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A Call To Action for PA Voters on Childcare

This post is sponsored in partnership with The Motherhood to share information on this important issue.

I went to college for Occupational Therapy. I’ve been working in the field for about 20 years. Because I’m a working mother, my 2 oldest children were in child care full-time until they started school. We were blessed to find great childcare centers with caring people that we grew up with. Because of having great childcare locally, my kids flourished socially. It made the transition to four year old kindergarten pretty seamless. Both of my parents worked, so did the majority of our family and friends so a childcare was our option.

By the time I had my 3rd son, I was in a position to be able to cut down to part-time. My husband and I were able to work our schedules around each other so as not to rely on childcare centers or other people. With the cost of an infant in childcare full-time and having 2 kids in after school care I did the math. I actually would make more money to cut down to part-time and work opposite shift of my husband so someone was always home.

I realized, when my youngest son was around 4 years old that he was having difficulty socializing with other kids and painfully shy. I worried about him starting school. So I delayed his K4 start and found a 4 year old pre-school that was only half a day 3 days a week. I felt like it would be a great way to get his feet wet and start socially with his peers. He graduated that 4 year old preschool and has been thriving in school ever since. In fact he’s now in 6th grade, he qualified for the regional history bee and geography bee happening in 2 weeks. I’m so proud of him.

I’m so thankful that those fantastic places and resources were available to me. But I’ve recently learned that there is a childcare crisis in Pennsylvania. Working families are having trouble finding childcare.

Some of the most concerning statistics I read from a March 2022 survey conducted by partners of the Start Strong PA campaign include:

● Nearly 32,500 children currently sit on waiting lists.
● Over 30,000 more children could be served if programs were fully staffed.
● 91% of respondents reported staffing shortages in childcare programs.
● 92% of respondents reported recruiting challenges for childcare.
● Programs need to fill nearly 7,000 open child care positions.

I wanted to start my daughter in a 3 year old preschool program that was half a day 2 days a week. It was one of the few 3 year old preschool programs in our area but there were a waitlist. If I didn’t get on the list months in advance the chances of my child getting in were slim to none. We didn’t get in but I made sure I got things taken care of for 4 yr old kindergarten. That was 6 years ago and the situations are not getting better for today’s parents looking for early childhood education.

So what is causing the childcare issues in PA?

Low wages are driving the child care staffing crisis.
● The average child care teacher makes less than $11 an hour.
● Child care pay is so low that 50% of child care professionals qualify to receive
government benefits.
● The average child care teacher lives in poverty at nearly twice the rate of Pennsylvania
workers in general.
● Programs are unable to compete with rising wages and benefits offered by companies
requiring less specialized skills.
● Child care teachers with degrees can find higher pay and benefits working in the K-12
school system.
● The average child care teacher is paid 22% less than teachers with similar degrees
working in school district Kindergarten classrooms.

The cost of some daycare, pre-schools, and montessori programs can make it out of reach for some working families too. While you can find programs that offer families with more than one child, discounts. It’s not always enough. There are great early childhood programs out there like Headstart and Pre-K counts that can help. But many Pennsylvanians agree, we need more funding. 60% of Pennsylvanians to be more exact.

Most families aren’t aware how much government funding and policymaking affects their early learning options.

When the Children Matter Action Fund ran focus groups with families prior to the onset of this project, many participants knew that subsidies come from the government, but beyond that, most were unaware of other policy decisions that affect their early learning experience. The takeaway: decisions made by politicians in Harrisburg will determine the accessibility and affordability of early learning options in PA.

Both providers and families want to be more politically engaged around these issues, but might not know where to start.

Childcare Voters do not endorse candidates, but they let people know what candidates say about early learning issues and provide a ton of content in the Facebook group and email list. The Child Care Voter project, from their research, is really the first-of-its-kind civic movement based around child care and early learning. This movement is gaining momentum already and, for people already involved, feels very exciting and empowering!

Childcare funding and access is important to so many people. I saw the value and need myself. Now that my kids are years into school I want to make sure others have access to childcare and early childhood education. I want to make sure my future grandkids have access to it.

Primary elections are May 17. Read up on this important issue before you vote!

Join me on the Childcare Voters facebook page

Will you become a childcare voter?

Why I Get My Middle Schoolers Mobile Phones

I want to start this off by saying I’m not judging anyone for giving or not giving a cell phone at any particular age. This post is strictly the reasons I decided to and my tips, as a mom of 4, who has given their children cell phones with another one coming up here in a few months.

Initially, I had it in my head that my kids weren’t getting cell phones until they were in high school. I figured they’d be more responsible, they’d need it when they started driving, for work, etc, etc. Little did I know how fast my mind would change with 1 incident in middle school.

My oldest son was in 6th grade so, he was about 11 years old. We found out when we moved to our new house that he would have to walk to the middle school which was 1.8 miles away. I worried about that, especially with these Pennsylvania winters. BUT, it was a straight shot on a main road in town. Other kids would be walking too. He would find friends to walk with, I was sure of it. I even walked it with him over the summer before classes started to see how long it would take. On a nice summer day with no heavy backpack it took us 20 minutes! 20 minutes! I worried about what it would be like when he had to trudge through unshoveled snow covered side walks with ice on the ground.

I worried about him a lot. I took him to school sometimes but I was working full-time at the time so it wasn’t always possible. Then my son found a walking buddy and I felt a little better about it.

Then my son starts telling me about these high school kids that would harass him and his friend on the way home. They would call them names, and even threw rocks at them. One day my son and his friend burst through our front door, eyes wide as saucers and out of breath. I knew something was wrong. It turns out, the high school kids that had been harassing them on the way home most of the year surrounded them and pulled a knife on them. They were able to get away but had to run nearly a mile home to get help. There are no pay phones anymore and people just aren’t as open to opening their doors to high school kids. I called the school immediately and we went through a process there.

Well that’s the day I decided my son needed a cell phone. Through trial and error I’ve learned these tips with giving kids cell phones. I also realized how much they’d be staying after school in middle school for sports practices, clubs, or just to hang out with friends.

  • Do NOT start them off with an expensive phone. Pick a free or low cost phone to start with until they learn how to take care of it.
  • Consider getting the insurance. Most insurance is only a couple dollars a month per phone. Though not all insurance plans are worth the investment so be sure to read the fine print.
  • When you get your child’s phone, whether you buy it in store or order online, get a phone case immediately! Don’t even give your child the phone until there is a case on it. There are tons out there that range from a few dollars to over $100. Shockproof, waterproof, glitter, name brand, and designers like Karl Lagerfeld phone case You can usually find something that fits your budget and your child’s personality.
  • Get screen protectors if the case you choose doesn’t have screen protection. I usually buy a budget friendly screen protector on Amazon.
  • Put restrictions on your child’s phone and lay ground rules. If passwords/passcodes are used, make sure you know what they are. Check your child’s phone often. Until the learn how to properly use texts, phone calls, social media etc.

Another thing I’ll add is to shop around for cell phone providers. Not all of them are created equal when you have family plans. We suffered with AT&T for too long. I had the mentality that I was with them for 16 years and never had an issue so why change (other than the exorbitant amount of money we were paying). We finally switched to Consumer Cellular and our bill was literally cut in half. I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long.

I know buying those things for your kids phone seem “extra” but trust me when I say a $15 phone case and $8 screen protector can save you a lot of money in the long run!

I’ve also found more benefits to them having a cell phone over the years. It makes it easier for them to check in with me and for me to check on them. They can get updates from the school’s automated announcements for school closings, delays, etc. When they started driving I’d have them call me when they got to their destination. There’s also tracking apps so I can see where they ACTUALLY are.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Bloggers. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links.

Dancing & Life: Positive Thoughts Going Into February

It’s so great that you are figuring out your why for the year.
You know that goal-setting is essential in the planning process for long-term success. Without goals, we only guess at our progress.
How are you feeling about the coming year?
Is anything standing in the way of your goals?

Share a video of yourself holding a victory pose, and saying how you will succeed this year. #dancingthroughcrisis

I’ve had to learn how to set goals to keep me motivated. I’ve learned I can’t go from zero to 100. I need to basically make a goal ladder.

I encourage you to check out Dancing & Life to see their free 7 day challenge or purchase the 30 day program to help you motivate yourself towards your goals.

This post is sponsored by Blog Meets Brand and Dancing & Life. This post also contains affiliate links. I will earn a commission from sales made through my links

Hosting a Board Game Night At Your Bar

Hosting a board game night at your bar can be a fun way to draw in a crowd, particularly if you have nights that are typically slow business nights. If your game nights are special events, be sure to advertise them well so people know to come. Here are a few other tips for using board games to boost your bar business.

Choose Great Games

When you offer games for your bar patrons to play, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, choose games that can be completed fairly quickly. Monopoly is probably not a game people would choose to play when going out for the evening. Second, choose a wide variety of games. Some people like classic games like cribbage or backgammon. Others are into fantasy or strategy games. Having plenty of choices means everyone is likely to find something they can enjoy. Also, be sure to have some games that can be played by only two players, and some that can be enjoyed by a large group.

Offer Special Drinks

Once your bar has its liquor license Houston TX in place, you can start planning fun drink offerings. Creating a specialty, game-themed drink for the evening can get everyone in the board game mood. If one of your games is Clue, why not offer a bloody mary, or a specialty cocktail featuring blood orange? A rousing game of Apples to Apples would certainly be improved by an appletini or two. Offering special drink pricing at the beginning of the evening can encourage patrons to arrive early and get settled in.

Host a Competition

Some board games work quite well for a bracket-style tournament. You can plan a quick, one-night competition, or a multi-week series of tournament game nights, culminating in a final victory round. Think of games such as Scrabble or Parcheesi that can be learned easily by most people and require some amount of strategy, rather than just luck. Offering prizes is a sure way to bring in more competitors. Some venues choose to charge an entry fee, and others just count on increased sales for the evening. You can also choose to have teams register in advance, or let people join in at the last minute. Offering team-matching services can help include patrons who don’t already have a team to play with.

Offering your bar customers an evening of board game fun is a great way to increase patronage on an otherwise slow business night. A good selection of games and drinks will keep people coming back for more of both.

Dancing & Life: Food for Thought to Start you Week

Healing is essential to our continuing happiness. Even after a terrible year, it’s important to learn to move on and take care of yourself.
When you take care of yourself, you can get closer to keeping your intentions.
If you don’t heal, how can you grow? How do you feel now?
How are you helping the people around you heal?

Losses aren’t just about those who pass. You can feel a sense of loss from an ended relationship, loss of job, longing to get back to normal, and more.

This post is brought to you through Blog Meet Brand and Dancing & Life.