Child Care Links Emphasizes Family Education and Support

From putting babies to sleep on their back to choosing the right car seat, child-raising today is more information intensive than ever. Child Care Links is a Pleasanton-based agency that helps parents learn about and adapt to the new realities, whether the result of evolving thought or research breakthrough.

A testament to longevity, the agency started in Livermore in 1976 as a childcare referral and funding resource for the Tri-Valley. As it has evolved, the organization added new functions to become the go-to resource for child development in Alameda County, with offices in Pleasanton, Fremont, and Oakland.

Executive Director Carol Thompson has been with Child Care Links for 26 of its 32 years, the last eight in her current position. Over the past five years she's seen the emergence of some striking new findings, along with a shift in the major issues confronting today's families. Among the things that have been most noticeable are the "huge" emphasis on child safety, coupled with the push for quality education, testing, and early intervention when problems seem likely. "We've come a long way in medical technology as well," she points out, explaining that the "learn-to-live-with-it" prognosis for many childhood conditions has been replaced by an intervention or treatment leading to genuine improvement. "Families need to be aware of these advances," Thompson advises, noting the agency's reliance on workshops and newsletters to spread the word

As the new year begins, Thompson lists some of her top-of-mind child-related concerns:

  • Internet predators: "This is something we never had to deal with before. It's unfortunate that parents with their busy schedules don't always heed the warnings that we and other organizations have issued."
  • Disaster preparedness: This issue has become more prominent since 9/11, but families are still slow to develop action plans.
  • Autism: With numbers on the rise, the agency educates childcare providers on what to look for and how to broach the subject with parents, along with offering guidance on inclusion specialists and funding.
  • Going green: Perfect examples of its focus on "anything that protects children and families," the agency holds workshops on recycling and being more environmentally friendly.
  • Car seats: Citing police statistics, Thompson reports that more than 90 percent of car seats are installed improperly. It's not surprising given the proliferation of choices and automobile designs. Recalled models or those purchased at a garage sale without instructions contribute to the problem. A trained installer who went through a five-day class is available as a resource.

Mindful of the time constraints faced by today's working families, Thompson is looking at new channels (i.e., the Internet) to deliver the updates now presented at live workshops. Scheduling custom sessions for groups, such as a business that wants to help its employees develop their own personal disaster plans during a brown bag lunch or other gathering, is also encouraged. For more details on current workshops and other Child Care Links services, contact Thompson at or (925) 417-8733.

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