The Fall Challenge for School-Age Parents by Heather Lang-Heaven

So many parents didn’t think we would be here again: our kids back in school with a remote setup looking similar to how we wrapped up last Spring! The pandemic lasting longer than originally thought has meant distance learning has kicked off again for Bay Area kids this Fall. For parents who work out of the home it poses an even greater challenge and concern: what are the safe options for school-age children who need supervision during school hours, as well as distance learning technical assistance and support? Here is an overview of the current, various daytime options for school-age children:

Licensed providers continue to be a reliable option and referrals of licensed providers in Northern Alameda County can be obtained by contacting the BANANAS Referral Service at 510-658-0381,, or visiting our Referrals webpage HERE

These programs consist of:

Licensed family child care providers: programs that operate out of a provider’s home, and

Licensed child care centers: facilities that operate in non-home settings.

Once getting referrals, it is important to contact as many licensed programs as possible in order to compare and determine the quality of care. This can feel challenging now and BANANAS referral staff can discuss with you about best practices when looking for care during the pandemic. These practices should include: 

  • Thoroughly interviewing the primary caregiver over the phone.
  • Calling references; people who have used the caregiver. These you can get from the provider.
  • Making arrangements to see the program, and maybe observe the provider working with children. This is tricky these days. See if the provider would allow you to look through windows, over a fence or, at the very least, give you a tour on their phone. 
  • Checking their licensing history. These programs have earned their license from Community Care Licensing (Department of Social Services), and parents can contact or 844-538-8766 to get more information about a program’s licensing history. 

Alameda County Department of Public Health’s Reopening & Recovery health and safety resource for child care programs and schools has very useful information and can be found here: Recovery | COVID-19 | Alameda County Public Health 

When looking for an environment for a school-age child, ask questions of providers in order to help verify the quality of care and determine best-fit of child care programs such as:

  • What activities and arrangements do they have for school-age children?
  • How many children are in care and how are different age groups managed?
  • Are student workstations setup, and is there high-speed Wifi that supports distance learning?
  • What is the outdoor physical setting like, and how flexible is the schedule to accommodate the important play needs of children?

The state’s child care licensing agency recently issued an official notice regarding an application process for a temporary waiver. If an application is approved, this would allow a licensed program (or license-exempt program) to operate without a license, or “beyond the current conditions for licensure or exemption” – in order to expand capacity to serve primarily school-age children during this time. So, for instance, after-school programs or summer camps would be able to create full day, full week, school year option. It remains to be seen how many programs will be granted this expansion option. BANANAS is in communication with Community Care Licensing to make sure we are notified when and if these programs become available. 

Even though licensed child care settings are a good option for families, during the pandemic it can be harder to find available programs with spaces for children. Therefore, here are some other creative solutions families are using:

Shared caregiver arrangements: parent-created child care situations where one caregiver is hired to care for the children from two or more families. The care can take place in one parent’s home or it can rotate among the homes of the participating families. Shared caregiver situations are completely managed by the participating parents and there is no license for this type of care, as long as it is happening in the parents’ homes. All the responsibility for screening and contacting references is upon the parents who are the employers of a domestic worker. This means there are tax, minimum wage, and overtime pay implications. Parents interested in hiring this type of care can contact BANANAS for more information and visit BANANAS Community Jobs Listings to post the job announcement.

Parents can also create care pods in each other’s homes, rotating responsibility for supervising the group (instead of hiring a nanny or tutor) and parents simply exchange their time and support. The key is that no one is being paid. Parents can also use BANANAS Community Jobs Listings at to post their interest in forming a care pod and to look for others who would like to join. 

This is proving to be a unique academic year during a difficult time for parents, teachers, child care providers, and school-age kids! But take heart, and remember that children remain resilient while caring adults ensure their safety and success.

Quality Matters in Child Care Program, Here’s How Our Coaches Help!

It is true to say that quality matters in child care programs. At BANANAS, we’re committed to providing early childhood educators with the tools and resources to help them build, and sustain, successful child care programs. With that goal, we partner with First 5 Alameda County and the City of Berkeley to offer Quality Counts on-site coaching to child care providers.

The Quality Counts program helps early care and education providers improve their programs so that children are prepared for kindergarten and succeed in school and life. Our quality improvement coaches spend time at licensed child care centers and family child care homes to discuss ways to improve and support the implementation of health and safety practices and create nurturing environments. The coaches also provide support in child development and school readiness through child observation, developmental and health screenings. The coaches connect providers to workshops and trainings, prepare them for assessments and ratings, and help them identify their program’s strengths and areas where they need more support.

Recently, one of our quality improvement coaches, Sue Mei offered individualized on-site coaching to support teachers at Golden Gate Learning Center in Berkeley. Su Mei’s work has been incredible and helped dramatically improve quality of the child care center.

“I meet providers where they are, talk about what is possible, and map out a continuous plan of quality improvement,” says Su Mei who has worked in early childhood for more than 10 years. “I work with providers to improve the environment and create more enriching teacher-child interactions. When you have these elements in place, the programs run more smoothly and teachers are motivated to improve quality care for children.”

Routine, enriching teacher-child interactions are critical to a child’s development. It’s one of the most important areas where coaches help providers. For example, Su Mei observed a teacher say “good job” to a child pouring water in a cup. Su Mei suggested the teacher that saying “good job” is nice. It is also important to acknowledge child’s efforts by saying “I could see you are pouring water carefully without spilling.” Small changes like these are more likely to keep a child motivated to learn and challenge their cognitive and thinking skills.

Nadia Rivera, Program Director at Golden Gate Learning Center says that Su Mei has made immense contributions to the school. “She helped guide me in the direction that our center would most benefit. The workshop she gave us on health and safety turned our view on cleaning around. Every time she visits, the teachers feel excited to learn.”

Su Mei also suggested behavioral management strategies to address challenges such as biting or sharing issues amongst children. Providers also receive videotaping, observation, and feedback sessions that prepare them to meet these challenges better. Children thrive in programs that provide quality care and opportunities to learn through play. Su Mei ensures that her quality improvement efforts create lasting benefits for children and families.

“Ms. Su Mei is a delightful ray of sunshine for all of us. She has helped turn our classrooms around immensely. She’s very insightful and always strives for us to be our best selves as teachers. She’s great at listening to our concerns and advocating for both the children and teachers. Thank you for all that you do Ms. Su Mei,” says Fergie Acosta, Teacher.



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.

Become a Member of The California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry!

What is CA ECE Workforce Registry?

The California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry is an efficient, web-based system designed to verify and securely store and track the employment, training, and education accomplishments of early childhood care and education (ECE) teachers and providers. Participation in the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry provides you and your staff the opportunity to be part of this statewide data system for all early care and education professionals.

Click here to learn more about the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry.

What are the benefits to being a member of the Registry?

As a participant in the Registry, participants will be able to:

  • Build a professional profile that can be securely accessed and updated anytime.
  • Electronically store education, training, and employment and professional growth accomplishments.
  • Search and sign up for training workshops and professional development opportunities which are automatically stored on your Registry profile.
  • Create a resume and share professional qualifications.
  • Search for jobs using the Registry Job Board.
  • Be recognized as an Early Care and Education professional.

How to Create a Profile on the CA ECE Workforce Registry?

Creating a profile is easy. Click here for a step by step guide on creating your profile. Visit to create your account today!

Overnight, Weekend, and Evening Child Care from Gma Village!

Gma Village

In today’s society, many low-income parents work unpredictable schedules and demanding hours. For low-wage workers, the challenge of finding and paying for child care during weekends, evenings, or overnight can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Traditional day cares typically operate during daytime hours, leaving parents with non-traditional work schedules unsure where to turn. Fortunately, Gma Village is here!

Gma Village connects low-income families who need short-term or backup child care support with a group of reliable, loving grandmas. With 30 amazing grandmothers offering care in Berkeley and Oakland, low-income parents now have access to a new circle of support. Once you have become a Gma Village member, you can connect with a grandmother who fits with your individual family and your specific needs. This is especially important for any parents who are looking for child care during non-traditional hours, such as overnight, evenings, and weekends. Lots of grandmas are available during all these times!

All of the grandmothers in the program attend a health and safety training and are screened with a background check. To learn more about Gma Village and connect with a loving grandmother, please call 510-545-9057.

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

Resource & Referral Counselors: Connecting Families with Child Care

Every day, BANANAS’ team of resource & referral counselors are helping to make the community stronger. Clients visit our office for numerous reasons, whether they are looking for a child care provider, assistance paying for care, educational resources, or items in the free children’s boutique. We consider it a privilege to offer support to families, especially when we know it is going to change lives.

In early June, Camille* came to BANANAS in a state of desperation. Referred by the Family Justice Center, she had recently fled her home to escape her abusive husband. Her three kids—ages 4 months, 3 years, and 5 years—were living with her at a local shelter, and in order for them to survive, Camille had to find work. But in order to find work, she had to locate care for her children. She also had to pay for it.

When she came to BANANAS, she met with one of our resource & referral counselors to discuss her situation and learn about available options. Our counselor helped Camille complete an application for BANANAS’ eligibility list and spoke to her about the potential to apply for respite support as well. The counselor also shared with her other subsidized child care options and provided a list of referrals for subsidized child care centers, including those that care for infants. The counselor also invited the family to visit the BANANAS boutique in order to look for clothing, toys, and books. Camille came to the office the following week for this, which presented another opportunity for her to speak in her native language to a referral counselor and receive more information.

Camille now has all the resources she needs to connect with the perfect child care fit. There is truly no better reward than offering support to hard-working parents like Camille. Says the counselor who assisted Camille, “Being able to help, to actually give much-needed resources to a family, is the best gift in the world. It’s why I come to work and why I look forward to being here every day.”

*Please note that our client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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!

Gma Village Offers New Child Care Options!

The Gma Village team.

BANANAS is so excited to announce that we have wonderful new friends in our building! Not only is the team from Gma Village great to have around, they also do spectacular work in the community. We know that finding and paying for child care is a challenge for many families. It can be such a struggle that some parents have to choose between going to work or being home to raise their kids. Luckily, Gma Village has new child care options that benefit everyone!

This pilot service connects local grandmothers with families looking for child care. Founders Johnna Flood, Catalina Garcia, and Maggie Ollove met while doing research for T-Lab at Tipping Point seeking ways to combat poverty. The three came together to focus on the issue of child care and soon began holding workshops in West Oakland to hear how parents were managing their child care needs. The team learned that many low-income parents struggled to find child care during non-traditional hours such as evenings and weekends when most centers and daycares are closed. They also learned that the high cost of care was an obstacle for parents who were struggling to afford basic necessities such as rent and food.

During their outreach in the community, Johnna, Catalina, and Maggie also discovered that the families who were able to find consistent, reliable care were mostly relying on the same family member: Grandma. This inspired them to talk with Oakland grandmothers to hear their perspectives. It turned out that while some grandmothers were feeling a bit overtaxed, many others actively wanted opportunities to connect with the community and felt a desire and ability to provide care for other children. As a result, the Gma Village was created. 

To become caregivers within the Gma Village, grandmothers will attend an orientation and trainings, including a workshop on health and safety. Parents will then connect with these grandmothers with the help of Gma Village and their portfolio of providers. It’s a win-win! 

“This will have an impact on three different generations,” said Maggie. “Parents will have child care so they can work or go to school or just have a reprieve. Grandmas will gain more recognition, more appreciation as well as supplemental income, and kids will have safe, loving care.”

We are thrilled that this concept is now being piloted and are so glad there are new child care options for the community. To learn more about the Gma Village, contact the team at or 510-545-9057.


BANANAS Offers Child Care Referrals at Room to Bloom!

Great news! BANANAS now offers free child care referrals onsite at Room to Bloom! We are so thrilled to be partnering with this amazing family resource center to bring more services to parents. Held at the Room to Bloom office at Castlemont High School in Oakland, these free, one-on-one referrals will be available every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

Parents will receive one-on-one counseling about referrals and subsidized child care, including what types of assistance are available for families. Referral counselors will also provide information about the parent education program at BANANAS, which includes free support groups and workshops on everything from baby basics to positive parenting to choosing the right child care fit. Says BANANAS Resource & Referral Manager Heather Lang, “We have been working to make this happen for a long time and I am so excited it’s now a reality. I think this is going to be a great new community service.”

For more information, contact Heather Lang at BANANAS (, 510-658-7353 x131 ) or Marcie Meadows at Room to Bloom (, 510-545-9470). Pictured above is Room to Bloom Coordinator/Family Advocate Carla Jasso (left), BANANAS R&R Manager Heather Lang (center), and Room to Bloom Site Director Marcie Meadows (right).

Child Care Referral Dates

Every 3rd Wednesday from 9:30am to 12:30pm

Room to Bloom is located at 8601 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, 94605