Hofstra Horizons Research

Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute

Donna Tudda
Director

Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute

As the percent of women in the workforce continues to grow, the question parents find themselves asking is, “Who will care for my children?” According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the percentage of women in the labor force rose from 42 percent in 1970 to 60 percent in 2005. (1)

In 2009 the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) stated in its “Family Characteristics and Need for Child Care” report that according to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics in 2007, the percentage of children under the age of 6 living with both parents was at 68 percent, with 55 percent of those children living in families where both parents work. The percentage of children under age 6 living with a single working parent was reported at 76 percent, with this census survey reporting another 5 percent increase of mothers in the workforce from 2005 to 2009 (from 60 to 65 percent). (2)

The significant growth of two-parent and single-parent working families has driven many families to seek child care in a variety of settings, including au pairs, family day care, group family day care, and center-based care. Working parents may also rely on other family members, neighbors or friends to care for their children. For some, this is the preferred scenario. For many parents, an increasing number report that their own parents need to continue to work and cannot help with child care arrangements. The same is true for neighbors and close friends. It seems that more and more families find themselves in this situation and have to look elsewhere for child care. The child care decision is weighty and differs significantly for all families.

The most significant factors for families deciding on the type of child care are location, cost and quality, with quality usually being the most important of the three. Parents often express that if they cannot be there for their children during the day, they want to be assured that they are leaving them in a safe environment, with someone who is going to meet their child’s needs, foster their development and independence, and support their social and emotional growth. Making this decision takes time and legwork. The more research a family does, the more informed decision they can make. Many rely on the experiences of friends, family and co-workers. Some take to the Internet, researching programs, curriculums and trends. All make a decision that is very personal to them. It is never easy.

For families choosing child care centers, there are many questions that need to be asked. What are the qualifications of the staff? Is professional development ongoing? Is the center licensed and regulated? Is it accredited? What is the center’s educational philosophy? How are children supervised? What are the staff/child ratios? Is the environment safe and in good condition? Are there enough materials? If meals are provided, are they nutritionally sound? The list could go on and on. The NACCRRA, through the Child Care Aware Program (www.childcareaware. org) helps parents find licensed care, and because licensing and regulations vary widely, parents need more to go on. The guide Is This the Right Place for My Child? 38 Research-Based Indicators of High-Quality Care helps parents understand how to better judge quality. The organization developed this guide to assist families in their search for child care programs. Unlike most guides for selecting child care, this booklet explains why each question is important and how it relates to the quality of care. All the questions are based on research about what is important to children’s health, safety and development. (3)

The Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institure (CCI) at Hofstra University is a full-time child care center, operating year-round for children aged 8 weeks through 5 years. Licensed through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (NYSOCFS), the CCI upholds a rigorous set of regulations, safety guidelines and standards. The CCI is also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the most highly regarded accrediting body in the early childhood education field. Since 1985, the NAEYC has offered a national, voluntary accreditation system to set professional standards for early childhood education programs, and to help families identify high-quality programs. Today, NAEYC accreditation represents the mark of quality in early childhood education. More than 7,000 child care programs, preschools, early learning centers, and other center or school-based early childhood education programs are currently NAEYC accredited. These programs provide high-quality care and education to nearly one million young children in the United States, its territories, and programs affiliated with the U.S. Department of Defense. Although this number is impressive, it represents only about 8 percent of early care and education programs in the United States. (4)

NAEYC accreditation requires commitment from its programs to maintain a consistent level of professionalism regarding early childhood education, staff qualifications, physical environment, and positive relationships with the families of children served, thereby strengthening the connection between home and school. In May 2009 the CCI was reaccredited under NAEYC’s newly designed system, which was implemented in 2006.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, many states are involved in a variety of activities to improve the availability and quality of early childhood programs. A growing number of states have created or are in the process of creating quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). A QRIS is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-aged care programs. Similar to rating systems for restaurants and hotels, QRIS award quality ratings to early and school-aged care programs that meet a set of defined program standards. These systems, which may also be called quality rating systems (QRS), provide an opportunity for states to increase the quality of care for children, increase parents’ understanding and demand for higher quality care, and increase professional development of child care providers. QRIS can also be a strategy for aligning components of the early and school-aged care system for increased accountability in improving quality of care. (5)

Quality Stars NY is the New York state initiative that is in the process of creating field tests of its newly designed QRIS program. The CCI has applied to become part of this statewide initiative of 20 programs that will include child care centers, as well as family daycares and school-aged programs. The decisions regarding participants will be made in spring 2010. (6) Once finalized, Quality Stars NY will be another system in place to assist families in finding quality child care in our state and help answer parents’ questions before they make a decision.

The following are the most frequent questions asked by parents who are considering the CCI for their infant, toddler or preschooler: How will my child be supervised? What are the qualifications of the staff? The safety of all children is of the utmost priority of the CCI. Full-time teachers, assistant teachers and teacher aides are employed as the primary caregivers for all children. Children are never left unsupervised. NAEYC accreditation standards for supervision of children are strict and specific, and the CCI upholds these criteria at all times. In addition to the full-time staff assigned to each classroom, the CCI employs a full-time float and a select group of Hofstra University students that are trained and supervised by classroom staff to augment our staff/ child ratios. In addition, all CCI fulltime teaching staff members are trained in CPR and first aid, and all hold certificates from the American Red Cross.

The teaching staff holds varying academic degrees in early childhood education, with many having earned, or in the process of earning, a master’s degree. Some staff members have earned a CDA (Child Development Associate) credential, a nationally recognized credential for early childhood professionals. (7)

The CCI supports ongoing professional development for all teaching staff and provides a variety of training opportunities each year, including attendance at local, state and national early childhood conferences. Since the CCI is a New York state-licensed center, each staff member must participate in ongoing professional development in areas such as principles of childhood development (including the appropriate supervision of children, nutrition and health needs of children), curriculum and program development, safety and security procedures (including communication between parents and staff, child abuse and maltreatment identification, and Shaken Baby Syndrome and prevention), and statutes and regulations pertaining to child day care. (8)

What is the educational philosophy of the CCI?Will my child be prepared for kindergarten?

The Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute is a comprehensive early childhood program. The CCI supports an educational philosophy that focuses on the whole child, fostering social, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional growth and development. The program is built on the understanding that children learn best through play. Providing open-ended, hands-on activities allows children to continue to build on what they have learned, challenging them in a positive manner and assisting them in reaching the next plateau in their development. Each classroom is designed with clearly defined centers, such as blocks, dramatic play, table toys and puzzles, library and science areas. Teachers provide opportunities for a variety of experiences in which children participate at their own pace. In a positive, fun, play-filled environment like this, children flourish and continuously reach their highest potential. Allowing children to choose their own activities keeps them focused, engaged and open to new learning.

The children at the CCI benefit from a warm, nurturing environment that identifies and meets each child’s individual needs while enhancing strengths and interests. The focus of the program is on the process, rather than the finished product. This allows the children to play, explore and create. Providing opportunities for children’s success through developmentally appropriate activities fosters a continued lifetime of learning.

The CCI’s early childhood education philosophy supports kindergarten readiness in many ways. Children are exposed to reading and writing through small and large group literacy activities, songs and fingerplays. Children are encouraged to tell stories, illustrate their ideas and share cooperatively with others. Playing with blocks teaches children the basics of math (i.e., two smaller blocks placed next to each other equals the length of one long block, and so on). Setting the table at mealtime teaches on-to-one correspondence, another basic math skill.

Children are given many opportunities to be heard and listened to with respect.In kindergarten, children need to be socially and emotionally ready to work cooperatively, by sharing and taking turns, as well as working independently to solve disputes. At the CCI, children participate in activities designed for this specific purpose. Children are encouraged to interact with their peers through play, on a regular basis, learning the importance of respect, tolerance and selfregulation. In kindergarten, children are expected to understand and work within classroom rules, displaying appropriate behaviors. The preschool children at the CCI gain experience in this area by working as a group to establish classroom “rules,” creating a sense of ownership. Setting clear and consistent limits allows children to understand what is expected of them, giving them the power to behave accordingly. Giving children the ability to make real choices, within limits, gives them the experience necessary to be successful in kindergarten. Treating children with respect, giving them love and support, providing them with a safe learning environment that challenges, not frustrates, and aiding in the development of a positive selfimage are important goals of the program.

What role do parents and families play? Are parents welcome to visit during the day?

The Child Care Institute firmly believes in parents as a child’s first teachers. Making a smooth transition to full-day child care requires open communication between parents and caregivers. These lines of communication must remain strong. Written daily sheets for infants and toddlers communicate what has transpired during the day. Weekly information sheets for preschoolers give parents insight as to what activities and events took place during the week, as well as future plans. Parental input is necessary for the program to flourish. Family situations, cultural awareness, and similarities and differences in people are important aspects of the program. Cultural diversity is celebrated and is an important part of the educational programming of the CCI. Parents are asked to contribute to their child’s learning in every way they can. Parents or family members wishing to share information about their jobs or special talents (such as art, music, dance, and science) are welcome to visit with their child’s class, strengthening the bond between school and home. Parental feedback regarding the program’s policies and procedures are key in having a successful working relationship. Parents are always welcome at the center and are encouraged to drop by anytime or join us for lunch. The CCI is their center, and parents are considered an integral part of our program.

Why choose the CCI?

The CCI has been in operation since January 1991, and it maintains an impeccable record with NYOCFS, its licensing agency. The CCI is part of the Joan and Arnold Community Services Center, which houses four community service clinics. The Speech-Language- Hearing Clinic offers support to our children and teachers by providing weekly language stimulation lessons within our classrooms. The Speech- Language-Hearing Clinic students and clinicians work with our preschool children on a weekly basis, encouraging language development and socialization. Hearing screenings for the children are conducted each year through the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at no cost to our families.

The Reading/Writing Learning Clinic provides many support sessions for our teachers in the area of early literacy. In addition, this clinic offers evening programs for our parents that promote literacy and the understanding of developmental milestones in this area. Both the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and Reading/Writing Learning Clinic have been instrumental in helping the CCI obtain funding for more than 12 years through a grant supporting early literacy. The Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA) Foundation has supported an early literacy program for the CCI children and families, strengthening the connection between families and teachers while supporting educational goals.

Like all families, CCI families sometimes find themselves embarking on uncharted territories such as a disability or illness, divorce, loss of a loved one or sudden unemployment. For them, finding expert support in these areas is just a few steps away. As part of the Saltzman Community Services Center, CCI families have turned to the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic (MFT) or the Psychological Evaluation, Research and Counseling (PERC) Clinic, where professionals help guide them through these difficult times. Both clinics also support our families and staff with on-site training and workshops in the areas of parenting, discipline, and setting limits and goals for children. Because parents and families trust the CCI, it is easy to suggest the help of our “friends” next door.

The CCI is fortunate to be a part of Hofstra University. The CCI children have access to the entire campus and are invited to participate in many University-wide activities. The CCI children visit the Hofstra University Museum galleries, fishpond, bird sanctuary, library, playhouse, theaters and athletic fields. As a registered arboretum, the University provides the children with surroundings that are both beautiful and educational, exposing them to the beauty of nature, and the wonders of larger-than-life sculptures, as the children take leisurely walks through the campus. The Hofstra University Physical Plant Department has designed a garden area within our playground. In this area, the children tend to growing plants and harvest vegetables while learning important values about good nutrition and our environment. The children have assisted in planting tulip bulbs and even trees on our beautiful campus.

Since first opening its doors in 1991, the CCI has held a contract with Nassau County’s Department of Social Services to serve income-eligible working families subsidized to receive child care benefits. In addition, through the support of generous private donors and foundations, the CCI has been able to offer scholarship assistance for families whose economic status would preclude them from being able to afford these child care services.

The Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute, with the support of the entire Hofstra University community, continues to provide young children with a positive, play-filled, educational, supportive and nurturing environment in which our youngest members of society can reach their highest potential, making the CCI’s name synonymous with quality early childhood programming.

Sources:

1. Data from U.S. Department of Labor, 2005, Employment and Earnings, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 196.

2. Child Care in America: State Fact Sheets, April 2009, http://www. naccrra.org/randd/

3. Is This the Right Place for My Child? 38 Research-Based Indicators of High-Quality Child Care, http:// www.naccrra.org/publications/ naccrra-publications/is-this-theright- place-for-my-child

4. The National Association for the Education of Young Children, http://www.naeyc.org/academy/

5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/qrsdefsystems. html

6. Quality Stars NY, http://nccic.acf. hhs.gov/pubs/qrs-defsystems.html

7. Council for Professional Recognition, http://www.cdacouncil. org/cdawhat.htm

8. NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Child Care Services, Regulations for Operating a Child Care Center, http://www. ocfs.state.ny.us/main/childcare/ regs/418-1_CDCC_regs.asp#s14

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