CORPORATE CHAMPIONS FOR CHILDREN
Corporate Champions for Children is a coalition of companies and organizations in Tarrant County, Texas that advocates for quality childcare. Established in 1993 with 10 members, the coalition has grown to 17 companies representing 54,000 employees and continues to recruit new members and increase partnerships with other organizations.
Twenty-nine top decision-makers represent the corporations by volunteering on various committees. Each member designates a representative to serve on the working Task Force. Employees of these corporations and an additional 19 volunteers from collaborating organizations, serve on and chair subcommittees for strategic planning, media, school-age care, mildly-ill/emergency childcare, and others.
Corporate Champions’ work is based on the realization that family structure has changed, with 60 percent of all children under age five lacking a “stay-at-home” parent and more children in third party care than ever before. Also, early education is critical since 70 percent of learning takes place by age five, and early experiences shape the way people learn, think, and behave for the rest of their lives. Finally, Corporate Champions’ works to improve the quality of child care, which studies show that 86 percent of childcare centers are poor to mediocre, with 40 percent of infants and toddlers in poor quality facilities.
Financial resources pledged by the companies during the past five years totals nearly $1 million. The money is used to educate and train childcare providers, provide equipment to centers and family child care homes, increase public awareness of the need for quality early childhood education, and advocate for related legislation on local and state levels.
Since 1993, Corporate Champions programs have provided training and on-site technical assistance to more than 500 teachers and directors in 155 childcare centers and 157 home-based providers. In 1993, there were seven centers in Tarrant County accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a voluntary certification denoting exceptional quality. Corporate Champions programs have assisted 31 of the now 43 accredited centers in Tarrant County to achieve this level of quality. Also, there was only one home-based provider in 1993 that was accredited by the National Association of Family Child Care. Now, there are 54 accredited family childcare homes in Tarrant County and surrounding communities. In fact, Tarrant County has 60 percent of the total accredited homes in Texas.
From a legislative angle, Corporate Champions employees have written letters to the state legislators, served as panel members to educate legislators, and testified at hearings to improve state standards for childcare. In 1996, the Legislative Committee spearheaded the writing and passage of legislative bill HB 155, which requires anyone caring for up to three children in a home not related to the caregiver to be listed with the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and undergo a criminal history check. They also advocated for passage of HB 2875, which requires DPRS to establish minimum training standards for caregivers. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a Corporate Champions member, produced a special section dedicated to work/family and childcare issues in order to raise awareness.