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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Baby Beluga—by Raffi
Beach Party—by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback
Big Fat Hen—by Keith Baker
Corduroy Goes to the Doctor—by Don Freeman
Dear Zoo—by Rod Campbell
Firefighters! Speeding! Spraying! Saving!—by Patricia Hubbell and Viviana Garofoli
The Very Lazy Ladybug—by Isobel Finn and Jack Tickle
We were a lucky recipient of the United Way’s Day of Caring yesterday. Thank you so much to all of the volunteers who donated their time to make our building look beautiful, and help our programs run smoother! Take a look at all we accomplished!
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.
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.
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 disaster—This 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 effects—The 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 First Responders (police, E.R. staff, clergy, etc.)
Preventing and Managing Stress: Tips for Disaster Responders—This SAMHSA tip sheet provides tips to help disaster response workers prevent and manage stress. Includes strategies to help responders prepare for their assignment, use stress-reducing precautions during the assignment, and manage stress in the recovery phase of the assignment.
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.”
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.
The upcoming Alt Right Rally scheduled for August 12th may be challenging for youth in our community. For some, it may trigger feelings of stress and fear. This may include: memories of experiences they’ve had, stories they’ve heard, or worries that are part of their daily life already.
For youth who have not personally experienced racial bias or injustice, they may feel confused or unsettled knowing that this is taking place in a community that otherwise has felt safe to them. Either way, we are here to help.
Below are some tips and resources that we hope you will find helpful.
Media-coverage can increase fears and anxiety in children, graphic images and stories may be particularly upsetting but also can be a great way to launch conversations about what is happening and how you and your family can be part of a positive solution.
Discuss together what’s happening and reflect on your own experiences and feelings. Keep an open dialogue and seize opportunities for communication.
Plan time away from the event and coverage of the event.
Make a plan ahead of time about how you’ll respond if you find yourself in a stressful situation or confronted with racial bias/injustice so that if it happens you’ll be ready to respond safely and constructively.
Seek help if you’re struggling or if you feel treated unfairly. Our teen hotline is available for you 24/7 and we’d be happy to talk about community resources, be a sounding board, or help advocate for change wherever we can. That number is 434-972-7233.
Things youth can do to build tolerance:
Appreciate their own and others’ cultural values
Object to ethnic, racist, and sexist jokes
Refrain from labeling people
Not judge others, especially for things they have no control over
Adults are integral in providing a positive, healthy example for youth to follow. By being tolerant themselves, they can pass that behavior onto the youth with whom they interact.
Things adults can do to help youth:
Educate the community about hate crimes and diversity
Making sure that those who work closely with youth (teachers, school administrators, police officers) receive diversity training
Help develop constructive activities for youth
10 ways youth can engage in activism– While we do not encourage youth in our community to attend the upcoming rally, we do encourage youth to find positive outlets to express their passion for whatever is closest to their hearts. This link provides some suggestions for safe and constructive ways for youth to make a difference.
Culture and Trauma – This compilation of resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network contains several resources useful for increasing cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding for anyone working with diverse youth and families.
“When I first got pregnant, I was alone. I was completely alone. I didn’t have anybody to turn to. My family’s in New York, so I didn’t know what to do at the time. Through all that, ReadyKids was with me and helped me through that transition. And that helped him and helped us get on the same page to be the little family that we are today. So, really, everything has gone a whole 360 in nine months, which is kind of crazy thinking back at it now.”
“Through everything, ReadyKids was with me!”
– Audrey, Healthy Families Participant.
Did you know that the CDC estimates up to 20% of new moms suffer from postpartum depression?
Our Healthy Families program works closely with expecting and new moms to bring them the support they need in those early years.
We love nothing more than visiting chubby babies like little Charlotte. In fact, it’s what we do! Healthy Families is all about helping pregnant moms and parents of young kids develop healthy family relationships and a safe, enriching home environment. Our Family Support Workers are there to accompany moms like Audrey from before their babies are born, until their little ones head off to Kindergarten.
When Audrey learned she was pregnant, she wasn’t sure she could provide the stable environment her baby would need. Today, at over a year old, her baby is healthy and happy with a strong, stable environment. She’s developmentally right on target (not to mention adorable!)
We work with moms as they transition to motherhood, help them over hurdles, and accompany them through some of life’s most important milestones.