ECA Blog

Where Do You Eat Dinner?

When is the last time your family sat down to the table to share a meal?  If you are like my family, we have gotten in the habit of eating in front of the television, which I said I was never going to do as a mother.  This is not how I was raised.  My mom did everything in her power to make sure that we had dinner as a family.  I remember times when we packed up the entire meal and went to the field just so that we could eat with Dad.  It was a very rare occasion in our household if we ate like my family has grown accustomed to on a regular basis.

Well, that is going to stop right now.  Starting this week, I am going to reclaim the dining room table for what it was intended for and establish our Family Dinner Time.  This means everyone at the table together, no distractions (cell phones, video machines, television, computers, etc.), enjoying a meal together.

Research is beginning to show that eating as a family 4-5 times a week has great benefits for children.  Benefits can include improved communication skills, better manners, more nutritious meals, a broader pallet, higher academic performance, increased self-sufficiency, and more.

I know it is going to be challenge.  I am lucky that my children are young enough that they are not involved in all of the extra-curricular activities that steal time away from the family like baseball, dance class, piano lessons, homework, and on and on.  I hope if I start now and make this a “most of the time” experience that later on it will be routine and hopefully will not be as hard to initiate into our hectic lives.  However, I know that challenges will arise and we will have to face them head on.  There will be times when it will not be possible and that the family will not be able to eat together.  However, it is my pledge to my children that if it is possible and if I can make it happen, I will.  I also pledge to get my act together and plan out our menu so that we can be more conscientious of the nutrition that we are getting in our diet.  This will be a priority for my family and for the well-being of my children, my husband, and for myself.

Here are a couple of resources that I am using to help establish our Family Dinner Time:

  • The Family Table – Family meals strengthen and connect families.  We are your source for resources and support to help you eat more meals with your family so the children in your life reap the benefits.  The Family Table – make it a habit!  *From
  • The Family Dinner Project –   Most American families are starved for time to spend together, and dinner may be the only time of the day when we can reconnect, leaving behind our individual pursuits like playing video games, emailing and doing homework.  Dinner is a time to relax, recharge, laugh, tell stories and catch up on the day’s ups and downs, while developing a sense of who we are as a family.   *From

Won’t you join me in this journey by establishing or maintaining your own Family Dinner Time?

Have a Great Week!


Investing In Early Childhood Education

Should business leaders care about early childhood education? Madeleine Baker, CEO of Early Childhood Alliance for more than a decade, advocates for quality early childhood education not only for children’s and families’ benefit, but also for the short-term and long-term impact that it has across the business community. As a former human resources manager, Madeleine knows first-hand the direct benefits for employers:

  • With the majority of parents working, the availability, accessibility, and affordability of quality local child care is a significant draw for employees who have young children.
  • Studies show that child care issues are problematic for families. When parents have quality, reliable care for their children, employers experience reduced absenteeism and turnover, and increased productivity.
  • The availability of quality early childhood care leads to greater availability of working adults and increased opportunity for advanced education.

With that said, there are even more benefits for community investment in early childhood education that are long-term.  Children learn from birth. In fact, the foundation for lifelong learning capacity is established during a child’s earliest years, from 0 to 5. Those early learning experiences set the stage for school readiness and beyond… into the workforce.

In 2014 Indiana spent nearly $22 million on 4,500 children repeating kindergarten because those children started their school experience unprepared. Chances are, as studies indicate, that those children are not reading at grade level by third grade and many will never catch up in later years. Remediation for those children costs money, taxpayer money, and in the long run, the lack of quality education and learning will limit economic growth.

The need for investment in the early years is real. One in four children in northeast Indiana live in poverty and are most at risk of entering their school years unprepared to learn. Quality learning experiences need to be available, accessible and affordable for all children.

An important move to improve quality of early education in Indiana was the adoption of a quality rating and improvement system statewide several years ago. Paths to QUALITYTM  is that system, with voluntary participation and four-levels of quality. Developed in Fort Wayne and first implemented by Early Childhood Alliance, it is a tool for parents who are looking for early care and education programs. Parents can now identify not only programs that participate in Paths to QUALITY but what level of quality each has achieved. It also gives child care providers a framework for improving their programs to Level 4, the highest level, which includes national accreditation.

Employers can help their workforce achieve the highest levels of productivity and economic growth, both now and in years to come,  by investing in quality early childhood education. And some of the first steps are easy to do, such as making sure employees get information on Paths to QUALITY; putting a FREE Child Care Search button on their websites and internal communications; subsidizing child care as an employee benefit; and supporting family-friendly policies in the workplace.

Advocating for quality early care and education is important for the future of so many young children, but also for the business community moving forward. Everyone will benefit.

Help Families Find Quality Child Care

Child care is an important part of a working parent’s everyday life, and success.


Did you know?

  • Absenteeism, tardiness, and reduced concentration at work are often the costly results of breakdowns in child care arrangements.*
  • Employees miss an average of 8 days of work per year for child care issues.
  • 63% of employees with children report improved productivity when using high quality child care.**

Indiana Employers can show families, staff and the community that you value the importance of quality care and education!



Post the Free Child Care Search Button on your website to help your families find high-quality child care. With just two mouse clicks, employees, customers, and site visitors can gain access to child care resources, videos, information, and an online search tool.

Watch this video to learn more!


Contact Us Today!

For Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, and Whitley Counties, contact ECA toll free at 800-423-1498, ext. 2492, or by email,

All families can use to help them make the child care search easy.

Have a Great Week!



*Shellenback, 2004

**ABT Associates, 2000

Information also gathered from Paths to QUALITY brochures, and the www.iaccrr.orgwebsite