DCDC representing in the House. A great article by Karen Blackledge of the Danville News.
DANVILLE — Diana Dixon happened to be at the White House when a postal employee flew onto the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
The executive director of the nonprofit Danville Child Development Center and others were meeting in the Eisenhower Office Building at the time.
“Security was beefed up. We couldn’t get our picture taken on the front of the West Wing,” she said. Secret Service cars were everywhere, she said.
Before the April 15-16 forum she attended with about 20 others and two White House domestic policy staff officials, Vice President Joe Biden and the Iraqi prime minister had met in that same room.
She didn’t get a glimpse of either but she and her group were told even before the flight incident they wouldn’t be able to tour the West Wing because the Iraqi prime minister was in town. The President was in North Carolina at the time.
“It was a neat experience and interesting — something you don’t get to do every day,” she said of her participation at the forum of for-profit and nonprofit early care and education providers.
“It was awe-inspiring,” she said.
The board chairman of the Pennsylvania Childcare Association the past eight years, Dixon represented the organization because the association’s director was unable to attend. There were four people from Pennsylvania with others coming from throughout the country, including Hawaii and Texas.
They met with Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the President for education, and Kyle Lierman, liaison in the Office of Public Engagement.
The focus of the 1-and-a-half-hour meeting with the domestic policy staff was on the White House initiative “Invest in Us,” aimed at strengthening early childhood programs.
“We need public and private partnerships and ongoing investment in high-quality programs to support young children and their families,” said Dixon, who will mark 17 years as center executive director in June and has worked in the child care field since 1993.
People at the meeting took turns speaking on various bullet points. One of the points was supporting work for families with low incomes as opposed to making sure children have what they need in terms of quality programming, she said. “We need to make sure it is beneficial to the children. Low-quality settings can be detrimental to their development,” she said.
The purpose of the forum was for the child care providers to share their support of the “Invest in Us” campaign of the Early Care and Education Consortium launched in December and to “make sure people on the domestic policy staff realize our goal as providers and making sure they understand our intent to work together as a group nationally,” she said.
The consortium is a non-profit trade association of multi-site providers, state child care associations and educational services providers representing 7,500 programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
She said more public and private funds are needed to improve high-quality child care.
“There just aren’t enough,” she said of providers, adding those with high-quality child care often do it at a financial loss.
“Our center charges a lot less than it actually costs to provide high-quality care,” she said.
The center is accredited by the Department of Human Services, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has been rated a 4A Keystone Stars center, the highest rating possible, since the Keystone Stars pilot program began in 2000 in Pennsylvania.
At the forum, she spoke on the issue of viewing child care subsidy as a work force issue versus what a child needs. “There is definitely an affordability issue across all income levels,” said Dixon who sat around the table with representatives of nationally known large child care providers which included Knowledge Universe, Goddard and YMCA of USA.
At the Danville center, families can receive subsidies through state and federal dollars based on their wages and family size.
The center, in its 41st year, enrolls more than 1,000 children, from infant through age 12, each year at the Wall Street and Bloom Road locations. The center, serving mostly Montour and Columbia counties, is gearing up for its summer school-age program.