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.