Members of Maryland organizations interested in quality child care were urged last week to combine their efforts last week to combine their efforts and broaden their grass roots community support in order to be more effective 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 the 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 (COG).
Tracy's speech followed four hours of discussion on local licensing standards, community support, child care subsidies, educating child care providers, after school care and helping parents better evaluate and participate in child care.
To be effective in improving the quality of child care, Tracy advised the group to develop a good data base, 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 media aware of their efforts and told the child care group to learn grantsmanship, to know the provisions and intent of federal legislation, to choose their leaders well and to understand the importance of other political issues which might interfere with efforts to improve child care.
In the workshop on Community Support and Advocacy panelist Ann R. Hull, speaker pro-tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, said that an organization begun and supported by parents is the kind of child care advocate that is very effective with government.
"Parent support is the key in any models of child care groups," she said.
In a discussion on the communications and licensing problems of some communities for family day care providers, Eleanor Northway of the Rockville Day Care Association told the group that Maryland does license family day care through the Department of Social Service.
"It is not as strict as some licensing," she said, but what they have done is involve some of the providers in child development courses and generally increased knowledge of the needs of family providers.
Montgomery County also has a lend-a-toy program for Family Day care mothers according to Montgomery County representatives at the meeting. Under the program librarians not only provide toys and books but also teach games to the day care providers. The program is intended to increase information to family day care providers.
The Community Support panel was headed by Nancy Smarsh, president of the Montgomery County Community Coordinated Child Care Council.
Meg Riesett, who is with the 4-C's Council also, suggested that those attending the workshop on the Education of Parents to Better Select, Evaluate and Participate in Child Care set up a communications network to help parents know what is good care and what is not.
She said parents as consumer, protector and child nurturer should have a role in evaluating the safety, licensing, programs and fees for child care.
Riesett told the group, "Parents should be encouraged to speak up for training and to speak up for what they want for their kids."
She recommended a communications network that would distribute booklets, provide speakers and establish a referral service such as a phonenumber where parents seeking child care could get help.
Other Maryland workshop paelists were Carolyn Scriber, program director for Prince George's County Child Enrichment Program; Councilman Frank P. Casula of Prince George's County; Mary Lou Hurney, day care supervisor for the Montgomery County Department of Social Services; Elizabeth L. Scull, vice-president of the Montgomery County Council, and Richard J. Castaldi, Mayor Pro-Tem of Greenbelt.
Other panelists from Maryland were: Marion Green of the Montgomery County Health Department; Barbara Iba, a parent with the National Institutes of Health Children's Center; Mayor Audrey Scott of Bowie; Lenore Cameron, a member of the Parent Council of Bethesda Day Care Center, and Virginia Gallagher of the Prince George's Commission for Women.
A report on the conference with possible model policy and legislation for local governments will also be sent to all Maryland county and city governments within three months.