(CINCINNATI, Ohio) The Cincinnati region’s leading child care resource and referral agency will announce Wednesday the beginning of a $2 million fundraising campaign to create the Institute for Early Childhood Excellence, an initiative that will dramatically increase the knowledge and skills of early childhood educators and lead to better-prepared and more successful school-aged children.

4C will announce its campaign, Bright Beginnings, Brighter Futures: A Campaign for All Children, at 4 p.m. at its future home, 1924 Dana Ave. Mayor Charlie Luken, and other local dignitaries, board members, friends and supporters of 4C are expected to attend. Children from the Richard E. Lindner YMCA will also visit, wearing child-sized hard hats and learning about construction terms and equipment.

4C’s plan calls for a centralized institute that offers a tiered system of coursework to area child care providers, aimed at improving the education and skills they bring to the classroom. Better-educated caregivers will provide care of greater quality, enhancing the emotional and cognitive development of children in child care settings.

“Early learning and child care facilities play a critical and integral role in preparing our community’s children for school readiness,” said James A. Miller, president and CEO of Bartlett & Co., and chairman of the Bright Beginnings campaign. “4C”s mission is to make certain that those who provide these services are up to the task. By supporting 4C, we are supporting the future of our community. The payback will be both tangible and meaningful.”

Through on-site training, distance learning, coaching, career counseling and research and evaluation, the Institute will reach at least 2,000 area caregivers who care for approximately 16,000 children. The institute will be a vehicle to:

• Train and mentor teachers and child care providers
• Coordinate a community-wide network of early childhood initiatives
• Promote licensing, certification and quality ratings
• Provide educators, parents, employers, public officials and others with information on child care options, early childhood education and child development
• Advocate for the importance of professionalism in the field of early childhood education

“We have an incredible opportunity to improve the future for children throughout Greater Cincinnati,” said Sallie Westheimer, executive director of 4C. “A child’s brain develops more in the first three years of life than at any other time. It is critical that we reach them early and offer an environment where they can prosper.”

She also comments, “Well-prepared teachers and care providers will improve the early learning experiences of our children and better prepare them to tackle the challenges they face when they enter school.”

While hairdressers, manicurists and dog groomers are all required to be trained and licensed; teachers and aides in child care settings are permitted to work without credentials and training. Yet, according to recent predictions, children is full-time child care from infancy through age five spend as much time in that setting as they will spend in school from kindergarten through graduation.

4C, founded in 1972 by a coalition of agencies and funders committed to child care, has worked for more than 30 years to improve the care provided to Cincinnati-area children.
“The work 4C does in our community is critical and has become even more important in this time of shrinking resources,” said State Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati and a member of the 4C Advisory Council.

4C serves five Ohio counties (Hamilton, Warren, Butler, Clermont and Clinton) and eight in Northern Kentucky. In 2003, the agency:

• Offered 805 professional development courses to 13,085 participants
• Provided training and technical assistance to 5,916 child care providers
• Recruited, trained and supported 214 new child care providers
• Helped 8,003 families find licensed and legally-operating child care centers and homes near their work or home.

4C also administers child care subsidy programs for local and state governments and the Child Nutrition Program, which feeds more than 2,400 low-income children each month.