Meet & Greet with Legislators Sheds Light on Child Care Challenges

On April 13, members of the Milwaukee Child Care Alliance (MCCA) hosted a Meet and Greet with some of our Legislators to talk about issues affecting quality Early Care and Education businesses.

MCCA, Co-Chaired by Beverly J. Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers and Christine Larson Salerno, Operation Executive for Early Childhood Education Centers and the Northwest YMCA for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee discussed three major issues impacting Early Care and Education Businesses:

Wisconsin Shares Reimbursement Rates have not been increased in over 10 years falling under the 30th percentile, even though inflation has greatly impacted cost of utilities, rent and industry supplies including food. Nationally, Wisconsin falls way short of the federally recommended reimbursement at the 75th percentile rate. The lack of receiving increases for WI Shares rates has also resulted in the inability to pay employees livable wages, and has child care programs struggling to stay in business. We need Wisconsin’s legislators to vote to increase this reimbursement rate significantly to match federal standards or else Wisconsin’s early care and education businesses will be in jeopardy.

In addition, Wisconsin Shares Reimbursement system is currently flawed because some families are forced to decline taking a better paying job or raises out of the fear they will lose their Wisconsin Shares support because their income has reached the threshold for the program. The reimbursement for Wisconsin Shares should not cut off at a certain income, rather it should be based on a sliding scale so the more families make the less they will be reimbursed until they can afford to pay for care on their own. Otherwise in the current situation centers are forced to attain different funding to supplement the loss of Wisconsin Shares reimbursements.

Staffing Shortages: There is a lack of individuals entering the child care field for multiple reasons: first it is often not viewed as early childhood education but as “day care” or babysitting; second, this field requires some technical college training and yet it pays the same as a lot of entry level jobs that simple require a GED or high school diploma. Because of this, centers are being forced to invest to train individuals to become qualified to work in the field who then often leave to accept higher paying jobs in elementary schools or other industries.

Child Care Centers face more regulations than school districts between Department of Children and Families State Licensing, YoungStar ratings, EBT criteria as well as their industry accreditations. Thus trying to meet these regulations requires tremendous time, money and staff support when centers are already struggling financially.

Christine Larson Salerno provided an overview of these three issues, event participants sat with elected leaders and discussed how these issues personally impact the centers they work at, and offered ideas on how these situations could be improved. The event proved to be very productive and provided great insights to our elected leaders about the challenges that Early Care and Education businesses are facing.

We’d like to thank the following legislators for being in attendance: Representative Evan Goyke, Nick Janis from Senator Chris Larson’s office, District Director Shannon McCoy from Senator LaTonya Johnson’s office and Senator LaTonya Johnson, Representative Scott Allen, Representative David Crowley, Representative JoCasta Zamarripa and Representative David Bowen.


Craft & Vendor Fair Planned for April 29

Come join the fun at Ebenezer Child Care Center’s Spring Craft and Vendor Fair on Saturday April 29th from 9 am to 3 pm!

Location: Ebenezer Child Care Center at 220 W. Forest Hill Avenue in Oak Creek.

There will be a raffle, baked goods and other food items on sale.

Vendors will include:
Crafts by Brenda
Crafts by Heather
Dip’n Good Dips
Discovery Toys
Do Terra Essential Oils
Gifted Hands
Girl Scouts
Grace & Heart Jewelry
Inspirations to Creations
It Works
Jewelry and Purses by Bev
Mary Kay
Pampered Chef
Perfectly Posh
Stella and Dot
Style Dots Boutique
Thirty One Gifts
Usborne Books
Wild Tree

Admission: $3

All money raised will benefit Ebenezer’s Summer Blast Program. For questions please call 414.768.0151.

Hope to see you there!

Join Team Ebenezer at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. That’s why we would like to invite all Ebenezer families and their friends to join us for a walk to raise money for a great cause!
Team Ebenezer Child Care, led by Kris McPhail, our Downtown Curriculum Specialist and two-time cancer survivor, will be participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk on Saturday, May 6, at Milwaukee’s Veteran’s Park down by the Lakefront. Registration will begin at 8 am, and the walk will start at 10 am.
For more information or to register as part of the Ebenezer Child Care team visit
Approximately 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Please join us in the fight to find a cure for this disease.


Understanding Biting in Child Care

You’re picking up your toddler from child care and you notice a purple bruise on her hand. You then discover a note is attached to your child’s daily sheet. The note is from your child’s teacher informing you that one of your child’s classmates bit her! One of the most troublesome behaviors at a child care center, from a parent’s perspective, is biting. This is true whether your child is the aggressor or the victim. However, what parents need to realize is that biting is a very common behavior from the time children start teething, through their toddler years.

Young children are easily overwhelmed with feelings of anger or frustration. Biting is a powerful way to release these strong feelings. Young children are impulsive and often do not stop to evaluate the consequences of their actions. When they are upset, they lash out. Additionally, young children have limited verbal skills. When they cannot use words to express themselves, they often resort to physical aggression. Young children may be teething. When their gums are inflamed, they may find that biting relieves some discomfort.

Ebenezer’s teachers recognize that biting is a normal  behavior; therefore they are not overly punitive to the biter. They may separate the biter from the other child. Our teachers will ask the biter to     participate in caring for the victim by bringing ice, or offering a hug. Our teachers will also try to prevent children from biting. They will provide many materials and activities for children to release pent-up emotions and frustration.

Finally, our teachers will also work to help young children to learn to verbally express themselves. They may tell the biter, “I see you are feeling very angry with Marcus, but we do not bite. Let’s use our words and tell Marcus that you are mad.” When children are teething, the teacher may have a cool teether available. They may tell the child, “Biting hurts people. If you need to bite, use your teething ring.”

Ebenezer’s teachers will inform the parents of both children about any biting incidents. Ebenezer has a policy that we will not disclose the name of the other child involved. If you have a  concern about your toddler whether the biter or the victim, please speak with your child’s teacher or coordinator to help develop a plan to ensure safety for all concerned. Please remember this is just another phase in child development and it too shall pass.

10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play

By Kris McPhail, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer’s Downtown Milwaukee Center

I am passionate about children and play. Wanting to share this passion, I found some helpful information in an article written by Laurel Bongiorno, PhD, the Director of Champlain College’s graduate program in Early Childhood Education, and printed on the NAEYC For Families website. Here is her list of 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.

  1. 1. Children learn through play.
    Some of the things they learn are social skills, cognitive skills, literacy skills, physical abilities and new vocabulary.

2. Play is healthy.
Play helps children be strong and healthy. Active play counteracts the obesity epidemic that is currently facing many children today.

3. Play reduces stress.
It helps children grow emotionally, and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.

4. Play is more than meets the eye.
Play can be simple or complex. There are many types of play. Play offers researchers many   opportunities to research and study.

5. Make time for play.
Daily time for play helps promote cognitive,  language, physical, social and emotional       development.

6. Play and learning go hand and hand.
They go together, they are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.

7. Play outside.
Children are losing contact with the natural world. Go outside.

8. There’s a lot to learn about play.
There are many books and articles written about play.

9. Trust your own playful instincts.
Remember when you were a child and play came naturally. Let your child have that experience.

10. Play is a child’s context for learning.
A child’s learning is practiced and reinforced through play. It provides rich learning opportunities, and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.


Why you should Read Aloud to Children

By Leslie Hundt, Curriculum Specialist at Ebenezer’s Southside Milwaukee Center

At Ebenezer, we read to all children daily and encourage children to choose and read books on their own. Although young children cannot read the printed word yet, they enjoy looking at and reading books with adults and alone. At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to  objects on the page. Children learn to love the sound of reading before they notice the printed words. Reading books to children in any language stimulates their imagination and expands their       understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and  listening skills. When the rhythm of reading becomes part of a child’s life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk.

You can be a reading role model for your child through your own actions. When your child sees you reading he or she will understand the importance of reading and will want to read, too. Reading to your child on a regular basis is the best way to encourage a child to read.

Here are some tips to make the most of reading with your child:

  • Make reading a fun activity.
  • Eliminate distractions such as television, computer and phones.
  • Establish a regular reading time.
  • Invite your child to select their own books.
  • Allow your child to hold the book, see the illustrations, and turn the pages at their own pace (which may be faster than yours).


Writing Development in Early Childhood

By Dana Brumm,  Curriculum Specialist at Ebenezer’s Wauwatosa Child Care Center

Developmentally appropriate writing experiences and the skills children attain as young writers, greatly impacts their literacy development in later years. Young children progress through stages as they develop the fine motor skills to produce marks, letters and word formation.

Before young children are able to hold a writing utensil they use their fingers to draw or “write.” Our babies are running their fingers through gooey substances or squishing pudding between their fingers building manual dexterity. These new skills sure make playtime even more fun! The infant teachers watch the babies grow more  independent and increasingly confident as they master small motor skills to develop the building blocks for beginning writing.

Toddlers and Twos are just beginning to understand the concept of writing. They are figuring out that by moving a crayon, marker, or paintbrush over a page, they are leaving a mark that can be seen and used to communicate with others. This understanding is necessary for children to learn letter formation later. Teachers encourage toddlers and twos to experiment with different kinds of writing materials. It will develop their motor skills and increase their interest in and enthusiasm for this kind of activity.

For Pre-Kindergarteners, writing is a way to communicate ideas in print. It helps them learn that    letters go with sounds, and contributes to their emerging reading skills. Our 3K/4K teachers give writing opportunities to use drawings and symbols to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Children can print or copy their first names. They can use letter-like approximations to “write” words or ideas.

Young children “write” for a variety of purposes both at home and school. It is essential that we capitalize on the children’s strengths and provide support to move them onto the next stage of writing development. We need to present young children opportunities to explore different writing utensils, affirm even the most basic foundation of writing, such as scribbles and build their fine motor skills. This support will build a strong foundation for future  writing success!


What is Real Play?

By Leslie Hundt, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer’s Southside Child Care Center

What is real play? It is play created and directed by the children. It is play that stems from the lives of children. It is play created from their experiences rather than the mandates of adults.

Tragically, real play has almost  disappeared from the lives of children. Why has this happened? There are many reasons such as long hours spent in front of screens, busy scheduled lives and hours spent in adult led activities. Other reasons children are not involved in free style play is the fear of stranger danger or the risk of getting hurt. Many children have lives so tightly scheduled there is no time for free play. We have trained children, from infancy onward to turn to a screen or directed activity rather than their own imagination and creativity.

When children play they exhibit a whole range of emotions. Some are not nice and can be kind of scary to the children and to the adults who are observing. Children need to play out the stories in their lives. This type of play helps them understand the changes taking place around them. Playing also helps children learn the real lessons of life, how to  negotiate, take turns, play by the rules and suffer the consequences when they don’t. Play helps children learn to make friends and be a friend. Without play how will children learn these important life skills? They  cannot be taught by an adult because adults are not a peer. Adults hold some level of authority over children and they will succumb to this authority rather than learn life skills as they do with children their own age. If we want children to be successful adults who can work within a community of  people we need to allow them to make mistakes, take risks and succeed through their own merit.



Fostering Mathematical and Scientific Thinking in Early Care

By Dana Brumm, An Ebenezer Child Care Curriculum Specialist

One of the primary goals of early childhood math and science curriculum is the development of scientific thinking in young children. Mathematical and scientific thinking differs from the learning of facts, but this thinking involves children in the process of discovery.

To foster mathematical and scientific reasoning, Ebenezer’s teachers view young children as active learners and give them varied opportunities to explore and experiment. Such opportunities allow children to construct meaning and develop understandings that are valuable to their ongoing development.

These opportunities are balanced between teacher planned activities to those that come out of spontaneous child initiated exploration time. Our teachers extend – or scaffold – learning by posing open-ended questions; ones that require more than a yes or no answer.

For example, a teacher might ask,” How long will it take before the snowball in the bucket melts? How many cups of water do you think we would need to fill this container?” These questions invite more reflective thinking and further experimentation on a child’s part. Additionally, teachers encourage children to explore together to foster curiosity and stimulate new ideas.

Children are naturally curious about the world and want to find out as much as they can. They want to know what makes the wind blow, how things fit together, and what happens if.., but they don’t want adults to give them the answers. They want to be the discoverers, and develop their own ideas and concepts. For young children math and science is a hands-on experience which shapes the foundation our early childhood math and science curriculum.