02-19-2017  6:17 pm      •     

Local child care provider Grace Alams was honored at a luncheon Oct. 10 at "The First Child Care Providers Awards Ceremony," held in Washington, D.C.
Alams and 17 others were recognized for their commitment to providing quality child care. Their work has been featured on the award-winning PBS television series "A Place of Our Own."
Alams, the owner of Grace's Kiddie Korner, has been a child care provider in Seattle for 12 years.  At the suggestion of a friend who had her own child care business, she decided to open her own after a divorce left her as a single mother of four children.
Alams, who is originally from eastern Nigeria, didn't realize she was being honored until she arrived at the awards luncheon. Alams was profiled on the PBS program as part of "Child Care Provider of the Week" which aired in March.
"To be honored just blew me away," Alams said. "To be there with rest of the child care providers, we talked, exchange ideas, it was almost like a mini-training course, it was so very rewarding and I learned so much."
"To see that there are a whole bunch of people who care about kids like I do was wonderful," she said. "There are a lot of things we can do with kids that constitute science that we don't look at it as science unless we buy the little lab. But to hear how someone can implement little ideas into their programs was wonderful."
The ceremony highlighted the vital role that parents and child care providers can play in raising preschool-age children and preparing them for kindergarten. National statistics reveal that two out of every three children up to age four are either in the care of a parent or informal child care provider -- many of which are eager for more information and training. When surveyed, 80 percent of child care providers who watch the show reported enhanced child development skills.
Alams recalls one piece of advice that has always stuck with her, "Always look at everybody as just as important" and tries to carry that message though to her kids as well.
"I've worked with a lot of homeless families, battered women who have been displaced, but no matter where you're from, you are treated with the utmost respect," Alams said. "Nobody knows who has a house and who doesn't," Alams said. "I try to teach the kids the importance of being a good person; it's not about the designer clothes. Everybody is important and I try to teach the kids that everyone should be respected even if they look or wear different clothes or talk with an accent."
Alams credits Child Care Resources with helping to assist parents to find a quality day care center for their children. She said workers will drive parents around if they don't have a car or if they have just moved to town and assist child care providers with up-to-date training.
Alams tries to support single mothers and currently has 12 kids enrolled in her day care plus a waiting list of hopefuls trying to get enrolled.
"I've been in their shoes before, being a single mom, so it's not just being there for the kids, but being there for the mom and the family," Alams said.
Alams feeds the kids, and says she is big on taking them on field trips such as the Museum of Flight, community festivals and overnight camping trips.
"The kids still talk about that camping trip in West Seattle," Alams said. "It was a huge hit with them."
Alams follows a structured program, but  she may change her topic to address issues that come up during the week.
The series, "A Place of Our Own," and its Spanish language companion "Los Ninos en Su Casa," are talk show designed for parents, grandparents, babysitters and anyone who takes care of young children. The series offers advice and tips on topics such as behavior, building language and literary skills, special needs and nutrition. The programs target preschool learning by addressing age-appropriate literacy, math, science and diversity recognition.
Both programs have been recognized with several national and local awards, a Peabody Award in 2006, Parent's Choice, an Emmy and was also nominated for an Imagen Award.
To view a video profile of Alams or for local listings, times and more information on "A Place of Our Own," visit www.aplaceofourown.org.

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All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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