BANANAS Honors New Board Member Nancy Harvey for Women’s History Month!

March is Women’s History Month, which serves as a helpful reminder to highlight the contributions of the women in our lives. This month, we are honoring a woman who is a child care provider, child care advocate, a proud member of SEIU Local 521, and a new Board Member at BANANAS — Nancy Harvey.

Nurture, care, and educate is the philosophy behind Nancy’s mission whether she is serving children in her family day care, Lil Nancy’s Primary Schoolhouse in West Oakland, supporting parents in raising their children, or advocating for other child care providers. As a former grammar school teacher, Harvey witnessed first-hand how crucial early care and education is for our littlest learners.

A hallmark of Harvey’s care is the low staff-to-child ratio that ensures children in her care have the necessary adult-child interactions that promote quality learning opportunities and prevent education gaps from developing. She has leveraged educational resources in the community to better serve the children she cares for, from the local public library to Oakland Parks and Recreation opportunities.

Children are never too young to learn. I love my work and have never doubted that my calling is to educate children in their earliest years”, says Harvey.

Harvey comes from a family of activists. Her passion is to advocate for child care providers, fight for better wages and overall respect for the profession, and push policymakers to fix California’s inequitable child care system. In November 2017, Harvey boldly spoke before the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education about how collective bargaining is also about professionalizing the industry, creating career ladders for providers to move-up to better-paying positions, reducing high turnover, and ensuring that tax dollars are spent on the families and children who need early care and education the most.

In 2018, Harvey was heavily involved in Ballot Measure A, Alameda County’s Child Care and Early Education Initiative, and also supported Measure AA, the City of Oakland’s initiative. While, Measure A proposed raising the sales tax in Alameda County to support early childhood education, Measure AA, the Oakland Children’s Initiative, proposed expanding access to quality, affordable preschool for every child from a low-income background in Oakland. The measures did not pass, but Nancy and her team of advocates feel hopeful for the future. Most recently, Harvey has been working with state lawmakers to get the new bill AB 378 through the legislature. She is confident that the bill if passed, will push for higher quality early child care access and the opportunity for child care providers to form unions.

We owe it to the next generation to make a change, or else we won’t have a quality child care industry that affects every family, workplace, and the local and state economies”, says Harvey.

Harvey feels that by being on the Board for BANANAS, she can better represent child care providers and make their voices heard. She loves BANANAS’ wide array of programs and is extremely fond of parent and provider workshops. Her favorite is the SEIU On-The-Job Training Project classes. In her free time, Harvey goes out for nature walks, indulges in interior design showcases, and spends time with her three children.

Please join us in welcoming Nancy Harvey as our new Board Member!

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Children

Educate our youngest learners about the many accomplishments of women and involve them in celebrating Women’s History Month. Here’s how:

  • Read books to your children about great women who made big contributions to the world
  • Plan a trip to a local museum and learn about various events about Women’s History Month
  • Take your children to a local women’s organization to learn about what they do for the community and possibly volunteer
  • Every family has their own amazing women worth celebrating! Plan a breakfast with your child and the special woman in your family (mother, grandma, aunts, cousins) and have your children listen to her stories

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.

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.