Members of Northern Virginia organizations interested in quality child care were urged last weekend to combine their efforts and broaden their community support in order to deal more effectively with county and city governments.
Dana Friedman Tracy of the National Coalition for Children and Youth listed several ways to increase the political clout of child care groups for the 107 persons who attended a Conference on the Role of Local Government in Child Care at the University of Maryland. The conference was sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Tracy's speech followed four hours of discussion of local licensing standards, child care subsidies, community support, educating child care providers, after school care and helping parents better evaluate and partcipate in child care.
After giving examples of communities where child care organizations were successful in improving child care quality, Tracy advised the group to de elop a good data base in order to be persuasive, to seek, not only the support of parents, but community business and industry as well, to work hard in local elections and, when feasible to use the law or referendums.
She suggested keeping the news media aware of their efforts and told the child care organizations to learn grantsmanship, to know the provisions and intent of federal legislation, to chose their leaders well and to understand the importance of other political issues that might interfere with efforts to improve child care.
Fairfax County Supervisor James M. Scott introduced Tracy and reminded the group at the conclusion of her speech of the squeaky wheel theory for getting what you want.
"It's always good to keep that in mind when dealing with governments," he said. Scott is chairman of the COG Human Resources Policy Committee.
In the workshops on community support, panelist Barbara Weiss of Vienna emphasized the importance of parental involvement. "The Board of Supervisors will listen to us but they want to know, Where are the parents?What do they think of this?", she told the group. Weiss is chairman of the Fairfax County Commission for Children.
Joyce Dobyns of Springfield, president of the Virginia Family Day Care Association, said local governments are reluctant to deal with the problems of family day care providers.
"There are no standards set for family day care; no one wants to handle the problems of licensing," she said. "There are only three licensed family day care homes in Northern Virginia" she continued. "But an estimated 80 per cent of all children in day care are in family day care homes."
Dobyns would like more child development courses for family day care providers and wants Fairfax County and Alexandria to deal with the soning restrctions on family day care.
Susan Williams, who is vice chairman of the Fairfax County Commission for Women, headed a workshop in which it was suggested the establishment of a communications network involving booklets, speeches, and referral services such as a single phone number where parents seeking child care could get help.
Other Northern Virginia residents who were on the workshop panels were Judith Rosen, director of the Fairfax County Commission for Children; Linda Wills, former licensing specialist with the Virginia State Welfare Department; Patricia Rowland, extended day coordinator for Arlington County Public Schools, and Alexandria Councilwoman Beverly Beidler.
Northern Virginia panelists included Joan Linhardt, director of the Loudoun County social services department; Marcia Moss, project director for Pro-Child in Arlington County; and Eilene Burnet, director of the Therapeutic Nursery for Emotionally Disturbed Pre-School Children in Alexandria.
A report with model legislation will be sent to the Northern Virginia County and city governments, based in part on the recommendations of the workshops