Traveling Through Early Childhood

by Administrator 30. March 2012 11:36

Have you ever wondered how the Partnership determines what programs to fund, how children are selected for Early Head Start, or what to look for in a high quality early childhood classroom? The March 27th Early Childhood Bus Tour answered these questions and more for a diverse group of community and business leaders as well as elected officials.

The tour began at the Partnership offices, where attendees were briefed about the tour and expectations were set while enjoying healthy breads baked on-site in the Child Care Services Association kitchen. This kitchen provides nutritious food options for child care centers throughout Durham.

The group then set out for their first stop at Welcome Baby. Director Melva Henry gave a tour of their facility while speaking to their giving closet, car seat and crib programs, and parenting classes, which receive funding from the Partnership. The Partnership supports these evidence-based programs because equipping parents with skills like positive discipline helps them create a loving and playful environment that ultimately prepares their children for success in school. 

For our next stop we visited Little People Day Care, an Early Head Start site. Durham EHS provides child development and family services to families with children birth to 3 years of age. Children with disabilities and risk factors such as teen parents are prioritized for these services. After learning about EHS, our group was able to tour this five star center and its beautiful outdoor learning environment, recently completed in collaboration with N.C. State’s Natural Learning Initiative.

The final stop was at Christian Prep Academy, a long time NC Pre-K provider that was recently able to start services for additional children following the governor’s expansion of Pre-K. Director Pam Nichols talked to the group about the importance of play and how they should see signs of literacy and math in every area of their five star NC Pre-K classrooms. The classes sang songs which incorporated the alphabet, helping the children to build their literacy skills without even being aware of it.

This tour provided participants with the opportunity to see Durham’s early childhood system at work, and receive answers to many of their questions about the Partnership’s role in it. The Partnership would like to thank all of the agencies involved and their staff for welcoming our group and putting on informative presentations. We look forward to continuing to educate our community with future tours!


Thank You to Great Human Race Supporters

by Administrator 27. March 2012 12:08

This past Saturday a number of Partnership staff, along with their friends and families, participated in the Great Human Race, a 5K walk/run hosted by the Volunteer Center of Durham. Approximately 600 runners and 1,500 walkers came out for the 17th annual Great Human Race, raising around $240,000 for more than 100 nonprofit organizations.

Durham's Partnership for Children has raised nearly $400 so far. There is still time to help us reach our goal of $1,000. Donations will be accepted through May. These donations will be used to purchase resources that foster active and healthy learning environments which will then be distributed in child care centers and preschool classrooms throughout Durham County. Items like tricycles, jump ropes, and hula hoops can help promote physical activity as part of a child's healthy development.

The Partnership would like to thank all of the participants, donors and supporters of our Great Human Race team. Thank you for supporting the healthy development and academic success of Durham's youngest children.

Our Executive Director, Laura Benson, and her daughter Kendall crossing the finish line. Photo credit to the Herald-Sun

Click here to visit our fundraising page and make a donation now!



Building Up the Modern Dad

by Administrator 22. March 2012 12:26

Did you know that a father stimulates their child's brain development in a way that is completely unique from all other influences? Children with engaged fathers see a wide variety of benefits, including emotional security, less anxiety and depression, and higher language ability. Yet, societal norms about what it means to be masculine, maternal-centric systems, and a lack of resources for fathers can stand in the way of their involvement with their children. In the U.S., nearly one in three children is living without their biological father.

A guest column by Partnership volunteer and research manager and analyst at Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy, Jeff Quinn, appeared in Tuesday's Herald-Sun addressing the challenges fathers may face, while also suggesting things we can do as a society to support them. Quinn advises breaking down the stereotype of mom as the primary caretaker, creating fatherhood support systems that speak to a male's style of learning, and getting fathers engaged at the prenatal stage. Children need their father and fathers need their children. By shifting the perception of their role from a mother's helper to become a co-parent, we can see all of our children benefit.

Click here to read the full column.  




School Readiness Tips

by Administrator 21. March 2012 10:01

While it would be ideal for all children to enter school knowing their numbers and letters, it is even more important for us to send our children to school eager to learn. The following is a list of the top eight readiness skills, as ranked by kindergarten teachers from five states (including North Carolina) with over 129 years of experience collectively.

  1. Enthusiasm Toward Learning: Does the child approach learning enthusiastically? Is she eager to explore and discover? Does she ask questions, take initiative, and persist when tasks are difficult?
  2. Solid Oral-Language Skills: Research shows that one of the best predictors of later reading success is a well-developed oral vocabulary in kindergarten.
  3. The Ability to Listen: Students must be able to concentrate on what the teacher is saying, listen carefully for directions, and tune in to the sounds in letters and words. Singing fosters pre-reading skills too.
  4. The Desire to Be Independent: Children should know how to get their coats on and off and hang them up; follow simple two-step instructions such as, "take off your boots and put on your sneakers" or "go the bathroom and wash your hands."
  5. The Ability to Play Well With Others: Children should be able to express their feelings in words and begin to understand that two people can use the same thing at the same time. They need to be equipped with essential social skills such as sharing, compromising, turn-taking and problem-solving.
  6. Strong Fine-Motor Skills: Master cutting, coloring, pasting, and holding a pencil.
  7. Basic Letter and Number Recognition: Kindergarten teachers believe that it is their responsibility to teach kids letter sounds and how to write, but they do hope incoming students can recognize most letters  by sight. They also hope children can count to 10, identify numbers 1 to 5, and know some shapes and colors. However, teachers do not want parents to quiz their child or use workbooks, phonics kits, or flashcards. Rather, use everyday situations to point things out to your child.
  8. Social Emotional: Children are expected to share materials, take turns, respect others' ideas and collaborate with a group of their peers. Children are also expected to be able to wait patiently for needed help while the teacher works with another child. It is expected that children will not cry when frustrated or disappointed.

 For more information, check out the March 2012 issue of "Congregations and Early Childhood," a monthly newsletter from the Early Childhood Faith Initiative.

The Faith Initiative is a collaboration between Durham's Partnership for Children and End Poverty Durham that recognizes the role that the faith community plays in providing support to families and children. Click here to learn more about this initiative.

Great Human Race This Saturday

by Administrator 19. March 2012 11:39

There is still time to support Durham's Partnership for Children in the Great Human Race. The race is an annual 5K walk/run held by the Volunteer Center of Durham that allows nonprofits to fundraise for their cause. The Partnership hopes to raise $1,000 for the race this Saturday, March 24th. The race will begin at 8:30am at Northgate Mall.

You can support Durham's youngest children by registering to walk/run with the Partnership team, or donating to our fundraising page. With the donations received through the Great Human Race, the Partnership will purchase resources that foster healthy and active learning environments for young children. These resources will be distributed throughout child care centers and pre-kindergarten classes in Durham, promoting physical health and nutrition as part of healthy development.

Just five dollars can provide a jump rope or a hula hoop. Ten dollars can purchase an athletic ball or bicycle helmet. Twenty dollars can get a set of garden tools. One hundred dollars will provide a tricycle.

Click here to check out our online fundraising page or donate now.

If you wish to join us on race day, or have any questions, contact Jameka at (919) 403-6960 ext 214 or

Welcome to Kindergarten

by Administrator 15. March 2012 10:53

Join us on Thursday, March 29 from 5:45-8:00 PM at Y.E. Smith Elementary School for a Kindergarten Safari. This event, for families with children entering kindergarten in August 2012, will allow families to become familiar with Y.E. Smith, the teachers, and the registration process.

Families will be provided with dinner, followed by a welcome from the principal and PTA, kindergarten classroom activities, and a workshop on the Talk, Read, Play strategy for parents to help build their child's skills. All of the activities will be available in Spanish as well as English.

Giving rising kindergarteners the opportunity to visit their future school helps to ease some of those first day anxieties about the unfamiliar territory of kindergarten. This event also gives parents a chance to get introduced to Y.E. Smith and feel excited and connected to their child's educational experience. They'll leave with new tools to help them plan and prepare for their child's successful transition into elementary school.


For the Kindergarten Safari flyer, click (English) or (Spanish)

The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is supported through funding from the Morgan Creek Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation, and implemented in collaboration with Durham Public Schools.  


Blast Off to Kindergarten!

by Administrator 13. March 2012 13:28

Another successful Lunch and Learn event on March 6 was organized through Durham's Early Childhood Faith Initiative. The topic, "The Serious Business of Play- Getting Children Ready for Success in School," had three presenters speak about how to best prepare a child for their entry into kindergarten.

Pat Harris, Program Coordinator at Durham's Partnership for Children, talked about Durham's Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. As part of this work, she is putting together "Blast Off to Kindergarten" kits that will be available at various kindergarten readiness events this season. These kits contain items that encourage creative and imaginative play, such as:

  • Draw a Picture Tell a Story booklets in which children can create an image and have their parents can record the story of that image
  • Emotion flash cards so children can learn to identify emotions in themselves and their classmates
  • Building blocks that allow for color and shape recognition as children plan and build figures 


Helen Tharrington of Westminster Presbyterian is an experienced preschool teacher in a faith-based environment. She discussed how children enter school with a broad range of cognitive and developmental skills. THe most important thing they need to function in school and be ready to learn is social skills. If a child doesn't know how to sit and settle down for story time, it makes it extremely difficult for them to learn, regardless of whether or not they know how to write their name.

Miriam Broderson of Healthy Families Durham (a Smart Start funded program at the Center for Child and Family Health) emphasized the importance of a child having a strong foundation from their earliest years in order to prepare them for school success. Forming a secure attachment with caregivers in infancy helps put a child's social-emotional development on track. For older children, Miriam stressed the significance of keeping a regular routine. She stated that in her personal opinion, "consistent bedtimes and mealtimes eliminate 75% of all behavior issues." Having a good night's sleep and a full tummy makes it far easier for a child to focus.

Children, like all of us, have a fear of the unknown. Equipping your child with the necessary social skills, the ability to recognize and regulate their emotions, and the knowledge that they can count on you to be their base, can better prepare them to navigate through the unfamiliar situations they'll encounter at school than anything else.

The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is supported through funding from the Morgan Creek Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation, and implemented in collaboration with Durham Public Schools. Click here to learn more about this initiative.

The Faith Initiative is a collaborative project between Durham's Partnership for Children and End Poverty Durham that recognizes the role that the faith community plays in providing support to families and children. Click here to learn more about this initiative.

Teachers Talk a Success

by Administrator 8. March 2012 15:38

The Partnership and Durham Public Schools hosted more than 30 pre-k and kindergarten teachers at Saturday's Teachers Talk Forum that was organized through the collaborative Transition to Kindergarten Initiative.

Teachers talk events help to 1) strengthen the role of early childhood educators in crafting successful transition activities for children and their families, and 2) support kindergarten educators as they learn and adopt ways to effectively communicate with families about the importance of kindergarten.

With so many committed educators gathered together in one space, a passion for helping our youngest learners succeed bred vibrant discussion around what children need to be ready for success in kindergarten. Here is a list of priority needs developed by the teachers:

  1. Social Skills
  2. Confident Parents
  3. Self help skills
  4. Family involvement
  5. Exposure to books
  6. Life experiences (exposure to diverse objects, people, places)

It is no surprise that social skills were named as the top need for children entering kindergarten, followed by self help skills. Together, teachers discussed in depth the need for parents to support and foster social skills that include sharing, conflict resolution, and taking turns. Children's independence was a hot topic as well. Kindergartners need to arrive at school equipped with self help skills such as putting on jackets, shoes, etc.

Another critical point of discussion: What challenges do children and families face when transitioning to kindergarten? Teachers highlighted the following frequent struggles:

  1. Schedules, getting into routines
  2. Class ratio
  3. Structure and rules in the kindergarten classroom
  4. Socioeconomic issues and differences with families
  5. Expectations (of both teachers and parents)
  6. Change and fear of the unknown
  7. Who is there to help me? - Support for parents

Brining pre-k educators and kindergarten teachers together to discuss these critical elements of transition helps to smooth some of the challenges that young students and their families face, while enhancing transition strategies. Future Teachers Talk events will center on discussion and training for teachers about how the pre-k early learning standards and the K-12 standards can and do align.

The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is supported through funding from the Morgan Creek Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Protecting children from sexual abuse

by Administrator 6. March 2012 14:18

Although the conversation of child sexual abuse is too important to be ignored, it is often a conversation considered too delicate to undertake. When you consider just how many young children fall victim to sexual abuse, the important responsibility adults have of focusing on prevention and detection becomes priority.  Research from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that by the time children turn 18 years of age, one in four girls and one in six boys will have been sexually abused.  While many children who have experienced sexual abuse show behavioral and emotional changes, many others do not. Parents and caregivers need to be equipped with methods of protecting their children by helping them develop basic safety skills in a way that is supportive rather than frightening. 

The Partnership recently came across a great resource from the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, “10 Tips for protecting the children you love from Sexual Abuse.”

An overview of these valuable tips:

1. Make your home a “No Secrets Zone.”  Perpetrators use secrets to keep kids silent and continue the abuse. Make sure your child knows the difference between a secret and a surprise.  Secrets are something you are never supposed to tell and can make you feel bad.  Surprises are good and are meant to be revealed. 

2. Respect your child’s personal boundaries.  At a certain age, kids may no longer want to give hugs and kisses to show affection. Never force unwanted physical contact; instead, send kids the message that adults should respect their physical boundaries.

3. Teach kids the proper names for body parts.  Discrete code words and cute nicknames for body parts may be more comfortable to use, but if a child is being sexually abused they need to know the appropriate terms in order to effectively communicate with others about contact they do not like.

4. Monitor “one-one-one” situations.  Children will find themselves in situations where they are alone with adults. Whenever possible, make sure that they can be readily observed by others.

5. Recognize that offenders come in all shapes and sizes.
  CDC statistics show that 90% of children are sexually abused by someone they know.  Telling a child to “keep away from strangers” is not enough.

6. Make the most of opportunities to discuss the topic with your kids.  Some children may not volunteer the information that they’ve experienced sexual abuse, but many will respond honestly when asked directly.

7. Not all background checks are created equal.
  Don’t assume that anyone else is doing the work of a proper background check for you. Ask what is included in background checks for caretakers, nannies, or others.

8. Avoid “good touch/bad touch” language. 
For most children, a “bad touch” is something that causes pain.  Sex offenders rarely commit acts that cause physical pain to the child.  Children who have been sexually abused may not understand that it is still a “bad touch” since it didn’t hurt.  Instead, use terms like “safe and unsafe touches.” 

9. Be clear and cover all bases. It is just as important to tell a child it is not okay to touch others either.  A perpetrator may ask a child to touch him or her.

10. If you don’t know, ask! If you need guidance in facilitating this discussion with a child, seek help. Don’t ignore this important issue.



The serious business of play

by Administrator 2. March 2012 10:15

On Tuesday, March 6th, the Partnership will be offering a Lunch and Learn training through the Faith Initiative focusing on “The Serious Business of Play—Getting Children Ready for Success in School.”

The event is free and open to the public and will be held from 11:30 am to 1 pm at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall (2620 Weaver Street, Durham). 

Entering kindergarten is one of the most important educational steps in a child’s life. How we help families get ready for this big step can make all the difference to their children’s success and engagement with learning in the years beyond kindergarten. A panel of experts will share simple, low-cost, and effective ways parents and congregations can help children develop their intellectual, social and emotional skills needed to enter school.

Presenters include:
Miriam Brodersen is a licensed clinical social worker with Healthy Families Durham, a program of the Center for Child and Family Health in Durham. She specializes in Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Fluent in Spanish, Miriam has extensive experience working with Latino immigrant families.

Helen Tharrington is a preschool teacher with 15 years of experience in the faith-based environment and has been a teacher of students with learning differences for 10 years.

Pat Harris is a Program Coordinator with Durham’s Partnership for Children. She is experienced in parent education programming and coordinates the Partnership’s Transition to Kindergarten initiative in collaboration with Durham Public Schools.

Please RSVP to Winnie Morgan at (919) 732-1524 or

The Faith Initiative is a collaborative initiative between Durham’s Partnership for Children and End Poverty Durham that recognizes the role that the faith community plays in providing support to families and children.  Click here to read more about this initiative.

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