Attendance Awareness Month starts today

by Administrator 1. September 2015 13:40

September is Attendance Awareness Month, a nationwide recognition of the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Started in 2013 by Attendance Works, the goal of this month is to mobilize schools and communities  to promote the value of good attendance and to address the largely hidden crisis of chronic absenteeism. To kick off the month, Attendance Works has released a new report highlighting how chronic absenteeism is a significant cause of the achievement gap starting as early as kindergarten. 

Chronic absenteeism refers to a child missing 10 percent of school days for any reason – excused and unexcused, including in-school suspensions. Research shows that this is the point when students start to fall behind academically because they have missed too many school days.

According to the report, absenteeism rates among kindergartners, particularly low-income and minority children, are nearly as high as those among high school freshmen. An estimated 1 in 10 kindergartners misses at least 18 days of school, or nearly a month of class, per year. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.

When young children are absent, it’s most often due to health. Asthma and tooth decay are among the leading causes of absences, along with other mental or physical health problems suffered by children and their families. By raising awareness of chronic absenteeism and monitoring how many days each student misses school for any reason— excused, unexcused or suspensions— schools have the best chance at being able to intervene early.

“Poor attendance is among our first and best warning signs that a student has missed the on-ramp to school success and is headed off track for graduation,” the Attendance Works report says. “We must address attendance and its connection to public health early in a child’s life.”

To learn more about Attendance Awareness Month and to download resources to use in the classroom, community and at home, please click here.

For additional research about kindergarten attendance, please click here.

Kick-off to Kindergarten events celebrate the first day of school

by Administrator 28. August 2015 11:27

This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming young learners to their first day of kindergarten at 5 elementary schools in Durham! The “Kick-off to Kindergarten” celebration is part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools, and is the culmination of a series of events at our Transition Team schools designed to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families.


At E.K. Powe Elementary, Forest View Elementary, Glenn Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and Y.E. Smith Elementary, groups of volunteers greeted the incoming kindergartners and families with cheers, high-fives, bubbles, stickers and smiling faces. Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant milestones in a young child’s life, and it’s something that deserves to be celebrated! Making the first day of school an exciting and welcoming one makes a huge difference in a child's entire academic career. 


Thanks to the work of the TTK Initiative throughout-out the spring and summer, many of the children and families we saw at the Kick-off to Kindergarten event had already been to their new schools, met the teachers and school staff, and even made friends with their classmates. Across all of our Transition Team schools, 48% of the estimated rising classes attended at least one transition event before the first day of school. At one school, 95% of their incoming class participated in a TTK event! 


We’re grateful to our wonderful volunteers – from community groups and individuals, to corporate groups, to members of the Board of Education – who joined us this week and helped make the first day of school a lot less scary and a lot more fun! 


We hope that even more children and families in Durham will be able to 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

Windsor Circle Team Day with Durham Early Head Start

by Administrator 24. August 2015 14:08

Last Friday, Windsor Circle spent their company Team Day volunteering at Early Start Academy, one of our Durham Early Head Start child care centers! The enthusiastic group of 36 volunteers spent the morning sprucing up the outdoor learning environment and learning more about high-quality early education.


Through intense summer heat, these hard-working volunteers weeded, planted flowers, dug out a ravine, and put down mulch – just to name a few things!  


All of the Durham Early Head Start centers have state-of-the-art outdoor learning environments where children can learn, play and explore. Aside from the well-known benefits of outdoor play – such as obesity prevention, learning from sensory experiences, and encouraging physical activity – engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children. Allowing children to explore the natural world provides a multitude of learning opportunities, and an outdoor play space can ignite a child’s learning and imagination in a way that is much different than inside the classroom. 

Windsor Circle is a Customer Retention and Predictive Marketing platform for retailers. Founded in 2011, this Durham start-up powers big data integrations, advanced customer segmentation, and predictive and automated marketing programs. Windsor Circle has made a commitment to giving back to the community by focusing on early childhood education through volunteerism and by offering their professional insight and expertise. 

We’re proud to partner with them and call them our friends, and we know the children at Early Start Academy are going to love learning and playing in their wonderful outdoor learning environment!

Volunteer Center features our friends at Barnes & Noble-Southpoint

by Administrator 18. August 2015 14:32

The Volunteer Center of Durham recently named Barnes & Noble at the Streets at Southpoint its Volunteer of the Week thanks to their wonderful partnership with us! We are excited to see them recognized for all of their work in Durham to support young children and early literacy.

The following is an excerpt from the Volunteer of the Week feature printed in the Herald-Sun:

“Many communities have Barnes & Noble bookstores, but few have one like ours. 

The Barnes & Noble at The Streets at Southpoint has made an extraordinary commitment to Durham’s Partnership for Children, one that has inspired thousands of local children to read. Each year, Barnes & Noble hosts a two month-long holiday book drive for DPfC, placing children’s books close to the register and inviting customers to pick ones to donate to a needy child. It also helps DPfC by hosting a gift wrapping fundraiser and a book fair, complete with story telling, costumed characters, and fun book-related activities. 

Barnes & Noble also encourages its employees to spend work time engaging in community service and has helped Cheri Hodges, the community relations manager, to build a solid partnership with the group and to initiate successful early literacy projects.”

In addition to the activities mentioned, we have also partnered with the store for our Kindergarten Registration Week, and store employees have joined us to volunteer at many Transition to Kindergarten events.  

We’re lucky to have such a wonderful community partner, and we’re pleased to shine the spotlight on them here. Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for your generosity and your commitment to our community!  

Facebook project highlights WAGE$ participants

by Administrator 14. August 2015 12:10

The Child Care WAGE$® Project, a program of Child Care Services Association that is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start, recently launched an online project to highlight the voices of its participants.  

Lack of resources and an effort to maintain affordability for parents often make it difficult for child care programs to reward or encourage teacher education through salaries. As a result, many wonderful teachers leave the field or never even consider the profession an option. WAGE$ was created in response to this need, and the program provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children between the ages of birth-5. It is an evidence-based project designed to provide children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by incentivizing and rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.

As a way to shine a light on the hard-working and caring teachers in our local early childhood programs, WAGE$ has launched a Facebook project called “I Am WAGE$” that features testimonials from participants who have benefitted from the program. Check out the first 2 here, and follow Child Care Services Association on Facebook to see more during the next few months.

Thanks in part to Smart Start funding, there were 247 WAGE$ participants at more than 100 child care programs in Durham during the 2014-15 school year. For more information about WAGE$, please click here.

Rising Kindergartners enjoy Popsicles on the Playground

by Administrator 11. August 2015 12:33

The first day of school is almost here, and Durham's Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is gearing up for an exciting few weeks! 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 during the spring and summer, including Popsicles on the Playground events at all of our Transition Team schools.

At Eastway’s event last week, 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. 


Similar events have also taken place at Lakewood Elementary and are coming up soon at Glenn Elementary (Aug. 11), Y.E. Smith Elementary (Aug. 12), E.K. Powe Elementary (Aug. 20), and Forest View Elementary (Aug. 22). For a full list of upcoming events, please click here.


Across all of our Transition Team schools, we have reached 26 – 54% of the rising kindergarten class at each school, with a total of 226 children and families attending at least one transition event so far… with 4 more events to go! Best of all, 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten!

In a few weeks, we are hosting Kick Off to Kindergarten events at all 5 Transition Team schools. We will be cheering on new students and parents as they arrive for their first day of school, and it’s sure to be a fun-filled, exciting morning for everyone! We are still in need of volunteers at a couple of schools, so please come join the fun and help children feel excited and welcome in their new school! 

A conversation about Durham's early childhood mental health needs

by Administrator 6. August 2015 12:12

By: Kate Steber, MSW/MPH Intern at Durham's Partnership for Children

This week, the Partnership convened a meeting focusing on the mental health needs of Durham’s youngest children. In order to better understand early childhood mental health in Durham county, stakeholders gathered for two hours to discuss this important issue. 

The meeting attendees represented a large variety of agencies working with young children across Durham, including: the Center for Child & Family Health, East Durham Children’s Initiative, Durham Early Head Start, Lincoln Community Health Center, Carolina Outreach, El Futuro, Child Care Services Association, Duke Integrated Pediatric Mental Health, UNC-Chapel Hill, Durham Public Schools, Children’s Developmental Services Agency, North Carolina Infant/Young Child Mental Health Association, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, Durham County Department of Public Health, Exchange Family Center, Community Partnerships, and Durham County Social Services


The meeting began by briefly reviewing work being done in other counties across North Carolina to address early childhood mental health. Next, attendees were asked to discuss the specific mental health needs of children age zero to five. This task provided a long list of important needs in our community including more trauma-informed care, more provider trainings, and greater understanding of healthy social-emotional development. The conversation then shifted to discuss the challenges and barriers families in Durham face when trying to access mental health supports for their young children. Attendees again shared a variety of concerns including long waiting lists and not enough bilingual providers. The meeting concluded with brainstorming potential next steps to improve the mental health system in Durham for its youngest citizens. 


The Partnership is grateful to have had the opportunity to host this meeting and learn from early childhood mental health experts in the community. Thank you to all of our partners who attended the meeting and shared their knowledge and expertise with us! We look forward to continuing this work and conversation in Durham. 

For more information on early childhood mental health resources in Durham, be sure to check out the resource guide we created. Please email us at if you know of other agencies we should include! 

Countdown to Kindergarten this Friday!

by Administrator 3. August 2015 11:33

Durham Public Schools’ annual Countdown to Kindergarten at the Museum of Life and Science (433 W Murray Ave.) is this Friday, August 7th from 6-8pm. This free event for all rising kindergarteners and their families provides important information and resources and helps to promote a smooth start to the school year!

Families will have a chance to tour the exhibits, ride a school bus and learn about school bus safety, learn about school lunch programs, meet UNC-TV characters, complete lunch, bus and other applications, check out the DPS before- and after-school programs, get school calendars, and much more!

The Partnership will be at the event representing the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, providing school readiness tips and parent resources and providing free books to all children who attend. 


We are also gathering school supplies for 2 bookbags that will be donated to 2 young students at the event! If you would like to help provide supplies, please click here to sign up to purchase an item.

To download a bilingual flyer for Countdown to Kindergarten, please click here

Share your input on NC’s Child Care and Development Fund Plan

by Administrator 30. July 2015 11:55

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the major source of Federal funds for the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE). DCDEE uses these funds to provide child care assistance for families and to fund initiatives to improve and support the quality of child care in North Carolina.

The CCDBG Reauthorization Act of 2014 included new requirements for states receiving these funds. Areas of focus include health and safety standards in child care, consumer and provider education, activities to improve the quality of child care, and policies in the subsidized child care program. States must develop a three-year plan on how child care funds will be spent, and how states will implement the new requirements.

While North Carolina already meets many of the new requirements, DCDEE is seeking feedback from the public to help shape the upcoming three-year plan. To assist in gathering preliminary information, they are holding eight focus groups in August, including one here in Durham next Wednesday, August 5th at Child Care Services Association (1201 S. Briggs Avenue).

Participants are invited to share their feedback on the following topics at these times: 

9:00-11:00 am – Subsidized Child Care
12:00-2:00 pm – Program Standards and Quality Improvement
2:30-4:30 pm – Consumer Education

You do not need to register and there is no cost to attend. This is an exciting opportunity to have input into the development of our state's three-year plan. Once the final plan has been developed it will be posted on the DCDEE website, and there will be an additional comment period and public hearing. Make your voice heard!

To read the current CCDF plan, please click here.

For the full schedule of other DCDEE focus groups across the state, please click here.


events | legislative | news

Celebrate Read Where You Are Day tomorrow

by Administrator 28. July 2015 14:29

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 29th is national Read Where You Are Day! Join the US Department of Education for this day of action and learn how you can help stop summer learning loss and close the achievement gap. 

Reading during the summer makes a huge difference during the school year. It can help kids get ahead, catch up or not lose ground when they return to school. 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.

These last few weeks of summer are the perfect time to help all young people to strive to read more - wherever you are! Take a photo of you, your family, your students or your friends reading and post it on social media tomorrow using #ReadWhereYouAre. Share your reading photos and invite others to take action and encourage early literacy – today, tomorrow and every day!

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