BANANAS, Inc.

Rating: 4.92 stars   13 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Human Services

Location: 5232 Claremont Ave Oakland CA 94618 USA

Mission: BANANAS, Inc. was founded in 1973 with the mission of providing free child care and parenting information and support to the diverse families in its community with the long range goal of assisting families in becoming healthy and self-sufficient. BANANAS also seeks to play a role in society recognizing its responsibility to support families and child care programs.
Programs: BANANAS operates two major services: child care resource and referral and child care payment programs. BANANAS resource and referral staff provide parents with the information and counseling they need so that they can make the most appropriate child care choices for children. BANANAS provides a variety of other parent support services and gives technical assistance to child care programs. BANANAS offers workshops, publications, support groups and classes to both parents and providers and provides over 90,000 referrals and other services each year. BANANAS operates over 10 child care payment programs funded with federal, state and local funds. These programs pay for the child care of low income families and BANANAS pays for the child care of over 3,500 children each year. BANANAS also operates other short term projects including Parent Voices which is organizing parents to advocate for more government funded child care and family support services.

2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Over the past 3 decades I have had the opportunity to use the many services provided by BANANAS, first as a client and more recently as a high school teacher and preschool program director. In 1978 I moved to the bay area, a single mother – no family or support system, job or source of income – with only the confidence and determination to create a better life for my son and myself. My first task was to find child care for my son and I was fortunate to meet a woman who told me about an agency that provided services for woman and children including free referrals of child care programs. After talking with the woman at BANANAS, I left with a list of child care programs and camps to contact and the feeling I was no longer alone. My story is not unique. It has been retold many times and in many different languages and even if the circumstances vary, clients like myself come to this non-profit for services that assist woman and families and leave with answers to their questions and a relief that life just became a little easier.

As I pursued my career and made a life for my son and myself, BANANAS grew in size and reputation, expanded their services and increased their staff and clientele. In 1998, I was hired to teach child development classes – an elective course designed for high school students to investigate careers working with children. Students receive instruction in class and then apply their knowledge by working with children in our onsite preschool. Twenty years had passed since my first experience with BANANAS but when I walked inside their new location, not only did I feel the same warm reception but to my surprise I recognized several women who remembered me. And just like before, I talked about my need for resources that would supplement my textbooks and walked away with shopping bags full of informational brochures and handouts, relating to the content areas listed in my course outline as well as local publications and names of other nonprofit agencies dealing with a myriad of issues bay area families face every day as they attempt to keep their children safe and healthy. Resources including a Lending Video Library, workshops, classes, school presentations are just a few examples of ways BANANAS has enriched my curriculum. BANANAS provide a context for my students to gain an understanding of the lessons they learn in class.

In my review of BANANAS, I have described some of the services they offer as a resource and referral agency for Northern Alameda County especially those which have made a difference for me as a woman, a mother and a teacher. Recently I have seen BANANAS in what I consider their most important role, as advocates for quality child care programs. After serving the community for 30 years, administrative decisions threatened to close our preschool. When news of the potential elimination of our preschool program reached BANANAS, they were the first ones to stand up in support of our preschool. The Executive Director came to every meeting closure of the preschool was on the agenda, helped us strategize, work together and organize community support. At a time when BANANAS was dealing with massive budget cuts impacting preschools through out the state, I was surprised and thankful for the attention our preschool received. And when I expressed my appreciation, I heard the humble response “this is what we do!” Thank you, BANANAS, for doing it so well!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

see review

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

keep it the same -

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

This is a wonderful organization that provides child care support for many low income working class families who would not otherwise be able to afford childcare services for their children.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am a professional in a related field and am aware of many instances in which parents would either have lost their jobs or not been able to get appropriate childcare for their children but for Bananas' support.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Get more funding for this organization from grants and goverernment support

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Rating: 5 stars  

The BANANAS Child Care Resource and Referral agency is committed - absolutely! - to children and families. People ask for all kinds of help, and they are answered with compassion, openness, knowledge and friendliness. BANANAS interprets its mission very broadly, and offers all kinds of services for all kinds of families. Information is given on any topic relating to children. Advocacy is provided when needed. Families can count on BANANAS!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

BANANAS gives information and support to many, many families. I have seen confidence return to people under stress, and I have heard clients giving heartfelt thanks for the services they needed. And all is done on the leanest budget; I have observed that nothing is wasted.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would not make any changes to BANANAS, other than allowing it more funding!

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Rating: 5 stars  

Bananas has been of incredible assistance to our school, and because of them, we have been able to add to the quality of our care (workshops and First Aid/CPR reimbursement), assist our stability (referrals to parents) and for quite some time, gave us an avenue to find good staff (staff reference information). As an administrator, I have been able to be more savvy and therefore compliant with licensing issues, and have been able to provide my parents who are new or at risk, to have support and strategies for success through workshops and referrals.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

see above

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

bring back staff listings

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Rating: 5 stars  

Bananas, Inc. and its dedicated staff members have been incredibly supportive and provided crucal educational and informational materials for my wife and I regarding our now two year old son. This assistance has helped us through the challenging and uncertain growth stages for our child and helped us provide the appropriate care and support for our son. Bananas and its staff has also helped us with my family medical leave act questions and issues and provided critical advice regarding child care and child care providers.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My personal, family life and the raising of my child.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make it bigger and stronger.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Fantastic! I have a 20 month old and have been searching for a book that is even 1/2 as good as the Bananas handouts. I have also talked to staff members in a time of need who were comforting and helpful. I feel very lucky to have Bananas as a resource!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helpful and positive at every interaction.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

give them more $$ so that they could help other people as much as they helped me.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Bananas is a life saver:
When I need help for a clients, I refer them to Bananas with confidence.
When I need to enhance the information I want to share with a client, I go
to the Bananas' rich resource of materials and information.
When I need help for my matriculating staff members, I send them to Bananas.
When a parent can't afford my services, and I can't afford to help her, I send her to Bananas.
When I want to keep abreast of the child care news and the licensing regulations, I go to Bananas. Let's face it, sometimes it is great to go Bananas! Dr. D. L. Mante

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

attending the very valuable workshops and directors meeting referred low income parents for help Referred potential staff who needed foreign transcripts analyzed used the various resources, books, flyers, films, etc. Referred potential child care providers for training

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I cannot think of anything.

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Rating: 5 stars  

BANANAS is tremendously helpful to families but also to child care providers. They have been hosting Directors' Roundtable that are priceless and free for our field.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Attending the roundtable for directors has been a great learning experience.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would give them more funds to recreate/modernize their educational videos that are sometimes outdated.

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Rating: 4 stars  

Bananas helped us set up two wonderful shared daycare situations. We used Bananas to obtain referrals to contact for the other parents and for the caregivers themselves. The Bananas was very helpful in guiding us through the process of what to look for in a caregiver and how to do the contract for employment, etc. This was 16 & 19 years ago as our children are not grow, but we have been dedicated supporters since. Thanks Bananas!!!!!! Keep up the good work. Ann Casper

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See above review

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None.

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Rating: 5 stars  

When I was seeking child care for my baby daughter with disabilities, Bananas was a god-send, helping me understand and sort out what I needed to know to select good quality care. Later, when I wanted to work to improve child care as a volunteer advocate, Bananas provided encouragement, direct support, and advocacy tools so that I could be successful. I was so inspired by the staff and the programs at Bananas that I joined the Board of Directors. After more than 20 year, I support Bananas and thework they do whole-heartedly. This is a socially responsive and responsible organization....creative and outside the box thinking grounded in a clear understanding of community needs and social values.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Bnanas has been a key organization in helping to develop the field of child care. Staff at Banans were key in establishing the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network and the National Association of Resource and Referral Agencies for example. I personally have benefited as a consumer of child care; there isn't a policy or program in California related to child care that Bananas has not played a key role in developing and improving.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I worry about how the organization will weather the loss of key leadership. I hope there is succession planning and a conscious attempt to be writing down the history and the knowledge that the leadership has stored up inside their hearts and minds.

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