Archive for December, 2009

Program Fair February 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Dear Summer/Child Care Providers,

The search for quality summer and day care is an ever-growing concern for today’s parents.   On Saturday, February 20th, West Windsor –Plainsboro Community Education will be hosting its 4th Annual Summer Camp & Early Child Care Fair open to the general public.

This is a unique opportunity to meet with families in the area to discuss your child care facilities, summer programs and/or products.  The fair will be promoted by advertisement in the newspapers, flyers sent home via the schools, district website, local cable stations and radio announcements.  Don’t miss the opportunity for exposure.  You are encouraged to bring informational material (brochures, handouts, etc.) for participants.

Join us on Saturday, February 20th at the West Windsor –Plainsboro High School South at 7:30 am for set up.  The fair will begin promptly at 10:00 am.   A $50 booth entry fee will be charged and must accompany your application.  Space is limited; therefore we need your response no later then January 15, 2010.

We hope you will be able to participate in our 4th Annual Summer Camp & Early Child Care Fair.  Last year we had well over 75 vendors and over 500 community members visit the fair.  Please contact Melissa Conklin, Program Administrator, at 609-716-5030 ext. 5032 or by email at for a registration form and more information.


Marci M. Rubin

Director, WW-P CE

Five New Jersey Programs Achieve Accreditation

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Catholic Charities Child Care Services Division Celebrates

National Accreditation of Five School Age Programs in 2009!

Catholic Charities Diocese of Metuchen recently received national accreditation through the National Afterschool Association (NAA) of five school age programs in our Hillsborough Schools of Somerset County.  Through an extensive application process, continuous support from our families, and the hard work staff put into their jobs daily, we have accomplished this great recognition!   Receiving national accreditation of five programs simultaneously in one site visit is a rare achievement and one to celebrate.  As noted in our NAA accreditation letters:

Accreditation is recognition of quality afterschool programming, application of the NAA Standards for Quality School-Age Care to daily practice, and a long-term commitment to the children and families in your community. We are honored to have your program join more than 550 accredited programs nationally and serve as a role model for excellence.”- NAA

This great accomplishment could not have been done without the dedication of our school age staff, the administrators, and the support from our program partners.  On behalf of Catholic Charities, I want to say congratulations on providing such quality care to the children and families we serve daily!

Krista Glynn

Assistant Division Director

Good Wishes from Diane Genco

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

The Winter Solstice is nearly here, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
For centuries out of time, people have celebrated this sacred festival of earth and sun, a special day shared by all inhabitants of this planet, no matter what other spiritual or religious beliefs may divide us.

The Winter Solstice  is my most favorite day of the year!
Perhaps it is being from Buffalo , NY where the winters are a bit tedious and bleak.

Here is a powerful poem by author , Susan Cooper that reminds us of the beauty of the Yuletide season.
May it bring a bit of joy and hope to all our hearts.

The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

I wish you and yours,  the children and families you serve daily in your afterschool programs a healthy and
wonderfilled new year.

I will be taking a leave from the  Afterschool FLASH and NJSACC  for a bit while I recover from breast cancer surgery
and reconstruction .

I am looking at the recovery period as a bit of a sabbatical:

* to reflect on the field of afterschool, nature deficit disorder in youth and my new passion ,Extended Learning Time

* read  new books and re-vist  some favorites

*  plan our garden for  the spring

* sit in front of the fire, sip tea and  spend time with my dog, family and friends

My staff at NJSACC will be “womanning “the FLASH.
Messages will be posted by various staff members ( I may sneak a few in).
NJSACC has a busy winter and spring line up.
Stay posted to the FLASH to learn what is coming up in the world of afterschool in NJ.

Have happy holidays , Solstice and a healthy New Year!

Be well, do good work and keep in touch!

Diane M.  Genco
Executive Director

NJSACC: The Network  for  NJ’s Afterschool Communities


Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

The Afterschool  Alliance is a vital part of building the field of afterschool.

The filed that you are a part of as a professional.
You may not be employed in a  21st CCLC funded program now- but as you move about and make job changes ,
there is a strong possibility you may be directly involved in  a program.

Advoacate for all afterschool-you are building the  field and your profession.

Diane Genco

Great Year-End News:
Congress has awarded 21st CCLC a $35 million increase for 2010!

It has been quite a year for the afterschool field.  While we have received more attention than ever, we have also seen many programs — and the children and families they serve — hurt tremendously by the recession.  Here at the Afterschool Alliance, we’ve worked hard to represent you and to keep afterschool at the forefront of policy discussions.  We’ve released groundbreaking new research, helped the field access funding available in the economic stimulus package, held our 8th annual Afterschool for All Challenge, celebrated our biggest Lights On Afterschool season ever and generated extensive media coverage of afterschool.  This work could not be more important — children and families continue to struggle, and afterschool programs are being forced to increase fees, reduce staffing, or cut services and hours to cope with budget losses.

The road ahead likely contains even more ups and downs.  As we prepare for 2010, we promise to redouble our efforts to support afterschool programs and the children and families that depend on them.

We hope that you will consider making a year-end gift to the Afterschool Alliance. Any amount you can provide is greatly appreciated.  All funds raised will go toward ensuring that all America’s children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.

Thank you again for considering a year-end gift that will help keep kids safe, supervised and learning in the New Year.

The Afterschool Alliance Team: Jodi, Jen, Alice, Erik, Rivka, Shaun, Marie, Chris, Susan, Allison, Frank, Ashley, Lorena & Ursula

Centers either adapt or close!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

One visit to Mama Goose Day Care was all Anne Lauterhahn needed to decide it was the perfect place for her baby while she was at work as a teacher’s aide. Little Kaelyn would be watched in a cozy Glen Ridge home by licensed caregiver Caren Haynes.

However, there was a major roadblock: As a new mom just completing an unpaid maternity leave, there was no way she could afford it. She ended up being pleasantly surprised: Haynes has allowed her to pay on a sliding scale instead of the usual $250-$300 a week. In addition, she also agreed to open early for Lauterhahn and another set of parents, Margot Todman-Mack and Hah-neef Mack, Orange residents who need to head out early for teaching jobs.

“She was totally flexible,” said Todman-Mack.

Some of the quiet ripple effects of New Jersey’s record unemployment are on children: the cost-cutting their parents make in child care arrangements and the adjustments families endure when job loss strikes. In response, the child care field has been forced to change how it does business.

Day care centers report reduced enrollment as parents get pink-slipped. Family day care slots go empty — even as the newly unemployed swamp state licensing classes in hopes of starting a home-based baby-sitting business. One sign of the times: A recent class in Mercer County saw applicants from towns like Princeton and West Windsor — towns more attuned to private nannies and high-end preschools — as well as two men looking to join their ranks.

“We’re getting a whole different pool of people,” said Cecelia Aerstin, director of resource development for the Child Care Connection of Mercer County.

For some working poor, even a small cutback in hours can have a devastating effect: If their job drops below 30 hours a week, they no longer qualify for subsidized care.

Any loss of employment has an indirect but immediate effect on children.

“With layoffs, people can have their kid here on a Friday, having fun and doing great stuff, and on Monday, he or she can’t come any more,” said Jon Tilli, senior program director of the Plainfield YMCA, where three-quarters of the 200 children who attend after-school programs qualify for subsidized care.

While some of those children will be cared for by grandparents or neighbors, Tilli said, “Unfortunately, kids are probably going home to no supervision.”

With child care often the second-largest expense in a working family’s monthly budget, it is a natural target when looking for ways to save.

Even affluent parents are becoming more cautious with their child-care expenses.

Joseph Schumacher, CEO of the Goddard School, a national chain with 57 preschools in New Jersey, said parents whose children attend for socialization and enrichment instead of coverage of a parent’s work schedule are dropping from two or three days a week to one or two.

In response, his franchise owners have had to be creative, offering free dinner coupons for a referral or waiving registration fees. Parents who tour one of their schools used to sign up that day or the next; now they’re taking two or three weeks to decide.

“It certainly is a more difficult time for child care,” he said.

The new economic climate gives parents more negotiating power.

Haynes, a 17-year veteran of home-based care whose parents often book a slot as soon as they know they’re expecting a baby, has had to be a nimble businesswoman to weather this recession. If a parent working from home wants to cut back to morning-only care, she’ll find a second family to fill the afternoon slot. “That’s the way I’ve been able to stay afloat in this economy, through taking drop-in care,” she said.

And knowing her small enrollment and Glen Ridge location make her “pricey,” she’s also had to be more open to accepting fees on a sliding scale. “Now, it’s really more important to be full than to hold out for someone who will show up and pay top dollar,” she said.

Child care referral agencies report day care centers and providers that used to turn up their noses at accepting state-subsidized children — whose vouchers cover only a portion of the regular fee — have quietly let it be known they’re now open to the idea.

A survey by Programs for Parents of Essex County revealed half of providers reported low enrollment was a major concern. Union County saw a center in Linden close recently for the same reason, while in Morris County, eight family day care providers have closed shop this year because they had no children in their care. In Mercer County, a center that was planning an expansion closed instead. In Monmouth, a center licensed for 120 kids closed as well last month.

Other centers have had to work out payment plans with parents who have fallen behind in paying fees.

The biggest impact on the children themselves is the upending of a daily routine brought by any change in a parent’s employment.

“Continuity of care is so important,” said Ginny Mahoney, of Morris County’s Child and Family Resources, in Mount Arlington. “That kind of disruption is hard.”

There is a plus side, of course: Children spend more time with their parents, and the family’s schedule becomes more relaxed.

Yet it also means the unemployed parent must somehow juggle child care with a job search — and children spend their day in a household that is suddenly under considerable stress.

Parents who cut back on outside care may fashion a patchwork arrangement using neighbors or relatives, said Beverley Lynn, executive director of Programs for Parents. Children may find the new personal attention to be a welcome change from the group care in a center, she said.

At the same time, they are likely to miss out on the more educational activities that typically take place at a center.

“When you have your child in a preschool, there are established routines and education. That’s often lost when there’s an interruption,” she said.

The churning enrollment caused by job loss does benefit some. Although the New Jersey Kids Count subsidy program for day care has seen parents leave the program because they lost their jobs, their departure allows a family on the waiting list to qualify for reduced-cost care.

As for centers, those in the child care field say the strong programs will survive. Or as Haynes, who has opened her home to babies and toddlers for 17 years, puts it, “People are still having children — and they still have to work.”

December 13th, 2009