Our Mission

Our mission is to enrich children's lives through innovative support, education and enhanced family and provider services.

Our program puts families at the center of a community of support services.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Milk Jug Flowers

This Mother's Day card idea was adapted from a necklace idea at Pink Stripey Socks. It is a great activity for children of all ages allowing them to create a beautiful and timeless bouquet of flowers from a few discarded items and ribbon.

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You will need:
An opaque milk or juice jug
String, ribbon, yarn, craft thread or embroidering floss
Thick paper
Green marker, pipe cleaners, ribbon, paint, etc for the stems

Begin with an opaque jug.

Cut out different sized circles. The circles don't have to be completely flat as some curves will give the flowers a more 3 dimensional look.

Cut notches on the edges of the petals. Smaller notches will allow more yarn to show an therefore more color. Larger notches will focus the color in the center of the flower and give a look of petals.

Wrap string around in any fashion. When finished, cut the string and tuck under itself.

Locate some heavy paper. We used brown stock card paper. Hot glue or tape the flowers onto the paper. Add stems if you like by using marker, paint, paper, fabric, pipe cleaners, ribbon.....
We used water colors.

The result, a great 3-dimensional card for Mom with timeless blooms.

You could even forgo the card and frame your one of a kind up-cycled art piece.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quality Child Care Environments

Quality child care programs go beyond the minimum licensing requirements when creating healthy and safe settings for the children in care.

There are two types of elements to the child care environment. The structural elements of quality are the physical environment are those we are more likely to think about: the building, the indoor and outdoor space, cleanliness of bathrooms and kitchen and so forth. Additionally the ratio of adults to children is a critical part of the child care environment. Having a higher adult:child ratio is strongly associated with quality.

In California the licensing ratios vary according the ages of the children as well as the type of licensed facility (center vs. licensed family child care homes). Group sizes are also limited and vary by age group. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends higher adult: child ratios when compared to licensing requirements.

Process elements of the environment involve the adult-child interactions and the children's interactions with the learning materials. A child care provider who is knowledgeable in child development will be able to offer plenty of engaging materials and developmentally appropriate activities for the children in their care. Quality child care providers will offer a balance of planned and spontaneous educational experiences within a predictable schedule. They will also offer opportunities for individual and group play in addition to plenty of opportunities for free play and the ability to move with indoor and outdoor activities.

Parents can learn a great deal about the child care environment prior to enrolling their child simply by visiting and observing. Use our child care checklist during your visits to keep a record to help you in your search for quality child care.

If you are a child care provider in El Dorado or Alpine County contact our agency if you are interesting in improving the quality of your child care environment. We have a variety of resources and supports to help you meet your goal. If you are a child care provider in another county in California visit the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network's search device to locate your local Resource & Referral agency.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Up-cycled Watering Can

It is always good to be water wise and in our geographical area this makes the third year in a run of dry winters. Less snow on the mountain peaks results in less water for anyone living below the snow pack who would otherwise benefit from the snow melt. Children in our area will be hearing the word "drought" even more often this summer. When children learn that saving water is important and that they can help few changes kids can make when using water to conserve the low supply.

  • Ask children to take showers instead of baths. To demonstrate the difference in water consumption have them plug the tub (if you have a combo unit) and collect all the water for a 5 minute shower. The collected water will visually show them how much water is preserved by switching to showers. 
  • Be sure kids turn off the tap while they brush their teeth. Again you can demonstrate how much water collects by plugging the sink. The sink will fill up before the 2 minutes of recommended brushing so count how many seconds it takes to fill the sink and divide by the 120 seconds of teeth brushing to see how many sinks of water they will save. If they do indeed brush for 2 minutes, they will save 8 gallons of water by shutting the water off while they scrub their pearls. 
  • Have children turn the faucet off while they lather and wash their hands. 
  • Use the waste basket to dispose of trash rather than flushing down the toilet. This is better for the septic system and community waste program too.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator rather than running water until it comes out cold.
  • Wash your pets on the lawn rather than the bathtub so the grass benefits from the water. 
  • If you have a fish tank, be sure to share the old water with a non-edible plant in the yard or house.
  • If you need to cool off, run through the sprinkler while it wets the yard. 
We found a recently emptied plastic bottle and converted it into a watering can. You can use any bottle you have on-hand. We had an empty 40 ounce laundry detergent bottle perfect for small hands. 

Drill a hole for air near the top of the handle.

Drill a holes in the lid. At first we used a nail and hammer but it cracked the plastic. A drill uses a more controlled force keeping the plastic intact. Luckily we had another detergent lid we had saved in our odds and ends containers.

Set your watering can near a sink or tub to collect clean water from: washing fruits and vegetables, your pet's watering dish, water from flower vases, melted ice....you may be surprised how much clean water can be saved and used . When it's full children can head outside to water plants with water that may have otherwise disappeared down the drain. 

watering can from plastic bottle, upcycling laundry detergent bottle

Water is life. Save a drop, save the future.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Quality Child Care Matters: Provider Education

Multiple studies have shown a correlation between quality child care and the education and experience levels of the persons providing the care.

Child care providers with higher education levels in Early Childhood Education and who maintain a commitment to continuing education are more likely to provide higher quality care (when compared to caregivers with lower education levels).

Educated child care providers
  • are more sensitive to the needs and interests of the children
  • are more involved with the children throughout their time in care
  • have appropriate expectations for the skills and behaviors based upon the developmental stage of the child
  • offer richer learning environments 
If you are a parent, be sure to ask your child care provider about his/her education and experience related to Early Childhood Education and Child Development. Asking about their continuing education plan is also a great way to measure their commitment to their profession as well as an opportunity to discuss topics that really resonate with your child's provider. They will probably be overjoyed to share the latest techniques they learned for managing difficult behaviors or the benefits of exposing children to nature. 

As a provider, investing time in Early Childhood Education and Child Development- formally ,through college courses as well as workshop opportunities is a great way to improve the quality of your program and show parents you are dedicated to caring for children. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Quality Child Care Offers Lifelong Benefits

When searching for child care, parents need to be aware that quality child care matters. 

Concern about child care and it's effect on children began developing as more families of young children relied on these services to support their employment and family finances. From this interest, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) designed and began implementing a longitudinal study related to child care and it's effects on the children in care. Researchers began collecting data on the children from 1 month of age until the children reached the age of 15 (1991-2007). 

In 2010 the results of this study revealed that high quality child care had a positive influence on the children's cognitive and academic achievement. Additionally, the children in quality child care settings exhibited less negative behaviors such as harm to self, others or property than the children who spent time in poor quality child care settings as young children. Quality was defined as a caregiver who was warm and caring, responsive to the child's interests and provided a variety of materials to promote learning in addition to adult:child ratios, group size and the care giver's education level. 

As a child care provider who offers a quality child care program, you can share with parents the long term benefits of choosing quality child care settings for their children. 

For more information about how to select a quality child care setting read our post: Finding Quality Child Care for Your Child


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fun With Bubble Paint

At play group this week we tried using bubble paint. Our goal was to have the children create colored bubbles to the press with paper, making an image of the bubbles on the paper.

First we added paint (they asked for red and blue), liquid soap and a about 8 ounces of water to a cake tray.
We could only create bubbles by blowing through the straw when we tilted the pan allowing the liquid to puddle together.

We transferred the liquid to a bowl and had nearly instant success creating bubbles.

The children were so happy making the bubbles and popping them and opted out of making prints.
They were interested in painting with the liquid and used their straws to apply paint to their paper.
Additionally, they asked for small amounts of paint to be applied to their paper and they continued painting with straws and their fingers.

They look like little rain clouds.

So while we didn't get the bubble prints we set out for, the children had an engaging and rewarding time with the materials we presented.

The paint was also very easy to clean up since it was mixed with soap.

In retrospect, we would have used a sturdier bowl than paper as it gets floppy with all of the liquid and pipettes/eye droppers would have been another great material to add to the offering.

Also the children in our group were 3-4 year old children who were able to successfully blow rather than suck the liquid- a necessary skill for this activity.