a career of knowing the hows and whys of media use with children and this event promises to help us all get a little closer to perfect when we’re thinking about parenting and digital media.

This community event is generously sponsored by UW Health, UnityPoint Health – Meriter & Quartz and is free and open to the public. Registration is now open.


What Parents Can Do

Common Sense Media

How to Make a Family Media Use Plan

[1] The Common Sense Census: Plugged-In Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016 | Common Sense Media. (2016, December 06). Retrieved July 16, 2018, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-plugged-in-parents-of-tweens-and-teens-2016

[2] Council on Communications and Media. (2016, October) Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics.

[3] Korioth, T. (2018, June 20). Family Media Plan helps parents set boundaries for kids. Retrieved July 16, 2018, from http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/10/21/MediaParents102116

Tammy Dannhoff: Family Child Care Trailblazer

At WECA, we work to advance positive change for children by focusing on the professionals who provide child care for well over 70% of Wisconsin’s children. That’s why we’re thrilled to share news of one family child care provider who’s a trailblazer in women-owned businesses in Wisconsin.

Tammy Donnhoff, 2018 Trailblazer Awards for Women in Business

Tammy Dannhoff, owner of Kids Are Us Family Child Care and recipient of the 2018 Governor’s Trailblazer Award for Women in Business.

Recently, Tammy Dannhoff, owner of Kids Are Us Family Child Care in Oshkosh, was one of 17 recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Trailblazer Awards for Women in Business. Tammy received the Pioneer Award that honors owners of majority women-owned Wisconsin businesses that have been in continuous operations for more than 25 years. The award honors women who started and sustained their business when there were limited resources or role models to do so, and who continue to be successful today.

Tammy, WECA member, Food Program participant, and T.E.A.C.H. and REWARD recipient, nominated herself in hopes of bringing much needed recognition to the family child care profession.

“I nominated myself for the award with encouragement from Leah Zastoupil President of WI Family Child Care Association,” Tammy shared.  “First, I never thought I had a chance to get the award, but wanted to apply in hopes of bringing recognition to the family child care profession because it is mostly overlooked, and when there is news it is usually not positive. So, when I received the email in March that I was selected, I was beyond excited and honored.”

“It was a wonderful experience all the way around. It was a very humbling experience to be with all the award recipients and listen to Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch talk about how important we all are. We as family child care providers don’t hear that enough.”

Family Child Care Provider, Tammy Donnhoff and Governor Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker with Tammy Dannhoff during the award ceremony.

“After the Governor announced the awards, back in April, there was a lot of media contact and I feel it brought some much-needed positive publicity to the early childhood field, especially for family child care.  We are professionals and need to be recognized as that.”

“I am excited for her,” Suzette Warmus, WECA Food Program area coordinator said. “Tammy is an excellent child care provider, her home is a shining example of a safe, happy, learning center.  The fact that this award is outside of the child care world speaks volumes of her professionalism.”

“I want to thank WECA for T.E.A.C.H. and REWARD,” Tammy added. “If not for either of those programs, I would not be in business for as long as I have. Thank you for your commitment to providers and Wisconsin’s children.”

WECA recognizes the dedication providers like Tammy bring to our field. The work of educating and caring for our young children is both important and demanding. We’re proud and honored to be a part of Tammy’s family child care journey.

4-year-old Kindergarten Grant Funding: Scheduled to be Discussed this Week

During the week of May 18th, the Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss several public instruction funding proposals, including 4-year-old Kindergarten grants. This discussion was originally scheduled for May 5th, but was pushed back because of the growing budget deficit (see earlier blog entry). In his proposed budget, Governor Doyle included an additional $1 million each year for 4K grants. These grants were first offered to school districts in 2008-2009. During this year, Wisconsin saw the largest annual increase in enrollment and in the number of participating districts, since data began being collected during the 2001-2002 school year. Approximately 34,000 children participated in 4K programs offered in 319 districts during the 2008-2009 school year. You can read more about 4K grants and the options that the Joint Finance Committee has to consider here.

Almost 90 of the 319 Wisconsin 4K programs use a fairly new concept to provide service. Those programs partner with child care, Head Start, or preschool programs to provide 4K through a community approach. This method has grown immensely as just 3 districts in the 2001-02 school year used a community approach. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administers the grant program and gives preference to districts that intend to use community approaches to provide 4K services (read more here).

The committee is expected to meet this week at the Capitol-although exact dates are not known. They will not be meeting today or tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20th). The meetings will be held in Rm 412 East. Follow the new Wisconsin budget blog for up to the minute happenings at each Joint Finance Committee executive session!

Public Hearing: Employee School Conference and Activities Leave Bill (AB116)

The Assembly Committee on Education has scheduled a public hearing to discuss AB 116, an employee school conference and activities leave bill. The hearing will take place on May 19th at 10am in Capitol room 417 North (GAR Hall). The bill is the first of three to be discussed during the hearing.

Assembly bill 116 was introduced in March with eighteen bipartisan sponsors. This bill would require that employers (with over 50 employees) allow employees to take up to 16 hours of their unpaid leave time each year for school activities (parent-teacher conferences, classroom volunteering, etc.). Employees can substitute portions of this leave with any other paid or unpaid leave provided by their employers. You can read the full text of the bill here.

The bill specifically highlights early childhood education. The 16 hours of leave time can be used to observe and/or monitor a child’s early care facility as well as volunteer and attend conferences there. The definition of school includes licensed child care facilities, certified child care providers, private or public preschool and pre-k programs, and early education that is contracted by a school board.

What does Quality Mean and How can it be Measured?

Tomorrow, May 7th, the New America Foundation will be holding a seminar to discuss what quality looks like in early education. The session, entitled “Putting the ‘Quality’ into Quality Pre-K: Lessons from Data-Driven Early Interventions,” will be held from 8:30 am to 10:00 am CST in Washington D.C.. For those unable to attend, the seminar will be airing through a live webcast on New America’s website, and will be posted in its entirety after the event.

The seminar will address questions like: What aspects of “quality” help close the achievement gap? and What policies can be created to encourage incorporation of these quality aspects? Speakers include Dr. Craig Ramey, Professor of Health Studies at Georgetown University; Mary Anne Lesiak, Director of the DC Partnership for Early Literacy project at AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, Wendy S. Edwards, Principal of the Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School, and Tara Nixon, Lead Teacher at the Early Childhood Academy. Speakers will discuss: what child outcomes relate to quality, what should be measured in a quality program, how professional development can be inserted into early education programs, and how to use data to close the achievement gap (before Kindergarten!).

A Successful Capitol Rotunda Display and Postcard Campaign


Earlier this month, WECA sponsored the “Picture Wisconsin’s Future” photo display in the Capitol Rotunda. Photos of child care providers and the children in their care, along with accompanying descriptive pieces and statistics, were on display for the public and legislators to view. It was an opportunity for many to learn about the critical role high-quality child care providers play in shaping Wisconsin’s Future. All legislators received an invitation to visit, and those with a constituent in the display were given a hand delivered letter. The project was a success; many people have contacted WECA to tell us that they have visited and found the content powerful. Please visit our facebook page for more photos from the event!

Along with the display, WECA, in collaboration with the Early Learning Coalition’s Great Start campaign, asked parents and providers to write postcards to their legislators describing why they support a Great Start for all of Wisconsin’s children. Children personalized the postcards from parents with their drawings and noted what they wanted to be when they grew up; our future workforce includes ice cream sellers, deep sea divers, neurosurgeons, ballerinas, firefighters, and more. The response was tremendous and we have delivered over 600 postcards to legislators. Thank you to everyone who took part in these efforts. We couldn’t have done it without YOU!

DCF Listening Sessions Update

Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families held the first of nine listening session in Milwaukee last Thursday, April 16th. These sessions are being held in an effort to collect feedback from child care providers, parents, and other early education stakeholders on future department initiatives. A WECA representative joined around 150 people at the first session and reported that many voices and opinions were heard. Some of the key points raised by parents, providers, and stakeholders included:

• Funds are needed to help providers through the accreditation process as it is too expensive for individuals and smaller sites. Funds were also requested for no cost training and technical assistance to help raise the quality of early childhood education and help providers reach higher levels on the rating scale.
• There was confusion over what the quality rating scale really means to providers.
• Speakers requested that CERTIFIED providers be included in the quality rating project. They expressed feelings of “discrimination” for not having this opportunity to improve their programs and selves.
• Providers expressed that licensing specialists should NOT be responsible for assessing programs/determining where on the quality rating scale a program will be. Objective evaluators should be used for these assessments.
• Providers from smaller programs were concerned about competing with larger programs with multiple sites and larger budgets for education, toys, and equipment. Having a larger budget allows these programs to make quality investments more easily, and therefore it is easier for larger programs to receive a higher ranking on the quality rating scale.

Future sessions will focus on a variety of topics including the creation of a Quality Rating & Improvement System, implementation of an automated attendance system, and efforts to address fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program.

The dates and locations of the remaining listening sessions are listed below. All sessions will be held from 7pm to 9pm.

Wednesday, April 22nd: Northcentral Technical College Auditorium, Center for Health Sciences, 1000 West Campus Drive, Wausau
Monday, April 27th: CESA 12, 618 Beaser Avenue, Ashland
Wednesday, April 29th: Madison Area Technical College
Downtown Education Center, Conference Room D240, 211 North Carroll Street, Madison
Monday, May 4th: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Student Center, Room SC224, Lecture Hall, 2740 West Mason Street, Green Bay
Monday, May 11th: Waukesha County Technical College, Richard T. Anderson (RTA) Center, 800 Main Street, Pewaukee
Wednesday, May 13th: Chippewa Valley Technical College Business Education Center, Room 103, 620 West Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire
Monday, May 18th: UW – Parkside, MOLN Molinaro Room 105, 900 Wood Road, Kenosha
Thursday, May 21st: UW-La Crosse, Room 337, 1725 State Street, La Crosse

If special accommodations are needed, please contact Courtney Sullivan at 608-266-1518 or CourtneyK.Sullivan@wisconsin.gov prior to the session.

Week of the Young Child

Week of the Young ChildThe 2009 Week of the Young Child begins this Sunday April 19th, and runs through Saturday April 25th. This annual celebration is a chance to focus on the lives of very young children (and those who care for them) while informing the public about the importance of early childhood programs and services. This year’s theme is “Bring Communities Together for Children— Children Bring Communities Together.” The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sponsor’s the event and provides much more information on their website.

WECA and their local affiliate, the Dane County Association for the Education of Young Children, will be joining the Madison Children’s Museum on Tuesday, April 21st for their Week of the Young Child Open House. The event will take place from 6pm-8pm and will offer free workshops and resources to young children and their families. WECA staff member Peggy Haack will be hosting a workshop from 7:30pm-8pm entitled “Finding Our Voices as Advocates.” You can read more about the event here.

Activities are taking place all week across Wisconsin! For a list of events please visit our website.