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

BANANAS Celebrates Black History Month

This February, we observe Black History Month, an opportunity to teach young children the importance of peace, diversity, and acceptance. For parents and child care providers, this month provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss race, civil rights, and the importance of love and tolerance with children. Educate your children about the many achievements of African Americans and involve them in celebrating Black History Month.

BANANAS has been long-serving African American families and child care providers. We offer support, education, and professional development opportunities to help child care providers better care for children.

This Black History Month, we are highlighting one of our very passionate and hard working child care providers – Linda Faye Johnson.

Linda understands that education is at the heart of professional achievement and she credits BANANAS’ staff and our free workshops as the foundation for her successful family child care business – Umoja House. In April 2018, with support from BANANAS staff member Soyla Madrigal, Linda was enrolled in the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) On-The-Job Training Project for Family Child Care Providers. This program allows her to earn a CA Child Development Associate Teacher’s Permit through the four college courses provided by Berkeley City College. In addition, Linda receives monthly on-site coaching through BANANAS and a stipend of $2,200. “I feel blessed to be a part of this program because it strengthens my skills and increases my knowledge and understanding in providing early care and education to children in my program,” says Linda.

The Training Project helps child care providers like Linda with professional development opportunities. It also provides tips and techniques on how to improve interactions with children, supplemental training materials, and one-on-one guidance.

Linda continues to attend BANANAS child care provider workshops in order to increase her knowledge of child development and improve her skills as a caregiver. She says that she is thankful to the BANANAS staff for recognizing her professional needs and supporting her step-by-step while encouraging her to be the best provider she could be. “I love BANANAS,” she says. “Teaching is my passion and the more I know, the more I can do to help children build their future.”

BANANAS has been extremely grateful to serve African American families for many years. Our community of children, families, and child care providers visits our office for numerous reasons. These include looking for a child care provider, assistance paying for care, educational resources, workshops, support groups, playgroups, and items in the free children’s boutique.

We consider it a privilege to offer support to all of our communities, especially when we know it is going to change lives. Learn more about our programs and how we help our children, families, and child care providers in Alameda County!

Putting Our Words in Action

Inti with his Children

We’re highlighting just a few of the thousands of families whose lives have been impacted by BANANAS. This year, we put Our Words in Action to support the most vulnerable families and young children.

Meet our client Sharon:

Sharon, a single mother, recently transitioned to traditional housing in Oakland. She came to BANANAS because she needed to go to school and find work to support her two children, Ziya and Ken, who are two and five years old.

“I didn’t even realize we qualified for subsidized child care. BANANAS has made a monumental difference in our lives. Having my children in a trusted environment, I know they are happy and their needs are being met. This has really allowed me to focus on my school.”

Sharon found a job at a retail store in Oakland. “Here I am loving myself again, and I’ve got a new life to care for. I feel like I’ve got a second chance.”

Meet our client Kiera:

Before coming to BANANAS in August 2017, Kiera was taking care of her 3-year-old granddaughter Denae on her own. Born from a mother who has an addiction, Denae went through many health problems at birth. It was then when Kiera stepped in and started taking care of her granddaughter.

Soon after Kiera received the guardianship custody of her granddaughter, she decided to get back into the workforce. When she didn’t think she could afford the care that would prepare Denae for kindergarten, she turned to BANANAS for help.

With the help of BANANAS, her granddaughter began to receive full-time child care services in a family child care while Kiera could focus on her new job. “My life changed for good because of BANANAS.” Kiera feels optimistic about her granddaughter’s future.

Inti with his Children

Meet our client Inti:

Inti Fernandez aspires to be a good father, a superhero to his two children. In addition to raising his kids alone, Inti is pursuing his dream job of becoming a visual designer. For a long time he struggled to find an affordable child care program for his children. He needed child care in order to go to work, support his family, and attend court hearings to secure custody of his kids. Being a single father was tough and he had to take more than one job to make ends meet. “I made some money, but not enough to pay for my family’s basic needs. I worked very hard to keep a smile on my children’s faces,” says Inti.

Thankfully, Inti’s friend introduced him to BANANAS services. Michelle, our counselor, helped Inti by enrolling his children in one of our Alternative Payment Programs through which they received full-time child care services. While his kids continue to thrive in a safe and loving environment, Inti now focuses on growing professionally at his job.

Meet our client Eva:

Eva, a single mother who has an addiction to drugs came to BANANAS in 2016 looking for child care for her two kids, ages two and three years old. Eva desperately needed care for her two children so she could focus on her recovery at a drug rehab program in Oakland.

She enrolled in a subsidy program here at BANANAS, and both of her children received full-time child care services. She took parenting classes at BANANAS and visited the Boutique for her immediate needs, such as diapers, formula, and clothing. “I am fortunate that despite my background, my children can grow in a warm and loving environment in a family child care center in Oakland.”

We need your help!

Each year at BANANAS, we help thousands of families like these by connecting them to quality, affordable child care. Through the Our Words in Action campaign, we are combatting the effects of poverty for young children where they live, learn, and play.

During this season of generosity, your gift to BANANAS is extremely important because it will offer immediate services to children and their caregivers. Invest in us and we will continue to put Our Words in Action.

Donate Today 

“The Raising of America” Film Screening & Discussion

Join Oakland Literacy Coalition and BANANAS for Building Stronger Futures: “The Raising of America” Film Screening and Discussion.

We are thrilled to invite our community to this free event where we will show part one of the film “The Raising of America” and host a panel discussion about the state of child care and the early education crisis in Alameda County.

The panel discussion will feature parent advocates and child care providers who will brainstorm on “How quality child care can build a stronger future for our children and families.”

Event Details:
Thu, Oct 11 | 6 pm – 8 pm
Location: The Octopus Literary Salon, 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, 94612

Getting There:

The Octopus Literary Salon is accessible by the 19th street BART station. Street parking is free after 6 pm.

Please Note:
Food and beverage, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase. The film screening will begin promptly at 6 pm. Please arrive early to get a seat.

About Oakland Literacy Coalition:
Oakland Literacy Coalition is committed to seeing Oakland become a city of readers and learners. The Coalition brings together a dynamic network of organizations, agencies, educators, and stakeholders to learn, collaborate, and champion literacy. Learn more here.

Please help us share this event by clicking the social media sharing buttons below.

For a preview of the show, watch the trailer here. We hope to see you there!