Tell Us About Yourself.
My name is Kimberly Taylor and I am the Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Virginia – a statewide nonprofit organization that works with families to find child care and works with child care providers to strengthen the quality of care. While I am new to Child Care Aware of Virginia (February 2016), I am not new to the field of child care. I have spent more than 25 years in the child care and early learning field, most recently as Regional Director for Knowledge Universe. As a Richmond native, I am excited to move back home and partner with so many talented people throughout the state to offer families quality child care.
What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?
Throughout Virginia, there are more than 393,000 children under age 6 with working parents. Child care is hard for parents to find, harder to afford, and throughout the state child care providers are interested in strategies to improve the quality of care. First, children should be safe in child care. Second, from neuroscience research, we know that the earliest years of a child’s life is when the architecture of the brain is being wired. This is the foundation for social, emotional, physical and cognitive development that leads to school readiness and school success. Child Care Aware of Virginia works with parents to better understand what to look for and what to ask when selecting child care. We also work with providers so that child care settings promote the healthy development of children. Sometimes that means helping providers become licensed. For licensed providers, it means assisting with training and professional development, coaching and mentoring, so that all providers can offer high quality settings and parents can have top-notch choices within their community.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
What I find most rewarding about our work is having an impact – helping families meet the needs of their children and helping child care providers overcome challenges, improve business practices, really promote happy and exciting settings to promote children’s growth and development.
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is the same challenge that working parents everywhere face. I’m a grandmother today. However, when I was younger raising my children, it was a daily challenge juggling work and family. I know first-hand that’s not easy. And, that’s one of the reasons why I am committed to Child Care Aware of Virginia’s mission. Children should be safe in child care. Parents should not have to worry about their children while they are at work. Juggling work and family is hard enough without also having to worry about your child’s child care arrangement.
What’s coming next for you and/or your organization that really excites you?
In November of 2014, Congress passed a new law to strengthen the quality of child care, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. There are new requirements to better promote the health and safety of children in child care and new training requirements for child care providers to ensure that they have the knowledge, skills and competencies to offer high quality care. It’s really an exciting time with many opportunities to rethink how we can all work together to promote the best child care possible for the children of working parents. I am convinced that combining the brain research with training and professional development will lead to strong communities of practice where all children start school ready to succeed. Watch our web site for coming events on a wide array of topics from child nutrition and physical activity to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy development to our second annual child care provider business summit.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
Connecting, engaging, and sharing resources is not only the goal of ConnectVA but also what we do at Child Care Aware of Virginia. We are hopeful that parents or child care providers or others using your site will see that we can be helpful in so many ways. We are thrilled to be a partner with you as a community resource!
Anything else you would like to share?
I encourage anyone with young children to check out our web site. Use our child care search engine or check out our child care checklist as you look for care. For child care providers, we offer many resources from online professional development to regional resource centers to meet individual provider needs. We have started a new project, the Virginia Shared Services Network that offers discounts for child care programs on frequently purchased items and a robust array of resources from classroom materials to program management practices. Last, some of our work is related to educating state legislators with regard to best practices and policies that will better meet the needs of children and families. Join us by signing up for action alerts through our action and education center!
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