Fall and all its Glory

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to fall leaves, pumpkins, the flu and respiratory illnesses.   There have been recent news reports of respiratory illnesses affecting children and infants in various locations throughout the  country.   

Indications are that some children have tested positive for one type of Enterovirus (EV-D68).
Recognizing that the safety and health of everyone in our child care centers is of paramount
importance, here is what you need to know and what you can do:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • graphic of hand washingAvoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people  who are sick.
  •  Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Basic Facts
 Enteroviruses are relatively common and different ones appear in different seasons or years.  EV-D68 is one of over 100 non-polio Enteroviruses and is most common in summer and fall.
 Teenagers, children, and infants lack the immunity many adults have from prior exposure, so are more susceptible to EV-D68.
 Most children who acquire EV-D68 experience mild to moderate cold and flu symptoms.
 Most children with these symptoms do not have EV-D68, but rather a cold or flu.
 Adults who acquire EV-D68 typically experience mild symptoms or no symptoms
 Like the cold and flu, EV-D68 is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact.
What to Look For
 Flu and cold symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever, runny nose, body or muscle aches.
 Schedule a doctor visit if the symptoms worsen or if those with asthma experience trouble breathing.
What to Do for Protection and Treatment
 Use the same precautions you would for cold or flu: wash hands with soap, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and clean or disinfect surfaces.
 There is no vaccine or direct treatment for this virus. The majority of adults and children with
mild or moderate symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter flu and cold medication.
Remember to avoid giving aspirin to children.
When should a child or adult be tested for EV-D68? The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) suggest testing only for those patients with severe respiratory illness when the cause is unclear, because many hospitals and offices cannot detect for EV-D68.
Source: http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/outbreaks/EV-D68-outbreaks.html

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On October 17, 2013, Building Blocks Child Care Center in Auburn, WA, participated in the National Great ShakeOut Drill. GSA centers participating in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills were among 11.3 million individuals who registered to participate in the drill. The drill took place at 10:17 am. Fifty- nine children and fourteen child care staff at Building Blocks participated in the drill. 

The center staff prepares the children by practicing Earthquake drills quarterly. While the children enjoy the practice of crawling under tables and counters as if it’s a hide and seek adventure, it’s the regular practice that will prepare them for a real life emergency. Child care staff use these opportunities to teach children about natural disasters and how to respond appropriately. GSA child care centers document their plans for earthquakes and other kinds of emergency drills in their Occupant Emergency Plans (OEP’s), which are available for review by parents and staff. 3 Kids under a table

A big thank you to staff at Building Blocks for participating in the Great ShakeOut and all their work keeping our smallest customers safe and prepared for emergencies. 
Questions about Building Blocks email: emily.friddle@gsa.gov, More information on the Great ShakeOut: http://www.shakeout.org/howtoparticipate/.

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Robyn Major, GSA Child Care Program Manager in the Mid Atlantic Region received a 2013 Public Service Award from the Philadelphia Federal Executive Board.  Robyn’s leadership of the region’s child care program was cited for recognition, specifically highlighting this region as the first in the GSA national network to attain certification in the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” Childhood Anti Obesity Initiative. 

The nine regional child care centers have a total of 818 children enrolled in their programs in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.  Robyn and the child care centers embraced the Let’s Move effort which embraces healthy eating and physical activity.  Robyn helped organize soccer instruction and yoga classes for 87 children at the William J. Green, Jr. Federal Child Care Center in Philadelphia.  An herb garden was planted at the Little Eagle Child Care Center in Kearneysville, West Virginia giving 85 children access to it. 

As the First Lady says;  “If our kids get into the habit of getting up and playing, if their palates warm up to veggies at an early age, and if they’re not glued to a TV screen all day, they’re on their way to healthy habits for life.”

Look for Robyn in the centers, encouraging good nutrition, good fun, and good habits.  Good work Robyn.  Congratulations.  

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Happy Earth Day

The new Department of Interior (DOI) Child Care Center which opened November 13, 2012 in Washington DC is GSA’s first child care center to achieve LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council.  Key achievements include; exemplary performance for public transportation access, day lighting and outdoor views, energy star-rated appliances, water use reduction, and reduction in connected lighting power density, use of regionally sourced materials with recycled content and reuse of original finishes.   During this project, 91.22% of construction waste was diverted from landfills.                                                    The new center at DOI headquarters is 7630 square feet with six classrooms.  It features bright, colorful spaces and classrooms designed around a Native American theme, with totem poles and classroom names.  Welcome to the Eagles, Bears, Ravens and Frogs. 

  The Brooklyn Bridge Child Development Center opened its doors March 18, 2013.  This state-of-the-art child care center, located in an Art-Deco historic landmark building, is 12,000 square ft.   The center was designed to achieve a LEED Silver Commercial Interiors rating. The child care center is energy efficient, equipped with Energy Star equipment and appliances, conserves water, and uses recycled materials and low emitting paints, adhesives, flooring and furnishings.  This sustainable center elegantly met design challenges, fitting into historic space and modeling an interior mezzanine bridge on the New York Brooklyn Bridge.

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Back to School

Club Fed in Albany, New York got a visit from the State Education Commissioner last week.  As part of Commissioner Kings “Back to School Week” he travels the state visiting schools to showcase their work and provide emphasis on the important work of educating the children of New York State.  This year, for the first time, the Commissioner included an early learning program as part of his visits and he selected Club Fed Child Care Center, in the Leo W. O’Brien Federal Building, operated by Victory Riedy.  Victory continues to show case our Federal centers as leaders in our cities. (see earlier post “Star Center”).  The center cares for and educates over 100 children daily.    Thank you and congratulations to all the staff at Club Fed.

NY Education Commissioner talks with Victory Riedy at Club Fed Child Care

NY Education Commissioner King talks with Club Fed operator Victory Riedy

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Cribs Go Green

What do child care cribs have to do with sustainability goals?  About 40 tons worth!   Due to new safety standards for cribs, GSA Child Care Centers had over 1300 cribs that could no longer be used.  In support of GSA’s waste diversion goals, Regional Child Care Coordinators worked with Regional Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinators  to divert over 40 tons of cribs from landfills and incinerators.  Materials were either recycled or reused for creative use projects.

The Pacific Rim Region’s Success, by Nicolas Christensen

Daunting at first, when I learned about this project I saw a lot of possibilities to align with GSA agency wide environmental goals.  Being in San Francisco, I was lucky to have many tools and opportunities to reuse or re-purpose the 76 cribs in our 9 child care centers.  The Environmental Solid Waste and Recycling team in Central Office; Lena Kofas and Sandy Skolochenko, provided invaluable connections to recycling vendors region-wide. After some research, I found two Bay Area companies interested in acquiring some of our cribs.

The first was the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, a company built on the idea that unwanted items could be saved from the landfill and given back to the community to be reused or re-purposed, or even used for art projects and other alternatives. The director was very excited to receive 10 of our cribs to use as on-site examples of ways that items could be re-purposed into different objects than the manufacturer had originally intended.   The second company was the Adventure Playground in Berkeley, CA where supervised children are allowed to work with tools to build their ideal playground. The five cribs they accepted will be incorporated into the existing playground in whatever ways the children can imagine!

 reused crib panel as art easel outsideposter railchild pulling up on rungs of wall attached pull up bars

The child care director in Hawaii took this project one step further by deciding to keep the six cribs at her center. Here, they were dismantled on-site and re-purposed to build such items as easels, magazine racks and gross motor equipment.
A remaining 55 cribs were transported to a local recycling vendor. One year prior to the deadline, Region 9 replaced all cribs with high quality cribs which meet the new standards, and the old cribs have been re-purposed or recycled within their local communities.

 Leading the Industry
All child care centers across the nation (not only GSA centers) will also need to replace their cribs to meet the new standard.  Because GSA closely followed the regulation updates, we were positioned to refresh the cribs one year before the required date.  The child care division worked with crib manufacturers early and communicated our project goal to prevent the cribs going to landfills.  This brought new awareness to manufacturers and many responded with similar waste-diversion strategies and recycling opportunities for the obsolete crib materials.

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WOYC 2012

Celebrations and recognition are the order of business during the Week of the Young Child, this year celebrated April 23-27.  Every year the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) observes a week in April for child care providers, teachers, community members, state governments and the federal government to recognize the impacts high quality child care has on our children and families.

Some fun from the Pacific Northwest centers: 

 In Seattle, Growing Years Child Care Center prepared the “World’s Largest Fruit Salad” – This activity supported collaboration throughout the center, and connected the children to healthy nutrition and Earth Day.  Families of each age group were invited to bring in a specific type of fruit. The children prepared the fruit in small groups and each classroom enjoyed the fruit salad for afternoon snack.

Kids dancingLittle Eagles Child Care had a concert in the courtyard, incorporating the music and movement with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign”. The band, Brian and his Good Buddies, performed two sessions. The center invited some of their neighbors: United Way, Starbucks, and Russell Investments to party with them.
At the Green Tree Child Care Center they hosted an art walk for families and friends in the Park Place Building. The event showcased children’s art work from all the classrooms and was attended by EPA associates from the building, GSA, families and board members. 

 
Joyful Noise Child Care Center, located in Portland OR hosted an art walk at the 911 federal building in Portland. Children’s art was displayed for purchase. Funds raised will support the child care program in purchasing a light table to enhance their discovery and science curriculum.  

Kids in front of fire truck with FiremenParents and Board members at Little Aviators Child Care Center, located in Renton WA, planned daily activities including visits from the K-9 unit with Customs and Border Patrol, Renton fire department, Renton police department, and Valley Medical center.  Parents and FAA volunteers came into the center all week to read to the children.

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Recently the Y Early Childhood Program in St. Albans, VT began collecting table scraps to feed to the local pigs!  Staff at the center realized that they had a lot of waste from two snack times and lunch and thought they should put that “waste” to use!

bucket with crayon drawing of pigEach classroom has a bucket and when kids are done with snack and lunch, instead of throwing their garbage away, they throw all edible scraps into the pig bucket!  The kids enjoy feeding the pigs, although they’re doing it remotely.  The center took a picture of their scraps being fed to the pigs so the kids could see their hard work pay off!    Eventually they want to take a field trip to the farm so the kids we can see their pigs.   In the meantime, they will continue collecting table scraps.

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Let’s Eat Child Care

The Green Byrne Center in Philadelphia is not only moving, they are eating well too.  As part of their total wellness and Let’s Move Child Care approach they have incorporated fine dining into their day.  Chef Don works every day to put delicious and nutritious meals on the table for the children using local and organic products. 

Chef Don, male at stove

Chef Don, is pictured here, cooking lunch of brown rice, fish, string beans and cantaloupe.

To help fund this change at the center they have started offering families take home meals once a month as a fundraiser. 

When asked about the project Ellen August Booth, the Director,  reported the project was started as a way to help finance the new meal program and full time chef.  They do a monthly “Dinner to Go”  which is a complete meal including homemade dessert for $20.00. It could feed a small family of four.  They usually sell at least 50 dinners and make about $1,000 per fundraiser. The popularity of this fundraiser is growing and now folks in the building are also ordering dinners to go.   “Families are loving these special treats.  Some meals are more geared for the families or children and some are special for “Date Night” said Booth.

 This has really turned into a win win for Green Byrne; support for the center and nutritious, convenient dinners for busy working parents.   Let’s Eat Child Care!  Maybe Green Byrne can start a new trend.

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Something to Celebrate

Something to Celebrate in Chicago (Besides Octoberfest on the Plaza !)

The child care center at 610 South Canal Street in Chicago, CCC Learning Center, celebrated its 20th anniversary as a GSA Child Care Center.   The original program operating in 1991 cared for children 15 months to prekindergarten.  Through the years the demand necessitated the addition of a kindergarten/5 year old program as well as infant care and the center now cares for 86 children on a daily basis.  The center also recently received its re-accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for the sixth time.  This accreditation is one of the most prestigious available to child care centers across the nation and requires numerous hours of documentation and  preparation on facility and programmatic levels to obtain and keep.  

Elizabeth Themelis, Director of GSA’s Child Care Program, presented a plaque to the CCC Learning Center’s co-owners, Gloria Langston and Carla Fishel, in recognition of their NAEYC accreditation at a small ceremony on September 23rd. Child Care Owners, Gloria Langston, Carla Fishel, RCCC Brenda Roldan, Director Liz Themelis They are pictured  from right to left, with PBS Great Lakes Regional Child Care Coordinator Brenda Roldan.

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