Friday, December 16, 2016

American Academy of Pediatrics updates its position on Screen Time

by Shannon Ford, Professional Development Coordinator 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated and revised its position statement on media and technology usage by children. Up until recently, their recommendation to parents was no screen time for children under the age of two. Taking into consideration new research and new habits, the AAP is now shifting their focus from what is on the screen to who else is in the room.

For littles under the age of 18 months, the AAP still says no screens are best, with the exception of live video chat with loved ones. Many families use a live video chat app like Skype to stay in touch with relatives far away. While live social interaction trumps virtual visits with Grandpa, there is some research that says infants as young as six-months old are emotionally-engaged by playing live peekaboo with Grandma on Skype (AAP, 2016).

What about older toddlers? Aren’t they learning new words and increasing their vocabulary with the Peekaboo Barn and other phone apps? While there can be minimal gains in language development through educational apps, this happens only if adults are sitting alongside them and engaging in app dialogue with their toddler; again, it’s not so much what is on the screen, it’s who else is engaging with the toddler.

When it comes to preschoolers, content plays a crucial role. Shows like Sesame Street, which address the evolving health and developmental needs of children have been shown to improve cognitive, literacy, and social outcomes for children ages three to five (AAP, 2016). Nonetheless, many preschool apps which are filed under the category of “educational” have no curricular basis, target only rote academic skills, and offer little opportunity for parent-child interaction.

So, what can parents take away from this progressive revision about screen time?
  • For children under 18 months of age, no screen time is still best.
  • Adult interaction with children during media use is crucial, especially if you are hoping for positive child development outcomes.
  • Just because you’re looking in the “education” category in the Apple Store, doesn’t mean it’s an educational app.
  • One hour of high-quality screen time should be the maximum for children older than age two.
  • Set limits on screen time for older children. Setting limits teaches children how to gain self-control, which in turn allows them to regulate their behavior so that it is socially acceptable.
  • Keep mealtimes, bedrooms, and play times screen free.
  • Turn the screens off at least one hour before bedtime. Exposure to screen media in the evening is associated with shorter sleep duration than those with no evening screen media. 
Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics. 2016; 138(5):e20162591

Cover image by Flickr user Intel Free Press, Creative Commons license.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Including All Children and Families during the Holidays

by Vicki Lehman, Professional Development Specialist

The holiday season is often a very exciting time of the year. This goes for both children AND adults! For children, they are experiencing all of their family’s traditions. For parents and caregivers, they also have the opportunity to share traditions with their children. As an early childhood professional, it is easy to get caught up in celebrating a certain holiday within your classroom or center. It is very important that you are intentional with your planning and you ensure that all children and their families are represented appropriately. The most important thing for the children will be that they see themselves and their families reflected in the activities and celebrations that you plan.

You want to be sure that the activities you are planning accurately represent the different ways families may choose to celebrate different holidays. Here are a few ideas to help you get family members involved. (Julie Bisson, Celebrate!: An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays)
  • Encourage families to share information about their holidays and how they celebrate. You will find that most of the families will share information with you. They will be grateful that they were included and that you took the time to ask them for specific information.
  • Ask for activity ideas! Most families will be more than happy to help you incorporate their holiday into your lesson plans. Ask them if there are any fun activities or games they think would be appropriate for the age group you work with.
  • Invite family members in to share a story or activity with your class. It’s always great for kids to get a different perspective straight from the source, and little ones will have a sense of pride when their own family members can participate.
It is also important to remember that December isn’t the only month in which holidays take place. If you have children in your care that celebrate holidays in other months, recognize and include those holidays in your plans. Give equal emphasis to all holidays celebrated within your group of children to help them feel respected and included.

Remember, the “Holiday Season” is not the only time you should celebrate diversity. Your classroom should represent many different cultures year round. Post pictures of the children and their families on the wall, place books on the shelf that are culturally diverse, and talk about the different kinds of family units present in your classroom.  Do your homework so you know the information you give the children is accurate.

Holidays are incredibly important and personal for the families that celebrate them. Taking that extra step and incorporating ALL of the holidays the children in your care celebrate will really go a long way. Enjoy the fun and excitement that will come with the children getting the opportunity to share their traditions with you and the class. Happy Holidays! 

Cover image by Flickr user melCreative Commons license.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

“Are we there yet?!?” - Keeping young children busy on long car rides

Vicki Lehman is our newest Professional Development Specialist and has experience as a preschool teacher. She has some great tips to share for keeping your young children busy on long car rides as the holiday season approaches.

Young children can be very impatient sometimes. Keeping them in a happy and content state on long car rides or trips can be tricky! Make sure you are as prepared as possible - the worst thing would be for you to get an hour into a three-hour car ride and realize you didn’t bring enough “stuff” with you to keep them busy. Hopefully you can use these ideas on those long journeys to visit family and friends.

My first suggestion is to create a “busy box”. You can put all types of things in the box (or bag, or container, or whatever works best for you and your children). Some ideas to get you started:
  • Books – Books they are interested in, books they have never looked at before, books specific to the season/time of year.
  • Paper and Crayons/Markers – You may want to include a clipboard as well. You can take this one step further and ask them to draw what they see outside. For easy clean-up, choose marker and paper sets that ONLY draw on the paper and not on anything else. That could save your car seat from being “decorated.”
  • Your Child’s Favorite Kind of Toy – This will vary on what interests your child - cars, dolls, action figures, Duplos.  Be intentional about what kind of toys you put in the box. Lots of little pieces will of course end up ALL over the car and you will be finding them for months!
  • Whatever else you think you need…then add one more  - Pack according to the amount of time you will be in the car…and then add some!  It never hurts to be over-prepared. Also, don’t forget about the return trip!
Of course you always want to make sure you have snacks! Snacks are a very important part of a young child’s day. I have a fun suggestion; buy a small plastic tackle box and fill it with different snacks.  Of course, make sure it is safe and you clean it before you use it. You can put things like fresh fruits and veggies in the larger sections and then put the more “yummy” treats (marshmallows, chocolate chips…) in the smaller sections. This gives them a lot of variety and kind of changes things up a bit.

Like I said, young preschoolers can be impatient and that can make long trips a bit stressful for all involved, BUT, if you prepare yourself, things can go very well. Spending long amounts of time in the car also leaves you with the opportunity to talk to one another. You can talk about where you are going, what you are going to do when you get there, or just about life in general. There is a lot of time when you are in the car to make some very strong connections and communicate with your child. So, take some time to prepare and enjoy that time you have with them. Young children often have some very funny and insightful things to say if you just listen to them. Their view on the world helps put things into perspective sometimes. So go and enjoy your time together -  they are only young once.

Cover image by Flickr user Larkin Family, Creative Commons license.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lights on Afterschool - Celebrate Your Program!

Did you know…220,573 students are on their own in the hours after school right here in Indiana? 308,914 students would participate in an afterschool program if one were available to them!  These numbers highlight the need for afterschool programming in our state. Research confirms that high quality afterschool programs are having great impacts on children’s lives.

On October 202016 , there will be a  highlight of this need across the nation. Lights On Afterschool is a celebration of afterschool programs nationwide.  On this day, programs are encouraged to highlight their programs and the importance they make in the lives of children, families, and communities. The events send a powerful message across the United States that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.

If you are an afterschool provider, you can register your event on the Afterschool Alliance's website. This site also provides great ideas for how to promote your program and to simply celebrate!
You can also read more about Indiana statistics regarding the need for afterschool programs. 

Child Care Answers also supports your afterschool program needs. Feel free to contact our School-age Specialist, Jenny Mathis, at with any questions.

Monday, October 3, 2016

October is SIDS Awareness Month!

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness month. About 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the U.S.* Although sometimes the cause is unknown, there are several actions that parents and caregivers can take to lessen the risk for babies.

Our Infant/Toddler Specialists, Lauren George and Katherine Coleman, are passionate about educating parents and caregivers on safe sleep. They work with providers every day to help make sure their environments are safe.  Some of the practices they often see but must be avoided are:
  • Loose sheets - Loose fitting sheets are one of the biggest violations Lauren and Katherine see.  When looking for sheets, it is always best to try one before purchasing for the entire facility. In general, avoid jersey fabric sheets.  Good-fitting full-size crib sheets are typically easy to find, but sheets that are tight fitting and don’t roll the mattress can be difficult to find for pack-and-plays and porta-cribs. . Pack-and-play sheets should be the “Pack-and-Play” brand quilted sheet. Recommended brands for porta-crib sheet include Koala (Walmart), Babies-R-Us, and American Baby (Amazon). 
  • Sleeping in devices like swings, bouncers, and car seats - Infants should always placed to sleep on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress, in a safety-approved crib, porta-crib, or play yard. If the infant falls asleep in another surface (carrier, car seat, swing) immediately remove him/her and place in a safety approved crib, porta-crib, or pack-and-play.
  • Sleeping with bibs, pacifier cords, or wubanubs – These devices may cover the face or present a strangulation hazard.  Crib gyms, crib toys, mobiles, mirrors, and all objects/toys are prohibited in or attached to an infant’s crib. You should not clip or attach pacifiers to the infant or the crib.
  • Blankets in the crib – Keep all blankets, pillows, quilts, and bumpers out of the infant’s sleep area. Instead of a blanket, place the infant to sleep in sleep clothing such as a one-piece sleeper. Do not swaddle infants using blankets - swaddling is not recommended in child care.
  • Stomach sleeping - Infants under one year of age are always placed on their backs  to sleep, for naps and at night. Although common myths may lead people to believe stomach sleeping avoids choking, studies show that babies may actually clear secretions better when placed on their backs.
  • Medical device used without Medical Waiver Form - Unless a doctor specifies the need for a positioning device that restricts movement within the child’s crib, do not use these devices. This must be written on the Medical Waiver and completed/signed from the physician.

For more information about SIDS and safe sleep, see our Safe Sleep Handout Packet. Lauren and Katherine also offer Safe Sleep trainings throughout the year. See our Training Calendar for details. Also watch our Facebook page for SIDS awareness posts throughout October!

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Friday, September 23, 2016

September is National Preparedness Month

Although September is almost over, it's not too late to prepare for emergencies and disasters as a part of National Preparedness Month!  

Recent studies and surveys show that: 
  • 39% of parents say their child’s Head Start/child care center or preschool had experienced an emergency in the past two years.
  • Only modest improvement had been made in household preparedness (23% in 2003 to 35% in 2015); 
  • A lack of confidence remains in local governments to respond to disasters; and 
  • Families remain unfamiliar with school or child care disaster plans.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines tips and additional resources to help you get better prepared on its website. Once of those resources is the AAP Family Readiness Kit, which assists families in getting disaster-ready.  

Preparedness experts, parents, and child care providers contributed to this kit, which includes general guidelines for readiness that can be used in most situations, including how to:
  • Build a kit
  • Make a plan
  • Be informed
  • Get involved

Friday, August 26, 2016

Now available: request training registration online!

If you’re interested in registering for one of our face-to-face classes, you can now request registration through our new online Training Request form at . You can fill out the form on any browser and any desktop computer or laptop. We know how important it can be to get things done on-the-go, so you can also fill out this form on your mobile phone or tablet.

To get started, take a look at this quarter’s training offerings and decide what classes work for you and your schedule. You may request up to five classes each time you submit the form. 

Some things to keep in mind:
  • Submitting the form does not guarantee a space in the class you request.
  • You must complete the form by 9am the day before your requested class to be considered for registration.
  • If a class you've requested is full, our office will contact you within two business days to reschedule.
  • If you are registered for class, you will receive a notification the evening before with important reminders and location information.
  • You cannot register for live webinars using this form – continue to register in Training Central on the Webinars tab.
  • If your requested class charges a fee, you will not be registered until we receive payment. Call our office at (317) 636-5727 to charge your credit or debit card.

Of course, you can also continue faxing or mailing the hard-copy form found in our training calendar brochure, or you can call our office at (317) 636-5727 to register.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Provider Parent Cafe - 8/24 at 6:30pm

At Parents Cafes, participants are given the opportunity to engage in guided conversations that lead to personal growth and better parenting.

Please join us for:

  • Light refreshments
  • An opportunity to make connections with other providers in your community
  • A hands-on experience to learn how the families you serve can benefit from Parent Cafes and building Protective Factors.
Where: English Foundation Building Basement, Rooms 6 & 7
              615 North Alabama Street
              Indianapolis, Indiana 46205

Date: August 24, 2016

Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm

RSVP: Shannon Ford at

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Upcoming Inclusion Events

If you're interested in learning more about parenting a child with special needs, improving inclusion in your city, or just having fun in support of a good cause, check out these upcoming events!

A Life with Stress, Balance, and A Plan

This Friday, April 8, ASK (About Special Kids) presents A Life with Stress, Balance, and a Plan. Parents of children with special needs live with added emotional, medical, social and financial challenges. These extenuating circumstances can often lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, marital and family problems and health issues. This training will focus on:
  • Identifying types of stressors
  • Identifying coping mechanisms and providing ways to incorporate them into everyday life
  • The importance of good communication
  • Setting up a plan for the future
Presented by: Gordon Homes, Sr. Financial Planner
Date: Friday, April 8, 2016
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Location: Speedway United Methodist Church  - 5065 W. 16th Street,  Indianapolis, IN 46224
Cost: FREE
How to register: or 800-964-4746.

Coffee and Conversation: Inclusion Awareness in Fishers

Cecilia Coble, Fishers City Council at Large and mother of a child with autism, will discuss how to make Fishers a better city in terms of inclusion. Topics of discussion include jobs, transportation, housing, and services for the autism and special needs community. This is an opportunity for you to provide feedback and ask questions to better your city.

Presented by: Cecilia Coble, Fishers City Council at Large
Date: Monday, April 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Location: BACA Prep - 99 E. 126th Street,  Fishers, IN 46038
Cost: FREE
How to register: Register online
Contact: Contact Sarah Cox at 317-436-8961 or

Laughs & Brews for BACA Charities

Point of View Comedy, an Indianapolis group that enjoys providing entertainment to benefit charities around the community, will present a comedy show to help raise funds for BACA Charities. Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) has a mission of raising resources to support research in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and families who support ABA. Cost for the event is $30, which includes dinner and a beer voucher from Tow Yard Brewing. The funds raised from this comedy show will help fund adaptive programs at Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation in Carmel, IN.

Presented by: Point of View Comedy
Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Tow Yard Brewing - 501 Madison Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46225
Cost: $30
How to register: Register online
Contact: Contact Sarah Cox at 317-436-8961 or

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thanks, AmeriCorps members!

Last week's National AmeriCorps Week highlighted the services of current and alumni AmeriCorps members who served our country in various settings including education, economic opportunity, disaster services, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, and veteran/military family assistance.

At Child Care Answers, we celebrated with our AmeriCorps members in Indianapolis and across the state who are serving in child care programs by offering family engagement. They serve as a bridge between home and school, and they assist with school readiness for pre-K children and their families. These members are truly living out the AmeriCorps motto of "Getting Things Done!"

For more information about serving with the Early Learning Indiana AmeriCorps family engagement program, contact Courtney Penn at

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Notice of Public Hearing

Notice of Public Hearing




The State of Indiana will submit to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, a plan for participation in the Child Care and Development Fund program.  This application supports the statewide unified child care system of services for eligible children and families.  The proposed plan and the Appendices will be available for review on the Office and Early Childhood and Out of School Learning web site at

Interested persons and organizations may submit written comments for review by the state through February 12, 2016.  The written comments should include: 

  1. The name, title, address, and telephone number of the commenter;
  2. Identify each specific part and page number of the draft application on which comments are being made;
  3. Describe the concern with respect to the part;
  4. Specify the recommended action to be taken; and
  5. Be addressed to: Melanie Brizzi, Director, Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning, 402 W. Washington St, W-361, MS-02, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Public hearings will be at:

Monday, February 1, 2016
Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library                6:00 – 7:45 p.m.  (Eastern)
Harris Branch
51446 Elm Rd
Granger, IN
(The library is just off the toll road between South Bend and Elkhart Counties)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Community Foundation of Jackson County         6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
107 Community Dr
Seymour, IN 

Thursday, February 4, 2016
English Foundation Building                                6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
615 N Alabama St
Conference Rooms 6 and 7
Indianapolis IN