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CHILD CARE AWARE HELPING STRESSED-OUT PARENTS FIND QUALITY CHILD CARE AS NEW SCHOOL YEAR APPROACHES

 MINNEAPOLIS, July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Another school year is just around the corner, guaranteeing working parents another seasonal headache as they try to find quality child care arrangements for the new school year.
 "Child care resource and referral counselors across America typically see a lot of stressed-out parents at this time of year. It's a real chore to pull together high-quality, full-day care for a pre- school child and also arrange for appropriate school-age child care," said Denise Nelson, community coordinator at the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
 Parents' Concerns
 Counselors at child care resource and referral agencies across the country report that parents' most common concerns during the Back-to- School period are:
 1) finding programs that offer high-quality, age-appropriate activities;
 2) locating programs that complement school hours;
 3) transportation safety and convenience;
 4) ability of the child care provider to accommodate parents' working hours;
 5) finding suitable, attractive programs for kids over age 10 (too young to be unsupervised, not happy in traditional child care);
 6) licensing and monitoring of programs and providers;
 7) finding programs that match children's interests;
 8) easing the child's transition into the program.
 "The U.S. Census data show us that six in 10 families today have the sole parent or both parents working outside the home. In fact, 18 million school-age children in America have working mothers or single fathers," said Barbara Reisman, executive director of Child Care Action Campaign (CCAC), a New York-based advocacy group.
 "One reason it's so hard to get adequate full-day and school-age child care is that America has no unified system of care," she added. Parents with fewer resources often face very troubling choices -- including leaving children unsupervised or settling for low-quality child care."
 Help for Parents
 To help parents select quality full-day and school-age care, Child Care Aware provides parents with a toll-free national information line at 1-800-424-2246 to link them with child care resource and referral counselors at nonprofit agencies in their own communities. (Agency services are free or charged on a sliding scale depending on family income.) The campaign also has developed five-step plans, tips and a checklist for parents to use as they shop for child care (see attached).
 Child Care Aware, a national public education program on quality child care sponsored by Dayton Hudson Corporation, its foundation and its stores, is a cooperative effort with prominent child care organizations: CCAC, NACCRRA, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Day Care.
 Dayton Hudson Corporation, based in Minneapolis, Minn., is one of America's largest retailers and corporate philanthropists with 1992 revenues of $17.9 billion and a 1993 corporate giving program totaling more than $23.7 million. The corporation has committed $10 million over seven years to improve the quality of child care in America. Dayton Hudson operates more than 850 Target, Mervyn's, Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's stores in 33 states.
 CHILD CARE AWARE'S ADVICE FOR PARENTS OF SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
 The Five-Step Plan to Identify Quality Care
 (Clip and take with you when you shop for child care.)
 1. LOOK. Explore all types of care options -- family child care, centers or programs offered through other institutions such as the YM/WCA, scouts, churches, school districts or others. Visit several programs. Do they look safe? Do the staff enjoy talking and participating in activities with the children? Are the activities and ages of the children a good fit for your child? After your child starts attending a program, be sure to go back and check it out regularly.
 2. ASK. Ask your child what types of programs he or she would like. Involve kids in the decision-making. Look for programs that focus on their interests.
 Ask about the training and experience of all adults who will be with the children. Do they have first aid and CPR training? Are their discipline policies compatible with your philosophy? Are children able to choose among activities? What do the adults know about child development? How will they encourage your child's independence and build self-esteem?
 3. COUNT. Count the number of adults and the number of children they will be supervising. Be certain there are enough adults to supervise all planned activities.
 4. CHECK. How long has this program operated? What percentage of children return each fall? Is the program certified or accredited by a professional association? Check references from parents whose children have attended in the past.
 5. BE INFORMED. Find out about efforts in your community to expand and support after-school child care options. For more information, contact your local child care resource and referral agency or the Child Care Aware toll-free information line at 1-800-424-2246.
 Other Tips for Parents of School-Age Children
 1. Consider enrolling your child in the same after-school child care program as your child's best friend.
 2. Children over age 12 may benefit by being in leadership training programs.
 3. Remember to ask about additional fees for such things as field trips and transportation.
 4. Make sure your child's nutritional needs will be met either by the program (sometimes kids enjoy making their own snacks as an activity) or by your own "brown bags."
 5. Determine whether the program sets aside time for your child to complete homework assignments and be with peers.
 6. Assess whether the program has enough equipment to keep all the children occupied.
 7. Find out whether the children have access to community resources such as ice-skating, swimming pools, libraries, museums and youth centers through the program.
 8. Investigate the provider's insurance coverage and clearly understand what they expect your family's insurance to cover if anything should happen.
 9. Be sure to ask about scholarship or financial assistance that may be available for your child.
 10. Parents can get additional help in finding quality after-school child care by calling the Child Care Aware toll-free information line at 1-800-424-2246 for referrals to nonprofit child care resource and referral agencies in their own communities.
 CHILD CARE AWARE'S ADVICE FOR PARENTS OF PRE-SCHOOLERS
 The Five-Step Plan to Identify Quality Care
 (Clip and take with you when you shop for child care.)
 1. Look. Begin by visiting several child care homes or centers. On each visit, think about your first impression, but don't stop there. Does the place look safe? Do the caregivers/teachers enjoy talking and playing with children? Do they talk with each child at the child's eye level? Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within a child's reach? Plan to visit a home or center more than once and stay as long as possible to get a good idea of what care would be like for your child. Even after you start using a child care setting, keep visiting and checking it out.
 2. Listen. How does the child care setting sound? Do the children sound happy and involved? Do the teachers' voices sound cheerful and patient? A place that is too quiet may mean not enough activity is taking place. A place that is too noisy may mean there is a lack of control.
 3. Count. Count the number of children in the group, then the number of staff people caring for the children. Obviously, the fewer number of children for each adult, the more attention your child will get. A small number of children per adult is most important for babies and younger children. (A child care resource and referral counselor can tell you about recommended staff-child ratios.)
 4. Ask. The knowledge and experience of the adults caring for your child are very important. Find out about the special training they each have. Ask about the background and experience of all staff: caregivers, teachers and the program director. Ask the same questions about any other adults who will have contact with your child in the home or center. Quality caregivers/teachers will be happy to have you ask these questions.
 5. Be Informed. Find out more about efforts in your community to improve the quality of child care. Is your caregiver involved in these activities? Has your child's caregiver achieved accreditation or completed training that exceeds minimum requirements? For more information, contact your local child care resource or referral agency or the Child Care Aware information line at 1-800-424-2246.
 The Quality Child Care Checklist
 (Clip and take with you when you shop for child care.)
 Caregivers/Teachers
 -- Do the caregivers/teachers seem to like children?
 -- Do they get down at each child's eye level to speak to
 the child?
 -- Are children greeted when they arrive?
 -- Are children's needs quickly met, even when things are busy?
 -- Are the caregivers/teachers trained in CPR, first aid and early
 childhood education?
 -- Are they involved in continuing education programs?
 -- Does the program keep up with children's changing interests?
 -- Are the caregivers/teachers always ready to answer questions?
 -- Will the caregivers/teachers tell you what your child is doing
 every day?
 -- Are parents' ideas welcomed? Are there ways for you to get
 involved?
 -- Is there enough staff to serve the children?
 -- Are caregivers/teachers trained and experienced?
 Setting
 -- Is the atmosphere bright and pleasant?
 -- Is there a fenced-in outdoor play area with a variety of safe
 equipment? Can the caregivers/teachers see the entire
 playground at all times?
 -- Are there different areas for resting, quiet play and active
 play?
 -- Is there enough space for children in all of these areas?
 Activities
 -- Is there a daily balance of play time, story time, activity time
 and nap time?
 -- Are the activities right for each age group?
 -- Are there enough toys and learning materials for the number of
 children?
 -- Are toys clean, safe and within reach of the children?
 In General
 -- Do you agree with the discipline practices?
 -- Do you hear the sounds of happy children?
 -- Are children comforted when needed?
 -- Is the program licensed or regulated?
 -- Are surprise visits by parents encouraged?
 -- Will your child be happy here?
 Parents can get additional help in finding quality after-school and full-day child care by calling the Child Care Aware toll-free information line at 1-800-424-2246 for referrals to nonprofit child care resource and referral agencies in their own communities.
 Child Care Aware is a cooperative, public service program of Dayton Hudson Corporation and major U.S. child care advocacy organizations. The campaign was developed to improve the quality of child care in America.
 -0- 7/13/93
 /CONTACT: Barbara Reisman of the Child Care Action Campaign, 212-239-0138; Laura Anders of Child Care Aware/Dayton Hudson, 612-370-6622; or Denise Nelson of the National Assn. of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, 507-287-2220/


CO: Dayton Hudson Corporation ST: Minnesota IN: REA SU:

LV -- NYSFNS1 -- 0680 07/13/93 06:47 EDT
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