A ceremony was held to recognize the important role informal child care providers play in raising preschool age children and preparing them for kindergarten. In California, an estimated 65 percent of children up to age 4 are either in the care of a parent or informal caregiver, many of whom are eager for more information and training in early childhood education.
Dignitaries participating in the ceremony included Assemblymembers Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), John Benoit (R-Riverside), and Shirley Horton (R-San Diego); program hosts Alina Rosario (Los Niños en Su Casa) and Debi Gutierrez (A Place of Our Own); major program funders Brian Sullivan Vice President of Public Affairs for BP and Kris Perry, executive director of First 5 California; and David Hosley, president and general manager of KVIE-TV Sacramento (PBS) and Mary Mazur, executive vice president, programming and production, KCET-TV Los Angeles (PBS).
In September 2004, KCET in Los Angeles launched two innovative programs, “A Place of Our Own,” and its Spanish-language companion, “Los Niños en Su Casa,” for anyone who cares for young children, including parents, grandparents, neighbors and informal caregivers. The two daily talk shows provide practical advice and tips dealing with common issues such as discipline, education, nutrition, relationships, and more. The shows are produced at KCET and air statewide on local PBS stations. Starting in 2007, both series will be available to public television stations nationwide.
The seven childcare providers were all nominated as “Caregivers of the Week” by California public broadcasting stations in their area. They have been profiled on the programs as well as on the shows’ websites at http://www.aplaceofourown.org and http://www.losninosensucasa.org.
The group of caregivers received state certificates of recognition from their legislators. The recipients were:
-- Phyllis Carmona, Fresno – A child care provider for 15 years who converted her home and yard to an exciting place where toddlers and preschoolers can learn and play. Phyllis offers her children a wide range of activities, including rock climbing, arts and crafts and music.
-- DeAnn Knowles, Redding – When the preschool she worked for closed, DeAnn stepped in by opening a facility in her home. The school’s rural setting provides endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.
-- Becky Nuñez, Stockton – A mother of five, Becky overcame throat cancer that threatened to take her voice. She now operates a home-based preschool that cares for children with special needs.
-- Hatsue Daman, Mission Viejo – Hatsue opened her preschool after raising three children and working 20 years as an engineering researcher. Hatsue leads her children on daily nature walks and teaches them her native Japanese as well as Spanish and sign language.
-- Little Deer Durvin, Ridgecrest – A childcare advocate for 37 years, Little Deer opened a family child care center 17 years ago in her Mojave Desert community. She enjoys dressing in her Native American attire and teaching children about her culture and traditions.
-- Mattie Robinson, Los Angeles – Mattie opened her own preschool 14 years ago when she couldn’t find adequate after-school care for her twin sons. She takes care of eight children, including two grandchildren.
-- Elena and Raoul San Martin, San Diego – Elena and Raoul say that caring for their grandchild changed their lives. They began watching granddaughter Samira when their own daughter went back to work. Now young Samira is learning Spanish from Elena and English from Raoul.
The two shows received several national and local awards, including a Peabody, Parent’s Choice, and Emmy. Major funding for “A Place of Our Own” and “Los Niños en Su Casa” comes from BP, First 5 California, First 5 Los Angeles and the California Community Foundation. For more information check your local listing, or, visit http://www.aplaceofourown.org and http://www.losninosensucasa.org.
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