Early Childhood Mental Health Task Force kickoff meeting

by Administrator 3. February 2016 15:40

By: Kayli Richter, Intern at Durham's Partnership for Children, student at NC State University

Last week the newly-formed Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Task Force held their kickoff meeting at the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) in Durham.

The meeting started off with an overview of the history of the Task Force. The ECMH Task Force was formed as a result of a community-wide meeting last August, convened by the Partnership, that focused on the mental health needs of Durham’s youngest children and addressed gaps in early childhood mental health that were outlined by the NC Institute of Medicine Study. Marcia Mandel, CDSA Director, then presented her previous experience with a similar task force, the Wake Young Child Mental Health Collaborative, in Wake County. Some of the highlights from Marcia’s presentation were the need for sustainable programs, the importance of community support, and the value of training.


The meeting also explained the four focus areas - tangible and important priorities that the ECMH Task Force will work to accomplish. These priorities included suggestions from Orange County on how to address mental health in early childhood: (1) operationalize a coordinated system for young children’s mental health, (2) strengthen and expand evidence based programs, (3) increase understanding of role of social emotional development among early care and education professionals, and (4) raise awareness of the mental health, social and emotional needs of young children. 

The meeting concluded with an activity in which the Task Force worked together to brainstorm what Durham is already doing to address these needs followed by what still needs to be done. Further discussion and examination of services that are already in place to target the four focus areas will be taken up in the next meeting. 

The next meeting of the ECMH Task Force will take place on Friday, March 11th at 11:00 am at CDSA. To view the Durham early childhood mental health resource guide created at the August community meeting, please click here. For questions or more information, please contact Wren Davisson

Applications now accepted for 2016-17 NC Pre-K

by Administrator 1. February 2016 10:42

The Universal Pre-Kindergarten application period for the 2016-2017 school year is now open! This collaborative effort led by the Partnership is designed to reach families with 4-year-olds in Durham and assist them in applying for available slots. 

Your child might qualify to participate in 2016-2017 Durham County NC Pre-K if: 

  • Your child is not currently enrolled in a preschool program 
  • Your child turns 4 years by August 31, 2016 (born between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012)
  • Your child has health concerns or special needs 
  • Your family qualifies for financial assistance 
  • English is your child's second language

There are many ways to apply:

  • You may call 919-314-6813 to set an appointment time between February 1 and April 7, 2016. 
  • Visit a Durham Head Start office beginning February 1, 2016. Family Counselors will be available to assist parents in filling out the application (offices are closed February 15 and March 25-April 7)
    • 215 Seminary Ave. (across from McDonald's and the YMCA)
      Phone: 919-688-5541
    • 908 Liberty St. (Leathers Meachem)
      Phone: 919-536-5560
  • Apply online. The application is available online and may be filled out prior to your appointment. Click here to download the application.
  • Visit East Durham Children’s Initiative (107 N. Driver St., 3rd Floor) at the following times:
    • 10 am - 12 pm: February 2 and 16, March 8 and 22, and April 5 
    • 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm: February 3 and 17, March 9 and 23, and April 6

Please visit our website for more information and application materials, including a list of required documents needed from parents. Applications will not be processed without necessary documentation.

For more information about financial assistance for child care, contact Child Care Services Association at 919-403-6950 or visit www.childcareservices.org, or contact Durham County Social Services at 919-560-8300 or Durham County Social Services.

Durham County’s NC Pre-K program is a community-based voluntary program that provides high-quality early educational experiences to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten. The NC Pre-K program operates in private class rooms, Durham Public Schools and Durham Head Start centers.

Measuring our impact

by Administrator 29. January 2016 15:44

Our 2014-15 Evaluation Report is now available! This report showcases the work of our funded partners, community initiatives, and the many collaborators who work throughout the year to help us achieve our mission of making sure every child in Durham enters school healthy and ready to succeed.

As the convener and facilitator of Durham’s early childhood system, we invest in and work alongside high-quality early childhood programs that have proven results. All of our funded partners provide evidence-based/evidence-informed services that are monitored and evaluated by Partnership staff to document real impact in Durham. Our own community initiatives, such as the Touchpoints Collaborative and the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, are held to the same high standards. 

In addition to staff, the Partnership’s Evaluation Committee plays a key role in strengthening the quality of data available to inform programming decisions. The committee of experts from the Durham community works to develop a common understanding of community outcomes and indicators, and to ensure that meaningful data is collected to inform the Partnership’s work towards positive outcomes for young children in Durham. Our new data webinar series is also geared towards understanding how data can be best used to inform program improvement and development.

The evaluation report provides an overview of the impact of our programs, at both the program and community level, and it can be downloaded by clicking here

Partnership hosts year-long data webinar series

by Administrator 25. January 2016 14:23

Throughout the coming year, the Partnership will be presenting a webinar series focused on all things data! 

Dr. Sarah Heinemeier of Compass Evaluation and Research will present beginner- and intermediate-level topics on evaluation planning, data knowledge, instrument development and selection, data management and analysis, and data uses for program improvement and development. These sessions are intended to delve deeper into many of the topics that were introduced during in-person data workshops hosted by the Partnership in June and July of 2015. 

The first workshop, "What are Data and when are they High Quality?” takes place this Wednesday, January 27th at noon. This webinar will explore what we mean when we talk about “data," or pieces of information that are used to answer questions, make decisions, and communicate about programs. In addition, this webinar will provide tips and strategies for recognizing, collecting, and managing data that are high quality and useful for program reporting. A very limited number of spaces remain for this webinar, and you can register by clicking here

Presentation slides and other materials will be posted online after each webinar, and a full schedule of the webinar series is also available online. If you have questions or would like additional information about the webinar series, please contact Megan Gray, Program Coordinator (megan@dpfc.net).

The webinar series is made possible by funding support from the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Smart Start Data Project via the North Carolina Partnership for Children.

Durham Tech students assemble Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 19. January 2016 14:54

Last week, a large group of students from Durham Technical Community College (DTCC) assembled 560 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits in support of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools. This is the third year in a row that DTCC students have built these Kits for rising kindergartners in Durham as part of their MLK Day of Service. We’re so thankful for their continued dedication to this project! 


The Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits provide school readiness materials to rising kindergartners in Durham and are a key part of the TTK Initiative. Each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The Kits these volunteers built are being distributed to rising kindergartners at our some of our TTK Transition Team elementary schools, including: Eastway, E.K. Powe, Eno Valley, Forest View, Lakewood, and Y.E. Smith. 

President Obama maintains support for early childhood education in 2016 State of the Union

by Administrator 14. January 2016 14:49

In the 2016 State of the Union Address on January 12th, President Obama maintained his commitment to supporting young children’s access to high quality early childhood programs. Polls show that early childhood education is a national priority for Americans, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents supporting more investments in early childhood programs.


President Obama recognized the bipartisan nature of early childhood education in his speech this week. “We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job…together, we've increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all…”

The President also emphasized the need to recruit and support great teachers as an integral part of making sure children get the good start and education they need to be successful. 

We know that investing in the crucial years from birth to age five yields a high return on investment. We are building a well-educated workforce with advanced skills, knowledge and experience to grow a strong defense and economy, as well as a healthy and productive society.

We are grateful to everyone who is working to make young children a priority, and we hope to see early childhood issues discussed more prominently as we move further into this election year. Please click here to sign up for our advocacy e-alerts to find out how you can be a champion for young children in Durham.


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More MLK Day fun!

by Administrator 12. January 2016 15:39

For another way to support children and families on MLK Day, check out Book Harvest’s Dream Big Book Drive! This annual event takes place on Monday, January 18th and is a community-wide celebration of diversity, literacy, and book ownership for all kids. After visiting Northgate for the MomsRising MLK Birthday Celebration in the morning, head over to Durham Central Park (501 Foster Street) from 1:00-4:00pm. 

Community members are invited to bring their book donations to the park that afternoon and to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday by joining in service with Book Harvest’s volunteers and with more than three dozen members of the North Carolina Literacy Corps.

“Dr. King famously said, ‘Everybody can be great because everybody can serve’”, said Book Harvest’s founder and executive director Ginger Young. “Dr. King’s inspiring words ring as true today as they did when he said them in 1968. With Dream Big, we hope to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service and offer every member of our community a chance to serve by sharing the joy of owning books with children in need right here in our community.”

For more information about the Dream Big Book Drive, please click here.

Make MLK Day count with MomsRising

by Administrator 8. January 2016 13:43

Mark your calendar for NC MomsRising.org's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Party on Monday, January 18th! This free family-friendly event will take place from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm at the Center Court at Northgate Mall (1058 West Club Boulevard).

The festivities will feature English/Spanish story times, songs, crafts, activities, performances, and birthday cake as people celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy in a way that children can understand. Senator Floyd B. McKissick, Jr. will also share what it was like growing up as a child at the heart of Durham’s Civil Rights Movement and how children and families can be involved today.

In continuing Dr. King’s commitment to service, participants are asked to donate nonperishable food (especially peanut butter, canned meat, cereal and corn), gently used children’s winter clothing and coats, or new underwear/ socks for local families in need served by Urban Ministries of Durham. Voter registration and information will also be available.

Come celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of a world in which every child has the chance to realize his or her full potential! Click here for all of the event details. Please contact Beth@momsrising.org for information about how to volunteer and get more involved with the event. 

10th Annual Holiday Book Drive a huge success!

by Administrator 6. January 2016 14:11

The beginning of the new year marked the close of our 2015 Holiday Book Drive, which was a huge success again this year! For the tenth year in a row the Partnership teamed up with Barnes & Noble at the Streets at Southpoint to provide books to young children who might not otherwise have access to reading materials. From November 1st through December 31st, customers were able to purchase a book to be given to young children who might not otherwise have access to reading materials. This year, nearly 3,500 books were collected!

“For 10 years, Barnes & Noble customers and employees have embraced our annual Holiday Book Drive benefiting Durham’s Partnership for Children,” said Cheri Hodges, Community Business Development Manager for Barnes & Noble, Southpoint. “Thanks to the generosity of our customers and the exceptional passion of bookseller Patricia Clemons, who collected 1,060 books, we were able to exceed our goal of gathering 3,000 books. We are thrilled to be able to help so many children this year!” 

Partnership staff and volunteers have been hard at work organizing the books and distributing them to community agencies serving children in home visiting programs, social services, and a variety of family support and family literacy programs. We will continue to give these generously donated books to the children and families who are least likely to have books of their own, and we hope these books will help foster a love of reading for Durham's youngest learners. 

We are so grateful to Barnes & Noble at Southpoint for designating the Partnership as the beneficiary of the Holiday Book Drive, and we extend a big thank-you to all of the community members who donated books for their generosity and continued support!

12 Days of Giving: Day 12

by Administrator 18. December 2015 07:03

There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and the time that child enters kindergarten. During that time, brain architecture is forming, creating the foundation for all future learning. It is our job – all of us – to support healthy development in those early years.

The first 2,000 days are a crucial window to create the best possible outcomes in education, health, and economic prosperity, and to build a successful future both for individuals and for our community. High-quality early childhood programs have a lasting impact, and investing in a child’s early years is one of the best investments we can make. 

Durham, along with many communities, is undoubtedly facing some tough challenges, but our opportunity lies in early childhood. The work we’ve talked about during the 12 Days of Giving and throughout the year is important, effective, and urgent. And we can’t do it without your help.

Children only have one chance at childhood. They can’t afford to wait, and neither can you. Help us make the first 2,000 days the beginning of a lifetime of possibility and potential for all children in Durham. Make your gift today! 

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