Reflections from the Executive Office

everyone is a cheerleader and everyone is a star!

I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, Linda Ramsey, Deputy Director Family Support at Maryland Family Network. 

As I look at the pictures of our parents who have successfully completed the Parent Leadership program, I see smiling faces filled with accomplishment, pride, confidence, and belief in self….that’s what this is really all about and I couldn’t be more proud of them. On the first day of the program they arrive not knowing what to expect and we see the anxiety and self-doubt, but we also see a desire to learn something new and behind their faces there are dreams of a better life for their children and themselves. For many, this is the first experience where others have asked them what they think, what they’d like to do with their lives or what they want to be, and to give them an opportunity to discuss the challenging but rewarding job of being a parent. (more…)

75 Years of Experience

75 years of experience is a lot — and they’re still going strong! (more…)

Bond Bill Saturday

It’s Saturday, and I’m back in Annapolis for Bond Bill Saturday, with hundreds of others seeking funds for capital projects. (more…)

“but he was still hungry…”

Nancy Pelton, the Acting Director of the Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center (BCCCRC – or as we call it “B Triple C-R-C”) put on a wonderful conference, Baltimore City Children’s Emotional Wellness, this past Saturday, March 7. It was a sell-out crowd and even with the snow and ice still on the ground, 95% of those registered showed up. (more…)

a legislative hearing

I’m sitting in a hearing room in Annapolis. During Session, I tend to spend hours in rooms like this. There will be 17 bills heard today. The room is packed with people – some will testify, some are observing, others are available to answer legislators’ questions that can’t be answered by the presenters at the speakers’ table. And I’m thinking what a strange activity a bill hearing is: necessary for transparency and an opportunity for input, but perfunctory in the sense that most often, the critical work on bills happens before and after a bill hearing.  (more…)

maryland family network day in annapolis

Maryland Family Network Day in Annapolis – held this year on February 3 – is a major production.  While it takes about 30 MFNers to make the day itself go smoothly, there is only one person who moves all the machinery behind the production:  Gail Guillard, Training Director for the network of Family Support Centers.  Working closely with the Training Assistant Michelle Argent, Gail devotes hundreds of hours to the planning, ordering, writing, arranging, categorizing, calling, sorting, hauling, cleaning, directing, energizing, following up, checking and rechecking that needs to be done.  She’d probably be the first to say that she couldn’t do it alone, but she pretty much does! (more…)

just the facts ma’am

I’m preparing remarks to give before the House Budget Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development. The facts are my favorite part. Here are a few of them. (more…)

the president’s plan part Two

The President’s plan on child care and early education, part of which was outlined in my last blog post, includes several other components of note. Again, this is excerpted from a summary prepared by the National Women’s Law Center. (more…)

Obama Announces New Proposal to Help Low-Income Families

This entry is excerpted directly from an email sent by the National Women’s Law Center (thank you, Helen Blank and team)  Today, the President announced a major new proposal to help low-income families afford high-quality child care for their infants and toddlers, while reiterating his commitment to expanding access to preschool programs as well as other early care and education initiatives. (more…)

Parent Engagement

I hear the phrases “parent engagement” and “family engagement” a lot recently. Each of us has her own idea of their meaning. For those who have worked in the family support field, it may seem an odd idiom when used to mean “involve parents in their children’s education” or “include parents in a school’s or program’s activities. (more…)

Happy New Year!

2015 begins (on the Chinese New Year) the year of the goat — calm, gentle, creative, thoughtful, amicable, persevering, frank, and honest.  Sounds good!  Given the outlook for the Maryland economy and changes in federal and state government, we may not experience a lot of “calm and gentle,” though we hope for “creative, thoughtful, and honest.”  I’m also hoping for the following in 2015: (more…)

The Philosophical Baby

The Philosophical Baby, by Alison Gopnik, was the work-related book I enjoyed most this year (maybe because I became a grandmother exactly one year ago).  Today’s post on Exchange EveryDay, my favorite daily e-reminder of the importance of the early years, was a quote from the book. Gopnik’s words struck me when I first read them and resonated again with me today. I, too, talk about the smart investment of early care and education, the neuroscience and brain research that compels us to these investments, and I use the phrase, “children learning, parents earning.”  Stronger than all these reasons to support very young children and the people who raise them, there is something so fundamental about healthy, happy children, that we shouldn’t need any justification at all for taking very good care of them, all of us, everyone’s child. (more…)

Congratulations, Maryland!

$15 million — $60 million projected over four years – was announced yesterday for pre-Kindergarten expansion from the U. S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services! It’s expected that over 3,800 four year olds in Maryland who are living at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) will be served by this award. Among those who will be expanding their pre-K programs under this new grant are a number of Maryland Family Network’s colleague agencies, including the Weinberg Early Childhood Center at Henderson-Hopkins and the Ark, run by the Episcopal Community Services of Maryland. (more…)

Welcome Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center

It’s a great week when there’s an opening of a new early childhood center, and this was one of those weeks! (more…)

Joys and Concerns

Amid a variety of everyday concerns here about filling vacancies and properly compensating employees for their outstanding performance and reaching not only our ambitious service goals but also our challenging fund raising goals, there are many bright spots. For instance, on the policy front, Senator Barbara Mikulski and a handful of other senate and house leaders showed how the Congress can reach bi-partisan agreement on an important issue: child care. See for instance the article in Sunday’s New York Times. (more…)

Pre-K Across the U.S.A.

Many thanks to Clinton Macsherry and Debbie Moore of Maryland Family Network who, based on 2013 data, created this chart of state pre-K around the nation.  Maryland is literally and figuratively in the middle of the pack, and we’re a long way from universal, though working towards it! (more…)

Maryland Family Support Center Network Conference

The Maryland Family Support Center (FSC) Network got together on Friday for one of its two statewide professional training events. With 16 workshops, a keynote, 250 participants, breakfast and lunch, it’s quite a large undertaking. Believe it or not, it’s pretty much two MFNers who pull it off – Gail Guillard and Michelle Argent (they are the two in the foreground of this photo). (more…)

Creating a Secure Attachment

Dr. Marti Erickson, retired professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota and now consultant, author, and co-host of the popular podcast, Mom Enough, was one of our most popular Skolnik lecturers ever.  She gave her talk on Tuesday, October 28, to a large crowd at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Her presentation was personal, passionate, and persuasive. (more…)

Join Us.

Join us for the 5th Annual Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture on Tuesday, October 28 from 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Marti Erickson, who specializes in linking research, practice, and policy in the areas of parent-child attachment, child abuse prevention, and children’s mental health. (more…)

Special Me

This weekend members of the Maryland Family Network board of directors gathered at Special Me Child Development Center in Baltimore. The wooden surface that encompasses the playground at Special Me was weathered and chipping away. Our dedicated board members teamed up to re-finish the deck, preventing splinters from getting lodged into the small hands and knees that play on the surface each day. This was important work that needed to be done. (more…)

Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

On Friday, I emceed Maryland Family Network’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Child Care, Early Education, and Family Support. (more…)

Old Friends

Maryland Family Network’s Annual Meeting is a time to reflect on the year past, anticipate new endeavors, and refresh the Board composition:   elect new Board members, extend the terms of active members, choose officers, announce committee chairs, and honor departing members.  This year, two of Maryland Family Network’s and little children’s biggest champions are leaving the Board. (more…)

CCDBG Passes House

Late yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.  This legislation was originally introduced in the Senate by our own Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), along with a bi-partisan group of other Senators.  The House Bill was bi-partisan, too.  This ability addresses the affordability, accessibility, and quality of child care nationwide. (more…)

Raising Drug Free Kids

As part of Maryland Family Network’s commitment to operating a drug-free workplace, which in fact is a requirement written into our federal funding contracts, we provide staff training in various aspects of substance abuse.  One of the most popular speakers both at Maryland Family Network and at our statewide training events for Family Support Center staff is Mike Gimbel. (more…)

Exchange Everyday

One of my favorite daily e-newsletters is called Exchange Everyday and it seems to be pitched to child care providers, particularly those who run centers. It doesn’t typically link to another site for the meat of their information, but it did today. (more…)

Calling All Fundraisers

Seven MFN staff and board members traveled to DC this week to learn about Benevon, a structured, common sense approach to “community building,” a re-frame of what I always considered fund raising. (more…)

Pre-K Expansion Grants Announced Today

Today Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown announced that 17 grants totaling $4.3 million will be awarded to expand pre-Kindergarten throughout the State. Maryland Family Network has been at the forefront of pre-K expansion efforts for years, and today was a moment of celebration for all of us, especially Clinton Macsherry and Debbie Moore, who work tirelessly in Annapolis on MFN’s public policy issues. (more…)

What’s Happening?

We’re often asked what’s been happening recently in the Family Support Network with Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge funds. (more…)

Time for a Fiesta!

Family Support Centers are two-generation programs, serving both parents and very young children at the same time, at the same place. One of the happiest moments during the year at a Family Support Centers is graduation – a celebration of, by, and for parents who have completed their courses in adult education and have taken and passed the GED test. (more…)

Families Foremost Family Support Center

The Families Foremost Family Support Center in Rockville, Maryland, closed at the end of June. Its final graduation party for the adult learners, parents of children from birth to age 3 (both generations served by all Family Support Centers) was, by all accounts, a celebration worthy of both the achievement of these parents and the work of the staff over 18 years.  Pictured here is the program’s director, Shari Waddy, receiving balloons from her staff. (more…)

Our First Five Years Will Last Forever

Happy New Year! Maryland Family Network’s fiscal year begins today, and our agenda for the coming 12 months is packed. (more…)

I Love What I Do!

Two days in a row I’ve asked myself is this is really work? June 10th was our Venable LLP. Tee Off for Tomorrow Golf Tournament; June 11 was a trip with staff and board to present an award to Senator Barbara Mikulski at the Capitol. Both were a lot of fun, in beautiful places, with great people, for a good cause. I love what I do! (more…)

Sen. Richard Madaleno Honored as Champion of Working Families

It was such an honor yesterday to present the 2014 Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick Leadership in Early Care and Education Award to Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno (District 18, Montgomery County). We held the ceremony in a meeting room at the Wheaton Library, a location Senator Madaleno chose because he had pleasant memories of using the library when he was a high school student in Montgomery County. (more…)

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, the renowned poet, author and civil rights activist, died today. She was 86 years old. Her spirit, poetry and passion live on in the efforts of millions including those of us at Maryland Family Network. I found a quote from Maya Angelou that is apt to our work. (more…)

Juggling All That We Do

The highlight for me last week was the Maryland Family Network two-day Spring Training event, held at what used to be called the Hunt Valley Inn.  Over 250 individuals – parents, Family Support Center network staff, and speakers – came together for a plenary and workshops under the title Mastering the Myriad.  Over half the group were working mothers – and those are people who need to know how to master a myriad! (more…)

Thank You Loyola!

One of the most helpful volunteer engagements that Maryland Family Network has ever experienced, the Loyola Business School MBA program entrepreneurship class, under the direction of Dr. Harsh Desai, presented our “case” on the evening of April 23. (more…)

Expanded pre-K Will Help Maryland’s Children

A letter to the editor that I submitted to the Baltimore Sun was printed in Sunday’s issue and available here.  Enjoy! (more…)

Together, We Plant. United, We Harvest.

The 2014 Legislative Session ended at midnight on Monday, April 7, and it was a victorious one for many of the issues we care about:

  • $2 million cut from the Governor’s budget was restored to the Child Care Subsidy Program;
  • (more…)

Did you miss The First Five Years this week? Listen Now! (more…)

A Friend of the Family

Sandy Rosenberg has been a “friend of the family” since I met him in the late 1970s, when we both worked at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City in different divisions. Aside from our work in subsidized housing, we had a lot in common:  age, friends, New England colleges, swimming, Baltimore City, love of dancing to the Stones’ Miss You and Diana Ross’ Upside Down.   When Sandy first ran for office, I helped with his mail campaign and handed out his material on Election Day.  He visited us when my first child was born in 1982.  As he rocked her, Ellie thanked him by baptizing a beautiful khaki suit he was wearing, just before a campaign appearance.  Thankfully it didn’t hurt the campaign outcome. (more…)

A Voice for Little Kids

In the Annapolis office of the local Child Care Resource Center this morning, I attended Maryland Family Network’s Public Policy Committee meeting, chaired by Mary Gunning, Director of St. Jerome’s Head Start, representative of the Maryland Head Start Association, and Board member of Maryland Family Network. (more…)

A Great Day

Yesterday was a big one for Maryland Family Network – first we heard from our Early Head Start/Head Start program officer about the new grant for Baltimore City. We signed a confidentiality agreement, so until the gag order is lifted, I can’t say anything more than that we expect to be awarded most of what we requested, which was 220 Early Head Start slots and 50 Head Start slots. (more…)

A Board Member That We Never Get Bored Of

Jacqui Lampell is a Board member whose tireless energy, willingness to help, and contributions of all sorts are inspirational.  Her annual gift to the organization – an expectation of almost every nonprofit Board I know – is always the first one received each fiscal year.  (more…)

Ms. Williams Goes to Washington

Tuesday was exciting for me. Doug Lent, our Communications Director, and I drove to DC for a press conference with our Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. (more…)

Strong Women Making Strong Policies

After Maryland Family Network’s annual Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture on Wednesday night, one of the attendees commented to the lecturer, Dr. Libby Doggett, “I am so proud to know that such a smart, accomplished, strong woman is leading an important national effort.” (more…)

Three Great Occurrences This Week

(1) W. R. Grace announced that it would be funding our Mobile STEM Lab project! This effort will help the Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center (BCCCRC) instruct child care professionals in developing a love of science, technology, engineering, and math, in very young children. (more…)

Moving Forward to Find Family Success

This month’s video features a wonderful young woman named Julia Amaya. Julia recently earned her high school diploma thanks to the support available at the Adelphi/Langley Park Family Support Center, one of our 21 family support centers across the State. (more…)

4th Annual Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture

I’m thrilled to announce our guest speaker for the 4th Annual Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture. Dr. Libby Doggett is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education. (more…)

Testimony in Annapolis

I testified in Annapolis today before the House Ways and Means Committee strongly in favor of HB 297: “Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014.” (more…)

Under Construction

Almost every organization, I imagine, has been involved in website design or redesign efforts.  Maryland Family Network’s website – a combination of our legacy organizations,’ Maryland Committee for Children and Friends of the Family – is long overdue for an overhaul!  (more…)

Day in Annapolis

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday for Maryland Family Network’s Day in Annapolis. Over 200 of you were there to spread the message to lawmakers that programs and policies that help families with young children are good for all of Maryland. (more…)

The State of Our Union

President Obama had some pithy quotes on early care and education in his January 27 State of the Union speech: (more…)