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History

Below is a brief history of ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., doing business as Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas.

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1977:
On February 23, the first formal meeting was held of a group of interested women who agreed to establish a women’s center to meet the needs of women and their families.


1978:
Articles of incorporation were filed, and first board of directors elected.

Start‐up funding was made available for the center through the Junior League of Topeka.

On December 4, Everywoman’s Resource Center (ERC) officially opened for business.


1979:
By the end of the first full year, ERC had fielded 961 calls for assistance in the following areas: child care (241), counseling and support (98), elderly (38), emergency (94), employment (120), ERC information (121), general (175) and housing (74).


1980:
ERC began publishing a community newspaper entitled Resourceful Woman.


1981:
First Designers’ Showhouse fundraiser was held.


1985:
Marilyn Ward was selected as ERC’s Executive Director. Marilyn was part of the original group of women who started the organization.


1987:
ERC became “automated” when personal computers were installed with funding provided by Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Hills Pet Products.


1988:
December 4 was declared Everywoman’s Resource Center Day in Topeka by a mayoral proclamation.


1989:
ERC’s 10th anniversary cookbook, “Dinner by Design,” was released for sale as a fundraising opportunity.


1990:
DependaCare corporate referral contract program launched and was the first “fee-for-service” program.

ERC offered the first training for child care providers, contracting with area child care practitioners.


1991:
The Kansas Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (KACCRRA) was established, with ERC as one of the founding member agencies.

Name officially changed to “ERC/Resource & Referral” and a new logo was adopted.


1992:
Funding from the Child Care & Development Block Grant (federally mandated and funded, administered by SRS) supported the establishment of ERC’s “Warm Line,” a telephone line dedicated to handling inquiries from child care providers and offering them technical assistance.

ERC’s service area expanded to include four counties (Shawnee, Jackson, Osage and Wabaunsee) by receiving federal block grant funding through KACCRRA.


1995:
ERC’s second cookbook, “Delicious by Design,” was released for sale as a fundraising opportunity.


1996:
Pottawatomie County added to ERC’s service area.

Resource Lending Library established to serve child care providers.


1997:
ERC launched their website.


1999:
ERC hires an Infant/Toddler Specialist, the agency’s first staff trainer.


2000:
ERC holds “Holiday Boutique” fundraiser.


2003:
A federal Early Learning Opportunities Act (ELOA) grant to the Topeka community brought an expansion of ERC’s services and staff, including the addition of an Early Literacy Specialist and a Professional Development Specialist.


2004:
Marilyn Ward retired after 25 years of service to ERC, including 19 years as Executive Director. Ann McDowell was named to head the agency.

“Director’s Toolbox” seminars began, offering full‐day intensive professional development opportunities for child care center directors.

ERC’s third cookbook, “Delectable By Design,” published and offered for sale as a fundraising opportunity.


2005:
ERC receives Quality Assurance through the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).

Shawnee County receives funding through Kansas Smart Start strategy. The local effort, Capital Area Smart Start, provides funding for all or part of eight staff positions with the agency, providing outreach services and scholarship support to early childhood practitioners in ERC’s five-county service delivery area.

Management structure revised due to agency growth, adding a new Director of Provider Services and the Agency Development position.

“Capital City Learn & Share” event offered for the first time in spring and repeated in fall. Held each fall annually since, this all‐day conference also serves as a recognition event for child care providers who have achieved professional milestones.


2006:
Reva Wywadis was named Executive Director in October when Ann McDowell resigned.


2007:
KACCRRA “redesigns” the state network of child care resource and referral agencies, moving from 15 agencies to seven, three of which also serve as call centers for parents seeking child care referrals. ERC was notified in April that they were selected as a call center location and that they would begin offering services in their newly expanded area effective July 1.

ERC opened a satellite office in Lawrence in July as part of the expansion of their service area.

The new emphasis on child care and the lagging service statistics for employment and housing services caused the ERC Board of Directors to determine it necessary to reset ERC’s mission. Services in the employment and housing shifted July 1 to a general referral, connecting clients with other agencies to meet their employment and housing needs.

Management structure revised, eliminating the Director of Provider Services position and creating two Provider Services Manager positions.

Pre‐K Pilot award to Shawnee County brings ERC as a partner in providing on‐site coaching for teachers.


2008:
ERC awarded contract through United Way of Greater Topeka to offer support to school-age child care providers and child care center directors.

The agency formed new collaborative partnerships to bring additional services to child care programs in Douglas and Nemaha counties through local Smart Start initiatives.

ERC begins Quality Assurance process through NACCRRA.


2009:
The Marketing and Communications Specialist position added due to funding from the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce.


2010:
The passage of Lexi's Law significantly changed child care licensing, eliminating the category of registered providers. It also gave ERC a new role in providing pre-service training to new child care providers.

A new partnership with Community Action brought a Quality Improvement Coach who provided on-site coaching to Early Head Start Infant/Toddler teachers and home visitors.


2011:
Expansion into north central Kansas brought an additional 19 counties into the service delivery area. Six new positions were added – four at the new Salina satellite office and two working from home-based offices in Riley and Republic counties.

The agency announced a name change, ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., d/b/a Child Care Aware® of Northeast & North Central Kansas as part of the service delivery area expansion and a rebranding to NACCRRA’s new Child Care Aware® of America brand.

In May, ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., d/b/a Child Care Aware® of Northeast & North Central Kansas was the first recipient of the Distinguished Nonprofit Award from the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce.

An endowment with the Topeka Community Foundation was started.

The agency received recognition from Community Action for outstanding community collaboration.

The agency was approved as a United Way agency in Douglas County.

The first "Building Bright Futures" event was held in November, generating over $27,000 in gifts and pledges. This event kicked off the annual individual donor campaign for 2012.

The agency attained Quality Assurance through NACCRRA/Child Care Aware® of America, the highest standard of quality achievable in our industry.


2012:
The agency was selected to assume the responsibility of operating the statewide parent referral center. A new bilingual referral counselor was added to the staff.

The 2012 annual campaign, “The Power of Partnerships,” highlighted the relationships between our agency and the many partners we have in the community, with the government, businesses, parents and child care programs. Small group gatherings were held through October and November at child care facilities and agency offices, allowing attendees to get an inside look at how our agency impacts early childhood education in our communities.

The Early Childhood Wellness Project was introduced to child care programs in our service delivery area. It focuses on improving children’s health, nutrition, safety and physical activity.


2013:
On January 18, 2013, the agency closed the Salina office due to shifts in funding. Three staff members covering the western counties in our service delivery area began working from home-based offices.

The agency participated in the first annual Topeka Gives, a fun day of giving hosted by the Topeka Community Foundation, on June 19. The event allowed individuals to make a donation to participating nonprofit organizations from Topeka with a match provided by the Topeka Community Foundation.

Effective July 1, 2013, Child Care Aware® of Kansas reorganized the state network. Due to the changes made, the agency was renamed ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., d/b/a Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas. This agency’s service delivery area now consists of the following 33 eastern Kansas counties: Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Doniphan, Riley, Pottawatomie, Jackson, Jefferson, Geary, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, Morris, Chase, Lyon, Osage, Franklin, Miami, Coffey, Anderson, Linn, Greenwood, Woodson, Allen, Bourbon, Elk, Wilson, Neosho, Crawford, Chautauqua, Montgomery, Labette and Cherokee. The agency’s main office is located in Topeka, with satellite offices in Lawrence and Pittsburg and two employees working from home offices in Blue Rapids and Emporia.

The agency received a recognition grant from the Kansas Health Foundation that assisted in establishing The Center for Early Childhood Professional Development & Leadership.

The 2013 annual campaign, “Think 3!,” highlighted partnering with businesses/community partners, parents and child care programs. It was kicked off at the Building Bright Futures event.


2014:
A benefit auction was held for the agency on October 18. The fundraiser included a white elephant sale, silent auction and live auction.

A “Picnic in the Park” volunteer recognition event was held in October to honor those who have volunteered in the past year for the agency.

The agency partnered with Go Topeka Entrepreneurial & Minority Business Development to offer a Child Care Business Builders Series. The series of classes allow the agency to assist locals interested in establishing or building a successful child care business.


2015 to present will be coming soon!

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