Happy Anniversary!

This year marks Action for Children's 45th year of service in Central Ohio! We are celebrating with a new website (COMING SOON--Stay tuned!), a new e-newsletter, and a new approach to telling our story because in the end, that story is really about you.

Who are you? You are a parent who works full-time and is looking for better balance to maximize the precious time you have with your children.

You are a child care provider who is searching for new ways to engage a room full of students in activities that promote cognitive, social and emotional development.

You are an advocate who wants to increase wages for early childhood educators--the vast majority of whom are women who live near or below the poverty line.

You are a partner, a donor, a friend. You, like us, want to do everything you can to ensure those first 2,000 days of a child's life are full of laughter, love and learning because all the days that follow rest upon that foundation.

Thank you for your enduring support. Thank you for helping to share our story and our mission with others.

And thank you for celebrating this very special year with us!

The Results are In: New 2,000 Days Campaign Donors to Fund New Pilot Program

Our donors who joined our 2,000 Days Campaign on #GivingTuesday at the end of 2016 are actively transforming the lives of parents and their children in our community. Thanks to their generosity, AFC will launch a new pilot program serving pregnant and parenting mothers with CHLOE, Inc. beginning in February. CHLOE (Community, Health, Life Skills, Opportunities and Education) works to empower young mothers to become self-sufficient, resilient and adaptable; prevent and break cycles of poverty through mentorship and education; and offers a safe haven for young mothers and their children in the Central Ohio community. 

Run by volunteers, CHLOE serves mothers who are 13-21 years of age and offers, among a number of programs and services, Teen Mom Connections. Held bi-weekly, Mothers in attendance earn points in a variety of ways: completing wellness visits with their doctor, meeting with a mentor and more. The points allow the mom to earn CHLOE Cash which can be spent on new or gently used items such as cribs, diapers, and clothes. A book and small toy are free at each visit to CHLOE’s Closet as well.
With support from our generous donors, AFC will offer at no-cost to CHLOE or its participants, our innovative and comprehensive Mothers Matter program. Formatted as an 8-week course, Mothers Matter seeks to increase the skills, positive behaviors, and bonds mothers have with their children during those most critical years--age birth to five. By participating in facilitated workshops with AFC's Parenting Experts and supporting each other as peers, we will see an overall increase in parenting skills, self-confidence, and positive parenting behaviors. This in turn promotes positive cognitive, emotional, physical and social development and wellbeing in the next generation, putting them in better position to achieve success in school and in life.

We look forward to sharing more stories as the program launches in February. Look for updates in future editions of Action Items (our new monthly e-newsletter) and follow along on social media at #mothersmatterafc. And an extra special thank you to all of our new 2,000 Days Campaign members whose investment is making this pilot possible!

Local Family Child Care Provider First 5-Star Rated Program in Central Ohio

When you step inside Cheryl Odom's house, you notice the brightly painted walls, the warm environment, the toys, the site words, books and musical instruments, and most of all, the love Cheryl shares with her students--Tatiyana, Eythan, and little Chiyanne pictured above.

"Watching the children grow--their personalities and their skills develop--that inspires me," Cheryl said. "Most of my students start when they are infants and stay with me until they enter Kindergarten. And I stay in touch with my graduates too--some of their little siblings are here now."

Cheryl never thought about becoming an early childhood educator when she was working as a Trainer for AT&T. In fact, when her position was eliminated, she began a two-year surgical tech training program. But when her friend introduced her to child care, she never looked back, even after graduation. Since that time, she has completed her Child Development Associates training, has operated a full-time Family Child Care program in her home for more than 13 years, and is the first Family Child Care Program in Franklin County to achieve a Five-Star Step Up To Quality Rating.

"When I do something, I go all the way and try to do the very best. So I got a 2-star rating out of the gate," Cheryl recalled. "Then I met with Melinda [Moreno] (Action for Children's Step Up to Quality Technical Assistant Specialist). She shared with me what the next steps looked like and when I said let's go for a three [star rating], she encouraged me to go to four."

A three or four star rating is exceptional, but Cheryl, with Melinda's encouragement and support, was now motivated to get the first five-star rating in the county. "I was already doing what I needed to do, I just needed to put it on paper and in a book. When I submitted for a five in September, I don't think they were expecting that." After some minor adjustments, and discussion, she got her five stars just before Thanksgiving.

Melinda commended Cheryl for her hard work and recognized achieving a 5-star rating is no small feat. "Working on all the requirements is not easy when you are the owner and operator of a small business, but she has proven that it can be done. She is a brave example to other providers," she said.

It is no surprise, then, that Cheryl now gets calls from other Family Child Care programs seeking her advice on increasing their star-rating. "I tell them that they need to take advantage of classes, and anything they can find. There are a lot of free classes." She continued, "I also recommend they start planning with their families, keeping paper records, and making files of the things they are already doing. It's not as hard as you'd think." Finally, she said, "I also tell them to get in touch with Melinda at AFC!"

At the heart of everything Cheryl does are "her kids". In addition to Tatiyana, Eythan and Chiyanne and their families, she credits the families of Alani, Celia, Mykal, Londyn and Myracle who were with her every step of the way.

If you are a provider and would like free technical assistance to achieve a higher level of quality for your program, please contact Action for Children at 614-224-0222 or visit our website.

Congratulations, Cheryl!
Returns On Your Investment

Each month we will feature a story that highlights how your support and the support of our many funders and partners ensures children and their families maximize each and every one of those first 2,000 days. This month's story comes from our Columbus Kids (CK) Program. CK Coordinators conduct in-home visits with 2-5 year olds who live in households at or below the poverty line. These sessions seek to evaluate and bolster communication, fine and gross motor, problem solving and social skills while also helping families prepare for Kindergarten. Thanks to Angela Westenkirchner, Columbus Kids Coordinator, for sharing this month's story:

I recently inherited a client and I was able to get in contact with her for her child's 6-month learning check-up (LCU). The mom was very hesitant about me coming to the home because they had just moved into an apartment and they had no furniture. She said she expected to receive furniture within the following week.

The first home visit I scheduled was cancelled. Soon after, I reached back out to her again and was able to schedule another home visit. When I arrived to the home, it was empty. No chairs, no beds, no tables, no pictures, nothing. I completed the LCU for the child on the floor in an empty home. 

I asked the mom if she needed help with anything. She declined assistance and said it was handled. Luckily one of her friends was there and told me that the family needed help with furniture. The Mom finally opened up to me and asked for help. I then gave her information for Joseph's Coat and explained everything to her. I just received a text message from her stating that she has received couches, end tables, a bed and a dresser! She couldn't thank me enough!

And WE cannot thank YOU enough. Your support, and the support of our generous community partners and funders, helps to create happy endings like this each and every day!

Now, perhaps more than ever, children, families, and early childhood educators in our community need our support. Please consider joining our #2000Days campaign by clicking here now to ensure they are prepared to meet the challenges ahead. Every $1 invested in early childhood education saves $7 in future expenditures. We can't afford to wait.
Did you know that in 2014, AFC commissioned
a mural in Franklinton?

You'll be able to view pictures and read more about the "Cycle of Parenting" project on our new website.
Watch your inbox and our social media channels for an announcement when we go live!
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