Founded in 1973, BANANAS began as an all-volunteer organization, comprised of local mothers looking for playmates for their children. As women began to enter the workforce in increasing numbers, the need for child care became a common and widely acknowledged dilemma. Building on the strong base of community support we had already established, BANANAS evolved from a place for children and mothers to socialize to a critical network of information and resources that enabled parents to work without compromising their child’s welfare.
In the 1970s, as legislation in California established R&R centers throughout the State, the BANANAS model was recognized as both innovative and effective, positioning us as a national leader in its field. When welfare reform was implemented in the 1990’s and the government’s investment in child care subsidies grew substantially, BANANAS became the agency in Northern Alameda County responsible for determining income eligibility for parents and for processing subsidy payments to child care providers.
Today, BANANAS continues to serve as a critical source of child care information and support to the child care communities of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, and Piedmont. Our staff of 30 serves an average of 141,000 individuals annually with a $10 million annual budget. Our services include referrals to child care providers based on the individual needs of each family, workshops and support groups for parents, and emergency child care support for families in crisis. In addition, we offer professional development for child care providers, including training and classes, licensing and accreditation assistance, and health and safety information. Our staff speaks 10 languages and dialects, including English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Amharic, Tigrigna, Laotian, Thai, and Mien, enabling us to reach the wide range of parents and child care providers in this culturally and ethnically diverse region.