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We’re smiling bashfully from ear to ear.  We’ve gotten a lot of positive attention lately!  Everyone at ReadyKids is passionate about the work they do, and we’re so glad our work contributes positively to our community.

Last week, our Executive Director, Jacki Bryant, was interviewed for the CBS19 Community Counts Segment.  This week, ReadyKids’ hard working teams of InsideOut, ReadySteps, and Child Care Quality were featured on the local Charlottesville news last night in two separate stories.

InsideOut Receives Heal Charlottesville and Concert for Charlottesville Funds

We are proud to announce publicly that we are one of the proud recipients of donations from the Concert for Charlottesville and the Heal Charlottesville Fund of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.  This summer, partly due to the trauma of the Aug. 12 rally, our wait list for trauma counseling climbed to over 54 kids.  These funds from CACF will go towards hiring an additional trauma counselor to meet the needs of our city’s youth.

Click on the photos to be led to the CBS19 video with Shannon Noe, the program manager for our counseling programs.

 

ReadySteps and Child Care Quality Featured in Reporting on Affordable Childcare

As the cost of child care in Charlottesville rises, more parents are forced to chose between affordability and quality. ReadyKids wants to make sure that this decision is less painful for parents.  Whether you choose to opt out of the workforce and stay home with your children while they’re little or you go back to work but feel nervous about child care options – there is a ReadyKids program for you.
For those at home with kids, ReadyKids ReadySteps program brings regular early learning playgroups to children and their caregivers in their home communities.  ReadySteps teaches parents how to be their child’s first teacher, helps families connect with other families in the community, and helps families gain access to a support system that grows with their child.  They currently meet in five different Charlottesville neighborhoods including Agnor Hurt, Friendship Court, Greenstone on 5th, Southwood, and Westhaven.
For parents working outside of the home, ReadyKids Child Care Quality program improves the quality of early child-care and preschool settings by offering coaching, training and support to early childhood teachers and directors.  If you are in need of resources to find affordable, quality child care in Charlottesville, check out this list of resources compiled by the Child Care Quality team.
Click on the picture of Shannon Banks, ReadySteps Program Manager, or Gail Esterman, Child Care Quality Program Manager, to be linked to the CBS19 story on the riding cost of childcare in Charlottesville.

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ReadyKids Teen Counselors, Jordan Leahy and Dee Keller.

They ran away from home.  The Virginia State Police reports that 74 juveniles were arrested within the city of Charlottesville during 2015 for running away from home.

The word “home” connotes feelings of nurturance and safety, but that’s not true for everyone.  Can you imagine feeling like there was no other way to solve your problems than to leave home?

The teen years are difficult.  This is even truer if there are disruptions in the family such as divorce or remarriage, substance use or abuse.  Every day, ReadyKids’ two teen counselors – Dee Keller and Jordan Leahy – are in the community meeting with teens and families to help keep teens safe and off the streets.

A Q & A with Ready Kids Teen Counselors

Q:  What does the Teen Counseling Program at ReadyKids do?

Dee:  The Teen Counseling Program helps local teens and their families find stability. We are a short-term counseling program – on average about 3 months – that support teens who are facing a wide range of challenges and are vulnerable to running away or being kicked out of their homes.

Q: What does a crisis situation look like for a teen?

Dee: This could look like teens or families experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed and at a loss of what to do next; there may be high tension or conflict at home or even teens that are looking for a space to process all the stressors of their lives.

Jordan:  For teens, a crisis is a pretty inclusive term. It could mean everything from feeling overwhelmed by a disagreement with a friend, to witnessing or experiencing domestic violence or abuse in the home.

Q: What does the Teen Counseling Program provide for teens and their families? 

Dee: We provide access to counseling by being flexible in meeting teens at school, in-home, our office or the community. We not only provide individual or family counseling, but also a 24/7 hotline to teens, families or professionals looking for support, guidance or connections to other community supports.

Q: How does the work of the Teen Counseling Program contribute to the future of Charlottesville?

 Dee: We hope that the work of TCP impacts Charlottesville by creating more connections and promoting safer environments for our teens and families. We hope that teens feel they are not alone in the challenging moments and that they feel more stable and ready to take the next steps in their journeys.

Jordan: The city’s youth are the city’s future. TCP supports them by helping them build resilience in times of struggle, so that they can do the same in their relationships and communities in the future.

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It’s 8 p.m. on a dark, rainy Thursday night in October. Eighteen men and women of all ages and races gather in the Education Center of ReadyKids in Charlottesville.  They all have one thing in common – they watch other people’s children for a living.  They are tired from working a full day.  One drinks a large soda to stay awake.  Another loudly clicks a pen while blinking her eyes and yawning.  Despite their exhaustion they’ve come to this Child Development Associate (CDA) class to improve their skills.

“I was thinking it was going to be common sense material, but actually coming and doing the modules I’ve learned to professionally grow as a better teacher,” said Cheri Paschall, a 3-year-old teacher at Barrett Early Learning Center.  “I’ve learned that free play is a better way of learning, and by doing this I’ve found more confidence in myself.”

The ReadyKids Child Care Quality program provides a free CDA class to child care providers in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area or for those whose employers enrolled in Virginia Quality.  It’s a rigorous 13 module program that is self-paced and teaches about everything from effective behavior management to how to plan a healthy meal a child will eat.

“This is a very good resource for people who want to do better, want to be better,” said Ayana Alexander, a 2-year-old teacher at Barrett Early Learning Center.

Though the average salary for an early childhood educator in Virginia is around $20,000 – about the same amount as the Federal Poverty Level for a family of 3 – for these men and women their jobs are more than just a paycheck.  They are building Charlottesville’s future.

When asked, “how does your work contribute to the future of Charlottesville?” their passion and professionalism come through.

“With everything that’s going on lately, it’s had people on edge … There are a lot of kids who sadly don’t have the same opportunity to love and grow and feel like they’re in a nurtured environment where they know they are safe, they’re loved and they can be themselves.  Even though they’re two-years-old right now, they will carry with them the thought that, ‘I’m somebody, I’m important, I can be cared for, I can be what I want to be when I grow up.’  I feel it when I walk in the door.”
Ayana Alexander, 2-year-old teacher at Barrett Early Learning Center

 

“We give them the tools to learn. We give them the hunger to learn. We give them the permission to learn. Yes, it’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to make messes. It’s okay to tear things apart and put them back together … if we don’t stretch their brains now there is not going to be very much to stretch later.”
Katherine Cashatt, Toddler teacher at Covesville Child Development Center

 

“We provide them with the information, the care, the love, the support that they need to become the little people they are growing up to be.  Without that love, care and support then they might not see that if they weren’t learning it at day care.”
Brittani Collier, Preschool teacher at UVA Child Development Center

 

“I am partnering with my parents and we are trying to provide an environment for these precious little beings to become healthy, independent, contributing individuals to their families, communities and society at large through our loving, nurturing and stimulating environment for them to grow up and build their self esteem, so they can provide that for others.”
– Vanessa Coles, Infant & Toddler In-Home Child Care Provider

 

“I feel like I have a good impact on the children that I teach.  When they get older what I’ve taught them can help them have a bright future. I give them the opportunity to explore more, let them have a say in lesson planning to drive what their interests are.  They can feel that they are important in the classroom.”
Cheri Paschall, 3-year-old teacher at Barrett Early Learning Center

 

Help ReadyKids continue to improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in the Charlottesville community. Though the CDA class is paid for with grant money, many students can’t afford the books required.  $95 pays for a full set of books for an adult CDA student.

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We are touched by the generosity of W.E. Brown Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical who chose ReadyKids as a recipient of their Giving Back program. Their thoughtfulness and financial support allowed us to make a 30-second ad informing the community about our work. The ad will air on CBS19 in Charlottesville through out the fall.

Don’t you agree that every child deserves the brightest future possible? Unfortunately, not all kids get that chance. ReadyKids makes sure every child, regardless of their circumstances, is ready to learn, ready for relationships and ultimately ready for life.

Won’t you do your part, too? Join us by participating, volunteering or donating.

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The ReadySteps program would love to add the following books to their collection to use during our early learning playgroups.  Used copies are welcome!  If you have one of these books to share, please contact Shannon Banks, sbanks@readykidscville.com

 

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In a staff meeting last week, all 50 of ReadyKids employees gathered in a conference room on swively office chairs to share stories of successes and struggles.  Photos of small children wearing backpacks as big as their bodies and beaming smiles appeared on a glowing screen.

The pictures were children who had completed the ReadySteps program and were headed to Kindergarten.  ReadySteps encourages parents as a child’s first and best teacher through early learning playgroups within their home community.

Last year ReadySteps helped 20 to 25 families register for school in Charlottesville City and Albemarle County. To help families with this process, the ReadySteps staff wrote letters of support, assisted parents with paperwork, and connected families to free medical and dental resources. Additionally, through participation in ReadySteps playgroups, these children learned key socialization skills, a routine, new songs and were exposed to new books. Caregivers learned how to support their child’s learning through play. Caregivers also gained confidence in understanding their child’s developmental milestones, which helped parents have more realistic expectations for their child.

Sending a child off to kindergarten is a bittersweet milestone.  ReadySteps walks with parents along that journey so their kids are ready to learn.

 

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It’s been a rough 10 days for Charlottesville.
If you’re swinging from anger to fear to depression – you’re not alone.
These are common responses to grief.
ReadyKids is here to provide hope and healing for children and families in Charlottesville who are struggling.
Survivors, parents, first responders, therapists and teachers may need extra support following the events of last weekend.
For them our counseling team created a comprehensive list of resources to process the violence we witnessed.

Resources for Survivors

  • Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing StressThis tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. Lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources. Also available in Spanish.
  • Coping with Grief after Community Violence – This SAMHSA tip sheet offers introduces some of the signs of grief and anger after an incident of community violence, provides useful information about to how to cope with grief. And offers tips for helping children deal with grief.
  • Effects of traumatic stress after mass violence, terror, or disasterThis National Center for PTSD webpage describes the emotional, cognitive, physical, and interpersonal reactions that disaster survivors may experience and discusses the potentially severe stress symptoms that may lead to lasting PTSD, anxiety disorders, or depression.  Information on how survivors can reduce their risk of psychological difficulties and to recover most effectively from disaster stress is also provided.
  • Media coverage of traumatic events: Research on effectsThe National Center for PTSD presents information on the effects of intense media exposure following a disaster. The website describes the association between watching media coverage of traumatic events and stress symptoms. Guidance for providers who work with children and their parents to avoid retraumatization is also provided.

Resources for Parents

Resources for First Responders (police, E.R. staff, clergy, etc.)

Resources for Therapists

  • Talking to Kids about Discrimination – This document can help parents and other caretakers understand how to broach the topics of
    discrimination and difference with young children.
  • APA Race in America: Tips on Talking with Children About Racism – A brief APA Psychology Today blog about discussing race with children. This was designed for parents and can be used by mental health clinicians.
  • Building resilience to manage indirect exposure to terror – This helpful resource provides information you can use to support preparedness and self-care for play therapists, colleagues, and caregivers. The description from the website reads: “Acts of terror are purposefully designed to scare people and make them fearful for the safety of their community and their loved ones … Taking steps to build resilience — the ability to adapt well to unexpected changes and events — can help people manage distress and uncertainty.” 

Resources for Teachers

  • Teachers—This fact sheet can help parents, caregivers, and teachers recognize and address problems in children and teens affected by a mass casualty event. Readers can learn about signs of stress reactions that are common in young survivors at different ages, how to help children through grief.
  • Teaching Tolerance – The Teaching Tolerance website has lesson plans for students as young as kindergarten that cover bias and social justice.
  • National Association for School Psychologists, Lesson Plan and Resources on Race and Privilege –  From this comprehensive site – “In light of the recent events, we encourage you to access our social justice resources to navigate conversations on race and privilege. As schools reopen nationwide, now is the time to advocate for professional development around this important issue. View our lesson plan for middle and high school students, as well as other resources on implicit bias, racism and prejudice, and more.”
  • NPR Resources for Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville – An NPR page that lists a number of resources to use in schools to explore and understand the event and related concepts.
  • 10 Children’s Books That Help White Kids Understand What Children of Color Are Up Against – This site has books across age ranges and complexity and provides brief descriptions of the books.
  • Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide – A guide from the Southern Poverty Law Center that sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in communities. The guide provides information about how to engage with the media, definitions of terms, such as hate crimes and bias incident, and ways to support victims.

 

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