First 5 Lex Partner Spotlight: Child Care Council of Kentucky
We are in the middle of a blog series where we show appreciation for our community partners and supporters! Today, we get to TALK with Bradley Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Child Care Council of Kentucky.
The Child Care Council of Kentucky (CCCKY) has been in Lexington since 1984, when it was established to help IBM employees find childcare. Today it provides access to affordable, quality care and education for all Kentuckians as well as professional development and training opportunities for early care and educational professionals in Central Kentucky. If you’d like to learn more about their advice on how to choose quality child care, click here.
Let’s learn more about the Child Care Council of Kentucky in our question and answer session with Bradley!
Can you tell us about your role with the Child Care Council of KY?
I’ve been here for almost 24 years. I started at the agency in 1997 when it was still pretty small and had only 4 or 5 staff. Soon after I got there, the agency was awarded a grant to provide child care assistance services in 22 counties in the Bluegrass area. This immersed me in the nonprofit world and over a ten-year period, we grew CCCKY from a regional central Kentucky agency of about 35 staff to a statewide agency of about 250 staff. In 2003, I was hired as the Director.
Starting in 2017, our contract with the state expired and we began shifting our focus back to how the agency was in the early days, which meant providing more direct communication with parents about how to find and choose quality child care. CCCKY’s core services are twofold. The first is our primary service, which is to provide professional development to child care providers. On any given day, we are either creating content for professional development or delivering content for teachers, directors or owners who are required to have state training. Our primary goal of service is to deliver high-quality professional development opportunities to childcare providers throughout Kentucky. In 2018, we launched the Kids Matter Coalition, which is the second part of our core services.
Can you tell us about your Kids Matter Coalition?
The Kids Matter Coalition is all about bringing awareness to the importance of child care in Kentucky. It’s important for parents to have it and important to the businesses that the parents work for. With this in mind, we advocate for better child care services for providers and for parents. Since Covid-19, that aspect of our mission has really started to grow, and we have been trying to create a movement where we encourage child care providers to become part of the voice with us. Covid has allowed us to grow that advocacy piece because of the need for providers to be heard, recognized as professional, and recognized as essential to Kentucky’s economy and working families.
Can you tell us about some of the resources you provide?
Through partnerships with folks like First 5 Lex, we provide multiple resources, both digital and physical. We provide everything from helping parents choose a good quality child care provider that fits their needs to products we provide such as books and learning materials. We have also created curricula, which we supply providers with and help them understand how to use and implement it into their classrooms. We’re also a daily technical support resource for child care providers who are seeking answers to questions.
Can you tell us about the Child Care Council of KY’s community outreach? What role do you play in the community?
If you don’t need the Child Care Council of Kentucky, you may not even know we exist. I meet people all the time who have never heard of us, even though we are involved in every conversation and are a part of just about every community group pertaining to early care and education. We’re on various committees and in the conversations, providing the pulse on child care as it relates to our region and sometimes our state. From a resource perspective, we’re involved in almost every conversation that takes place here locally.
How long has the Child Care Council of KY been a part of the First 5 community team? Why was partnering with First 5 Lex a logical fit?
We were one of the founding partners of First 5 Lex. We wanted to stress the importance that children read, talk and play in whatever environment they find themselves in - not just in the classroom. First 5’s message lines up with our push for the appropriate development of children. We also encourage teachers and parents to read, talk and play and to integrate those three components in everyday life.
Why do you think the First 5 message- to read, talk and play with little ones each day- is so important?
It’s a simple message with a potentially huge impact. The more that we can encourage parents to do those things with their children throughout the day, the better! It drives home the idea of “you can do this” - it doesn’t have to be in the classroom or at the dinner table, you can read, talk and play with your children during every single activity you do with them. While the message is simple, catchy and cute, its impact is great for the development of our kids.
In your opinion, what positive change has First 5 Lex made in the community?
I think the biggest change has been an increased awareness about the importance of early care and education. In addition to the awareness, First 5 Lex has also been providing wrap-around support and resources. Before Covid-19, First 5 Lex provided tons of community opportunities for parents and children, whether it’s a baby shower for new parents, an event at the library or the Book Madness event.
How do you hope to continue to partner with First 5 in the future?
We will continue to partner in the same ways that we have. As long as First 5 Lex is providing the read, talk and play message that’s developmentally appropriate for children and a resource for families, we will be walking hand in hand with them to bring whatever we can do to the table to support the idea, message and program.
Just for fun:
What is your favorite children’s book to READ?
My absolute favorite book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. My mom read that to me a lot as a child, plus I have become friends with John Archambault as an adult, which adds special meaning to it.
If you have an afternoon with nothing scheduled, how would you PLAY?
I would probably go out and play golf, and then follow it up with a nice dinner somewhere with my wife.
If you could TALK with one person, from the past or present, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
My dad has passed, so if I could talk to anybody it would be him. I’d just want to catch up and talk about old times and memories.
Thank you to Bradley and everybody at the Child Care Council of Kentucky who is making a difference in the lives of children in Lexington and beyond!