UNION COUNTY COUNCIL

FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Community Coordinated Child Care Lead Agency

2 City Hall Plaza, Rahway, NJ 07065

Jessica Olivera
Program Coordinator
973-923-1433 ext 141 
jolivera@uccyc.org

Kim Wilson
Program Specialist
973-923-1433 ext 131
kwilson@uccyc.org

QUICK LINKS:

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UCCYC OVERVIEW

 

County Councils for Young Children

 

New Jersey has established in all 21 counties - County Councils for Young Children (CCYC) to strengthen collaboration between parents, families, and local community stakeholders with health, early care and education, family support, and other service providers. This shared leadership philosophy includes parents as active partners with service providers and community leaders helping to identify the needs, aspirations and successes of our collective efforts to positively impact the health, education and well-being of children from pregnancy/birth to age 8. Funding was made available to establish a statewide network of local County Councils for Young Children (CCYC) by the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. Community Coordinated Child Care was awarded “County Council for Young Children” in October 2014.

 

UNION COUNTY COUNCIL FOR YOUNG CHILDREN 

 

PURPOSE

 

The purpose of the UCCYC is to create an environment where parents/families can come together at the local level with providers and other county community members as active and equal partners to identify/ discuss the needs, concerns, aspirations and successes regarding issues that affect the health, education and well-being of their children. 

  • Learn about and provide input in the development of community services from pregnancy, birth and early childhood to school entry to 3rd grade.

  • Ensure that the state and local policies and practices recognize the strengths as well as meet the needs of the families in Union County.

  • Ensure that the children in Union County are ready to enter school and be successful learners throughout their education.

  • Encourage parents and other community members and interested people to promote Grow NJ Kids, the most current rating scale for early childhood programs.

 

GOALS

 

  • The goal for the Union County Council for Young Children (UCCYC) is to empower families to advocate for themselves and their children and to find ways to assist parents with additional services in the community.

  • Create an environment where parents can become independent seekers of their own solutions.

  • To have a council comprised of 51% of parents as active members and 49% of active community members.

  • To reach out to parents through: Surveys, mail, focus groups, meetings, events and social media.

  • Offer parents: Personal growth, support, trainings, workshops, incentives. (i.e.; gift cards, incentives)

 

VISION

Union County Council for Young Children’s vision is to provide parents and Community members an environment where they become independent seekers of their own solutions by using their voice for effective change, available resources, training, and mentoring others. Our focus is to address community issues and empower families to advocate for themselves and their children. In order to do this, we recruit member for our subcommittees, organize meetings, workshops, and events, including collaborations with other agencies and organizations. We have great parent leaders who have learned to advocate for themselves and their children, as well as take the lead in chairing our meetings and events.

 
 

Sub-Committees / Projects

Health Subcommittee: This group provides input in health-related issues and services in the community that impact:

  • Health/ pregnancy/ birth; infant/ child health and development including dental care.

  • Children with special childcare needs

  • Parent/ caregiver health- access to health insurance, routine medical care, dental. And access to related health services when needed- such as, smoking cessation, mental health, substance abuse treatment and more.

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UCCYC works with many partners and Central Intake to provide our families with information on Health-Related Issues

Community Resource Subcommittee: This group helps to identify available resources and services in the community to identify locations, access and gaps in services and helps to recommend improvement, as needed.

Gaps might include transportation, language, and cultural barriers, etc.

Parents and community stakeholders working on the Handbook.

Ongoing collaboration with the Staff from The Division of Social Services

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This is one of the completed projects thanks to the collaboration with Union County Department of Human Services, Division of Social Services (DSS), Community Coordinated Child Care & Union County (CCCC) Council for Young Children (UCCYC)

Transportation Project

 

UCCYC has worked in collaboration with Tri State Campaign to advocate for better and reliable transportation in Elizabeth NJ.

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Transportation Meeting

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Transportation meeting with riders

Education Subcommittee: This group discusses issues and concerns regarding:

  • Quality early care and education programs which may include—Child Care Centers, Family Child Care, Early Head Start/Head Start, Preschool, and Elementary School

  • Transitions for children and their families within early care and education settings—for example, from childcare to preschool or from Early Head Start/Head Start/Preschool to Kindergarten. 

  • Children with special educational needs

  • Educational needs of parents and caregivers, for example GED programs, vocational training, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, Community College, or other education opportunities

  • This group also explores opportunities in the community for children and families to have access to art, dance, music, and sport activities that are affordable.

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UCCYC also provides parent workshops within our education subcommittee

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Children’s Café

Children’s Café was originally created in 2015 during our first UCCYC Council Meeting. In 2020 during the COVID- 19 pandemic, many parents expressed their concerns regarding their children’s lack of social interaction.

In April 2020 one of UCCYC parent leader suggested to host the first Virtual Children’s Café where children could embrace social connection, and bring awareness to our parents about the importance of social and emotional wellbeing and to eventually create future leaders.

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Aaliyah’s wish is for UCCYC and Children’s Café to exist in the whole world

 Aaliyah 6 years old.

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This artwork is clearly communicated in Kaitlyn’s poster.

Kaitlyn 8 years old

UCCYC Virtual Children’s Café

UCCYC hosts the Virtual Children’s Café where children have the opportunity for social connection through virtual learning during this pandemic and quarantine time. Our purpose was to embrace social connection, bring awareness to our parents about the importance of social and emotional wellbeing of their children and our final goal is to create future leaders.

During the Children’s Café meeting children created their mission statement, goals, and ground rules. Every Monday children at the Children’s Café read their mission statement, goal, and ground rules when meeting starts.

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Collaborations

UCCYC collaborates with other agencies, organizations, and stakeholders to enhance the connections for parents and provide even more information and resources. We have collaborated with Family Success Center, Prevention Links, Department of Early Childhood, Make the Road NJ and UTCAO. Not only do we do collaborations, but we also have events where different organizations can host tables and we encourage them as stakeholders to provide updates during meetings. We also provide resources to our families from other organization such as the following:

  • YWCA

  • Prevention Links

  • Make the Road NJ

  •  Shaping Elizabeth

  • PIECES

  • Partnership for Maternal & Child Health

  • Family Support Organization

  •  Union County Youth Services

  • Trinitas Hospital

  • WellCare

  • NJ Child Abuse Prevention

  • Central Jersey Legal Service

  • PSE&G

  • NJ CAP

  • UCCYC Staff

  • UCCYC Community Member

  • UCCYC Volunteer Parent Leaders

  • SNAP ED

  • Statewide Parent Advocacy Network SPAN

  • Union County Commissioner Sergio Granados

  • Assemblyman Jamal Holley

  • Volunteer moms of Scotch Plains

  • MERCK

  • Grow NJ Kids

  •  HOPES CAP, etc. 

  • The Division of Social Services (DSS)

  • Division of Child Protection and Permanence (DCP&P)

  • Community Stakeholder

  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension

  • Elizabeth Public Library

  • Plainfield Family Success Center

  • Bayway Family Success Center

  • US Health Care

  • Moms Helping Moms

  • Community Coordinated Child Care

  • Kings Daughters Day School

  • Little Hearts I and II

  • Black United Funds I and II

  • Silvia Chavez Baraye  

  • Dr. Ariel Quinones

  • Adry Machado

  • The Outlook Pioneers

  • Angels for Action- Plainfield

  • Seven Adventist Church – Elizabeth

  • Prisma Online School

Donations

UCCYC would like to thank our partners who donated book bags, toys, clothes, diapers, wipes, baby supplies, and their time and dedication to serve our community.

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Donation of toys from Volunteer Mom’s in Scotch Plains.

 

Donations received from the following:

  • Union County Commissioner Sergio Granados

  • Volunteer Moms of Scotch Plains

  • MERCK

  • US Health Care

  • Division of Social Service

  • Moms Helping Moms

  • Community Coordinated Child Care

  • The Outlook Pioneers

  • Prisma Online School

  • Donation of toys from Volunteer Moms at McGinn Elementary School in Scotch Plains.

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Since 2016 Volunteer Mom’s and Children from Scotch Plains have donated toys and books for families.

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UCCYC in collaboration with Strengthening Families Initiative (SFI) created “Toys on Wheels” in which we delivered donations to needy families within SFI Child Care Centers and providers throughout Union County.

Family Child Care Providers & Centers Received toys for needy Families

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UCCYC also received donation from US Work Health Rahway NJ

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Donations given to Community by UCCYC and CCCC

  • Assemblyman Jamal Holley

  • Angels for Actions

  • Families in Need (diapers, wipes, clothes, shoes, toys, books)

 

UCCYC Highlights

2015- 2022

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Parent Leaders who are actively involved and frequently attend the meetings, workshops, and events

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UCCYC Parents, Children and Stakeholders attend a training provided by the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)

Events and Projects

UCCYC Holiday Meeting

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Parents were able to unwind a little by decorating a hat made from tissue paper

UCCYC Kick Off Meeting- Suggested Document Handbook

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Annual Family Fun Fair in Plainfield

Fun activities for the whole families

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Thank you CCCC (Community Coordinated Child Care) staff, stakeholders, and Plainfield High School Student Volunteers.

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Elizabeth Bayway Transportation Project. (New Jersey Transit #58 Bus

Bayway Clean up:

Collaboration between Bayway Family Success Center and Union County Council for Young Children had organized an event to teach children from 4 to 13 the importance of keeping their neighborhood clean.

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Children ages 5 to 13 helping with Clean Up

Well Care and Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

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Elizabethport Health Fair

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Parent Conference in collaboration with Prevention Links

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Strengthening Families Protective Factor Framework Workshop to parents

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Domestic Violence Event from YWCA

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Community Baby Shower- Collaboration with Partnership Maternal and Child Health

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Forum about Immigration by Rutgers University

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Coping with Chronic Illness and Loss Workshop

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UCCYC during the Pandemic

Volunteer Mother’s from Scotch Plains donated books, diapers, and baby items to families in Plainfield who lost their job due to COVID-19.

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UCCYC in collaboration with Community Coordinated Child Care donated books and toys to children and families during the Covid Pandemic.

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UCCYC staff distributed additional diapers, census information and baby food products to more families in Plainfield. This was thanks to the support of Freeholder Sergio Granados and CCCC.

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Parents also received gift cards from being Census Ambassadors in Plainfield, New Jersey.

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UCCYC and Parent Leaders now host a UCCYC Children Café During the Pandemic

(Every Monday 6 pm)

 

 

The first parent meeting during the pandemic was March 30, 2020, the Parents expressed they were concerned about the children’s emotional being and wanted to do something that would help the children deal with being at home all day. From that moment the parents decided to meet and work on ways to provide our children information.  

Our first Virtual Children Café started June 1, 2020.

  • Now is every Monday of the week at 6 pm. Children can have the opportunity for social connection through virtual learning during this pandemic and quarantine time.

  • Our purpose was to embrace social connection, bring awareness to our parents about the importance of social and emotional wellbeing of their children and our final goal is to create future leaders.

Some of the topics we offer to our children and their families are:

  • Relationship in Quarantine: How to stay positive during the pandemic.

    • Silvia Chavez Baray

    • Ph.D. Psychology, Instituto Humanista de Sinaloa, Mexico

    • Master of Science in Child Psychology, Instituto Humanista de Sinaloa

  • Everything your child wants to know about COVID 19

    • Dr. Ariel Quinones MD

    • Family Medicine – Elizabeth NJ

  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children

    • Jessica Olivera MSW

    • Minor in Psychology

Program Coordinator Union County Council for Young Children (UCCYC)

Bilingual trainer

at Community Coordinated Child Care – Lead Agency

  • Fear? Out of my life!

    • Adry Machado

Testimony of a mother who can overpass life difficulties.

Asbury Theological Seminary – Florida

  • Responsive Care

Rhonda Ciccone Hessler

Community Coordinated Child Care

  • Virtual Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meeting

UCCYC meeting

Overview of UCCYC

  • Parents Café

  • Focus group

  • Parents in Action in collaboration with Department of Health

    • Nutrition class series

  • Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking October 2020

  • NJ Child Abuse Prevention

  • Victoria Spera- Presenter

Provided our community members and families information related to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, the use of internet and electronic device.

  • Union County- Division of Youth Service:

    • Offered parents a workshop series about Healthy Eating & Time management. During this series parents learned new ways to prepared nutritious food for their families. They also received $200 worth of groceries and cooking supplies which was a nice surprise to all of them.

  • Dental Care (Pediatric and adult)

    •  UCCYC and WellCare 

  •  The Stress Management Health Education workshop on 11/19/2020 at 1pm

    • UCCYC & WellCare

  • SNAP ED Nutrition & Physical Activities Workshop

    • Offer our children a series of nutrition and physical activities classes where children had the opportunity to learn about the importance of fruit & vegetables, physical activities, the food groups in our plate as well as eating healthy habits.

  • For 2021 UCCCY continue with its goal of empowering families by providing education on different topics. UCCYC believe “Information is key! Therefore, in January 2021 UCCYC had its first parents’ Café and worked on topics parents and children believe it is the best interest for them.

  • Our first collaboration of the year was with Elizabeth Public Library. Together we organized a series of story time, workshops, and art & craft workshops.

  • For the month of March and April UCCYC parent leaders have offered themselves to offer fun activities for our children where one parents will offer workshop to our children on baking, painting, and cooking. Prior to this fun activity children received their apron and children already decorate their apron with UCCYC logo in it. Children are very excited and looking forward to starting this very fun activities.

  • Along with the activities from Elizabeth Public Library and UCCYC’s parents, we also worked with Central Jersey Legal Service to offer our families information on “Know your rights as tenants” in English and (in which we had 15 attendances on the first and 22 on the second workshop.) UCCYC also had a presentation in collaboration with PSE&G (Rosa Pagnillo-Lopez PSE&G Payment Assistance Outreach) about services and assistance to pay your gas & electricity.

  • Currently UCCYC and CCCC is working together to offer families and provider the Strengthening family’s workshop. This workshop will encourage parents to become strong and provider to work towards supporting and strengthen families.

  • During May 27 and June 1, 2021, UCCYC worked with NJCAP to offered workshops to our parents and Early Child Care Professionals about encourage their children to prevent from abuse and bullying, and keep them safe, strong, and free.

  • UCCYC has a great relationship with members of the community and for that reason. This year UCCYC received shoe donations from mother in Scotch Plains to our families in need. UCCYC had delivered the shoes to families who requested the shoes.

  • At the end of the year UCCYC received donations from volunteer moms from Scotch Plains and Prisma Online School.

UCCYC Parents Leaders Recognition

  • Two of our parent leaders were selected to be a part of the 2 Generation PACTT (Parents and Children Thriving Together)

  • One parent was invited to sit on a Parent Panel at the PACTT National Network meeting to discuss their experiences with government programs and their recommendations for policymakers. The goal for their involvement with PACTT is to deepen understanding among state partners of two-generational systems and policy change.

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  • UCCYC (Parent Leader) was selected to serve as an advisor on the FRIENDS National Center for Community Based Child Abuse Prevention, Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) to voice their opinion and provide recommendation on topics related to Child Abuse Prevention FRIENDS focuses on Primary and Secondary Prevention efforts and the services associated there. This includes a focus on assisting state Lead Agencies to measure and report on their outcomes in their various programming efforts. and supporting families.

  • Two of our parent leaders also received a certificate at the Parent Leadership Recognition Event sponsored by the Parent Anonymous of New Jersey. This recognition was given to our parents for their active involvement within the community as parent leaders.

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  • One of our parents formed their own group under the umbrella of the County Council. The goal for group is to provide a Support and Resources to victims of Domestic Violence.

  • Parent leaders received training are now providing workshops or serving as co-chairs.

  • They advocate for children and families in their community: Helping other parents with school registration, providing community resources information, assisting non-English-speaking parents translating information etc.

  • Parents suggested the following topics to continue their leadership and parent growth.

  • Exposure

  • How to be part as parent leader

  • Budgeting, save $ by using coupon.

  • Professional Development, Dress for Success and Elevator Speech

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Budgeting Workshop: How to save money by using coupon.

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Parent Leaders have their own business cards.

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UCCYC Parents Leaders receiving their Business Cards.

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Please join us and be the voice for your children, family, neighborhood, community, and county. You can become an independent seeker of your own solutions! 

For more information on the Union County Council for Young Children (UCCYC), you can visit  www.ccccunion.org 

or contact the Program Coordinator Jessica Olivera at (973)923-1433 ext. 141

or at jolivera@uccyc.org