The Partnership receives $1.77 million federal grant for Durham Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships!

by Administrator 27. May 2015 11:09

We are excited to announce that the Partnership has been named the recipient of a $1.77 million Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership grant! The funding is awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in order to expand access to high-quality care for infants and toddlers.

Early Head Start is a free, comprehensive child development and family support program for low-income expectant women and families with infants and toddlers ages birth to three. In 2009, the Partnership became the grantee for the Durham Early Head Start (DEHS) program, which currently serves 108 families and children throughout Durham County each year. DEHS offers both home-based and center-based care programs and is a collaboration between the Partnership, Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc., the Center for Child & Family Health, and three local five-star child care centers.

The EHS-CC Partnership Grant allows DEHS to serve an additional 64 children in high-quality child care centers. The grant establishes funding to partner with local child care providers to provide full-day, year-round services that meet the needs of low-income working families and enhance access to high-quality child care.

Last year, DEHS conducted a Community Assessment that found that nearly 70% of children between the ages of 0 and 3 are in need of child care, with more than 450 children age 0-3 on the waiting list to receive child care subsidy. There are currently an additional 450 children and families on the DEHS waiting list.

“We know that there is a high level of poverty in our community and an immense need for child care and family support,” said Laura Benson, Partnership Executive Director. “Securing this grant is essential to expanding comprehensive high-quality services to serve more of Durham’s most vulnerable children and families. We are thrilled to be able to convene additional community partners who share our goal of preparing children for success in school and in life.”

The Partnership recently accepted proposals from child care centers interested in becoming a DEHS child care partner and is in the process of selecting centers to serve the 64 new slots provided by the grant. Enrollment is expected to begin in August 2015.

In recognition of this new funding for Durham’s children and families, we are hosting a Grant Award Celebration on Monday, June 8th at 8:30 am for media and special guests. If you would like to attend, please email Elaine Erteschik, Partnership Communications Manager.

House Passes Solid Early Education Budget

by Administrator 22. May 2015 13:16

Great news... the House passed its final budget, and early education remains strong!

Here is a brief synopsis of the House budget for early education:

  • Funding for Smart Start, NC PreK and Child Care Subsidies continues at same level as previous year.
  • Includes all three child care subsidy budget provisions changes proposed by the NC Child Care Coalition and our partners
    1. changes definition of family income unit to exclude income of non parent relative
    2. allows for prorating parent fees on a part-time basis as defined by policy prior to October 1, 2014, and 
    3. establishes income eligibility for children ages 0 to third grade at 200% of federal poverty, and at 133% FPL for children from 4th grade to age 12.
  • Includes new special provision to study early childhood and family support program, including the Child Care Subsidy program, NC PreK and the Smart Start program.

The next step is the Senate budget, and we will need your continued advocacy efforts to keep these gains made for early education. Thank you for making your voice heard on behalf of Durham's young children and families! 


legislative | news

Early Childhood Bus Tour shows impact of high quality care, programs and services

by Administrator 21. May 2015 13:11

Yesterday, the Partnership hosted community leaders and volunteers for another Early Childhood Bus Tour. This event allows us to invite participants to learn more about our work throughout Durham and view the community through the lens of early childhood. 

We kicked off the event by asking attendees to build Blast-Off to Kindergarten Kits, which is a key part of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative and one of many volunteer opportunities here at the Partnership. After introductions and kit-building, attendees joined us as we traveled to Healthy Families Durham, Bryson Christian Montessori School, and Forest View Elementary.


The first stop on the tour was to the Center for Child & Family Health to learn more about Healthy Families Durham, a program that is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start. Visitors got to see the brand new facility and learned about importance of early intervention and home visiting for high-risk families with young children. They watched a powerful video showing a home visit with a young child and heard about another activity at Healthy Families Durham, the MAMA’s group, which works to counteract social isolation for Spanish-speaking mothers.  


The next stop on the tour was Bryson Christian Montessori School, where participants had a chance to enjoy the beautiful day in the state-of-the-art outdoor learning environment. This school is one of three Durham Early Head Start centers, and visitors got to see first-hand how the classroom can be extended from inside to outside by touring the gardens, theater area, trails, and many other features of the outdoor learning environment. The Partnership also administers the state-funded NC Pre-K program at Bryson’s, offering high-quality early education to 4-year-olds in Durham who will benefit most from services. Guests got to visit an NC Pre-K classroom and even got to see a performance of a special song that their new “friends” prepared just for them!


Our final stop was Forest View Elementary, where guests learned about the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools. Forest View is home to a TTK Transition Team that hosts several events each year for rising kindergartners and their families, giving them an opportunity to meet future classmates, tour the school, interact with kindergarten teachers, and participate in parent-child activities. Attendees heard from the school Principal, Title 1 Coordinator and a Kindergarten Teacher, all of whom expressed a lot of gratitude for the collaborative relationship with the Partnership and the impact it has had on their students and families. Before leaving, guests had a chance to peek into some of the kindergarten classrooms, ending the tour with some smiling young faces.


All participants left the bus tour with a deeper understanding of the scope of the Partnership’s work, as well as the need for community-wide commitment and efforts to ensure that every child in Durham enters school healthy and ready to succeed. One way you can join this work is to become even more informed, involved and invested! Sign up for our email list for news and advocacy alerts, subscribe to this blog, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, join us on a future bus tour, and contact Davida Major for information about upcoming activities and volunteer opportunities at the Partnership.

Fidelity volunteers build Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 14. May 2015 15:37

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of hard-working volunteers from Fidelity as part of Fidelity Cares Day. More than 200 Fidelity employees in North Carolina worked with area nonprofits that day as part of a firm-wide initiative that involved more than 2,000 Fidelity colleagues across the country!

We had a great group of 15 volunteers who built 250 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits! These kits provide school readiness materials to rising kindergartners in Durham and are a key part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) InitiativeEach one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The kits these volunteers built were then distributed to Eastway Elementary School, one of our Transition Team schools, as well as to Merrick Moore Elementary and NC Pre-K students at private child care centers. 


We had a great time during Fidelity Cares Day and want to extend a huge thanks to Fidelity for including us and volunteering to help young children in Durham! 

House voting on early education budget this week

by Administrator 12. May 2015 14:36

The House is starting its budget cycle, which means the budget for early education will be decided on in the next two weeks. Make your voice heard and help make sure it delivers a solid investment in early care and education!

What can you do to help?

Urge Appropriations leader to support early education today! Let the House Appropriations leaders know that you want them to continue the current funding investments in North Carolina’s nationally recognized early education system and its three signature programs—Smart Start, NC PreK and Child Care Subsidies.

High-quality early education is a critical part of ensuring a great future for North Carolina, and it's up to us to tell our leaders why.

  • Early education is a solid investment.  Every dollar invested produces a 7-10% annual return, and yields saving in fewer special education placements, higher graduation rates, reduced crime, higher earnings, and less reliance on social services.
  • Early education produces better educational outcomes for children. Children participating in Smart Start and NC PreK had higher third grade reading outcomes. High quality early childhood programs increase graduation rates by as much as 44%.
  • Early education promotes a skilled and educated workforce. Young children learn critical cognitive, math, reading, writing and social skills – skills required for a competitive workforce in today’s global economy.
  • Early education supports jobs and working parents, and keeps the state’s economy strong. Parents with young children in my employment are more reliable and productive while at work, contribute their skills and talents to my business, pay taxes, and keep North Carolina moving forward.
Send a message to your own legislators as well as House Appropriations leaders. You can write your own message or use the NC Child Care Coalition's action center to send a message.

We have an opportunity to advance early education this legislative session, and we need your active participation now to make it happen. Don't delay - share your story about why early education matters to you!


Celebrate early learning at the General Assembly

by Administrator 8. May 2015 08:40

Join MomsRising, the NC Early Childhood Foundation, the First 2000 Days, the NC Association for the Education of Young Children and the NC Child Care Coalition for a celebration of early learning and early literacy at the General Assembly!

On the morning of Thursday, May 14, kids, parents, early learning programs and supporters will gather on Halifax Mall behind the General Assembly in Raleigh to celebrate early learning and highlight the essential role these investments play in developing early literacy and ensuring every child in NC starts school ready to learn.  

There will be giant-sized ABC blocks for the kids to play with, story time with NC lawmakers, a story walk where kids and parents can share a giant-sized story book, reading-related crafts, snacks, and more!

Date: Thursday, May 14 

Time: 10am – 12:30pm, Story time with lawmakers starts at 10:15.

Place: Halifax Mall, the grassy area directly behind the General Assembly at 16 West Jones St in Raleigh. The General Assembly is across the street from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences downtown.


Use the sign-up link or RSVP to for information about parking, directions, and more.

Click here for an event flyer. Hope to see you there!

Celebrating 20 years

by Administrator 4. May 2015 16:22

For 20 years, the Partnership has served as the convener and facilitator of Durham’s early childhood system, and on Thursday, April 23rd, nearly 150 people gathered at the Museum of Life and Science to celebrate this milestone at our 20th Anniversary Celebration: Kids Rock!

The event, with lead sponsorship from PNC, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, and the Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, honored the comprehensive system that has evolved from the early days of Smart Start, as we celebrated our past achievements and looked forward to our future. Community partners, former and current Board leaders, funded partners, collaborating organizations, local leaders, sponsors, volunteers, and staff all gathered for great food, entertainment and a shared sense of community and vision for Durham’s children.


During the program, guests heard inspiring words from Laura Benson, Partnership Executive Director, and Linzie Atkins, Board Chair, as well as Lori Jones-Gibbs, representing our lead event sponsor, PNC Grow Up Great. LaDonna Allison, a Board Member and Durham Early Head Start parent, shared a moving testimonial about how Partnership-funded programs have had a life-changing impact for her and her daughter, Zarrianna.  


Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., who launched the Smart Start Initiative 20 years ago, also addressed the crowd by video. Among many kind words, Governor Hunt expressed his congratulations and appreciation for everyone who has worked so hard on behalf of young children in Durham, saying that we are a model for innovative programs that respond to our community’s needs. He also offered a challenge to our new, emerging leaders to continue to lead the cause and invest in our children, our county, our state and our economy.

Last but certainly not least, world-renowned, Grammy®-nominated Durham resident Nnenna Freelon performed. Her song, “One Child,” felt like it was written for this very occasion and was a wonderful way to end the program. 


Throughout the evening, there were also performances from Kidznotes and a jazz combo, as well as a silent auction of children’s rocking chairs. The beautifully painted chairs offered a variety of great prizes, including: college basketball tickets, a Taste of Durham food tour, club seats at a Durham Bulls Game, a relaxing stay at the Washington Duke Inn, and many more! 

It was a wonderful evening, and we’re so thankful for everyone who celebrated with us, even if you could only be there in spirit! Thank you for investing in Durham’s future and sharing in the vision, passion and commitment to help lead Durham’s Partnership for Children through the next 20 years.

Photo credit: Justin Cook

The Partnership announces TTK Mini-Grant recipients

by Administrator 30. April 2015 14:19

We are pleased to announce that we have awarded Transition to Kindergarten Mini-Grants to 17 child care sites and elementary schools through our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools. The grant amounts total $6,000 to support early educators, elementary schools and child care sites in designing and implementing transition events for their specific student and parent populations. Funds for these mini-grants were made available through gifts from Wells Fargo and the Morgan Creek Foundation. 

The TTK mini-grants allow for a targeted, community-based approach, with activities and information tailored for children and their families at each site. Last year, more than 500 families participated in transition activities at events funded by mini-grants at child care centers and schools. This year’s mini-grant recipients are projected to serve more than 1,000 rising kindergartners throughout Durham through activities such as summer transition camps, student portfolios, field trips to kindergarten classrooms, and kindergarten parent nights.

The 2015 Mini-Grant recipients are:

  • Bambinos Playschool
  • Bethesda Elementary
  • Chamberlain Learning Center
  • Creekside Elementary
  • Durham Head Start
  • Easley Elementary
  • Harvest Learning Center
  • Holt Elementary
  • Kiddie Kollege
  • Little River Elementary
  • Mangum Elementary
  • Oak Grove Elementary
  • Primary Colors Early Learning Center
  • RN Harris Magnet School
  • Sandy Ridge Elementary
  • Spring Valley Elementary
  • The Goddard School.

In addition to the mini-grants, rising kindergartners and their families benefit from other TTK activities such as Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, Kindergarten Registration Week, and Transition Team events at six DPS elementary schools. The Transition Teams, comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, have implemented a series of events for rising kindergartners and their families this spring and before the school year starts in August. 

To see a list of all upcoming events, please visit


Celebrate Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros at Durham County Library this Saturday

by Administrator 28. April 2015 11:50

Visit Durham County Library for the annual Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (Day of the Children/Day of the Books) Celebration from
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 2nd. A range of free, family-friendly events are planned at six library locations.

Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is a celebration based on childhood and literacy that began in 1997. Borrowing from the traditional Mexican holiday “El día de los niños,” the U.S. version expanded to include literacy when author Pat Mora took up the cause. Congress officially designated April 30th as “Day of the Child” in 1998.

Activities at Durham county Library locations will include crafts, storytimes, tours, visits with community organizations and more!

Click here for the complete schedule of events.

Click here to download a flyer

Join us on our next bus tour!

by Administrator 27. April 2015 12:04

The Partnership invites you to view the community through the lens of early childhood by joining us on our next Early Childhood Bus Tour

This event illustrates the impact of high-quality care, programs and services that promote healthy development and learning for Durham County’s youngest children and families. The free tour is one of several offered throughout the year and is part of an ongoing effort to facilitate discussion among community leaders. Our next bus tour will take place on Wednesday, May 20th from 8:30-11:30 am and will begin and end at the Partnership's office at 1201 S. Briggs Avenue.

Throughout the tour, the Partnership will showcase community strategies and best practices for young children and families here in Durham, all while painting the big picture of every child in Durham being prepared for success in school and in life. 

Spaces on the tour are first come, first serve, and RSVPs are required. We hope you can join us!

Eventbrite - Early Childhood Bus Tour

To read about our most recent bus tours, please click here and here.

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