WECA Staff Spotlight: Alice Gomez-Palacio

WECA Staff Spotlight: Alice Gomez-Palacio

Alice Gomez-Palacio, has been working as a WECA Food Program Area Coordinator for almost 15 years.  Alice brings a unique commitment to supporting family child care providers. Apart from her weekly job responsibilities, Alice goes that extra mile to personally meet with Spanish-speaking providers to train them on the Food Program’s online claiming system.

Alice

Alice Gomez-Palacio (L) teaching the Food Program’s online claiming system.

“I felt there was a need for the one-on-one training,” Alice says. “I am a visual learner, and noticed that some providers were embarrassed to ask for help. The majority of the providers I serve are Hispanic, and due to the language barrier, there is a need for visual assistance for the on-line program,” she adds

We applaud Alice for her solid work and dedication to the providers she serves. She eliminates the fear providers feel about learning new technology. “Providers have told me that they’re scared to go on-line because they will make mistakes,” Alice shared. “But as soon as they have done the training, they are amazed how simple it was. They tell me ‘Gosh Alice, I should have done this a long time ago!’”

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Learn more about CACFP.Net and WECA’s Food Program

Alice also provides continuous assistance whenever needed. “I assure them that I will be there to assist them with any questions. Providers are pleased when they know they are saving money by claiming online,” she adds.

All of us at the Food Program are pleased to have Alice leading the way to excellent service.

Early Education Op-Ed in the NY Times: “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?”

In an October 26th New York Times Op-ed titled, “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?”, Nicholas Kristof shares that early education is one of those rare initiatives that polls well across the political spectrum.

Kristof writes that 84% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans support some type of national early education initiative according to recent polling.

Touting evidence from a new study from Stanford University that the achievement gap begins as early as 18 months, Kristof makes the case for a national early education initiative.

Kristof ends the op-ed giving us a choice: Preschools or prisons?

Look, we’ll have to confront the pathologies of poverty at some point. We can deal with them cheaply at the front end, in infancy. Or we can wait and jail a troubled adolescent at the tail end. To some extent, we face a choice between investing in preschools or in prisons.

Read the New York Times op-ed “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?” >>

Q&A: Celeste Swoboda on Wisconsin State Journal child care cover story

The following Q&A is in response to the Special Report on Child Care (read: pt.1, pt. 2) published by the Wisconsin State Journal.

Celeste Swoboda is a WECA Board member, former president of the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association, and a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship recipient. She owns Teddy Bear Totland child care, a 5-star rated program in Chippewa Falls, WI.

Q: You’ve been a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipient. Tell us a little about your T.E.A.C.H. experience. What advice do you have for child care providers thinking about applying for a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship?

A: My first T.E.A.C.H. experience was with my Infant/Toddler Credential. Having the scholarship gave me an opportunity to go back to school and not worry about the expense of the classes. I have enjoyed working on my Administrators and Leadership credentials and Associate’s Degree through T.E.A.C.H. My advice is to call WECA—they are very helpful with any questions that you might have. I found that I have learned so much going back to school and the children in my care have benefited from the steps I have taken.

Q: What school courses have been most valuable to your career as a child care provider? Continue reading

Q&A: Family child care provider, Xochitl Ortega on Wisconsin State Journal child care cover story

The following Q&A is in response to the Special Report on Child Care two-part cover story (read: pt.1, pt. 2) published by the Wisconsin State Journal.

ImageXochitl Ortega is a bilingual family child care provider and a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipient. She owns X’s and O’s Educational Child Care, an Accredited 5-star rated program, in Milwaukee, WI. She is also a member of the the T.E.A.C.H. & REWARD Steering Committee and a board member of the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association. She is active in the Wisconsin Early Learning Coalition and the West Allis Family Child Care Association Support Group, and serves as an Ambassador for The Registry. She received her associate’s degree from Northwest Technical College in Green Bay and is completing her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Q: We know you’ve been a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipient. Tell us a little about your T.E.A.C.H. experience. What advice do you have for any child care providers thinking about applying for a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship? Continue reading

WECA’s Ruth Schmidt in Cap Times: “Raise WI Shares payments”

The Capital Times ran a letter to the editor this weekend from WECA Executive Director, Ruth Schmidt, in response to the “Give all 4-year-olds a chance” Op-Ed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

In the letter, Schmidt also responded to State Senator Julie Lassa’s recent statement on Wisconsin Shares payments, “The problem we see, and that she [Sen. Lassa] echoes, is that child care providers receiving Shares payments are being financially penalized as they work to grow their program’s quality rating through Youngstar. We believe raising the Shares rate by 7 percent is a smart move with long-term benefits.”

Click here to read the full letter.

What do you think? Is raising the Wisconsin Shares rate by 7% a good move for child care? Leave us your comments below…

Thanks to all who’ve responded to “the missing link” posting.

Thanks to all who’ve responded to “missing link” posting. It has sparked lively discussion. Despite a variety of perspectives, it’s important to name the common goal we all share:  We all strive for quality because we value children, their families, and the important work we do.  So, let’s keep the dialog open and let’s explore solutions to challenges, but let’s also celebrate the tremendous gains we have made to improve child care quality.

A few highlights:

FOOD PROGRAM

  • 3 out of 4 family child care providers in Wisconsin participate in a Food Program – funded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  WECA alone processes almost $400,000 in claims monthly.

T.E.A.C.H. and REWARD

  • Annually, Wisconsin allocates $4M to T.E.A.C.H. scholarships that provide accessible and affordable education for child care providers and to REWARD stipends.
  • 1,100 child care providers participate in T.E.A.C.H. and 84% of them work in 2 and 3 star programs.  Last year 1,612 providers received REWARD stipends.

YoungStar

  • With YoungStar funding, over 3,000 Micro-Grants have been awarded – a $2.2M commitment to materials and resources for quality improvement within child care settings.
  • To date almost 15,000 on-site technical consulting visits were made to over 4,000 child care programs, and 1,500 hours of training has been provided.
  • 3,065 programs have been contacted by the Professional Development Counseling service, including all 2-star programs in Milwaukee. The service is offered free of charge.

Wisconsin’s children deserve the best possible start through quality early care. Thank you for your commitment to Wisconsin’s children.