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Every year Child Care Aware releases their report about the cost of childcare across the US. This year, it’s titled “The US and the High Price of Childcare”, so a slightly different meaning, thinking of the price VS the cost. I think sometimes we don’t read this report too closely since we all know childcare is expensive. My secret is that I do look at Colorado, but I tend to skip to the sections that talk about policy recommendations, and that is where this report gets interesting. The report is here, and the policy recommendations start on page 46 of the full report. Some highlights that you should know include:

  • The need to collect better data; this is what drives policy change and it can increase awareness for everyone involved – you, parents, and the community.
  • The need to do a better job of supporting the early childhood workforce. One great example is Colorado House Bill 19-1005, newly passed this year, that provides a tax credit to eligible early childhood educators. It has an earning cap ($75,000/$85,000), and the program must be at least a Colorado Shines level 2, and the credit is dependent on the person’s credential level, but it seems like a good start.
  • The need to raise reimbursement rates to providers (CCCAP) to more closely reflect the tuition charged. Many states don’t even reimburse at 75%, some were as low as 39%. At the same time expanding financial supports for families.
  • Support for childcare financial aid to families so no family pays more that 7% of their annual wages for childcare.
  • Engaging businesses, by developing public-private partnerships, and offering tax credits to help expand access to care for employees.
  • Last, but not least promoting paid family leave for up to 12 weeks for each parent, supporting parents as their child’s first teacher.
While not everyone has a need for childcare, it is in everyone’s best interest to provide affordable, high-quality childcare for all who need it. I probably don’t need to tell you that, but together we need to do a better job of:
  1. Telling our friends and neighbors why early childhood education is so important.
  2. Advocating for these policy changes at the state and federal levels

So what can you do? Make sure you are registered to vote, and make sure you vote! Share information on social media using hashtags like #childcare, #investinchildren, or #familyleave. You can also email or call your elected officials (it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds) and contact them often. Imagine the difference you can make!

Shirley Ritter
Kids First Director
215 N. Garmisch St.
Aspen, CO 81611
p: 970.920.5370
c: 970.319.4124

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Brought to you by the Center For Disease Control and
                                                               Robin Strecker, RN, CCHC Kids First

According to the weekly CDC Influenza Surveillance Report, current seasonal flu activity remains low in the U.S. but is on the rise. The first two flu-associated pediatric deaths for the 2019-2020 season have been reported.  
Flu is Dangerous for Children

Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than 2, are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, doctor's visits, missed work and school days, and reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death in children. 
Flu Vaccine is the Best Way to Prevent Flu Illness

Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. The best way to protect against flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.
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Licensing Corner

As the weather outside is continuously changing in our mountain areas this time of year, we’d like to remind you of the importance of ongoing health & safety and maintenance checks of outdoor play areas and equipment.  Whether you utilize an outdoor play area located at your program or take a field trip to a neighborhood park, keep in mind there can be hidden safety hazards child care providers should be aware of to ensure the outdoor play environment is appropriate and safe for children.

We encourage you to take some time in the next few days to inspect the outdoor play area from a child’s point of view.  While walking the perimeter of the play space, play the “I spy” game and take note on what you see.

Are there any safety concerns with the fence….do you spy unlatched gates, unsecured looping in fence with sharp edges, bolts with more than 2 threads exposed and accessible to children?

As you move around the play space, keep an eye out for any tripping hazards…do you spy holes in the ground from critters, toys in high traffic areas and/or use zones , exposed tree roots or irrigation tubes?

Do you spy the sun shining?  Focus not only on sun protection (sunscreen, hats, shade) also consider if children have appropriate outdoor gear for current weather conditions. 

Take some time to inspect the outdoor play equipment.  Is there appropriate depth of resilient surfacing  underneath and within the use zones of pieces of climbing equipment over 18 inches in height?  Keep in mind that grass, cement, dirt and frozen or snow packed surfacing are unsafe and not approved types of surfacing.

Climb up on the equipment and interact as young children would do.  Are the steps or access points of equipment covered with snow or ice?  Did someone wrap an item (ie scarf/jump rope) around the equipment which should not be accessible to children?  Make sure there are no possible head entrapment or entanglement hazards (gaps at top of slides, S-hooks on swings with gaps greater than the thickness of a dime). 

Do you feel all providers within your program are aware of the possible safety hazards on the outdoor play area?  Does your site specific building and physical premises training cover the outdoor play area?  Do all adults providing care know expectations for active supervision and appropriate staff to child ratios?

When purchasing new equipment/materials, consider what would be appropriate for children’s ages, size and ability level.  Ensure equipment is installed according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Do not alter any piece of playground equipment without prior consultation with manufacturer. 

We hope you continue to have enjoyable interactions with children during outdoor play.  If you need any resources regarding this topic or anything else related to licensing, please feel free to contact us.

Rebecca, Mark and Sandy

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Coaching Corner
with Megan Monaghan and Adley Kent

Communicating with families

Happy Fall! I know many of you are preparing for your Fall parent-teacher conferences. Consider the following items while preparing each child’s conference:

  • Be prepared
    • What is your goal or objective for the time you have with parents? What exactly do you want to communicate? What would you like the outcome of this meeting to be?
  • Approach Parents with positive assumptions
    • Welcome every parent as your strongest ally in working with your student (their child).
    • Know that their child is the most important thing in their world.
  • Keep the conference positive
    • Be specific in the positive data you share -- tell an anecdote or show a piece of work. Make sure you truly feel this positivity. We can all sniff out empty praise. 
  • Take the Opportunity to Learn
    • What could you ask parents that might help you better support your student? What would you like to know? If this is the first time you're sitting down with parents, it's a great opportunity to hear their perspective on their child's school experience so far, on what their child likes to do outside of school, or the questions and concerns they have about their child. So, what do you want to ask?
  • Be a good listener
    • Listen and take notes about what the parent would like to share with you. You are both here to learn more about how to support their child.
  • End on a high note
    • Save one positive story, picture, specific comment to close on a high note.

Consider your communication methods to ensure all parents are receiving the information they need about your classroom and program in a way that works for them. The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations has put together a wonderful resource to remind us that each parent and family may need a variety of communication methods.

Check out this resource here:

Another great resource from The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations related to talking with families is

This overview gives the Dos and Don’ts of talking with families about problem behavior. If you are preparing for a big conversation about a child’s behavior and discussing ways to support that child, this is a great list for you to review and consider.

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Thanks You!!

Early Childhood Network would like to thank everyone who helped us to have another successful and fun Casino Night fundraiser. 

We would especially like to thank our title sponsor, Alpine Bank, for their support, and a big thank you to Chili’s and Village Inn for providing our delicious food.  We are so grateful to Empire Drywall and Haps Plumbing and Heating for their generous sponsorships. We could not have been successful without our other sponsorships from Karp Neu Hanlon, Land Rover Glenwood, Mid Valley Metro, Aspen MMA, KaleidoScoops, McKinley Real Estate and Regan Construction as well as many other table sponsors! We would also like thank Integra Motor Sports for hosting our event. Thank you to all of our silent auction donors, monetary donors, board members, and volunteers, without whom we would not have had a successful fundraiser.  It is with this kind of community support that we can provide services to childcare providers and families in Garfield and Western Eagle counties and touch the lives of more than 1,200 families each year. 

With our sincere thanks from the staff at Early Childhood Network.  See you at our 2020 Casino Night event next fall!

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Where silence ends + healing begins

River Bridge Regional Center hosted a Community Outreach Family Fall Festival Event on Sunday October 20th at the New Castle Gardens Pumpkin Patch. It was a free event open to the public, with the purpose of building our vision of “a community of strong families”. Thanks to our sponsors, Charles Cunniffe Architects, Gould Construction, SGM Engineering, Grand River Construction, and Carl Ciani-State Farm Insurance, we gathered many families and friends for a day of fall activities, games, kids crafts, food and more!

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Directors at lunch

Kids First In-service 2019

On October 24th the Pitkin County Providers had a full day in-service event.  We were fortunate to have a presentation on Compassion Fatigue and how Childcare staff/teachers have a lot of exposure to stresses of many kinds.  We were introduced to a worksheet called Professional Quality of Life Measure and we would like to share it with all of you.

The tool/worksheet is at the end of the newsletter – feel free to print it and
see how you are doing!!
You can get a copy of the tool from this web page

Professional quality of life is the quality one feels in relation to their work as a helper. Both the positive and negative aspects of doing your work influence your professional quality of life. People who work helping others may respond to individual, community, national, and even international crises. They may be health care professionals, social service workers, teachers, attorneys, police officers, firefighters, clergy, transportation staff, disaster responders, and others. Understanding the positive and negative aspects of helping those who experience trauma and suffering can improve your ability to help them and your ability to keep your own balance.

Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue are two aspects of Professional Quality of Life. They encompass the positive (Compassion Satisfaction) and the negative (Compassion Fatigue) parts of helping others who have experienced suffering. Compassion fatigue breaks into two parts. The first part concerns things such as such as exhaustion, frustration, anger and depression typical of burnout. Secondary Traumatic Stress is a negative feeling driven by fear and work-related trauma. It is important to remember that some trauma at work can be direct (primary) trauma. In other cases, work-related trauma can be a combination of both primary and secondary trauma. If working with others' suffering changes you so deeply in negative ways that your understanding of yourself changes, this is vicarious traumatization. Learning from and understanding vicarious traumatization can lead one to vicarious transformation.

For more information

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Smiling girl

Healthy Smiles for Colorado Kids

As of July 2019, DentaQuest is happy to be running the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) dental program for the State of Colorado. CHP+ is a public, low-cost health insurance for qualified children and pregnant women.
Cavities are the most common chronic disease for kids.  If a child has a cavity it can affect their ability to learn, eat, sleep, and affects their self-esteem. In Colorado alone, kids miss over 7 million hours of school every year due to mouth pain. The good news is that with basic care and regular dental check-ups, dental cavities are almost fully preventable! Parents can help their children have healthy teeth for life by knowing and using their CHP+ dental benefits.
CHP+ offers up to $1,000 in covered dental services each calendar year that members are enrolled.  These services include exams, cleanings, fillings and more.  Some benefits may have co-pays. If you have questions about CHP+ dental benefits, call DentaQuest at 1-888-307-6561, TTY 711 or visit the DentaQuest Website.

Health First Colorado Specific Content:

Health First Colorado enrolled members (21 years and older) receive $1,500 in covered dental services between July 1st and June 30th each year.  These services include exams, cleanings, fillings and more.  
Emergency services and dentures do not count towards your $1500.00 annual benefit! 

Health First Colorado members Children’s Dental Benefit (ages 20 and under) have no annual benefit limit.   Enrolled member services include exams, cleanings, fillings, sealants, fluoride treatments and more. There are no co-pays or annual fees.

Some dental services require prior authorization from your dentist, BEFORE services are completed.
For more information, please visit: DentaQuest Website or call 1-855-225-1729, TTY 711.

Chilldhood Waiver
Garfield County Training
Compassion Fatigue #1
Compassion Fatigue #2
Compassion Fatigue #3
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