Letter to Senator

August 3, 1999

The Honorable Jim M. Jeffords, Chairman
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Dirksen Building, Room 428
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Jeffords:

The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences thanks you for your commitment and support to improve the quality and availability of childcare for all our children. This is a priority issue for the Association this year.

The members of this Association have been in the family and child development business for almost a century and we fully support the bill you and the Honorable Christopher Dodd are cosponsoring, S. 814, the "Caring for America's Children Act." We also support the use of budget surplus funds being allocated to childcare and early education programs. We would like to clarify a misunderstanding that came up during last week's hearing and we request that this information be incorporated in the hearing record.

During the course of the discussion, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), Chair of the Appropriations Committee, indicated his desire for parenting education in this country. Parenting education is currently a vital part of the family and consumer sciences curriculum, a subject offered at the middle, secondary and post-secondary education levels across the country. In 1998, national standards were adopted for the middle and secondary education levels. Included in these standards is a comprehensive standard on parenting which delves in depth into: 1) analyzing the roles and responsibilities of parenting; 2) evaluated parenting practices that maximize human growth and development; 3) evaluating the external support systems that provide services for parents; and, 4) analyzing physical and emotional factors related to beginning the parenting process. A copy of the national standards for family and consumer sciences is enclosed for your information.

Parenting education is also an integral part of the Family and Child Development programs in colleges and universities and two-year community and junior colleges.

The national Cooperative Extension System has engaged in parent education for almost 100 years and is probably the largest provider of parenting education in the United States. Within the past 10 years, Cooperative Extension has expanded parent education resources so that in many communities across the U.S., Extension is seen as the source of this valued programming. Cooperative Extension has been collaborating with judges, lawyers, states' Departments of Social Service and Health as well as the religious communities to support parents as they engage in this critical role. Impact assessments have found that program participants expand their parenting skills, improve communication, change guidance and discipline methods, and learn more about the growth and development of children and youth at different ages. Of particular note are two programs for fathers that have received national attention, Dads Make a Difference—in Minnesota and It's My Child Too—Purdue University.

The members of this Association commend the work you and the members of your committee have done in the area of improving the quality and availability of childcare in this country. If you need further information on any of these programs or further clarification of the work done by family and consumer sciences professionals, we would be happy to provide you with the names of parenting education and child development experts. Please call Mary Ellen Saunders, Director of Public Policy, at (703) 706-4600 and she will be happy to help you. We join you in working to make improved child care a reality!


Carol L. Anderson, Ph.D., CFCS
AAFCS President

cc: The Honorable Ted Stevens w/enclosure
The Honorable Chris Dodd w/o enclosure
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions w/o enclosure
Helen Blank, Children's Defense Fund w/o enclosure