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

by Administrator 17. September 2014 12:32

Yesterday, the Partnership hosted community leaders and volunteers for another Early Childhood Bus Tour. This event, sponsored by Mechanics and Farmers Bank, is a way for us to invite participants to learn more about our work throughout Durham and view the community through the lens of early childhood. 

Nearly 25 people joined us as we traveled to Early Start Academy, East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) at Shepherd’s House, and Sandy Ridge Elementary. 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 heard from Queron Smith, Senior Vice President/City Executive of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, about their commitment to the needs of Durham’s young children and community. 

The first stop on the tour was Early Start Academy, one of three Durham Early Head Start (DEHS) child care centers. Attendees learned more about the DEHS center-based program, had a chance to see some children learning through play in the state of the art outdoor learning environment, and learned about the work of the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative. Touchpoints is an evidence-based theory of child development that is used by providers across disciplines to support parents and create a common language when working with families. In the last year, 100% of the DEHS staff has been trained in the Touchpoints approach, and DEHS classroom teachers will begin training this month as well. Several DEHS staff members spoke about how Touchpoints training has impacted their work with families and children in the program.


The next stop on the tour was EDCI at Shepherd’s House, where participants heard about the use of Touchpoints training in a very different setting. Just like DEHS, nearly all of the EDCI staff have completed Touchpoints training and spoke to how it has influenced their work in the community. Attendees then had a chance to witness Touchpoints at work! Providers, parents and children participated in activities depicting both a home visit and children’s story time, using key Touchpoints principles as a way to guide and inform their work and relationships with families. 


Our final stop was Sandy Ridge Elementary, where guests toured a blended NC Pre-K/Title 1 Durham Public Schools classroom and saw some enthusiastic 4 year-olds in action! In addition to learning about the importance and indicators of a high quality NC Pre-K classroom, guests also heard a touching personal testimony from a teacher who’s completed the IY Teacher Program, which is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start. As she said, it helped her to become a “proactive, not reactive” teacher, and she emphasized what a wonderful professional development opportunity the program provides for early childhood professionals. Her skill and dedication to her students was apparent to everyone on the tour as they observed her classroom and saw first-hand how she’s implemented the IY program’s techniques. 


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, join us on a future bus tour, and contact Krissy Dunn for information about upcoming activities and volunteer opportunities at the Partnership. 

Partnership staff volunteer during 9/11 Day of Service

by Administrator 12. September 2014 12:00

Yesterday, Partnership staff participated in the 9/11 Day of Service, coordinated by Activate Good, and spent the afternoon volunteering at the Salvation Army Thrift Store here in Durham. 

It was great to give back to our community in a much different way than our every day work, and we found it rewarding, challenging, a little overwhelming, and fun! Our group worked together to sort, clean and organize with spirit and good humor – making a significant dent in the mountain of generously donated clothes and household items. In addition to reinforcing our own sense of community service, it was also a great reminder of how many organizations in Durham work so hard every day to help those in need.



This was the third annual 9/11 Day of Service, which was established to honor those lost on 9/11 through community service. An estimated 2,000 volunteers took on more than 60 projects around the Triangle for this year's event!

Activate Good is a nonprofit volunteer center that activates volunteers to help charitable causes in the Triangle. Through outreach efforts and an extensive online volunteer community, they help recruit and connect individuals, groups and companies to fulfill volunteer needs. For more information, please click here.

For more information about the Salvation Army Thrift Store, please click here.

Celebrate Durham's babies with Durham Connects

by Administrator 9. September 2014 12:35

Durham Connects is hosting a birthday party to celebrate the more than 6,000 babies in Durham that they have visited since 2008! The party is this Saturday, September 13th from 11:00am – 2:00pm at Duke Park (106 W. Knox Street). Admission is free, and Will & Pops food truck will donate 10% of sales to Durham Connects. 

Families will have a chance to taste Durham’s biggest birthday cake (6 feet long!), sign the big birthday card, meet the Durham Fire Department and climb the truck, and join ABC 11 News Anchor Tisha Powell in singing “Happy Birthday” to Durham’s babies. Tickets for family games will also be available for a small donation, with all proceeds going to Durham Connects. 

For more information about the event and to RSVP, please click here.

Durham Connects is a non-profit program of the Center for Child & Family Health that provides free nurse home visits for all parents of newborns in Durham County. Their mission is to improve child and family well-being, and we are proud to call them a partner in our early childhood efforts here in Durham.


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NC Pre-K directors receive dental health kits for young children

by Administrator 5. September 2014 12:57

Yesterday, NC Pre-K directors from 13 child care centers received nearly 300 dental health kits to distribute to children enrolled in NC Pre-K! 

The dental health kits include some basic supplies for proper oral health – including toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, and flossing tools – along with fun activity booklets, coloring pages, crayons, and books for young children.

Efforts to create the dental kits first began in early spring during our 2014 Great Human Race campaign in which we raised nearly $3,000 in funds to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. Thanks to generous donors and sponsors, as well as the hard work of our Project BUILD volunteers to assemble the kits, we were able to provide kits for all children enrolled in NC Pre-K this year.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this project to improve dental health for young children in Durham!

Welcome Baby accepting registrations for Incredible Years Parenting Program

by Administrator 2. September 2014 11:57

Welcome Baby is accepting referrals and registrations for the Incredible Years Parenting Program for Durham families with children 3 to 5 years old. The 14-week series runs from Tuesday, September 9th – Tuesday, December 16th. All classes will take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church (215 N. Church Street, Durham). Click here for more information or contact Cindy Riley at 919-560-7319 or ckriley@dconc.gov

Welcome Baby is a program of Durham County Cooperative Extension and is partially funded by the Partnership through Smart Start. Welcome Baby provides parenting education and support to families with young children, and services are available for free to all Durham County residents with newborns and children to age 5. 

Local home visiting programs provide fresh produce

by Administrator 28. August 2014 14:08

Excerpt from guest column in The Herald-Sun on August 23, 2014; written by Jan Williams, Clinical Supervisor, Healthy Families Durham

Cultia Shealey, mother of a 16-month-old toddler, commented that her son has loved getting fruits and vegetables from the home visiting program, Healthy Families Durham.

“He loves them!” she said. “He’s tried strawberries for the first time, and has even tried cucumbers and zucchini.”  For an active toddler who is learning independent eating skills, this program has been a wonderful way to expose him to fruits and vegetables that he might not try otherwise.

Healthy Families Durham and the Durham Early Head Start Home-Based program, both home visiting family support programs of the Center for Child & Family Health, are collaborating with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, the Durham Farmer’s Market and Sarah P. Duke Gardens to provide healthy fruits, vegetables, and staples to Durham families.

Both Healthy Families Durham and Early Head Start Home-Based program provide weekly home visits to parents of children 0-3 years to get the families off to a good start by bringing information about child development, health, safety and nutrition to interested parents.  With the addition of delivering fresh produce, the programs can back up the educational information with a chance for participants to actually experience healthy foods on their dinner table.

About three years ago, the home visiting programs created a cooperative agreement with the Inter-faith Food Shuttle.  Every other Wednesday, home visitors pick up boxes of fresh fruit and staples such as peanut butter and cereal from the IFFS office at Northgate Mall.  In addition, the Wednesday Durham Farmer’s Market vendors offer leftover fruits and vegetables for families involved in Healthy Families and Early Head Start.  Recently, Lindsey Fleetwood, a horticulturist at the Duke Gardens, reached out to the home visiting programs to distribute organic produce grown in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden.  “I feel this collaboration is important because together we are bringing healthy, fresh food to families who truly need it,” Fleetwood said.  ”I feel honored to have the opportunity to give back to our community.”

Home visitors deliver the fresh produce to the homes of the families. Cultia Shealey said that she has received squash, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, strawberries, apples, lettuce, onions and cucumbers. She had never eaten zucchini before, but was willing to try it, and now says, “it’s delicious.”

For these families of young children, many of whom do not have transportation to get to local markets or resources to afford local or organic produce, having fresh, healthy, locally grown food delivered to their home is an added bonus to their involvement in these home visiting programs. “This collaboration is truly one of our most important efforts to promote the health of the children and families,” said Karen Carmody, program director of Healthy Families Durham and Early Head Start Home-Based Program. “Many of our participants struggle with food insecurity or are unable to access fresh foods. Our partners are helping us to meet a growing need for families in Durham.”

Click here to read the full article in The Herald-Sun

Healthy Families Durham, funded by the Partnership through Smart Start, 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. To learn more, please click here.

Durham Early Head Start 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 partners. 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. To learn more, please click here.

Kick Off to Kindergarten at Lakewood Elementary

by Administrator 26. August 2014 15:51

Imagine you’re 5 years old and on your way to your first day of kindergarten. Maybe you’re feeling excited about starting school, or maybe you’re feeling a little nervous about what the day is going to be like, and feeling shy and scared, and worrying about making friends. Now imagine that you arrive at school with your parents and see a crowd of people cheering for you, welcoming you to your new school and inviting you to join in the fun and blow bubbles, take pictures, and meet your classmates.


That is exactly what happened this morning at Lakewood Elementary when a crowd of smiling people cheered on parents and children arriving for their first day of school as part of the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative! Volunteers from the Partnership, Durham Public Schools, Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs, and Duke University Retiree Outreach gathered in front of Lakewood Elementary to make sure that every child starting kindergarten today had a fun and welcoming experience on their first day of school.


We watched child after child go from clutching their parents’ hands to grinning and high-fiving volunteers. After arriving to a chorus of “welcome to kindergarten,” and “we’re so happy you’re here,” one mother asked her daughter if she was still nervous. She received an enthusiastic “no!” and it was abundantly clear to everyone just how much impact the TTK Initiative can have for these young learners. 


We will be welcoming children to school at Forest View Elementary this Friday, and it is our hope that even more children and families in Durham will have this experience when starting kindergarten next year! For more information about the TTK Initiative and to find out how you can be involved, please visit www.durhamgoestokindergarten.com or contact Wren Davisson (wren@dpfc.net, 919-403-6960 ext. 224).

Rising Kindergartners enjoy Popsicles on the Playground

by Administrator 21. August 2014 12:49

It's hard to believe that the first day of school is almost here! It's been a busy month for the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative as staff, transition teams and volunteers have been working hard to make sure children in Durham are ready for school. A variety of transition events have taken place throughout Durham, and last week, we collaborated with our friends at East Durham Children's Initiative for a Popsicles on the Playground event for rising kindergartners at Y.E. Smith Elementary.

Children enjoyed frozen treats on a summer day while playing with some of their future classmates, and parents had a chance to meet other families with rising kindergartners and to receive information and resources. 


At Y.E. Smith Elementary, 33 rising kindergartners have attended at least one of the transition events held throughout the spring and summer. Including our other Transition Team schools – E.K. Powe, Forest View and Lakewood Elementary – we’ve reached up to 48% of the rising kindergarten class at each school, and through our TTK Mini Grants, an estimated 500 additional families participated in transition activities at 16 child care centers and schools. Best of all, 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten!

Next week, several schools will hold Kick Off to Kindergarten events where we'll be cheering on new students and parents as they arrive for their first day of school. There will be plenty of excitement, smiles and tears (from both children and parents!), so please consider joining the fun and volunteering to help children get excited about the year ahead and feel welcome in their new school! 

Join us on our next bus tour!

by Administrator 18. August 2014 14:48

The Partnership is pleased to invite 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 from many sectors. Our next bus tour will take place on Tuesday, September 16th from 8:30-11:30 am and will begin 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 ensuring that every child enters school healthy and ready to succeed. 


Our Early Childhood Bus Tours are generously sponsored by Mechanics & Farmers Bank. To read more about previous bus tours this year, please click here and here

Spaces on the tour are first come, first serve, and RSVPs are required. Please contact Krissy to RSVP at (919) 403-6960 or krissy@dpfc.net. We hope you can join us!

Project BUILD student volunteers build dental kits for young children

by Administrator 14. August 2014 10:38

Yesterday, students from Duke’s Project BUILD program assembled 300 dental health kits for young children enrolled in NC Pre-K. These wonderful volunteers spent the afternoon sorting, labeling, wrapping, collating, and assembling kits that include toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, flossing tools, activity booklets, coloring pages and crayons, and books about visiting the dentist. 


Efforts to create the dental kits first began in early spring during our 2014 Great Human Race campaign where - through many generous donations – we raised nearly $3,000 in funds! We are incredibly grateful to all of our private donors who supported this cause, as well as our sponsors: DenTek Oral Care, Dr. Gary Hill, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Durham Dentistry, MicroMedic Web Services, Office Depot, and Telepathic Graphics.

Our mission in participating in the Great Human Race was to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. We know that children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school, have the self confidence that comes with an attractive smile, and have a better chance of good general health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, and in Durham County, 17% of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay. Preventive dental care is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving regular dental cleanings. 


With these dental health kits, we hope to provide these young children with some of the most basic supplies necessary for proper oral health so that we can combat this crisis at an early age. The kits will be given to NC Pre-K directors who will then distribute the kits to students after the start of the school year.

Project BUILD (Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham) is a pre-orientation program at Duke where students engage in service to the Durham community. Students visit a comprehensive array of community service sites in Durham over the course of the 8-day program, connecting freshmen with upperclassmen who are involved all over campus and, when the semester begins, supporting freshmen participants as they transition into lasting commitments within the Durham and Duke community. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Project BUILD and thank them again for their hard work in building the dental kits!

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