New Law for Child Care Providers — Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training

Parents have many fears when it comes to their children. But the worst nightmare a parent can have is finding out that his or her child is being abused while in the care of someone else. Each year, nearly a million cases of child maltreatment, which includes both abuse and neglect, are confirmed, and many more probably go unreported. If you are a child care provider who suspects that a child in your care has been abused or neglected, it is essential that you report your suspicions. Child care providers are mandated reporters of abuse and neglect, and all mandated reporters should have training to help identify child abuse and neglect and learn the procedure for reporting.

Beginning January 1, 2018, AB 1207 (Mandated child abuse reporting: child day care personnel: training) requires all licensed providers, applicants, directors, and employees to complete a mandated reporter training. Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training – California as it’s called is designed to give child care professionals, including caregivers and administrators, the tools to prevent, identify, and report child abuse and neglect among the children in care.

The deadline for licensed providers to comply with the training is March 30, 2018. The new employees have up to 90 days to complete their training. New applicants must receive their mandated reporter training prior to becoming licensed.

This FREE training is self-paced and will provide an overview of the significant definitions, requirements and protections of the California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). In this training, you will learn about the roles and responsibilities of child care providers in preventing, recognizing, reporting, and responding to child abuse and neglect within and outside early childhood programs and child care settings. It also gives an overview of prevention efforts, reporting laws, and the ways child care providers can talk to children about suspected abuse and support maltreated children and their families.

At the conclusion of the training you will take a final test that requires an 80% or higher score to pass. Upon passing the test you will be e-mailed a Certificate of completion.

Sign up and take this valuable training today!

When you report day care violations and suspicions of abuse, you not only help protect your own child, but other children as well.

Tireless Advocate, Passionate Leader: Remembering Carol Thompson

carol-thompsonIt is with immense respect and deep appreciation that we remember child care leader Carol Thompson. A tireless advocate for families, she worked to help create a child care subsidy program that could support parents, children, and early childhood educators. For 35 years she lead the staff at Child Care Links with compassion, dedication, and a vision for change. Carol and other pioneers of child care worked with Alameda County to help launch Cal WORKs Stage 1, a program that extended child care subsidies dramatically. She served on the board of directors for the California Alternative Payment Program Association and on numerous committees focused on finding solutions for low-income parents and the early learning community.

Many of us have lasting memories of the presentations Carol gave at our annual agency conferences. Today we continue to carry with us the valuable tools she shared. Whether it was a reminder to take care of ourselves so we can support others or how to lift each other up as a team, she offered wisdom that was inspiring and lent to a wonderful, positive workplace. It is this commitment to staff, to colleagues who she treated as family, that remains in our hearts.

We honor all the years Carol worked for the community, all the effort and knowledge she brought to child care advocacy, and all the ways she enhanced our lives. She is remembered with great fondness and gratitude.

Post-Election Tips for Domestic Employers

nanny with baby

Now that the election is over and a new administration is preparing to take office, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future. At BANANAS, we work closely with families who employ in-home caregivers—nannies and babysitters—and with the loving community of people who provide in-home care. We know there is fear about the potential changes coming with new poliltical leadership. In response, our friends at Hand In Hand: The Domestic Employers Network put together a list of ways that employers can support caregivers during this time of unpredictability. We encourage you to share this with friends, family, and anyone who may be looking for resources as we enter a new year with a new administration.

From Hand In Hand: The Domestic Employers Network:

Hand in Hand’s fundamental premise is that “the personal is political.” Living our politics begins at home, especially when our homes are someone’s workplace. After the election, many of us feel outraged, sad, and confused about what to do. As employers of domestic workers, who are among the people who have been and will likely be most targeted, one thing we can do is to support women, people of color, and/or immigrants who work in our homes. 

1. Engage in a dialogue (but don’t assume).

Ask questions, communicate clearly, and give the caregivers and domestic workers in your life space to share how they are feeling. We don’t know what’s going on for people at this time, so don’t assume anything about your employee, their immigration status or that of their family members, or how they’re feeling about the election in general. Instead, ask open-ended questions (“How are you feeling about the election?”), and create space for them to talk about about how they’re doing and what they are concerned or worried about.

2. Assure and affirm that you will show up for them and that you have their back.

Let your employee know how you feel about the election, and that you are committed to standing up for anyone who comes under attack with this new administration. Commit to working together to find resources to support them or others as necessary, and make it clear that your home is a safe space. If many of your neighbors employ domestic workers—nannies, housecleaners, or home attendants—consider developing a collective affirmation that you all will show up for the workers in your community. And let them know you welcome hearing about anything that comes up in the future, from specific resources needed to concerns about safety.

3. Provide concrete supports to ensure their health and safety.

  • Check in to see if the person you employ needs any time off to be with family. One of the profound challenges in this moment has been the fearful reaction of children to the election results—even young children. Many of us have had to provide extra love and support for our kids, and in some cases, our caregivers have been the ones reassuring them and providing added emotional support. Let’s make sure they are able to be with their own families as well.
  • If they are afraid of taking public transportation late at night or worried about getting home, offer to order and pay for cab rides, or make sure you or someone you trust is driving or accompanying them home. Again, this can be something you arrange collectively with neighbors or in your community.
  • Offer to help with concrete resources, such as legal support on immigration, advice on health care or other benefits they might be concerned about losing. While this may not be immediately necessary, it is a way to show that they will not have to figure this out alone. Hand in Hand will be providing more information, particularly on immigration, as we learn more about the policies of the Trump administration.
  • Trump will not become president until January 20, 2017. Now is the time to know our rights, and prepare—immigrant and U.S.-born alike—to stand up for each other. Be vigilant of notaries or unscrupulous attorneys. There is a list of trusted immigration attorneys on the Step Forward website.
  • If your employee has DACA and has applied to travel under the Advanced Parole program, they should complete the trip before January 17th. We do not recommend applying for Advanced Parole now. We are waiting for more information.

4. Be a Fair Care employer.

We may be in unknown territory politically, but being a fair employer remains a constant in our homes. Are you paying a fair wage? Are you being clear about your flexibility in this moment? Are you giving them the paid time off they need to talk to lawyers, be with family, or attend community meetings or protests? Find ways to work together and take action now, when so many people might be under attack:

  • Attend a rally or organizing meeting together (invite them, or let them know you’d be interested in hearing about such events).
  • Talk to people who you know also employ domestic workers. Ask if they’ve discussed the election and see if there are shared concerns.
  • Organize a community meeting for workers and employers. We can support you.

P.S. Don’t forget to involve your family members in this effort to support workers in your  home. If you have children, this is a great opportunity to help them practice living out the definition of solidarity.

To learn more about Hand in Hand, visit their website and if you have questions or suggestions, email

A Legacy of Leadership and Love: Remembering Betty Cohen

Today we honor the amazing life of one of our founding mothers, Betty Cohen. As we share memories of our incredible friend, mentor, and colleague, we recognize what a gift it was to know Betty. Here, Co-Founder Jo-Ellen Spencer, Board President Don Jen, and former staff member Judy Calder think back on the tremendous legacy Betty leaves behind.

From Jo-Ellen Spencer, BANANAS Co-Founder

BANANAS Founding Mothers
Founders Blanca Nuñez, Betty Cohen, Arlyce Currie, and Jo-Ellen Spencer

Many people will remember Betty for her maternal ways, her ability to cook something delicious out of nothing and her encyclopedia-like knowledge about parenting and child development that she shared on the BANANAS’ Warm Line, but I want to mention another important skill she had. Betty could think BIG. When BANANAS turned 20, a discussion started among the members of the Executive Committee on how to best celebrate this milestone. Most nonprofits would send out an invitation for an event like a dinner soliciting people to say nice things about the agency and send along sizable amounts of money to celebrate the day. This was never the BANANAS way of doing things and the rest of us were a little stumped. But not Betty! She almost immediately announced that we would sponsor a FREE all-day event at Lake Merritt for parents and children. Other child/family-serving agencies would be invited to earn money at the event by selling food and related items. No charge for that either. Want a fire engine for the kids? Call the Oakland Fire Dept. They were happy to participate. Want entertainment? Go through the BANANAS party files and call in the clowns and magicians. Horses? The Oakland Police Dept. was happy to oblige. Her BIG idea was rewarded with a wonderful day of festivities, fun and family.

What to do with the mountain of information for parents that BANANAS staff had gathered over the years? Betty got a bee in her bonnet to pull it altogether in a BANANAS Guide and she did it. (The original guide was 14 mimeographed pages.) In our voluminous files we had everything from unusual places to take children on field trips, recipes for making homemade play dough and simple toys, lists of support organizations to help parents do a variety of things from breast feeding, choosing child care, all the way to electric shock first aid. BANANAS is a hoarder organization and Betty was its Queen. Betty pulled together things from our files, our old Newsletters, outside agencies and on and on. Once Betty got it going the Guide grew and grew and grew and the publishing date staggered off into the distance much to the grief of the publisher. In the end, it became a wonderful, still-useful how-to Guide for parents. I think this might have been the project that started Betty’s hair going grey.

For some reason Betty always reminded me of the two Queens in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Perhaps the White Queen for her very interesting clothes, which always seemed to be trying to leave her, and the Red Queen for the ability to run at least twice as fast to keep in place. Betty might have seemed to be moving in a leisurely fashion but don’t be fooled—her mind and her deeds went a million miles a minute and no one could keep up with her. We will all miss her.

Betty Cohen
Betty at BANANAS in 2007.

From Don Jen, President of BANANAS Board of Directors

For many years, Betty assumed responsibility for opening meetings of the Board at BANANAS. She was certain to provide food so that board members would be nourished as they considered the business matters under discussion for the evening. Beyond the meal, meetings often started with Betty providing an agency update. Smiles warmed our faces as she started with, “The staff is working really hard.” We had the opportunity to hear the agency update through Betty’s skills as a storyteller. The lives of parents came to life. We would learn of their struggles and triumphs. And with grace and humility, she exposed us to the many ways that BANANAS supported all parents in our community. Betty welcomed members of the board into this Bunch on Telegraph (and later Claremont) Avenue. Betty’s title was Executive Director. On occasions, this might literally mean executive chef, and even chief bottle-washer. In practical ways, Betty appeared to do whatever was needed to keep the Bunch together and successful. Like others, I believe that Betty had insights and patience that allowed us to discover the best in ourselves and in each other. Thank you, Betty. We commit to continuing to work diligently on behalf of our children and families.

Always smiling and keeping the Bunch motivated.

From Judy Calder, RN, former BANANAS Staff Member

In the late ’60s Betty joined a volunteer group of women determined to meet the growing needs of families with young children. Against the backdrop of increased geographic mobility and the Women’s Movement, the call of “who will watch the children?” rang loud. The women of the early BANANAS collective heard that call and organized volunteer phone lines, newsletters, family guides to community and services and reached out to these young families who, like themselves, needed child care and community connections. Betty Cohen, a devoted mother of Susanna and Jonathan, a social worker and one of the early members of the BANANAS collective was especially concerned with the difficulty young parents had in finding child care and then the difficulty of leaving their children in the care of another. This began her idea for the Health and Development Warm Line, a safe and informal place for new parents and child care providers to call and share their concerns about child development and health, the child care relationship and cultural differences. Thanks to Drs. Spock and Brazelton, Ellen Galinsky and June Sale, the Warm Line calls were well researched and provided her with content for newsletter and handout articles that were distributed across the state and nation.

She taught and led hundreds of workshops and college classes on infant and child development, parenting, and improving the quality of child care that reached thousands of parents and child care providers over the past 30 years. Training curriculum developed by her is still used today in multilingual formats. She was a valued staff member and mentor to new staff and countless community members new to the burgeoning child care field. She brought out the best in people and trusted their strengths. She was known to be a great listener whether topics were work-related or personal. She served on numerous community and state advisory panels, commissions, and boards.

In addition to her awards, advocacy, editing and “nudging for the good” skills, she will be remembered by the BANANAS community for her great cooking, genial hosting, and for making great connections wherever she could. She loved the fun of sponsoring the Pickle Family Circus, various office celebrations whether they were personal, ethnic, small or large. She was photographed with Mayor Gus Newport, Mayor and Assemblyman Tom Bates, Mayor and Governor Jerry Brown and President Obama. She would have traded it all for a good photo with Mr. Rogers. What is best remembered and valued by the staff and others were her interpersonal skill and how she treated people…a lesson for us all.

Her children, four grandchildren and loving husband, Murray Cohen, survive her. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a memorial in Betty’s name at Susanna Cohen’s maternal care non-profit.

We encourage you to share your memories with us as a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Take Action for Children!

Right now there are three pieces of legislation that have the power to positively impact the lives of children, families, and child care professionals. BANANAS is part of the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, a system of nonprofit agencies that serves every region in the state with important child care and parenting resources. As part of this network, we encourage you to take action today by sending three letters of support to government officials who can make sure that California’s Education Code is up to date (SB 1154), that low-income families have access to a year of child care (AB 2150), and that parents are informed about background checks and safety measures when hiring a caregiver (AB 2036).

Below you will find details of each bill and information on how to take action today.

SB 1154 – The Patricia Siegel Child Care Resource and Referral Memorial Act of 2016 This update will preserve quality consumer education and provider support in California and at the same time will identify components of the recently reauthorized federal CCDBG Act where the state already complies.

To learn more, click this Fact Sheet and then send your letter of support using this Sample Letter.

AB 2150 – The Child Care Continuity Act: 12 Month Eligibility That Supports Families AB 2150 is an extraordinary opportunity to remove unjust and unjustified, red-tape reporting rules that cause eligible families to churn in and out of child care programs; put their jobs at risk; disrupt children’s school readiness and development; force them to turn down job promotions, make it impossible for child care providers to balance ledgers or plan for quality investments while accepting subsidized children; and burden employers and education providers who are required to sign off on endless paperwork.

If you would like to send a letter of support, view this Sample Letter.

AB 2036 – Online Care Job Postings: Consumer Education This bill would require online companies that advertise child care services provided by license-exempt child care providers (ex. babysitters and nannies) to post a statement about the California Trustline registry and, if the service provides access to a background check, a written description of the background check provided to it by the background check service provider.

Here is a Sample Letter as well as a Fact Sheet if you would like to learn more.

Thank you for your support!

Child Care Subsidies: A Solution to End Child Poverty?

The statistics are staggering. Today there are 14.7 million poor children living in the U.S. Sadly, research has shown us just how detrimental poverty is to young children and how dramatically it impacts brain development and lifelong health. The combination of toxic stress, substandard housing, malnutrition, exposure to violence, and family unrest all contribute to long-term cognitive and behavioral difficulties. Matthew Melmed, CEO of Zero To Three notes that “An alarming number of today’s babies—tomorrow’s workforce—are spending their early years in distressed economic circumstances, impacting their health, their families, and their opportunities for learning.”

While these facts are startling, the good news is that we can impact positive change. At BANANAS, we are dedicated to supporting the success of all families, and we know that we can make strides to end child poverty by advocating for changes at the local, state, and federal levels. The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) released a comprehensive report that includes national statistics about child poverty—and a detailed plan on how to combat it. One of the ways to bring children out of poverty is to expand child care subsidies to every eligible child. CDF reports that “Because of limited funding, demand for subsidies far exceeds supply. In fiscal year 2009 only 18 percent of federally eligible children benefited from child care subsidies in an average month.” That means fewer than 1 in 5 eligible children received subsidy support.

CDF explains, “The child care subsidy expansion would reduce child poverty by 3 percent or 300,000 children. Three-quarters of that reduction would come from affordable child care helping 358,000 adults gain employment.”

This is a crucial component of combatting poverty. When parents have to choose between going to work and caring for their children, it not only affects the families, it affects the economy. Many of these families end up requiring federal or state assistance and are unable to attend school to develop professionally or maintain employment to become self-sufficient. With an increase in child care subsidies, these parents would have the opportunity to pursue their goals and provide for their families.

We will continue to advocate for policy changes and are inspired that child poverty has become a recognized critical concern. Families benefit from our Alternative Payment Program (child care subsidies) every day and we see the benefits of it in our hard-working clients. If you want to join in the discussion on how to fight child poverty, stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook where we’ll be sharing current news on this issue.

Find additional resources on the link between poverty and child development from Talk Poverty, Huffington Post, and Reuters.

Blog Special: BANANAS Executive Director Appointed to State Advisory Council

This month Governor Jerry Brown announced two very exciting new appointees to the State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care: Michael Olenick, CEO of the Child Care Resource Center in Southern California, and BANANAS’ Executive Director Rich Winefield! Says Rich, “This is great for BANANAS and for the resource and referral field. Along with Michael Olenick, R&Rs will have a strong voice at the table.” The advisory council makes recommendations on the future policy direction for early learning and services for young children, so BANANAS will have the opportunity to offer our unique perspective on issues regarding early childhood education, child care, and the importance of investing in kids.

Rich explains, “The governor is so effective and he is a great thinker about the future. While in the past he has not been strongly supportive of early learning and care for kids zero to five, it makes sense that he become a leader. He could use some friendly encouragement and that’s where I see my role.” Being on a panel with members of the California Department of Education, Head Start, and First 5 will allow BANANAS to weigh in on topics such as strategies to increase family-provider engagement and educational support for child development professionals. We look forward to keeping working families and children in the political spotlight!

For more information on the council, visit the State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care website.

State of the Union Emphasizes Child Care and Paid Sick Leave

At last night’s State of the Union address, it was promising to hear President Obama highlight child care, working families, and education as countrywide concerns. He stated, “It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.” The motions he urged Congress to approve include increasing child care tax credits to $3,000 per child, per year and implementing paid sick days. This is extremely important for parents who have to juggle caring for their children and working at a job.

President Obama noted that, “Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.” We are encouraged that the president is putting these issues at the forefront and hope that Congress acknowledges what a significant impact these policies could have for low-income families.

Rainy Day Fund

From Executive Director Rich Winefield:

Last month California voters passed Proposition 2, the Rainy Day Fund, by a wide margin. Governor Brown’s initiative represents sound fiscal policy, safeguarding the financial future of our state and improving our credit rating. I voted for Prop 2, but…

Many Californians still suffer from budget cuts made during the recession. Every day at BANANAS we see single mothers in poverty who can’t support their families because they can’t afford child care. Statewide, well over 200,000 poor children below the age of five have lost their child care due to budget cuts, representing many thousands of parents who thus cannot work or who are forced into part-time or split-shift employment. These families face a bleak future. For them, today is that rainy day.

Child care support would not only be good for poor families, it would boost economic development in our state by enabling thousands of people to go to work. Let’s save for an uncertain future, but let’s also provide our fellow Californians with some shelter from the rain they are experiencing today.


Photo by Philip Brewer


Child Care Costs and American Families

Our nation continues to face an uphill battle to ensure that all families have access to affordable child care. Today Child Care Aware released its 2014 report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, a text that reveals the disparity between the cost of child care and the median income of American families.

A few key findings in the report include:

  • Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceed annual median rent payments in every state.
  • Families spend twice as much on child care costs than they do on food.
  • Center-based child care costs for an infant are higher than in-state tuition at universities in 30 states and Washington, DC.

When families are unable to pay for the child care they need, the result is often employee absences and lost wages, which in turn can spiral into unemployment and poverty. The Child Care Aware report, in fact, states that businesses have lost $3 billion to employee absences due to lack of child care options. At BANANAS, we work with families every day who struggle to cover the cost of child care and we are striving to find solutions at the local, state, and federal levels. As a community dedicated to families and child care professionals, we hope to see child care kept at the forefront of legislation so that over time everyone will have access to affordable child care.

For more information about the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report, click here.