Keep children safe at the pool this summer

by Administrator 1. July 2015 14:47

With the summer heat and this weekend’s upcoming 4th of July festivities, many people will be flocking to neighborhood and community pools for some family time. Pools are a great source of family fun, but they can also be dangerous if not everyone is aware and mindful of important pool safety standards. 

Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that fatal and non-fatal child drownings in pools and spas continue to pose a public health and safety challenge across the country. CPSC estimates that each year nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools and spas and more than 3,200 children that age go to hospital emergency rooms due to submersion injuries in pools and spas.

These incidents are largely preventable by following some basic pool safety tips to keep children safer in and around the water:

  • PoolNever leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water. 
  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. 
  • Learn how to swim, and teach your child how to swim. 
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. 
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments. 
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers. 

For more information, please visit the Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives website.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July!


health | resources

The Healthy Child: Assembly Required

by Administrator 26. June 2015 14:23

A few months ago, in front of a sold-out TEDxUNC conference crowd, Dr. Kathleen Gallagher of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) told the amazing story of the children who were part of one of the most famous studies in early childhood—FPG's Abecedarian Project. The video of this talk, “The Healthy Child: Assembly Required,” has quickly become the most watched TED Talk from UNC this year! 

In her TED Talk, Dr. Gallagher explained the transformative power of high-quality early care and education. She extended the theme of this year's TEDxUNC conference, "Assembly Required," to what she called "the single most important feat of construction that our society undertakes...the assembly required to build physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially healthy children."

It is always exciting to see so much widespread interest in early childhood. With data-driven work as our foundation and community partners and thought-leaders like FPG as our neighbors, we can continue to serve children and families in Durham and raise awareness for the critical work being done in early childhood today.

The text and many of the illustrations from the TED Talk are available here.

Dr. Gallagher’s research and applied work focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based approaches that support the learning and well-being of young children, families, and early childhood professionals in the contexts of poverty and disability.


news | reports | resources

Celebrating our partners at the Partner Appreciation Breakfast

by Administrator 23. June 2015 13:09

This past Friday, we had the opportunity to honor our community partners and celebrate success at our annual Partner Appreciation Breakfast. Nearly 70 people attended the event and enjoyed good food and sweeping views of Durham at the beautiful University Club. Representatives from our Smart Start partners, Durham Early Head Start, NC Pre-K, the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative, Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, and the Partnership’s Board of Directors gathered together to celebrate their work with young children and families. It was wonderful to be with so many friends as we continued our 20th Anniversary celebrations and recognized the inspiring success of these programs. 


The program began with a greeting from Cindy Watkins, President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, who acknowledged the innovative work being done in Durham. Following this greeting, the crowd heard from guest speaker Dr. Wynetta Lee, Dean of the School of Education at NC Central University. Dr. Lee spoke to the importance of early childhood education and the value of nurturing and caring for Durham’s youngest citizens. 


As one way of celebrating success, we invited our partners to share a story with us. These motivating and moving presentations included everything from a testimonial from a child care center director on how her teachers are working hard to support the families of their students, to a school staff member’s perspective on how the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is improving the experience of kindergartners, teachers, and schools across Durham.  

Executive Director Laura Benson then had an opportunity recognize each of our partners individually and thank them on behalf of the Partnership and the Board of Directors. Laura also recognized Jameka Wells, NC Pre-K Program Specialist, for reaching her 10th work anniversary at the Partnership! Jameka is the longest tenured employee and is greatly appreciated and loved by many people who were in the room that morning. Closing out the event was the highly anticipated drawing for some wonderful raffle prizes, all of which were donated by generous sponsors.


Thank you for helping us celebrate 20 years of preparing Durham’s children to succeed. We are so grateful for each and every one of our Partners who work so hard for our young children and families in Durham!

Stop Summer Hunger

by Administrator 17. June 2015 15:32

Summer break is finally here, but unfortunately it’s not a carefree time for thousands of children in Durham. For the nearly 60% of children receiving free or reduced lunch in Durham Public Schools, summer break means the loss of access to meals at school.

There are many great organizations working to combat this problem. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has a Kids Summer Meals Program to help families who are seeking alternatives to meals typically provided at school. The Kids Summer Meals sites provide a location for children to receive free breakfast and lunch in addition to various enrichment activities for children such as exercise and summer reading programs. This summer, the program will provide at least 200,000 meals to 6,000 children in the 34 counties which it serves, including Durham

In addition to the Kids Summer Meals Program, the Food Bank holds an annual campaign to “Stop Summer Hunger” to collect food and funds during June and July with a goal of providing 3.2 million meals to children and families. For additional information or to donate, go to

Another local organization working to fight childhood hunger is East Durham Children’s Initiative. This past Monday marked the first day of Summer Lunch in the EDCI zone, and 99 meals were served to children and families! Visit to learn more.

At a national level, Feeding America and ConAgra Foods have teamed up with YouTube star Kid President to raise awareness about childhood hunger and the critical need for summertime meals. The ConAgra Foods Foundation is donating the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America for every view, like, or share of this great video, so check it out and learn more about how you can help!  


Build a scaffolding of support

by Administrator 16. June 2015 16:02

“If we had X dollars to invest in reducing inequality or promoting human capital development, where should we invest it?”

This question is one that is frequently asked of Professor James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning expert in the economics of investing in the early and equal development of human potential.

The question begs for a simple answer. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. It depends very much on what the problem is and where gaps exist in investments in human development over the lifecycle of learning. However, there are simple guidelines for promoting flourishing individuals who reduce inequality through acquired skills and personal initiative.

Professor Heckman’s new paper, Build a Scaffolding of Support, outlines eight key points.

  1. Pre-distributing wealth is much more effective than redistributing wealth. While inequality could be addressed with direct transfers of money to disadvantaged individuals and families, unconditional transfers are not as effective as programs that provide early resources for developing skills in children that increase productivity and earnings in the adult years.
  2. Resist the temptation to look for one silver bullet investment or program. A range of investments should follow the child through his or her development.
  3. Understand that skills beget skills. The earliest investment produces the best outcomes.
  4. Look to build a scaffolding of support around disadvantaged children: parental education, nutrition, early learning and early health. Strong families and parents are the catalyst for better education, health and economic outcomes for children.
  5. Follow up on investments in parenting, early learning and health with access to high-quality preschool that develops cognitive and social and emotional skills. The latter are critically important for a number of positive life outcomes, including school persistence, full-time employment, lifetime wages, better health and positive social behaviors.
  6. Make sure K-12 education develops the whole child, not just cognitive skills. Unfortunately, very little in public education focuses on this goal.
  7. Remediation efforts in K-12 and the young adult years should emphasize social and emotional development and mentorship. Improving social and emotional skills, which are more malleable during these years, have proven to be more effective than efforts to increase cognitive skills alone.
  8. Finally, focus on value, not on cost. While the cost of solving for inequality may seem daunting from an economic, social and political standpoint, keep in mind that the wisely targeted investments in proven supports and programs can deliver significant returns in individual flourishing and better economic and social outcomes for society.

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Laureate in economics and an expert in the economics of human development.

Download and share The Heckman Equation paper.

Durham Touchpoints Collaborative trains all Durham Early Head Start teachers

by Administrator 11. June 2015 14:59

This week, another group of service providers in Durham completed Touchpoints Individual Level Training, making them the 5th cohort to be trained as part of the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative. This cohort is made up entirely of Durham Early Head Start teachers. This is the first time a training has been conducted in Durham for providers from a single agency. 


The previous training cohorts have been comprised of providers from different agencies across the community and across disciplines. In fact, there are now several organizations that have had 100% of their staff complete Touchpoints training. Durham Early Head Start is one such organization, and the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative is excited to extend this opportunity to its teachers as well.

The Durham Touchpoints Collaborative is a certified Touchpoints community site, now with two complete training teams. This allows the Touchpoints Collaborative to provide even more training for additional service providers, furthering the reach of the Touchpoints approach through our community and enhancing how professionals engage with each other as well as with the families they serve.


Touchpoints is an evidence-based theory of child development based on the work of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton that is used by providers across disciplines (e.g. pediatrics, home visiting, early education). Once implemented by providers, this method helps parents understand regressions that accompany their children’s developmental spurts, which occur often during the first years of life. The Touchpoints approach gives providers tools to support parents during these challenging times and to strengthen the parent-child relationship. Touchpoints also helps to build relationships among providers to create a common language when working with families.

For more information about the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative, please contact Paulette Stephens, Touchpoints Program Coordinator from Durham’s Partnership for Children.

Books on Break combats summer learning loss

by Administrator 9. June 2015 16:13

To succeed in school and life, children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. The summer months are almost here for students in Durham Public Schools, and we know that access to books in the summer is vital to every child’s academic success. 

How do students hold on to what they have learned as they enjoy the summer break, especially relatively new readers, like those who are just finishing kindergarten? When children aren’t in school, they forget crucial skills they learned during the year – at least a month of reading achievement, on average. This phenomenon, known as summer learning loss, is particularly detrimental for children from low-income families. With limited access to books and other academic opportunities in the summer, summer learning loss accounts for 80% of the income-based achievement gap.

Our friends at Book Harvest have developed a way to combat summer learning loss. Thanks to donations and volunteers, they are providing a new string backpack and 10 self-selected books to elementary school students on free or reduced lunch at the start of summer. This year, Books on Break is providing backpacks and books to 2,525 low-income elementary school students in Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro!

Books on Break is taking place at a number of elementary schools in Durham, including Y.E. Smith, Forest View, Lakewood and Glenn – all schools that have Transition to Kindergarten Transition Teams.

We are grateful to Book Harvest for their partnership and their efforts to support early literacy for children in Durham! For more information, please click here.

Center for Child & Family Health celebrates grand opening of new facility

by Administrator 5. June 2015 11:21

On Tuesday, June 2nd, the Center for Child & Family Health celebrated the grand opening of their new home on Kent Corner in Durham. It was celebration full of community members, collaborative partners and local supporters who share a common goal of serving Durham’s young children and families. 

We partner with CCFH in many ways, particularly through Smart Start and Durham Early Head Start. Healthy Families Durham, a program housed at CCFH, is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start and offers voluntary early childhood intervention services through an intensive home visiting program designed to prevent child abuse, improve parent/child interaction, and increase parenting skills. Healthy Families Durham serves families with multiple stressors from pregnancy through 3 years of age using the Parents as Teachers curriculum in the home to enhance child development, health and safety. Family support workers see families in their home on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for up to 3 years and also provide families with case management services to connect them to appropriate community resources.

We also partner with CCFH to provide the home-based program model of Durham Early Head Start. Families receive 90-minute weekly home visits in English or Spanish by highly trained home visitors using the Parents as Teachers curriculum. This strengths-based approach focuses on promoting the parents’ role in school readiness and healthy child development. There are currently 36 expectant parents, infants, toddlers and their families served through this home-based program.

Healthy Families Durham staff and Partnership staff at the grand opening

CCFH’s new facility is a strong anchor for the community and a more accessible neighborhood resource for the families they serve. Congratulations to our great partners on this wonderful development!

Click here to see more pictures from the event.

TTK Initiative featured in Harvard Family Research Project

by Administrator 2. June 2015 16:01

Recently, Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative was featured in the Harvard Family Research Project! The TTK Initiative, a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, prepares children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings. We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization!

TTK is featured as a resource for other organizations who are hoping to build a Successful Family Engagement System:

“What we know is that a system of family engagement can only be possible through partnerships-between federal and state agencies, across public and private sectors, and among families, schools, and communities. Effective partnerships can result in innovative strategies to reach more families, create meaningful conversations, and influence family engagement practices.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Thanks to the hard work of our staff and community partners, the TTK Initiative has been able to reach a large number of rising kindergartners and their families in Durham. Here are a few exciting outcomes of our work so far this year:

  • Hundreds of volunteers from Durham Tech, Fidelity, Windsor Circle, Watts Street Baptist Church, and our Early Childhood Bus Tours have assembled a total of 1,705 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits that have been distributed to children by schools and community organizations
  • We expanded to coordinate Transition Teams in 6 elementary schools, each of which hosts a series of transition events before the start of the school year. The 6 schools combined will serve approximately 630 kindergartners this year, and up to this point, 32% of rising kindergarteners have attended at least one transition event at each school.
  • We partnered with 13 community sites and engaged 60 volunteers in more than 140 hours of service during Kindergarten Registration Week. We delivered a total of nearly 2,000 registration packets to rising kindergartners in Durham through volunteers, child care centers, elementary schools, and partner agencies in the community. 

There are more TTK events coming up in July and August at all 6 Transition Team schools. Check back soon for information about how to volunteer for these fun events, and visit for a list of all upcoming events.

Blues & Brews Festival benefits Exchange Family Center

by Administrator 29. May 2015 11:48

Looking for something to do this weekend? Come have a good time while supporting a good cause! Head downtown to the Blues & Brews Festival tomorrow to enjoy great local bands, beer and food trucks. Proceeds will benefit, among other local Durham charities, the Exchange Family Center.

When: Saturday May 30th from 4:00 - 9:00PM

Where: Durham Central Park, 501 Foster Street

Tickets: $40 in advance, $45 at the gate, $20 for designated driver. Click here to purchase tickets

Other details: This is an adult-only event (no kids and pets) and attendees must bring a valid I.D. Folding chairs are allowed, but no blankets. 

Click here to check out more information about the Festival, including a list of bands and vendors!

The Exhange Family Center's EChO (Early Childhood Outreach) program offers consultation services and support to child care providers and families when a young child's behavior presents a challenge in the classroom. EChO is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start. 


events | news | partners

Month List