It was the holiday break when the news spread throughout the child care system that one of our most beloved leaders had passed. As I sit at my desk and write this I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t be where I’m at, right here, right now working at BANANAS, if it wasn’t for Patty and our founders Arlyce, Betty, Jo-Ellen, and Blanca. Forty some odd years later, what was once an idea, a reaction to a growing national concern for women, is now a thriving industry. And we owe it all to these women who would never back down, always speak up, and fight for change and justice.

This is a story that must live on. We knew we had to publish it, so we asked Arlyce to write a memorial. In remembrance of one of our pioneers:

A Letter from our Founder Arlyce Currie

Patty Siegel, a dear friend of BANANAS and a powerful advocate for families and child care providers died on Christmas, 2015. In 1972, like a spontaneous combustion on both sides of the Bay, Patty created a child care resource and referral agency in San Francisco while BANANAS was developing as one in Berkeley.

For Patty it all began with family, her own and then the thousands of families who she touched through her work. She and Sandy Siegel, her husband of almost fifty years, raised a family of three children, Toby, Tara and Kelsey, and four grandchildren. Her real life experiences and needs influenced every part of her work and led to legislation and initiatives which have greatly benefited families in California and nationally.

She established and led the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network while also founding a national agency of resource and referral agencies. Among her myriad accomplishments, she helped spearhead TrustLine (a system for checking the backgrounds of nannies and babysitters), the Child Care Initiative Project (enlisting corporations and government in expanding and improving the provision of child care), the Child Care & Development Block Grant (federal legislation providing child care subsidies for low-income working families), and Parent Voices (organizing parents to tell their authentic stories to policymakers in order to improve all aspects of child care and family life).

Although we mourn her untimely death, we strengthen our resolve to move forward and work towards a child care system that

  • honors parents’ real needs and wishes,
  • ensures safe, healthy, playful services for all children in care, and
  • encompasses and empowers a variety of child care providers in their important work.

~ Arlyce Currie

For more information on the amazing life of Patty Siegel, we invite you to enjoy this piece published on SFGate.com. And don’t forget to mark your calendars every December 21 to celebrate Patty Siegel Day. She will be missed but never forgotten.

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