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CRANSTON, RI On Monday, April 2, the state Department of Human Services launched its Child Care Shout Out Campaign.

To participate, and we hope you do, simply use the hashtag #RICares4ChildCare and post a photo or video on social media that explains what you love about your favorite child care site. Is it the laughter and great learning that takes place there? Is it the joy on your child's face? Is it the teachers' style?

Let the world know and maybe your post will be featured at Child Care Awareness Day at the State House on May 16th! On Monday, Director Country E. Hawkins tweeted pictures and the following to kick off the campaign:

"Knowing that she is safe and that her teachers, Teresa and Kristen, care as much about her development as a learner and as a person as I do, is what allows me to come to work every day. #RICares4ChildCare"

The social media promotion is part of the State's push for high quality child care for all regardless of income and living situation. Governor Raimondo's FY19 budget includes a $1.5 million investment for infants and toddlers by proposing a tiered approach that links reimbursement rates to the quality of child care in both home- and center-based settings. There is also another $200,000 investment in the Governor's budget that will help adult learners access child care.

In addition, DHS is working collaboratively with stakeholders, advocates and others to strengthen the BrightStars rating system for child care providers. The BrightStars Think Tank group plans to present recommendations to DHS Director Courtney E. Hawkins by the end of April.

The State is also ensuring child care providers have access to resources, including professional development, to move up the BrightStars rating system and the State is dedicated to further streamlining how child care owners are supported by the various Rhode Island agencies and departments including DHS and DCYF.

"These targeted investments will make one of the State's most important programs better and more effective at supporting families who are working to attain economic security and promoting children's learning and development," Director Hawkins testified before the House Finance Committee on March 27.

The children currently served by DHS' Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) program about 10,000 every month benefit from access to early education, afterschool care and summer programs that they might not otherwise be able to attend.

Continued Hawkins, "This program has a strong foundation, however, we must continue to make improvements to ensure that we are providing the highest quality services to our State's youngest residents so they have the chance to shine and have future success in school and in life."

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