History

ERC Resource & Referral, Inc., d/b/a Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas, was established in 1978 as Everywoman’s Resource Center. Through the years it became obvious that the services offered by the Center were not particularly gender related. For that reason, in the fall of 1991, the name of the Center was modified to ERC Resource & Referral.

1977:

• First formal meeting was held (February 23) of a group of interested women who agreed to establish a women’s center to meet the needs of women and their families. The group decided that the organization’s name would be the Every Woman’s Center.

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.
• December 4, 1978 Everywoman’s Resource Center officially opened for business, with office space made available in the lower level of the YWCA at no charge.

1979:

• Bylaws established.
• By the end of this first year, ERC had fielded 961 calls for assistance in these 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, written and edited entirely by volunteers published four times annually.

1981:

• First Designers’ Showhouse held, netting a profit of $9,500.00.

1985:

• Marilyn Ward was selected as ERC’s Executive Director. Marilyn was part of the original group of women who started the Center, and had been involved as a volunteer in various capacities.
• ERC moved to new office space in the Pozez Education Center, operated by Stormont Vail Hospital.

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.
• Majority of calls were for child care, closely followed by employment.

1988:

• December 4, 1988 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.
• ERC moved to the Medical Arts Building at 1002 SW Garfield.

1990:

• DependaCare corporate referral contract program launched, first “fee for service”
program.
• ERC offered 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.
• Employment referrals surfaced as a significant need. ERC was awarded a United Way Venture Grant to expand services offered through the Job Bank.
• Calls to the center this year totaled over 16,000, with 6,300 job‐related and 5,000 for child care.
• Name officially changed to “ERC/Resource & Referral for Women and Men” 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, receiving federal block grant funding through KACCRRA.
• Staff has now grown to four full‐time and one part‐time position.

1996:

• ERC became provisional United Way agency.
• Pottawatomie County added to ERC’s service area.
• Resource Lending Library established to serve child care providers.

1997:

• ERC office moved to 10th Street Medical Building, 1710 SW 10th Avenue.
• ERC achieved full‐member status with United Way.
• Child care provider newsletter renamed “Child Caring.”
• ERC launched their website.

1999:

• ERC hires an Infant/Toddler Specialist, the agency’s first staff trainer, bringing the paid staff to seven (six full‐time and one part‐time).

2000:

• ERC holds “Holiday Boutique” fundraiser, netting $10,000.
• Referrals totaled 16,397, with child care accounting for more than 50% of all referrals.
• Community newspaper renamed ERC NOW!

2003:

• ERC contracts with Community Action Head Start for coaching and consultation services, hiring a part time staff person to assume these duties.
• A large 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, bring the total number of staff to 10.

2004:

• Marilyn Ward retired after twenty‐five 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.
• Library expands again, thanks to funding from ELOA and other sources.
• Endowment trust document put into place.
• ERC’s third cookbook, Delectable By Design, published and offered for sale.

2005:

• ERC awarded Capacity Building grant from the Topeka Community Foundation.
• ERC receives Quality Assurance through NACCRRA (the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies).
• 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 area.
• Management structure revised due to agency growth, adding a new Director of Provider Services and 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.
• Staff grew to 14.

2006:

• Early Reading First grant (federal literacy program) awarded to Topeka USD501, with ERC as a partner.
• 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 entered a competitive process for being selected as one of these seven agencies, notified in April that they were selected and that they would begin offering services in their new 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.
• Six new staff positions were created, bringing the staff to a total of 22 (18 full‐time, 4 part‐time).
• Management structure revised, eliminating the Director of Provider Services position and creating two Provider Services Manager positions.
• The Capitol Federal Foundation awarded ERC a technology grant, providing the means by which technology needs could be met during the agency’s expansion.
• 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 providers and child care center directors.
• ERC forms 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 the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
• One new staff position was created.

2009:

• Block grant expansion throughout the state brings two new staff positions, one in Topeka and one to the Lawrence office.
• Resource Specialist position eliminated; Marketing and Communications Specialist position added due to funding from the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. Staff now totals 24.

2010:

• ARRA funding brought new resources, as well as many opportunities for outreach to providers.
• The passage of Lexi's Law significantly changed child care licensing, eliminating the category of registered providers.
• Advocacy efforts were significant this year as funding in the CIF (Children's Initiative Fund) was under siege due to significant shortfalls in the state budget. Funding was protected.
• A part-time temporary staff person was added as the Designers' Showhouse Coordinator.
• One part-time position funded through Smart Start was eliminated and two other positions increased hours to absorb the workload.
• 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. Staff now totals 24(not counting the temporary position mentioned above).

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 d/b/a Child Care Aware of Northeast & North Central Kansas. All printed materials, website and signage were updated to reflect the new name and brand identity.
• ERC's Board of Directors approved a new mission statement, "ERC Resource & Referral d/b/a Child Care Aware of Northeast & North Central Kansas supports the development and learning of young children by offering programs and services that improve the quality and accessibility of child care for working families."
• In May, ERC was the first recipient of the Distinguished Nonprofit Award from the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce.
• ERC started an endowment with the Topeka Community Foundation.
• ERC received recognition from Community Action for outstanding community collaboration.
• ERC 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 worked diligently to complete the documentation for submission to NACCRRA to attain national Quality Assurance. (Submission deadline, 11/30/2011.)
• One staff position was eliminated due to funding cuts in Smart Start. Staff now totals 29.