Share Your Christmas

by Administrator 30. November 2011 13:46

For 36 years, the Share Your Christmas Program (coordinated by the Durham County Department of Social Services and the Volunteer Center of Durham) has helped provide cheer to Durham residents during the Christmas season. Through the program, community members, volunteers, and area organizations sponsor Durham families in need by fulfilling those families’ holiday wish lists.

Families are still available for sponsorship and all gifts must be delivered on December 5th through December 9th. While the program is coming to an end this season, there is still time to sponsor someone less fortunate. Durham’s Partnership for Children staff members have joined together to sponsor a family in need and we are delighted to have the opportunity to make someone’s holiday brighter this season.

» Visit the Volunteer Center’s Web site to participate.


Ten tips for reading aloud to infants and toddlers

by Administrator 29. November 2011 12:13

The following tips were shared in a Herald-Sun guest column by Pat Harris, Program Coordinator at Durham’s Partnership for Children and former Program Coordinator at Welcome Baby. The column (“Why should we read to babies?”) makes the argument that reading aloud to a young child builds vocabulary, reducing the instance of reading difficulties later down the road. Research shows that the earlier we start this effort, the better.

• Take every opportunity to read aloud —while waiting in the doctor’s office, pushing the cart in the grocery store, at the breakfast table, as a nightly bedtime ritual.
• Talk about what you are reading—before, during and after a read-aloud session. These conversations make reading come alive while helping children associate the story with real-life experiences.
• Read for as long as your baby/toddler can pay attention. Gradually read for longer periods of time as their attention spans grow. Put the book away as your child loses interest.
• Board books work best for babies who prefer bright pictures against solid backgrounds and stories that feature only one or two objects per page.
• Encourage a baby to join in—moo like a cow or finish a repetitive phrase.
• Play with words, sing and make up rhymes; include the baby’s name. Toddlers too enjoy rhymes, which facilitate a feeling of competency and mastery by encouraging participation through predictable words that toddlers can remember.
• Toddlers are beginning to make sense of concepts such as size, color, shape and time. Read books that reinforce what they know.
• Toddlers also enjoy reading about daily routines such as using the toilet, taking a bath and brushing teeth.
• Repetition is not a bad thing. Toddlers enjoy reading the same books again and again.
• When discussing pictures, focus on the details your toddler might overlook.

A Durham parent reads to her two young children during a Motheread session at Welcome Baby.


literacy | news

A time to give thanks

by Administrator 23. November 2011 11:42

At this time of year, we give thanks for our friends, volunteers, partners and advocates who have helped to make this year a success. Your work and your commitment have made a huge difference in the lives of many young children and their families in Durham County.

We would also like to take this opportunity to share our new Partnership video, which helps to highlight our mission, vision, and the collaborative strength of the early childhood community.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!


news | resources

Sharing resources with Durham Early Head Start families

by Administrator 21. November 2011 15:05

Durham Early Head Start (EHS) is a free, comprehensive child development and family support program for low-income families with children birth to three years old and to pregnant women. Durham EHS is a collaboration between Durham’s Partnership for Children, Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project and Healthy Families Durham and currently serves 120 children from some of the neediest families in Durham.

The exposure to high-quality programming that these children experience makes a huge difference in their lives. Yet many basic needs for these families are still unmet. Consider sharing resources to help a Durham EHS family celebrate this holiday season. 

Some of the top needs of families include:

  • Gas Cards: to provide access to resources in the community 
  • Gift Certificate Cards: for basic family needs
  • Donation to Taxi Fund ($15-20): to provide transportation to family services not along bus lines
  • Booster Seats/Car Seats: to ensure age-appropriate safety in the car 

Donations can be dropped off at the Durham Early Head Start office (1201 S. Briggs Ave., Ste 110, Durham, NC 27703) by December 9th.  For more information contact: Cyndee Nieves, 919-439-7107 or

BASF volunteers visit pre-kindergarten classrooms

by Administrator 18. November 2011 12:37

Just ask a classroom of 4-year-olds if they have ever been to a pumpkin patch and the enthusiastic responses will come flooding forth.

“I like the orange ones best.” 
“I don’t like the bumpy ones.”
“I’ve seen a scarecrow with a pumpkin head.”
“I eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.”

This question was asked of 36 preschoolers at two high-quality child care centers in Durham during a harvest-themed corporate volunteer morning coordinated by the Partnership. BASF volunteers and the Partnership worked together to create a literacy and engagement event as part of BASF’s corporate leadership program.

The volunteers were able to learn about the importance of high-quality early care and education as a foundation for continued success in school and life as they engaged preschool children through reading, discussion, crafts, and exercise during the event.

"These contributions of time, energy and resources are shining examples of how the business community can support early learning for our young children,” said Laura Benson, Executive Director of Durham’s Partnership for Children. “Everyone benefits! The children learn about agriculture and bioscience at their own level through an exciting lesson; the volunteers see a high-quality pre-kindergarten classroom first-hand; and the centers enjoy new books and educational materials.  We are literally planting the seeds for future scientific thinkers.”

Why read aloud to young children?

by Administrator 15. November 2011 09:47

Reading aloud to young children is the single most effective thing parents can do to help prepare their children to succeed in school. Unfortunately, less than half of U.S. children ages birth to five are read to every day, placing them at risk for reading delays and school failure. Reading to a child should begin as soon after birth as possible; this simple action helps with brain development, speech skills, and bonding with the child, which also encourages healthy development.

The November 2011 edition of the Partnership’s Faith Initiative newsletter, Congregations & Early Childhood, outlines the importance of reading aloud to young children and offers suggestions for local literacy outreach.  Click here to read the November newsletter.

The Partnership’s most recent Transition to Kindergarten newsletter, Steps to School, also features early literacy skills and is geared toward preschool-aged children.  Click here to read the newsletter in English and in Spanish.


A community responsibility to support service members

by Administrator 11. November 2011 12:39

Today – Veterans Day – we celebrate our military veterans.  We honor both those who have sacrificed their lives to serving our country, and those who continue to fight heroically for our many freedoms. 

Service members dedicate their lives to taking care of us.  Therefore, it is a community responsibility to show concern for the welfare of military personnel families and the experiences that their young children have. 

Early last month, the Partnership was able to provide children’s books to the NC National Guard’s 30th Brigade Special Troops Battalion to be given to families during its 6th Annual Family Readiness Group Craft Fair, which was an all-day event hosted at the National Guard Armory in Durham.

Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) are one important way that the NC National Guard provides family support to its service members.  These groups offer comfort and information to guard members, their families and friends during times of separation due to schools, annual training, training exercises, mobilizations and deployments.

While the Partnership’s donation was but a small piece of what families need, it played a role in providing support to National Guard families.  We hope that today serves as a point of reflection – what are we doing to support the service members who work selflessly on our behalf?

The books that we donate to service organizations throughout Durham County are collected each year through the Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive.
Click here to read more about this opportunity to make a difference.


events | military

Dental health for young children

by Administrator 8. November 2011 09:42

Action for Children North Carolina director of research and data Laila A. Bell is featured as a guest columnist in today’s News & Observer.  Her column, Treating children to healthier teeth,” helps direct our attention to the importance of oral health for young children.

Some of Laila’s key points:

  • Most dental decay is preventable, yet dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood.
  • In North Carolina, 63 percent of children begin their school career in poor oral health.
  • Children with untreated dental decay face greater risk of debilitating medical conditions later in life including health disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.
  • According to the 2011 Child Health Report Card, more than half of all Medicaid-enrolled children accessed dental services last year – but budget cuts threaten children’s access to care.

From the 2011 Kids Count Data Book
“Establishing a sturdy foundation for children’s healthy growth and development begins before birth and continues into the early elementary school years. With a strong foundation in place, it is much easier to keep children on track to stay in school and graduate, pursue post-secondary education and training, and successfully transition to young adulthood.”

Nutrition and wellness instruction in pre-k classrooms

by Administrator 7. November 2011 15:36

Meet Nicky.  Nicky is a panda bear – a fictional panda bear whose goal is to teach 4-year-olds about proper nutrition.

Nicky is the main character in a story developed by Julia Wacker, Docs For Tots Program Coordinator and Director of Community Outreach for the Healthy Lifestyles Program at Duke Children's Primary Care, and her team of pediatric residents that work together to influence the overall health of young children.

The story of Nicky the Panda Bear was introduced this year in NC Pre-Kindergarten classrooms as part of the Healthy Lifestyles Program, which was expanded to include nutrition and wellness instruction tailored for 4-year-olds. The program connects pediatric residents with preschoolers during 30-minute lessons twice monthly.

Through hearing Nicky’s story and participating in physical activity, the children learn nutrition and wellness basics within the pre-k environment.  The lesson is known as the “5-3-2-1-Almost None” Method.  Here are the basics:

Eat FIVE fruits and veggies a day!
Eat THREE structured meals per day, including breakfast.
Watch less than TWO hours of TV, games, and computer a day!
Be active at least ONE hour a day!
Almost NONE high-sugar juice and soda – drink water & milk every day.

Photo of pediatric residents Waitman Aumann and Samareh Hill with an NC Pre-K classroom at Primary Colors Early Learning Center on Dixon Road.

Winter clothing needed at Welcome Baby’s Giving Closet

by Administrator 4. November 2011 16:18

As the winter months draw near and chilly days remind us to bundle up, we know that many young children in Durham are without coats, mittens and warm layers of clothing to protect them from the cold weather.  Temperatures drop and families in need depend upon donations and local programs that provide living essentials. 

But even those programs struggle to keep up with need.  Welcome Baby is one of those programs.  As part of its free family support and parenting education services, Welcome Baby offers a year-round Giving Closet that is sustained through community donations of new and gently used items.  The Giving Closet provides free children's clothes for families in need. Families may attend four times during the program year to collect items.

According to program coordinator Pat Harris, the Welcome Baby Giving Closet is in dire need of winter children's clothing, particularly any size girls' clothing and boys' clothing 2T and up.

“Our most recent numbers indicate that about 800 families per year use the Giving Closet,” says Harris. “This crucial service for families only functions because of generous donations from the community.”

Please consider giving to this cause this holiday season.

Welcome Baby’s Giving Closet

Donations:  Clothes, sizes newborn - 5, maternity clothes, and baby equipment
Donations are accepted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.
Where:  Welcome Baby, 721 Foster Street, Durham, NC 27701. Call for directions 560-7150.

Welcome Baby is a program of Durham County Cooperative Extension and is partially funded by Durham's Partnership for Children.

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