The two-year “Be Child Care Aware!” educational campaign, launched in the fall of 2003, reached at least 205,000 people with information on quality child care.
The campaign is a joint project of the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support. It involved wide dissemination of information to families and child-care providers about the importance of quality care in the development of young children.
Among the many efforts were weekly newspaper columns, weekly radio announcements, educational displays, informational brochures for child-care providers and for parents, educational presentations for child-care providers and parents and an informational Internet site.
The educational information was welcomed by child-care providers and parents alike.
For example, Veronica Finucane, director of the University Baptist Church Child Development Center in Baton Rouge, wrote that she “would like to applaud the LSU AgCenter for this effort. Keep up the great work!”
Finucane said she was grateful for the “aggressive approach to issues concerning child care” and added that the information developed in the “Be Child Care Aware!” campaign “helps families to make informed decisions about what to look for in child care.” She also said the Web site was a valuable source of information for newsletters for the families with children enrolled in her center and her teachers.
Likewise, Aleta Jacobs, director of Bogalusa Head Start and Early Head Start, said the brochures on quality child care were valuable resources.
“Because we have a waiting list, we have decided to hand them out during the application process,” Jacobs said. “If the child does not get into Head Start, then at least the parent will have some knowledge of what to look for in another child-care setting.”
Cadra Menard, a mother of three from Shreveport, was among those who wrote to say how helpful the Web site had been.
“I am the mother of three small boys – ages 3, 2 and 7 months. Needless to say, there are several days where I need some advice,” she wrote. “I just found the LSU AgCenter Web site and am beyond impressed by the information provided.”
The training sessions for child-care providers, which were part of the campaign, also netted positive comments. Participants said the sessions helped them learn how to better communicate with parents, how to better assist children having trouble. The sessions also helped them learn to take better care of themselves so they can be better teachers.
Among the overall assessments of the classes were such comments as “These classes help make me a better teacher” and “These classes let me know that I am more than just a babysitter.” In fact, most participants indicated they had learned valuable lessons that would help them provide better child care.
Partners in the effort also were pleased with the results.
“The ‘Be Child Care Aware!’ campaign is an effective tool in enlightening Louisiana citizens about critical issues that impact families,” Nannette Russell White of the state Department of Social Services wrote. “We have found this initiative to be a helpful component in decision-making that allows parents to make informed, educated choices regarding their children’s child-care needs.”
Although the grant funding for the two-year “Be Child Care Aware!” campaign ended in the fall of 2005, LSU AgCenter faculty members are continuing their efforts to educate the public about the importance of quality child care – and the educational Web site is being maintained and updated. Go to Be Child Care Aware
(This article appeared in the fall 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)