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.


香蕉中心 提供免費練習說英語的課程。

English Practice Available at BANANAS

自2016年1月25日起,香蕉中心 (BANANAS) 將在每星期一至星期四下午1:30pm – 4:00pm,提供免費練習說英語的課程。這課裎的主要目標是讓家長, 褓姆, 和托兒工作者,除了學習用英語與孩子溝通交談, 唸故事書, 唱歌, 户外學習, 和玩遊戲外,並對英語有更進一步的了解。 由於這個課程是免費的,所以不需要先登記和註册,只要是在課程時間隨時可加入。此外, 這課程以實用英語為主題,所以歡迎帶Babies一起來學習.


  • 第一期: 2016年1月25日 – 2月11日, 每星期一至星期四, 下午1:30 – 4:00。(1/25 – 1/28, 2/1 – 2/4, 2/8 – 2/11)
  • 第二期到2016年底的最後一期, 將會再安排。

BANANAS Pronto ofrecerá Tutoria en Inglés

English Tutoring Sessions

A partir del 25 de Enero, BANANAS ofrecerá tutoría en Inglés para cualquier persona interesada en prácticar sus conocimientos del idioma Inglés. Se invita a los padres y proveedores de cuidado infantil a recibir tutoría que se centrará en el uso del Inglés en el contexto de la crianza de niños. Vamos a utilizar los libros ilustrados, juegos, canciones, paseos, conversación, y más para permitir a los participantes a desarrollar una mejor comprensión del Inglés. Este es un servicio gratuito que no requiere registro o compromiso a largo plazo. Los participantes pueden simplemente venir a BANANAS en cualquier momento durante las horas disponibles para recibir tutoria de un voluntario. Los bebés son bienvenidos!

Horas de Tutoria

Lunes a Jueves de 1:30pm to 4pm

Primera session de tutoria sera el 25 de Enero y el 11 de Febrero.

Sesiones adicionales se programaran durante todo 2016.

Drop-In English Tutoring Is Now at BANANAS!

Drop-In English Tutoring is coming to BANANAS.

If you or someone you know wants to practice their English skills, BANANAS is the place to go!

BANANAS now offers drop-in English tutoring to anyone interested in practicing their English language skills. Parents and child care providers are invited to stop by to receive tutoring that will focus on using English in the context of raising children. We’ll use picture books, games, songs, walks, conversation, and more to allow participants to develop a better understanding of English. This is a free service that doesn’t require registration or long-term commitment. Participants can simply come to BANANAS anytime during drop-in hours to meet with a volunteer tutor. Babies are welcome!

Drop-In Hours

Monday through Thursday from 1:30pm to 4pm

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

Jobs for Nannies & Babysitters Are Now Online!

Holding Hands

Big things are happening at BANANAS! Today we are excited to announce the launch of our brand new Online Jobs Listings Board, a feature that directly connects parents with in-home caregivers. For over three decades, parents have come to our office to hang up their job postings on the board in our lobby. It’s where nannies and babysitters visit daily to peruse the opportunities, and now parents have the ability to post directly on our website.

With nearly 13 percent of preschoolers being cared for in the home by non-relative caregivers, the challenge of finding the right nanny or babysitting can be overwhelming. This is especially true when choosing someone to care for an infant. We are proud to have been the dependable place parents have come when looking for child care in Northern Alameda County for 40 years and are overjoyed to be sharing this new technology with our clients.

Says Development & Communications Director Tara Bartholomew, “We receive calls daily from parents looking for nannies and babysitters, and they know BANANAS is the trusted place to go. Over the past year we have worked diligently to foster a strong online presence and this is yet another step for us to better serve families.”

To post a job announcement, parents simply fill out the details of the position and click submit. Once it’s approved, it will be published on our website and remain there for 30 days (or until it is marked as filled). Job seekers can easily view all of the listings and get in touch with parents directly.  It’s easy, convenient, and free. Be sure to check out this user-friendly innovation and get connected with our child care community!

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: New Immunization Laws

There’s BIG NEWS in California; immunization laws have changed. On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill that eliminates personal and religious belief exemptions for vaccines. This new law makes California the third state in the US to require vaccines without such exemptions.

What does this mean? The bill states, “All children in any public or private elementary or secondary school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center must be immunized against various diseases, including measles, mumps, and pertussis, subject to any specific age criteria.” (Some vaccines are only given after a child has reached a certain age.) Children who have a personal belief exemption on file before January 1, 2016 will be required to get their immunizations before they can enroll in kindergarten; those in elementary school must do so by 7th grade.

Are there any exceptions? For kids entering day care, preschool, and kindergarten, medical exceptions are allowed. This means that if a child has a physician-approved medical concern, such as allergies or immune-system deficiencies, they will be exempt. Also, parents can opt out of vaccinating children who are enrolled in private, home-based schools or off-campus independent study programs.

Why are immunizations so important? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number one reason to immunize children is to saves lives. For a more detailed explanation, see their statement on the Five Important Reasons to Immunize Your Child. Governor Brown discussed his reasoning for signing the bill by saying, “The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases. While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

You can find additional resources in the complete Senate Bill 277, articles from the Sacramento Bee and LA Timesand our BANANA Bites blog, “How Can I Protect My Kids from Measles?

BANANews: Week in Review & Fun Things to Do!

Welcome! It’s always fun when Friday rolls around because that means we can reflect on the past week and look forward to the weekend. There is a lot happening in the child care field and in our community, so read on.


This was an exciting and eventful week as we joined with other Californians to hear how negotiations from the joint budget committee would play out and how much funding would go to early learning and child care. On Thursday we learned that the Senate and Assembly had agreed on a budget of $392 million for early childhood education, and on Friday advocates for children and families began to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign the proposal, which is expected to be made official on Monday, June 15th. Every investment in kids is a good one and next year we hope to get the full $600 million. Be sure to stay connected with us on Twitter for all the updates! Our June Newsletter also came out this week offering lots of free community events, gift ideas for Father’s Day, and crafts to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month.


On Tuesday, June 16th, volunteers from the Alameda County Bar Association will be at BANANAS to offer free legal services to families with domestic concerns at our Free Family Law Clinic. Then on Thursday, June 18th, we’re hosting a Teen CPR & First Aid Training where kids ages 13 to 17 will learn life-saving techniques from a certified instructor and receive a certificate of completion. RSVP today for this wonderful workshop! Looking ahead there are still a FEW SPOTS LEFT for our CPR & First Aid Training on Sunday, June 28th. Sign up today!


Ready for a bunch of free family fun? We’ve got it! First off is a music-filled Community Pop Up in Berkeley on Saturday, June 13th, where you can enjoy food, walking and biking tours, and also learn about new changes coming to the Adeline Corridor neighborhood.  On Friday, June 19th, take the kids to a Summer Reading Celebration for a superhero photo booth, a barbecue, a book giveaway, and games. And, you’ll have a chance to extend your Father’s Day celebrations with a Daddy & Me Event on Friday, June 26th, at Children’s Fairyland. On Saturday, June 27th, don’t miss a free screening of the documentary series Raising of America, which explores the impact of early learning and child care on children and families.

As always, stay up to date with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

BANANews: Week in Review and Fun Things to Do

Welcome to Friday! If you’re looking for free events and resources, you’ve come to the right place!


After observing Memorial Day on Monday, we started Tuesday on a high note and published the Summer Edition of What’s Happening for Parents. This special issue of our newsletter includes information about our upcoming workshops and also invites readers to check out the bright and exciting world of BANANAS on Pinterest. We highlighted three of our favorite boards:  Activities for Baby, Parenting Like a Pro, and Playing Is Learning. For fun development ideas, handouts on parenting, and creative crafts that inspire learning, be sure to give them a look.


There are still a few spots left for our popular Positive Parenting series beginning on Monday, June 1st.  RSVP today to learn practical tips for raising compassionate, resilient children. If you’re a new parent and you’re heading back to work or could just use some support in finding the best child care fit, sign up for Choosing Infant Care on June 11th.


Saturday, May 30th, marks the second Love Our Neighborhood Day, a free festival on San Pablo Avenue between Oakland and Berkeley. Prepare for an afternoon of family fun! On Sunday, May 31st, check out the Oakland Book Festival, which will include participation from Too Small to Fail (an amazing resource for families with babies!), Children’s Fairyland, and the Museum of Children’s Arts. Then head over to the Bay Area Book Festival, a weekend event in Downtown Berkeley on Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th, where children’s authors— including Judy Blume!—will be in attendance. Don’t miss these FREE literary events that will excite children’s desire to #TalkReadSingPlay!

Have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you on Monday! Don’t forget to stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn!