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Family Voices: Harper's Story - Tragedy  Outside a Provider's Home

August 8, 2019

Harper was a typical toddler full of love, laughs and life, when a tragic event happened outside the home of her family child care provider in the summer of 2016. In the video below, Harper’s mother, Whitney, shares her story and what she hopes parents and providers will do to keep children safe. 


After the incident, her family started Harper’s Hugs to bring awareness to the importance of managing the safety of children in child care. The project is named Harper's special ability to give the best hugs to everyone she met.

"The Harper’s Hugs project was created to honor her life by sharing her hugs with other children through teddy bears. In fact, the plan grew bigger than life with over 1,100 Harper’s Hugs bears being delivered all across the U.S. and several countries. Each bear also carries a message to raise awareness for child safety."

Like Harper's family, we urge parents and providers to keep children safe in child care. Providers, we've created a guide to Outdoor Environment safety. You can also find other safety recommendations on our webpage, Operating a Child Care Center: Program Practices.

Parents, let Harper’s story show you why it is important to talk about safe outdoor play spaces and pick-up policies with your child’s provider. Learn more about other questions you may want to ask providers in our checklist for Selecting a Child Care Program.



Family stories influence program and policy decisions. The Family Voices Series is a collection of stories that elevate the triumphs, challenges, and opportunities families experience in child care and early education, both locally and nationally. So grab your favorite cup of coffee or tea to enjoy while you immerse yourself in the real-world child care experiences of families from across the nation or take a stand and share your story with families alike.

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April Dodge-Ostendorf

Written by April Dodge-Ostendorf

April Dodge-Ostendorf, MSW, is Manager of Family and Community Engagement Outreach at Child Care Aware® of America. She has 15 years of professional experience advancing social service systems for children and families at local, state and national levels. April’s current work includes stakeholder engagement, program implementation and evaluation for initiatives that align with national priorities.