Healthy Families Memes (3)Have you ever spent a ton on birthday gifts only to find your kids’ toys thrown aside in favor of a cardboard box and a blanket fort? While it can be frustrating, it’s also good to know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to have fun with your little one. And if you’re concerned whether the objects your baby has grabbed are infant-proof, here’s a list of a few regular household items you can give to you child–arranged by age.

Infants 0 – 1:

  • Spoons
  • Plastic bowls
  • Empty Pie tins
  • Plastic cups
  • Empty paper towel tubes
  • Empty boxes
  • Empty baskets

(Make sure items are bigger than the inside of a toilet paper toll to prevent your baby from choking)

Toddlers & up:

  • Plastic or metal bowls
  • Plastic measuring cups and spoons
  • Pots and pans
  • Wooden spoons
  • Paper or plastic cups
  • Oatmeal box
  • Aluminum foil (made into a ball)
  • Pillows Sock balls
  • Newspaper balls
  • Dress-up clothes


  • Plastic coffee can lids (Frisbee!)
  • The sprinkler for outdoor fun!

Click the buttons below for more age-appropriate ways to play with your child:





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Diaper infographicDid you know that ONE in THREE families in America struggle to afford diapers for their kids?

According to a 2013 study published in Pediatrics, the stress of diaper need can be devastating for new moms, leading to depression and other mental health problems. The study found that nearly one third of new moms felt they didn’t have enough diapers to change their little ones as often as needed, leading to depression and anxiety, but also snowballing well beyond the home. Without an adequate supply of diapers, families cannot send their kids to daycare, and can’t find work, which means… no money for diapers.

According to study author Megan Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, “An adequate supply of diapers may prove to be a tangible way of reducing parenting stress and increasing parenting sense of competency, enabling parents to be more sensitive with their children, and thereby improving parenting quality and overall child outcomes.”

Another proven method for improving those outcomes is through home visiting initiatives, such as our own Healthy Families program, which helps pregnant moms and parents of young children develop healthy family relationships and a safe, enriching home environment.

This September, Healthy Families is launching its annual diaper drive, giving area families some much-needed respite from the anxiety and stress of living without–and making sure that our community’s babies stay safe and dry.

Donate Diapers (1)

Sources: The Atlantic, Child Trends

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Strub ReadyKidsWe were so honored to be chosen to represent Virginia’s nonprofits for youth on Chris Strub’s pioneering volunteer voyage across all 50 states in 100 days. We had such a great time hosting Chris, who rode along with us as we registered kids in the Southwood neighborhood for our ReadySteps program. Check out the Daily Progress front page story and NBC 29’s coverage!


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This is where the future is made. (1)It’s scary being a new parent, especially with those long waiting lists and all the day care horror stories in the news.

How do you know which home care provider or child care center is best for your child? Where will your baby be safe and well cared for? How can you make sure that you’re entrusting your baby to the right person?

Here’s a quick checklist to help you screen potential child care providers.

  • After a phone screening, arrange at least one visit to the provider with your child; one of the visits should be unannounced.
  • Ask for a written copy of rates and policies;
  • Find out if all staff that have contact with children have had background checks and ongoing training on child health, safety and development;
  • Ask to see a copy of the license or certificate. How many children is the provider approved for?
  • Ask for a copy of the latest inspection report (if licensed) and for references.
  • How does the caregiver interact with your child: is the approach a good match?
  • Ask about the caregiver’s practices around sleep, feeding, learning and discipline. Does the style fit in well with your family’s values and practices?
  • If you have a child with special needs, ask how the caregiver will support the child’s participation in activities.
  • Ask if the provider is enrolled in a quality improvement program with ReadyKids.

2 Parents' GUide to Child Care

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Copy of This is where the future is made.Got a question or a complaint? Want to find child care options but have no idea where to start? Finding reliable and affordable child care is a concern for most families. Families need support and information to understand and navigate the world of child care and early education services. Research shows that high quality child care experiences support a child’s school readiness and future success. Our own Child Care Quality team has put together the following resources to help you evaluate the options and make the most informed choice possible.

How do I find child care?

  • Search online or speak with a child care specialist from Child Care Aware of Virginia. Get a free, individualized list of child care referrals in your area that meets your unique needs (such as location, hours, language spoken, ages of children, and other quality preferences). Note: listings are referrals, not recommendations. Also, ask other parents, your pediatrician, your religious community. Visit more than one provider if you can.

How do I interview providers?

  • Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) has an extensive Resource Guide for Choosing Quality Child Care that includes information about the different types of child care available, and how to interview and assess potential providers.
  • The ReadyKids Child Care Quality Program provides workshops on Choosing Quality Child Care for businesses and agencies in the City of Charlottesville, and Albemarle or Nelson County. Call Gail Esterman, CCQ Program Manager, 434-296-4118, x228 for more information.

How can I check for complaints or licensing violations?

How can I get financial assistance to help me pay for child care?

 Parents' GUide to Child Care2

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This is where the future is made. (1)Could high quality early childhood education affect the rest of our children’s lives? Recent research says yes, although with a different twist.  A July Washington Post article cited a twenty year study which found that kindergartners who share, those who are kind and show empathy to others, are more likely to go to college and to get a full time job. Conversely, those who don’t exhibit these traits are more likely to have problems with the law.

What emerged most notably from following these children over two decades was the conclusion that early socialization and learning experiences have a positive influence throughout life. According to Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, “[The study] does offer the promise that if we can help kids get to this place by 5, that it will be sustaining.”

At ReadyKids, we believe it is essential to get kids Learning Ready and Relationship Ready. The STAR Kids program, addresses the juxtaposition between the two. During the school year, our educators bring social emotional skills into local Head Start classrooms and other area child care centers, helping to lower violent and aggressive behaviors and teaching kids to make safe and healthy choices, leading to positive outcomes for decades to come.

Ready to invest in tomorrows kids




Source: The Washington Post


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1You might be surprised to learn that, in 2011-2012, Virginia schools sent more kids to law enforcement than in any other state. With a rate of nearly 16 referrals per 1000 students, this is almost three times the national rate–making Virginia the top contender in the ‘school to prison pipeline’.  Also, according to a recent study of US Department of Education data by the Center for Public Integrity, some of the schools that send the most kids to law enforcement are middle schools, where students are 11 to 14 years old.

At ReadyKids, we believe in nurturing children, providing opportunities and support, rather than sending them through the justice system. Our programs work to ensure that kids are happy, healthy and safe—giving them the opportunity to succeed, at home, in school and beyond. Our Learning Ready programs give kids quality early educational experiences that prepare them for school and life, while our Relationship Ready programs help kids to experience positive, nurturing and healthy family relationships.

It is efforts like these that keep our kids in schools and out of the justice system, lowering the cost to the taxpayer, to society and, ultimately, to the children themselves.

Check out our programs to find out what makes a ReadyKid… Ready!

Read more:

Center for Public Integrity

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Innovative Programs (1)According to a recent CVille Tomorrow article, this fall, despite the best efforts of area schools, 250 Charlottesville and Albemarle County 4-year-olds might not get to attend school, a problem which has prompted area leaders to think outside the box. In the search for answers, the article cited ReadyKids’ own ParentingMobile program and how this type of creative solution gives kids a chance.

Every week, the ParentingMobile takes early childhood programming into several Charlottesville neighborhoods, including Southwood, Friendship Court, Greenstone on Fifth, and Park’s Edge, bringing education and fun to families who don’t have access to school. Kids get to do stuff like arts and crafts, imaginative play and story time, all the while building vocabulary, benefiting from a school-like environment and making new friends.

While their children are busy learning, our team works closely with parents, offering support, an opportunity to connect with peers and information on local resources.

Today, this program plays an essential role in the lives of many kids in our community—kids who, every week, look forward to getting Ready to Learn… together.

Learn more about what makes the ParentingMobile one of Charlottesville’s most innovative early learning experiences.

Source: CVille Tomorrow



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Who says you can't picnic in the rain?We’d like to thank everyone who gave time, resources and lots of energy to this year’s Play Partners picnic. Our staff and volunteers helped make this an amazing day for our wonderful Play Partners kids.

A big shout out to the Village School students, who came in droves to help guide the picnic’s fabulous educational activities. Your energy and enthusiasm helped to make this day a great one!

About Play Partners

The Play Partners program is all about helping get kids Ready to Learn and Ready to Read.  Every week throughout the school year, pairs of trained community volunteers go into childcare settings with a ‘story of the month’ and related activities. By reading to the children, using evidence-based methods such as dialogic reading, the volunteers expand literacy concepts and increase kids’ exposure to new vocabulary. At the end of every month, Play Partners provides each child with their own copy of the ‘story of the month’ to take home; these books are the beginning of a home-library for many families. Our goal is to provide the young children participating in Play Partners with quality early educational experiences that get them Ready to Learn.

Become a Play Partner today and…

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Collage V2Thank you to everyone who attended the 2015 Community Breakfast and to those who were there in spirit! We were excited to have the chance to spotlight Emily Schorpp, whose work with area teens earned her the 20th annual Child Advocate of the Year award, as well as Gary Albert, State Farm Agency, recognized as this year’s family-friendly employer.

We were also eager, on this 20th anniversary breakfast, to introduce a new feature—the highlighted ReadyKids story of the year, presented on this occasion by our own Teen Counselor, Lou Hanson, whose very personal account of one special teen underscored just how effective our programming can be.

Director of Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, Andy Block, shared some riveting data (seriously) in his keynote address and Dan Schutte of CBS 19 News was kind enough to stand up and lead the program.

Thanks again to our wonderful community of supporters, partners, team members and staff. We couldn’t do it without you. To anyone who didn’t make it, there will always be next year!


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