BANANews: Free Workshops, Events, and Resources!

Are you gearing up for the three-day weekend? So are we! Here’s a bit of what’s been going on with the Bunch:


This was an important week here at BANANAS because on Tuesday we shared a Blog Special: In-home Child Care, Background Checks, and Child Safety, which includes lots of details about TrustLine, the California registry of in-home child care providers who have passed a background screening. If you are a parent looking for a nanny or babysitter, be sure to get informed on this highly recommended resource. We also continued to serve clients with our brand new online child care referrals search that allows parents to find the perfect child care fit with the push of a button! If you haven’t discovered this exciting feature, be sure to check it out.

NEXT WEEK (and beyond)

There’s one free Booties Camp workshop left in the series and it’s happening in the morning on Wednesday, May 27th. Moms, sign up today for I Heart Mama Stroller Exercises and spend a carefree, casual hour meeting other moms, bonding with your baby, and fostering your physical health. Then, to kick off June, we’re offering our popular Positive Parenting series where participants will learn to raise compassionate and resilient children. This free series will fill up, so RSVP today! We’ve also got a Teen CPR & First Aid Training at BANANAS on Thursday, June 18th, that’s designed especially for teens ages 13 through 17. In this class teens will learn life-saving techniques and receive a certificate of completion—a great opportunity for those looking to find summer babysitting jobs.


On Sunday, May 24th, you can bring the kids to the Jack London Square Farmers’ Market where vendors will be selling fresh produce and flowers along with breads and pastries. Delicious family fun! On Memorial Day, May 25th, bring three cans of food to Brushstrokes for free admission and artistic fun! Then, mark your calendars, parents, because next Sunday, May 31st, is the Oakland Book Festival and there will be a special children’s area in front of City Hall on Frank Ogawa Plaza with performances by Fairyland, stories read by librarians from the Oakland Public Library, and book-making projects with the Museum of Children’s Art.

Have a super Memorial Day and we’ll see you on Tuesday. Stay up to date with us online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram!

BANANews: Weekend Fun, Workshops, and What’s Going On with the CA Budget

What a busy week! Governor Brown released his May Revision for the California Budget and included increased funding for CalWORKS and child care and development funds. We are pleased that he recognized the value of investing in early learning and child care but recognize that there is still a long road ahead to ensure that all families have access to affordable child care. At BANANAS, we’ve been hard at work helping families to find the perfect child care fit and supporting providers with all they need for success. Here’s a roundup of what’s been going on:


Monday was a momentous day at BANANAS because we launched our online child care referrals search on our website! Now parents can find child care providers that fit their specific needs with the click of a button. On Tuesday, we published our May Newsletter, which includes super fun ideas for celebrating National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (see our Pinterest board Movement for Fun and Fitness for lots of kid-tastic activities), free community resources for parents and child care providers, and local events the whole family will enjoy. We also had a fantastic New Moms Support Group on Tuesday where moms came together to gain support and decrease isolation. If you are a new mom or you know someone who is, check out next week’s free support group on Tuesday, May 19th, from 10:30am to 12pm.


Booties Camp is back on Wednesday, May 20th, with a workshop all about babies and Sleep, and on May 27th, moms are invited to join in I Heart Mama Stroller Exercises for a fun hour of stretching and socializing. Register today for the return of our popular workshop What Great Parents Do and learn the ABC’s of parenting: Acceptance, Boundaries, and Consistency. Providers, don’t miss your chance to sign up for QRIS Health & Safety on May 30th, which is highly recommended for participating QRIS programs, or our upcoming training on Preventive Health held on May 31st.


Grab the kiddos and head over to 4C’s 13th Annual Free Children’s Faire on May 16th in Hayward where every child will receive a free book and get a chance to meet Elmo! On Sunday, May 17th, introduce little ones to the amazing music performed by local youth at the Jazz on Fourth Street Festival in Berkeley. And you can get a jump-start on your child’s summer plans by checking out OUSD’s Summer 2015 Pre-K Camp. In this free Summer Pre-K Camp children will learn to develop early reading and math skills and receive free breakfast and lunch. Such a fantastic resource! Providers and parents will also benefit from a free workshop from Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network all about Best Practices for Employing a Child Care Provider, which will take place on Tuesday, May 26th.

Until Monday, stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn!

BANANews: Week in Review and New Things to Do!

Ready for the weekend? So are we! Here’s a roundup of what’s been going on at BANANAS and where you can find family fun in the community this weekend:


A big highlight of our week was unveiling our 2014 Annual Report with a special blog post. We are so excited to share everything we’ve been doing for families and child care providers in Northern Alameda County! The report includes client success stories, thoughts from the Bunch, ideas for educational play, and an acknowledgement of all our amazing, generous donors. If you haven’t seen this colorful publication yet, take a look today! On Tuesday, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a festive Pinterest board full of crafts, books, and snacks. Mexican culture is so bright and unique; there are so many ways to honor its beauty with young children. We also kicked off the first of our three-week-long New Moms Support Group series on Wednesday; join us next week at 10:30am to meet other new moms and bond with your little one!


Child care providers, you are invited to a free workshop all about Early Literacy for Infants & Toddlers on Saturday, May 16. RSVP for this wonderful event to learn about language development and encouraging early learning. And on Wednesday, May 13, our Booties Camp series continues with Baby Yoga where parents will learn techniques for breathing and body awareness. Babies are welcome!


Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10! Bring Mom to the Bay Area Discovery Museum for an afternoon of family-friendly fun (free flowers for the first 200 moms!) or head to the Exploratorium for a FREE admission day. If you’d prefer to stay closer to home, check out the Alameda Spring Festival for a FREE day of outdoor activities, including face painting, a climbing wall, live music, and bouncy castles. And, don’t forget that from now until May 22, you can bring a smile to your little one’s face with a FREE snack or meal at participating Oakland libraries!

Be sure to stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn! And, if you have a question about parenting or early learning you’d like the Bunch to answer in our weekly BANANA Bites column, send an email to

Blog Special: 2014 Annual Report

The BANANAS team is a busy bunch and we’re so excited to share our 2014 Annual Report, which showcases how we serve the community all year long! Whether it’s through providing on-site QRIS coaching to child care facilities, supporting low-income families with child care subsidies, or offering no-cost workshops for parents and providers, we are dedicated to ensuring that families have access to quality care for their little ones. Check out a few highlights below!

In 2014, BANANAS:

  • Received 56,364 calls, in-person visits, and emails from parents and child care professionals for assistance on a variety of topics on how to care for children
  • Supported 781 low-income families and 1,298 children with $6,302,781 in child care subsidies
  • Offered 914 workshops for parents and 122 classes for child care professionals

Our focus is on supporting families and child care providers, and last year we had the privilege of watching our clients find success: parents enrolled their children in wonderful child care facilities, and family child care providers opened their doors as new business owners. Inside this Annual Report, you’ll hear the inspiring story of Denise Cusseaux-Vital, founder of Little Hearts United Child Care, who achieved her goal of reaching full capacity with the support of BANANAS’ staff. You’ll also get to hear from members of “The Bunch” directly, including Quality Improvement Coach Joan Suflita who lives by the motto: Together we’re better.

And along with a breakdown of how we’re funded and where we’re going in 2015, in this Annual Report you’ll also discover lots of ideas—such as Exploding Sidewalk Chalk and Baby Touch Collage—that support our philosophy that children learn best through play. So enjoy this colorful look back on the accomplishments of 2014 and learn about all the ways BANANAS serves our vibrant community!


BANANews (and Fun Things to Do!)

It’s almost the weekend! As you get ready to unwind from the work week, consider checking out what’s been happening both at BANANAS and in the community.


In our BANANA Bites column, we gave our Top Ten Teen Babysitting Tips for youth who are looking to learn how to achieve “babysitting greatness.” From figuring out rates and transportation to setting a good example for little ones, these tips are excellent for any teenager interested in becoming a stellar babysitter. On Tuesday, we released our newest edition of What’s Happening for Parents and What’s Happening for Providers, which list all of our upcoming FREE summer workshops. Make sure you’re up to date on all the fun! We also added some more adorable kids crafts to our Pinterest board Hooray for Mother’s Day; if you haven’t checked it out all the ideas, like the Mama and Baby Elephant Handprints, then you’ll want to be sure to see all the cuteness today. Plus, if you want to support local families as you shop online for Mom, don’t forget to use and choose BANANAS as your nonprofit of choice!


If you haven’t signed up for our free six-week parenting series Spirited Child starting on Tuesday, May 5th, then register today! You’ll learn ways to deal with tantrums, defiance, aggression, shyness, and other challenging behaviors often displayed by “spirited” children. On Wednesday, May 6th, new parents we’ll be offering all kinds of information at our Booties Camp: Baby Basics workshop.


Join Youth Uprising on May 2 from 12pm to 5pm for their 10th Anniversary Block Party and celebrate with free food, live music, and Castlemont Community Playtime. If you’re little ones love picture books, cartoons, or comics (or all three), bring them to one of many Bay Area locations for Free Comic Book Day, also on May 2nd! Parents and providers, mark your calendars and come speak up at Stand for Children Day on May 6th. Hop on a bus at BANANAS and tell legislators how important it is to Invest In Kids!

Until Monday, stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!

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.

BANANews: Week in Review & Fun Things to Do

Three cheers for Friday! It’s been a wonderful week at BANANAS and we’re excited to share everything that’s been going on.


April is such an important month for kids, and, in fact, it’s the Month of the Young Child! In addition to this designation, April is also noted as National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Poetry Month. With such relevant topics being highlighted, this week we posted a difficult but extremely necessary BANANA Bites column on Talking to Kids About Molestation. We recognize how tough it can be to address this with young children and hope that the ideas provided enable parents to teach kids what is appropriate and what’s not. We love responding to the questions of parents and early learning professionals, so if there is a subject you would like us to cover, send an email to To bring attention to the fun of poetry month, we created a whimsical Pinterest board called A World of Poetry filled with quotes from Roald Dahl, A.A. Milne, and Lewis Carroll, along with crafty ideas for little ones such as a Making a Poet-tree. Be sure to check out all the imagination inspiration!


New parents will gain lots of helpful information at Thursday’s free Choosing Infant Care workshop, and Spanish-speaking child care providers will enjoy Aprender a través de las Relaciones con Bebés y Niños Pequeños, the first in a two-part series beginning next Saturday, April 18th. And, we still have four remaining slots for our CPR & First Aid Training on Sunday, April 19th, so call us today for registration forms or stop by to reserve your space!


There are some uniquely awesome events taking place in the Bay Area this weekend, including the free I’m a Performer Family Concert with the Berkeley Symphony. At this all-ages event, kids are invited to bring their instruments or raise their voices alongside professional orchestra players. On Sunday, families can watch jugglers, listen to children’s music, and indulge in local food items at a free Berkeley Bay Earth Day Festival. Get a jump-start on your Earth Day celebrations by checking out all the super fun ideas on our Earth Day for Little Ones Pinterest board.

Enjoy the sunshine and we’ll see you on Monday!

BANANews: Week in Review & Fun Things to Do!

It’s Friday again and so we’re bringing you a roundup of this week’s activities and putting a spotlight on the holiday events coming up tonight and this weekend.


On Tuesday our agency was closed in observance of  César Chávez Day; for more information on this important figure, take a look at these 5 Reasons To Pay Tribute. On Wednesday we kicked off our three-week Fathers Support Group series and were delighted by the number of participants who attended. If you know a father who would benefit from a space to openly discuss the challenges andsuccesses of parenting, please share the info about next week’s group, which will be held on Wednesday, the 8th, from 6:30 to 8pm. On Pinterest we compiled a board titled Festive Fun: Easter with crafts, snacks, and activities all about bunnies, eggs, chicks, and spring flowers! So if you are looking for inspiration, we’ve got plenty. And, since it is now April, we started to join many other organizations and individuals around the nation to raise awareness for Child Abuse Awareness Month and Autism Awareness Month.


Providers, we’ll be hosting two great workshops next week: Supporting English Language Learners through Classroom Interactions and, for center directors, a Directors’ Roundtable. We’re also excited to be encouraging the creativity of young people for National Poetry Month and are putting together a board about The World of Poetry that includes rhymes and fun from Shel Silverstein, Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, and more. Also, stay tuned for our new board all about Earth Day for Little Ones (Earth Day is April 22), which we’re updating every day!


To those who celebrate Passover, we wish you a wonderful time with friends and family sharing beautiful Jewish dishes and traditions beginning today and continuing for the next eight days. Our pals at 510 Families have put together a helpful guide on Passover events taking place in the East Bay this weekend, so if you’re looking for kid-friendly community seder celebrations, then check it out here. Get ready for Safe Kids Day on April 11th with a fun fair from Safe Kids Alameda County in Albany, where families will find activities, food, and free giveaways. (If you missed our latest BANANA Bites column about Fire Safety, read it here!)

Have a super weekend and we’ll see you on Monday!


BANANews: This Week at BANANAS

Before we head out for a lovely weekend, we’re looking back on the past week and checking out what is in store for the next one. On Tuesday, we released the March edition of our Newsletter, which includes FREE community events, resources for parents and providers, and tips on teaching little ones about Women’s History Month. If you missed this excellent publication, be sure to check it out!

In our BANANA Bites column, we covered 5 Top Tips for staying connected with relatives who live far away. From sharing family recipes to planting a tree in a grandparent’s honor, we offered ideas that kids will enjoy and loved ones will appreciate. If YOU have a question for the Bunch, send an email to and you could be featured in our next issue!

On Twitter, we reminded parents the value of reading to babies to help encourage brain development (gotta #TalkReadSingPlay!) and guided readers to important safety tips for Poison Prevention Week.

Next week we are excited to be offering an amazing parenting workshop on What Great Parents Do (Wednesday) and an informative provider training on the Business Administration Scale (Saturday). And don’t miss the next BANANA Bites column when we will be bringing clarity to the hot topic of transitional kindergartens. If you’re not entirely sure what they are or whether they’re the right fit for your little one, tune in next week for all the details.

See you online at Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

BANANews: This Week at BANANAS

It’s been another wonderful week here at BANANAS and in case you missed any of the fun, we’re bringing you a complete wrap-up right here! On March 8 we celebrated International Women’s Day by supporting the #DearMe campaign with a fabulous photo from Finance Associate Olivia and a video from Communications Associate Elyce. We also put a spotlight on Women’s History Month with a Pinterest board full of great books and crafts, including activities based on the amazing lives of Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, and Bessie Coleman.

To get ready for St. Patrick’s Day, we put together a super festive Pinterest board with snacks and art ideas all devoted to shamrocks, rainbows, leprechauns, and good luck! So if you’re looking for ways to celebrate on Tuesday, March 17 (besides wearing lots of green), be sure to check it out.

We’re gearing up for our upcoming parenting workshop What Great Parents Do on March 25 and our Fathers Support Group beginning on April 1st. For providers, we have an informative training on How To Take Care of Children When They Are Sick on March 19th as well as the quarterly Directors’ Roundtable on April 9th.

For our weekly BANANA Bites column, we tackled the dreaded discovery of head lice and offered top tips for ensuring these pests are wiped out quickly. If you have a parenting or early childhood education question you want the Bunch to answer, send an email to

Until next week, be sure to stay connected with us online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn!