My picks for the top 20ish mom (+1 dad) blogs in Ohio. They are all a little different, so I like them for different reasons.
Stop, Drop, and Blog – Fun theme, beautiful pictures, down to earth posts
Classy Chaos – Fun and sophisticated
Mommy Bits – Writings about family, life, and tech
Ms. Single Mama – Packed with tons of great content and videos
Mom of 2 Peas – This blog makes me smile
Working Moms Against Guilt – 4 moms write about working, kids, and guilt
Classic Ivory – Cute blog about Lindsey and her family
The Life of Dad – Humorous writings about parenting and fatherhood
Paper Glue Etc. – Eclectic and thoughtful
The Bird’s Nest – Lots of fun stuff packed in this blog
The Tomecko Echo – Just an honest look at life
Mom Going Green – Going green for a healthy family and earth
Mommin’ It Up – 2 moms writing about life with kids
Starr Family Blog – Lovely designed blog with lovely photos of life
Family Friendly Cincinnati – Family friendly dining, events, and attractions in Cincinnati
Akron Ohio Moms – Giveaways, Food, and Reviews
Being Mom2Amara – Just feels real…Like a close friend
So This Is Life – Blog about life + cute crafts
Mandi Minding Money – Deals and money saving tips
Bullfrogs and Butterflies Baby – Product Reviews
A Busy Mom of Two – Who can’t relate to a busy mom? :)
DustinNikki Mommy of Three – Giveaways and Products
Know any other really great Ohio parent blogs? Post your top pick here in the comments! :)
Attention Ohio Parents:
It’s about creating a safe environment to find child care.
249smiles was created with the backdrop of random Craigslist posts and people telling us to look in the phone book for centers. What can you learn from the phone book besides for a name and address? How scary is it to talk to people about caring for your child who have no photo, no information, no parent references? And why are these the only resources to find care for our dearest loved ones?
With 249smiles the search is safer and just makes more sense! Our providers can upload photos of themselves, their employees, or facilities, they can give you important (need to know) information, you can get a sense of their philosophies, other parents can leave comments and ratings of the providers, and most importantly, you can contact those parents to ask specific questions about their experiences with the babysitter, nanny, or daycare provider.
It’s about making the important connections with other parents.
We found (in our own experience and in research) that parents don’t generally make the child care decision alone or based on an advertisement…they decide to entrust their child with someone because another parent told them about their great experience with them. The got a good recommendation from someone they trusted. They heard it from the mouth of another mother “yeah, my child went there and we all loved it!” We base our decisions on other people experiences and 249smiles supports that!
It’s about finding the best child care.
There are many different types, styles, and philosophies of child care and that’s great! There’s no universal ‘good’…we know different characteristics are good for different families. That’s why 249smiles believes transparency and sharing are key in this process. Child care providers have the opportunity to really show what they’re all about and give you the information you need. Learn from what they tell you and from what they don’t. Ask them questions in the comment section of their profile so you can help other parents in the process. When you see a child care provider doing something you love, make sure you’re asking other providers if their doing it too! This is the only way child care providers know what’s important to parents.
Cool things child care providers are doing now:
- Step Up to Quality (for Ohio child care centers)
- Stars for Kids Now (for Kentucky child care centers)
List compiled 9/7/09 – Hamilton County
Step Up to Quality Rated Child Care Programs in Cincinnnati with 3 stars
ARLITT CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
CHAMPIONS – REX RALPH
CHILDREN’S FOR CHILDREN
CHILDREN’S FOR CHILDREN – P & G
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – EAST END
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – EAST WALNUT HILLS
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – WESTWOOD
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – WALNUT HILLS
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – HARRISON
CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING CENTER – YWCA OF GREATER CINCINNATI / DOWNTOWN LOCATION
HYDE PARK COMMUNITY UMC PRESCHOOL
MT WASHINGTON U M C CHILD ENRICHMENT CENTER
PLEASANT RIDGE PRESBYTERIAN NURSERY SCHOOL
SYCAMORE PRESBYTERIAN PRESCHOOL
THE CHILDREN’S HOME OF CINCINNATI EARLY LEARNING INITIATIVE
UC EARLY LEARNING CENTER
WILLIAM L MALLORY EARLY LEARNING CENTER
YMCA CHILD CARE AT RAYMOND WALTERS COLLEGE
YMCA EARLY LEARNING CENTER (VALLEY)
Step Up to Quality Rated Child Care Programs in Cincinnnati with 2 stars
CHAMPIONS – FAIRFAX
CUB EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY (CAMP WASHINGTON)
CUB EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY (SILVER OAK ESTATES)
EMANUEL COMMUNITY CENTER
FOREST CHAPEL PRESCHOOL NURSERY SCHOOL
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER #1395 (at Montgomery Rd)
MONTGOMERY COMMUNITY CHURCH PRESCHOOL
SHARONVILLE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WEEKDAY NURSERY
STEPPING STONES CENTER
THE CHARLOTTE R. SCHMIDLAPP CHILDREN’S CENTER
YMCA CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER-WEST
YMCA CHRIST CHILD DAY NURSERY
Step Up to Quality Rated Child Care Programs in Cincinnnati with 1 star
A CHILD’S GARDEN
AGAPE CHILDREN’S CENTER
AMAZING GRACE LUTHERAN PRESCHOOL
ANDERSON HILLS PRESCHOOL
CHAMPIONS – INDIAN HILL ELEMENTARY
CHAMPIONS – LOVELAND
CUB EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY (COLLEGE HILL EAST)
CUB EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY (WINTON CAMPUS)
FUTURE ENVIRONMENTS CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
HILLTOP PRESCHOOL AND CHILD CARE
JCC EARLY CHILDHOOD SCHOOL
JOHN WESLEY EARLY LEARNING CENTER
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER (at Anderson Ferry Rd)
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER (at Five Mile Rd)
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER #1561 (at Seven Gables Rd)
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER #421 (at Kemper Rd)
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER #552 (at Loveland Madera Rd)
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER #733
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER – CORNELL
KINDERCARE LEARNING CENTER – PLAINFIELD
LITTLE LAMB CHILD CARE LEARNING CENTER
LOVELAND CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL
MEMORIAL CHILD CARE
MONTESSORI CENTER FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
PLEASANT RUN CHURCH OF CHRIST DAY CARE
PRECIOUS YEARS LEARNING CENTER
SERENDIPITY EARLY LEARNING CENTER
SON RISE LEARNING CENTER
THEODORE M. BERRY CHILDREN AND FAMILY LEARNING CENTER
VISIONS CHILD CARE & TEEN SUPPORT CENTER
YMCA CHILD CARE AT MONFORT HEIGHTS SCHOOL
YMCA CHILD CARE AT WEIGEL SCHOOL
YMCA NORTHSIDE CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
Congratulations to these child care centers for achieving stars in Ohio’s quality rating program, Step Up to Quality!
Find more information about these and more child care centers, daycares, and preschools in Cincinnati at 249smiles.com
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has a voluntary Child Care Quality Rating System called Step Up To Quality. Licensed child care centers can opt-in to this program and achieve up to three stars when they work toward goals above and beyond the ODJFS child care licensing requirements.
According to ODJFS,
Step Up to Quality means:
- fewer children per classroom
- better trained teachers
- a more comprehensive early education experience for your child
- a focus on continuous improvement
• Have these teacher/child ratios
- Infants 0-12 months – 1:5 or 2:10; 12-18 months – 1:6
- Toddlers 18-36 months – 1:7; 30-36 months – 1:8
- Preschoolers 36-48 months – 1:12; 48-60 months – 1:14
- School-Agers 5-15 years – 1:18
• Teachers and the administrator receive 10 hours of specialized training per year. This shows a commitment to expanding their knowledge and skills in order to support your child’s development and learning.
• Teachers are familiar with the Infant and Toddler Guidelines and Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards. This
supports your child’s development and learning.
• The program provides at least one employee benefit to staff members. This means employees are valued, which in turn reduces staff turnover and provides continuity of care for your child.
• Have these teacher/child ratios
- Infants 0-12 months – 1:5; 12-18 months – 1:6
- Toddlers 18-36 months – 1:7
- Preschoolers 36-48 months – 1:10; 48-60 months – 1:12
- School-Agers 5-15 years – 1:16
• Half of the lead teachers have an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education or Career Pathways Level 3.
• Teachers and the administrator receive 10 hours of specialized training per year. This shows a
commitment to expanding their knowledge and skills. In order to
support your child’s development and learning, teachers utilize these skills in their curriculum planning.
• The program provides at least two employee benefits to staff members. This means employees are valued and treated as professionals, which in turn reduces staff turnover and provides continuity of care for your child.
• Have these teacher/child ratios
- Infants 0-12 months – 1:4 or 2:8 or 3:10; 12-18 months – 1:5
- Toddlers 18-36 months – 1:6
- Preschoolers 36-48 months – 1:10; 48-60 months – 1:10
- School-Agers 5-15 years – 1:15
• Staff/child ratios in all classrooms meet national high-quality early care and education standards.
• All lead teachers have an AA degree in early childhood education or
Career Pathways Level 3.
• Teachers and the administrator receive 10 hours of specialized training per year, above licensing requirements. Specialized training on Infant and Toddler Guidelines
and Ohio’s Early Learning Content
Standards gives teachers the ability to assess children’s progress and prepare them for kindergarten.
• The program provides at least three employee benefits to staff members. This means employees are valued and treated as professionals, which in turn reduces staff turnover and provides continuity of care for your child.
Learn more about Ohio’s early care and education quality standard program here.
A short while ago, we had the pleasure of talking to Sallie Westheimer, of 4C for Children, about Ohio and Kentucky’s Quality Rating Programs (Ohio’s quality rating system is Step Up to Quality and Kentucky’s quality rating system is Stars for Kids Now). She tells us that when evaluating licensed child care centers these programs take a look at teacher and director training, number of children each adult cares for (the fewer the better), among other things. She urges parents to ask about the quality rating system when visiting centers…are they participating, how many stars do they have, are they working toward a star? Check out the video to learn more.
In this video, Sallie makes an important distinction between the child care quality rating systems and a restaurant or hotel rating system. Generally, rating systems run the spectrum from bad to good (for example, a hotel with a 1 star rating in a 3-5 star system is thought of as a bad rating), however in the Ohio and Kentucky Quality Rating Systems even one star is going above and beyond what is required of them for state licensing.
Also be sure to visit 249smiles.com to talk with quality rated child care providers* in your area, find important information, and get recommendations from parents like you!
*note: not all child care providers on 249smiles.com are quality rated.
There are no shortages of challenges and problems in our Early Education system. We created 249smiles to solve one particularly poignant problem, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. In the process we have been introduced to some great people/organizations working on very innovative solutions and people/groups that continue to, in my opinion, throw good money at bad solutions. But, we are innovators at heart, so we follow many of these conversations and initiatives trying to imagine solutions to the myriad problems facing our Early Education, and more broadly, our Education system.
There are plenty of people who will talk about the problems; I think the more interesting conversation revolves around those trying to create solutions. I want to introduce one of those conversations that recently sparked my interest. A couple of months ago Union Square Ventures brought together a group of “…academics, entrepreneurs, educators, and administrators” to a session the named Hacking Education
The session focused on driving dialogue between, groups that don’t communicate too frequently. I highly recommend reading the transcripts of the meeting, though a bit disjointed at times, the thinking challenges our current approach to fixing education and what education may, or should, look like in the future. Whether you agree with any of the conclusions or schools of thought (no pun intended), the conversation should be applauded. The event connected disparate groups of sharp thinkers to better understand, holistically, the challenges and requirements of a sustainable solution. This type of conversation will help avoid the “Not invented here” syndrome, we have seen with many organizations and initiatives.
The problem is complex, with many moving parts. Assuming that a solution will arise from any one silo is naïve. We need to encourage more of this interdisciplinary conversation and drive it to action. The current economic situation cannot be an excuse for not addressing the underlying problems. If it were a purely budgetary concern, this would have been solved during the boom years. But, the problem persists. I argue that when we, as a community or society, deem a problem important enough to ‘need fixin’, the money becomes fairly irrelevant. Poor or rich, with kids or without, the success or failure of our education system will affect you. Engaging now gives you, and your community, a head start. You can start small…start a conversation – simply talk to people you know about the problems you see. You can start bigger…mentor a student – share some of your wisdom. Or, you can go big…start creating solutions – we all have unique talents and this is a problem that requires an integrated solution, so put your talents to work and make your mark.