Child care was a topic of conversation this year. The best part? It wasn't just among your colleagues, friends or family! Child care and early learning was a national conversation this year. Some examples? President Obama spoke of the importance of preschool in his State of Union Address, the paradox of costly child care and small salaries for the people providing the care, and the proposed and upcoming changes to the Child Care Development Fund Block Grant just to name a few.
2013 was an exciting year in Child Care! Here is our Top 5!
- Federal Government Focus on Early and Quality Care
- National Media Coverage on Cost of Child Care
- Educational Opportunities Moving Online
- Focus on Health and Nutrition in Child Care Settings
- Safe Harbor Tax Rule Change and other Record Keeping News for Family Child Care Providers
Read up on the Top 5 below. Access links to some good stories, helpful advocacy tools, and invaluable learning and business resources.
Federal Government Focus on Early and Quality Care
Child Care and Development Fund Program – Proposed Rule by Administration of Children and Families (ACF). The child care community actively commented on the proposed rules for new federal regulation regarding child care. 531 comments were posted to the rule on regulations.gov. After all of the comments have been read, ACF will publish the final rule to be implemented in 2016-2017. “The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) proposes to amend the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) regulations. This proposed rule makes changes to CCDF regulatory provisions in order to strengthen health and safety requirements for child care providers, reflect current State and local practices to improve the quality of child care, infuse new accountability for Federal tax dollars, and leverage the latest knowledge and research in the field of early care and education to better serve low-income children and families.”
President Obama Announces his Preschool For All Plan in the State of The Union Address. Learn more in this fact sheet from the White House.
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”
President Barack Obama State of the Union, February 12, 2013
Bi-Partisan Legislation Proposed Called the “Strong Start for America’s Children Act.” This bill is in response to and places a framework around President Obama’s plan regarding his “preschool for all” initiative.
Affordable Care Act and Early Educators. The Affordable Care Act shook up much of the nation this year and it has an impact on you too. Learn more from the recorded webinar and Tom Copeland’s blog posts.
National Media Coverage on Cost of Child Care
Child Care Aware published a report in the fall of 2013 called the Cost of Child Care. The soaring costs of child care covered the airwaves. From bloggers to CNN to the New York Times, the cost of child care is a discussion people are having. Many of the stories discussing the fact that in many states yearly child care costs more than college tuition. The question is how to address the paradox of soaring child care costs and stagnant, low wages for child care and early education professionals, The average hourly wage for a child care professional with a Bachelors Degree or higher is $14.70 and the average overall wage hovers around ten dollars an hour. 2013 provided this paradox with national attention, which is good for parents and providers alike!
Other reports published in 2013: Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education (ECE) Teachers and Caregivers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), We Can Do Better, an Update, Is America Prepared to Protect Its Children? Disaster Preparedness in America: The 2013 Report, and Pivot Point: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2013
Educational Opportunities Moving Online
- Child Care Education Institute announces online Family Child Care Certificate which is accepted by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) to fulfill requirements for accreditation.
- Child Care Aware Raise Your Hand Webinar Series was a five month series in which they provided educational opportunities to raise awareness and make connections regarding child care. All webinars were recorded and each one should be watched to learn more about the state of child care nationwide and what you can do to, well, raise your hand. Informational for parents, providers and advocates alike!
- Kris Murray, Child Care Marketing Expert, has a blog “Child Care Marketing News and Articles” in which she posts weekly tips to help you market your business and increase your enrollment.
- Five Keys to Raising a Happy Healthy Eater. This is completely online and interactive educational opportunity for anyone who wants to know how to feed their children in effective ways. As a parent, I apply the knowledge I learned from it daily. As a provider, you can take the learning module and print out a certificate of completion!
There are so many more being provided by Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies, such as CCDS Metro's Child Care Trainings To Go, Child Care Aware, National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and as well as private companies such as Child Care Lounge, The Child Care Education Institute and the list goes on. For links to these and others, you can visit ChildCareInfo's Learning Center.
Focus on Health and Nutrition in Child Care Settings
The Food Program (Child and Adult Care Food Program – CACFP) community has been working on making the program more accessible so child care providers can provide nutritious meals to the children in their care, and get reimbursed for it. At times, the program hasn’t been that easy to implement and administer but the focus is the nutrition for the children, education for the people providing it and integrity for the program as a whole. There have been many changes since the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the majority positive. Check out this summary.
In 2013 Team Nutrition has been working on creating and updating resources specifically directed toward the program participants. For example: Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, The Crediting Handbook for the CACFP and have updated the Two-Bite Club book with My Plate information. They are constantly working on more!
Meal Pattern Requirements throughout the year. They were expected to be published several different times within 2013 but the new timeframe is spring 2014. Keep your eyes and ears open for the news! You’ll need to comment to make sure the regulations are beneficial nutritionally as well as realistic for implementation. USDA has been working on the new proposed rule for the CACFP.
Lets Move, Child Care - The First Lady's Lets Move campaign took some time to focus specifically on child care providers, advocates and settings. They added resources to the website and are looking for trainers to educate child care providers about the 5 Goals for a Healthier Future. As with many other things, we get that something needs to happen but we aren't quite sure how to implement it. Well, on the Lets Move Child Care Website caregivers are provided 6 interactive steps to complete which include 1) Signing Up for The Certificate of of Participation, 2) Taking the Lets Move Checklist, 3) Building a Customized Action Plan, 4) Access to Ideas and Resources, 5) Earning the Recognition Award, and Celebrating Your Success!
National Food Service Management (NFSMI) is creating a variety of tools and trainings for child care professionals to use regarding nutrition for child care environments and the food program (CACFP). They will come out and do nutrition trainings for free as long as you have a place for the training and 25 attendees. They have online trainings, archived and creating new ones. It's all free! The Meal Time Memo is back and it is so helpful for parents and providers alike!
Child Care Business Resources and Information: Specifically Record Keeping and Taxes for Family Child Care Providers
- Safe Harbor Rule Changes. Tom Copeland was keeping tabs on the rule changes proposed by the IRS and, of course, was looking to protect family child care in the process! There was a proposed rule change to a part of the Safe Harbor rule in which businesses run out of the home, including family child care, would not have to keep receipts to claim up to $1,500 in house expenses. Tom looked at it from many different ways and determined that the rule as it was written was NOT beneficial to family child care providers and wrote a letter to the IRS to comment on the rule and encouraged others to comment on family child care providers’ behalf. Now the new rule is FINAL and Tom has written a blog post explaining WHY it is NOT beneficial to providers. As much as you hate doing your time/space percentage calculations, you will lose money if you take the easy road through this new rule. Be sure to read the following caution regarding your tax preparation“The intent of the Safe Harbor rule was to reduce the record keeping burden of home-based businesses. Some tax preparers may be tempted to advise you to use the rule because it will also mean less work for them (they won’t have to file Form 8829). It is extremely important to make sure you do not let your tax preparer talk you into using it, unless you understand that it will benefit you financially. Therefore, ask your tax preparer to compare what you can deduct on Form 8829 (line 25) with what you could deduct under the new rule (Schedule C, line 30).”
To understand more fully the implications of the rule, read Tom’s post “New Clarification of Safe Harbor Rule Doesn’t Benefit Providers.” There are additional news posts you should read from Tom to be fully informed and prepared for your taxes this season. Read them on his blog “Tom Copeland’s Taking Care of Business.”
- More news regarding Tom Copeland and his invaluable services to family child care providers. He and Minute Menu Systems have teamed up to create the “Child Care Business Partnership: Tom Copeland, Minute Menu and You.” Tom Copeland will help you efficiently and effectively use Minute Menu Kids Pro. Tom will help you use the accounting section of Kids Pro, he will provide audit assistance and provide personalized business advice. Tom services only cost $15.00 if you subscribe to Minute Menu Kids Pro!
- Focused Tax Solutions has started a program specifically geared toward financial consultation and preparing taxes for family child care providers. All of their tax professionals train with Tom Copeland. Have a hard time finding financial advice and tax preparation that is focused on child care providers? Well,this might be worth looking into.