Food Program Offers USDA Wellness Grant

WECA Food Program participants may now apply for a USDA Child Care Wellness Grant administered by the Wisconsin Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors Forum and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Selected grantees will be awarded a nutrition kit of their choice from the following: physical activity for kids, cooking with kids, or nutrition education. The grant is an opportunity for family child care providers to develop and implement policies that improve the overall nutrition, physical health, and well-being of children. Up to 300 providers will be chosen as pilot sites.

Selected pilot sites will be required to:

  • Attend a training workshop or view a training webcast;
  • complete a baseline evaluation;
  • participate in two sessions of on-site technical assistance;
  • and complete a post-evaluation.

Upon successful completion, participating sites will receive a framed certificate. All WECA Food Program participants are encouraged to apply. For consideration, Wellness Grant applications must be postmarked no later than August 12, 2011. Mail completed applications to:

Wisconsin CACFP Sponsors Forum
PO Box 10384
Green Bay, WI 54307

To download an application, click here.

For questions, please call the WECA Food Program at 1-800-783-9322 ext. 7245 or contact your WECA Area Coordinator.

WECA Workforce Study Supports Future of Early Care

WECA is excited to announce the release of a new workforce study, Child Care Professionals in 2010: The view from Wisconsin. WECA teamed up with the Public Policy Forum in Milwaukee to help create an accurate picture of the strengths and challenges in the field today. A group of early education stakeholders were pooled together to determine the focus areas of the study: education, experience, job satisfaction, and compensation. In each category, a set of questions were developed to survey three distinct groups: child care directors, group child care employees, and family child care providers.

The study revealed positive trends in the workforce, including:

  • Sixty-two percent of the survey respondents intending to pursue credit-based professional training and 41 percent planning to pursue non-credit training.
  • A 14 to 24 percent drop in the Wisconsin early care workforce turnover rate.
  • Only four percent of survey respondents claiming they were unsatisfied with their current jobs, and 96 percent claiming either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”.

The study recommends focusing on key areas to support the future of the early care workforce, including:

To read the study, Child Care Professionals in 2010: The view from Wisconsin, in its entirety, click here.

Higher Education Entry through Credit for Prior Learning

Research has found that the credit-based education of child care providers is an important factor linked with high-quality early education programs. Unfortunately, with high turnover, low compensation, and increasing higher education costs, it is difficult for the early education workforce to gain these credits.

In a recent paper by Wisconsin Early Childhood Association and Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, entitled Milestones: Advancements to Pathways for Early Childhood Higher Education, the option of credit for prior learning is discussed as one way to:

  • Recognize all the non-credit training and experience that early childhood providers already have!
  • Begin on a pathway of achieving more credits, or degrees, at a Wisconsin college
  • Have a clear starting point when considering credit-based education

Read the full paper here and keep checking our blog to learn about the progress that WI technical colleges are making in terms of what credit for prior learning options they will offer to providers!

Celebrate AmeriCorps Members this Week

Beginning in October 2010, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association began the WECA AmeriCorps program in Milwaukee. This program seeks to improve the education of child care providers, offer skill development opportunities to Corps members, and boost the quality of Milwaukee area child care centers. Our current WECA AmeriCorps members provide consistent, affordable coverage for child care staff who must take time off of work to complete college courses. Corps members learn about early education through trainings, an accelerated college course, and direct experience. Additionally, Corps members complete projects related to early literacy, YoungStar, or nutrition to improve their host centers.

Everyday across the nation, many more AmeriCorps members are tackling America’s toughest problems in:
• Disaster Services
• Economic Opportunity
• Education
• Environmental Stewardship
• Healthy Futures
• Veterans and Military Families

To commemorate this service, join us as we celebrate the fifth annual AmeriCorps Week from May 14-21, 2011. Thank you to our WECA AmeriCorps members and to all AmeriCorps members across the nation!

Celebrate Worthy Wage Day 2011

worthy wage day 2009May 1st is recognized each year as National Early Educator Worthy Wage Day. On this day, early childhood professionals- and the organizations that support them- work together to inform the public about the importance of high quality early education. Despite the critical role they play in children’s lives, the early childhood workforce continues to be compensated poorly (the average professional earned around $23,600 in 2010). Join us today (and every day) in honoring the early education professionals and programs in your community.

WECA would like to send a heartfelt acknowledgment for the “worthy work” performed every day by early childhood educators working with children and families in child care centers, preschools, Head Start facilities, and family child care homes throughout Wisconsin.

Goodnight Moon 2011- What a Night!

Our 2011 fundraiser and celebration, Goodnight Moon, took place on February 17 and was a huge success! We honored Jim Leonhart of Celebrate Children Foundation for all of his hard work, fundraising, and advocacy on behalf of the entire early education field in Wisconsin. Thanks to all who attended, donated, participated in our silent auction, and coordinated the event. Check out our pictures from the evening on facebook and let us know what you think!

Child Care Workforce Survey: Results are in!

Result highlights from WECA’s 2010 study of Wisconsin’s child care workforce are now available and reveal the progress and obstacles the profession is experiencing.

View the complete highlight brief here.

The 1,425 respondents included providers from group and family child care settings as well as center directors. Among many findings, survey results reveal a workforce whose educational level is as follows:

  • 67% of center directors have a two-year associate’s degree or higher;
  • 56% of group child care providers have a  two-year associate’s degree or higher and
  • 34% of family child care providers have an associate’s degree or higher.

Because well-educated teachers are associated with greater cognitive and social gains in children this is important news.

More troubling are the reported wage levels that make child care one of the lowest-paid professions in the U.S. Whereas a kindergarten teacher earns $46,000 a year on average, a child care teacher with similar professional qualifications and job responsibilities earns $24,000 a year, on average.

Low wages and lack of benefits are the chief reasons for turnover in the field and the leading issues for providers when asked what they would change about their job. Ranking second was the opportunity to pursue professional development and education.

For more details and analysis see the full report here.

WECA is Hiring for YoungStar Related Positions!

Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) is now hiring for many positions to help launch YoungStar, Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement system. These positions will reflect a full spectrum of new opportunities to run the program. Key positions we are hiring for include a Program Coordinator, Technical Consultants, Trainers and Assessors. These positions require a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood (or related field) and a minimum of 4 years experience in Early Childhood. Experience with ECERS/FCCERS and/or early education training and technical assistance preferred. Positions will be open in our Madison and Milwaukee offices as well as statewide for trainers or assessors.

We are also seeking administrative and support staff for the YoungStar program to work out of our Madison office. Openings include administrative assistants, program support and financial specialists. Depending on the position, these require a minimum of a high school diploma plus experience or an associate’s degree.

Qualified candidates are encouraged to apply indicating what area interested and minimum salary requirements. Competitive salary and benefits. WECA is an AA/EO Employer. Applicants from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please submit cover letter and professional resume to:
HR Manager
Wisconsin Early Childhood Association
744 Williamson St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53703.
Or email HR@wisconsinearlychildhood.org

YoungStar has Begun- Apply now!

Applications are now available for YoungStar!
Celebrate Children Foundation, Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA), and Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) have been chosen to manage YoungStar across the state. We are ready to begin the work of supporting early education programs as they demonstrate the quality of care they offer to Wisconsin’s youngest children.

YoungStar applications are now available. Staff from WECA and Resource and Referral Agencies are ready to work with programs and statewide trainings are being planned. Apply now and don’t miss out on the following opportunities:

• Programs can choose to receive FREE, individualized technical assistance as a participant in YoungStar. Don’t wait in line for this assistance!
• Programs that receive 3 stars or higher could receive increases in Shares payments as early as July, 2011. Don’t miss out on this chance to increase your revenue!
• Programs that participate in YoungStar can request and receive FREE technical consultation and may be eligible for micro-grants for quality improvements!
• Programs that participate in YoungStar, are in regulatory compliance, and are currently accredited through approved accrediting bodies will automatically receive 4 or 5 stars!
• Parents will be able to view program ratings online on December 13th- make sure your program is visible for parents searching for care!

Application for Group Program (Part 1/ Part 2)

Application for Family Child Care Program (Part 1/ Part 2)

After you have completed your application, please submit both forms to your YoungStar regional office (find it here).

To receive the most accurate assessment, make sure:

• The Registry has all the information it needs: All family child care providers, group child care program directors, and group child care lead teachers should have current individual Registry profiles. Click here to visit The Registry for more information.
• Group child care directors have a CURRENT program profile on The Registry: Center directors can update their program profile here.

WECA to present at NAEYC Conference: “I’m a Teacher, not a Babysitter!”

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Annual Conference & Expo is happening next week from November 3-6th in Anaheim, CA! We’ll be there- will you?

If you’re attending the conference, we invite you to join us as we co-present a creative and important session entitled “I’m a teacher, not a babysitter: Songs to celebrate the child care profession.” In 2008-09 Wisconsin Early Childhood Association worked with songwriter Stuart Stotts to document the critical work of child care providers. The songs created reflect a variety of attitudes, activities, challenges, and joys involved in the job of working with young children. Come to be inspired, informed, and to share perspectives on this essential work.

Presenters: Stuart Stotts, Songwriter, and Amy Schuster, Wisconsin Early Childhood Assocation
When/Where: November 4, 2-3:30, 206 A/B in the Convention Center

We hope to see you there! Visit Stuart’s “I’m a Teacher, Not a Babysitter” website to learn more about the project and his music.

Stuart Stotts sings with early care and education professionals at the 2009 WECA Conference