Attend the A.S.K. Conference on Feb. 21st

by Administrator 20. January 2015 12:19

Child Care Services Association’s 42nd annual A.S.K. Conference will take place on Saturday, February 21st from 8:30am-3:15pm at East Chapel Hill High School (500 Weaver Dairy Road). The A.S.K. Conferences provides a full day of training sessions and workshops for early childhood and school age education professionals. This is an outstanding opportunity for educators to be inspired and informed about effective teaching and developmentally appropriate practice.

This year, there will be more than 90 different sessions from which to choose, and topics were selected with deliberate intention to meet the professional development needs of early care and education teachers and program directors. Sessions will focus on: the application of recent research on child language and literary development; working with children with special needs; and evidence-based practice focused on early reading and cognitive development to promote school readiness and improved learning outcomes of young children, to name a few.

The Partnership’s own Paulette Stephens, Touchpoints Coordinator, will present a session on toxic stress, helping participants understand the causes and symptoms of toxic stress and how it affects the emotional, mental and physical well-being of young children.

All individual registrations ($70 per person) must be received by February 6th. Group registrations ($45 per person; must register together) must be received by January 30th. Continuing education units (CEUs) are available on specialized topics for early childhood educators, school age and youth development professionals and administrators.

For more information and to register, please click here.

Happy #GivingTuesday!

by Administrator 1. December 2014 16:11

We have a day to give thanks, two days to get deals, and now we have a day to give back! Here are two ways you can support the Partnership, invest in young children and families in Durham, and celebrate this national day of giving. 

Make a gift!
Please make a gift to the Partnership through the INDY Week Give!Guide to help prepare young children in Durham for success in school and in life!

When you contribute anytime before Dec. 31st, you have a chance to win prizes from our partners at Mateo, Bull City Burger & Brewery, Pompieri Pizza and the Cupcake Bar. And since today is a Big Give Day, you'll also be entered to win a special package from the Fearrington House Inn. Give big and win big!

Tweet with us!
We are thrilled to be a recipient of the 2014 GSK IMPACT Award! Now, with your help, we could win an additional $10,000 to help build a healthier community! 

Join us on Twitter today as we discuss how quality outdoor learning environments are crucial to a child's development. Help us bring the classroom outside so children can learn, play and grow healthier! Follow along and chime in with #GSKimpact, @GSKUS and @DPFC_NC!

New Report Shows Family Well-Being Is Critical for Healthy Child Development

by Administrator 12. November 2014 12:55

Excerpted from NC Child; November 12, 2014.

A new report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the need to take a family-centered, two-generation approach to lifting children out of poverty. The KIDS COUNT® policy report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, makes the case that public policymakers and the private sector must address the interrelated needs of parents and children to ensure their future success. The report shows that parents need tools and support to overcome obstacles like child care, housing and the stress of managing a family with insufficient resources. In North Carolina, 50% of all families with young children are low-income. [In Durham, nearly 30% of children birth to 5 live in poverty].

“Children excel when they live in economically secure families with parents that have the support of a network of community resources,” stated Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “And thriving children result in a workforce that has the skills and education to compete in a global economy.”

One of the primary challenges facing low-income families is finding safe, affordable child care that is flexible enough to accommodate unpredictable service industry employment. A lack of reliable child care can mean fewer hours or even a lost job, which has a negative impact on the family and economy. 

As a result of a provision in the most recent state budget, fewer children are eligible for child care subsidies, particularly in the 6-12 age group. As a result of this change, many parents have to make difficult decisions about keeping their jobs or staying home to care for their children. According to a recent survey, 18% of North Carolina parents reported that childcare issues impacted their ability to work.

The report also highlights paid family and sick leave as a policy that can be adopted by public officials and business owners to allow parents to care for their children and themselves without losing income or even their jobs. It also focuses on the impact of excessive stress levels for parents and children and how to provide caregivers with the support they need to be loving, nurturing parents, even during difficult circumstances. To raise healthy children, parents must have the opportunity to take care of their own emotional, mental and physical health.

For more information about NC Child, please click here.

To read the full report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, please click here.

Report finds child poverty is at highest point in 20 years

by Administrator 23. October 2014 13:51

According to a policy analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, child poverty in America is at its highest point in 20 years. Among other findings, the report reveals that 1 in 4 children don’t have enough to eat; 7 million children don’t have health insurance; 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese; 1 in 5 experiences a mental health disorder; a child is abused or neglected every minute; and 5 children are killed daily by firearms.

Despite this overwhelming need and the fact that children account for 24% of the overall U.S. population, only 8% of federal expenditures are focused on children. 

“It shouldn’t be this hard for kids to grow and thrive in the world’s richest, most powerful nation,” said co-author Bruce Lesley, president of child advocacy organization First Focus.

We know that the effects of poverty are most destructive in a child's early years. Here in Durham, nearly 30% of children birth to 5 live in poverty. Poverty has far-reaching consequences for young children, negatively impacting brain development, physical and emotional health, and educational achievement. These are key building blocks for productive adult lives, and that foundation begins with a child’s earliest experiences. 

In response, the Partnership leads initiatives that address the multi-faceted effects of poverty. Early intervention and two-generation strategies that serve both parent and child create better futures for everyone. By increasing access to high quality care for low-income children, we buffer toxic stress and promote healthy development; parents, in turn, can work or go to school. We fund evidence-based programs that address mental health and behavioral issues, help prevent child abuse and neglect, empower parents through education and support, and encourage healthy physical habits through nutrition and outdoor learning environments that combat childhood obesity. We know that this work is making an impact. 

The JAMA Pediatrics report calls upon the federal government to set goals for eliminating child poverty and put strong measures in place to protect our young citizens. Their recommendations include expanding support for policies and programming similar to what we do here in Durham to serve our community’s young children and families. 

“Overwhelming, bipartisan support by American voters exists for measures that would enhance our nation’s investments in and focus on children’s health and well-being... The needs of our nation’s children have never been greater.”

As we are in the midst of election season and prepare for the NC General Assembly to enter its session, please consider how our legislative leaders can better support early childhood issues. Visit the North Carolina Child Care Coalition's action center and sign up for our advocacy updates to get more information on how you can become a champion for young children. 

Hillary Clinton announces early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents

by Administrator 14. October 2014 10:20

This past weekend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) new early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents. The toolkit – Books Build Connections – provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit will be shared with the AAP’s 62,000 pediatrician members at their annual convention this week.

In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a partnership with Too Small to Fail (a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation), Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development. The organizations have committed to supporting early literacy and ensuring that doctors, parents and caregivers have the information, tools and books they need to promote talking, reading out loud and singing to children every day starting in infancy.

Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, as reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper class families hear 30 million more words than their lower income peers.

“Coming to school without words is like coming to school without breakfast or books,” said Clinton.

This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words, which puts children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

"Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country... now, more pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely through our recent policy, toolkit and partnership with Too Small to Fail. Talking, reading and singing with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, foster early language skills and promote children's development,” said James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP.

Pediatricians offer a nearly universal way to reach children before they begin school, and it is exciting to have the AAP’s 62,000 members as powerful advocates for reading and talking to children early and often! 

Click here to watch Clinton's full remarks at the AAP conference, and to read more about the early literacy toolkit, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

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.

Durham County wins health prize

by Administrator 1. July 2014 16:41

Congratulations to Durham County for being named one of six winners of the 2014 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation!

The award honors communities that are harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners and stakeholders to help residents live healthier lives, and Durham County received a cash prize of $25,000 for its commitment to building a culture of health. Durham was recognized for its innovative strategies to improve health, including collaboration between organizations to increase access to medical care, coordinated planning to create a healthier environment, and a focus on education and poverty in addition to disease as factors that impact health.

The RWJF award specifically recognizes the work of our partners at the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), whose programs aim to create a pipeline from cradle to college or career for children in East Durham. Through a broad range of neighborhood-based programs, EDCI promotes education, parent support, job training, and high quality child care among underserved populations, which in turn supports improved health outcomes.  

"Our community has worked tirelessly and collaboratively for many years to improve health in Durham County and now, our efforts are being recognized on a national level,” said Gayle B. Harris, Durham County public health director. “As a lifelong resident of Durham, this is truly a monumental achievement and every resident, regardless of whether they live in the city or county, should be proud of. As we continue to work together as ‘One Durham,’ there is no health disparity that we can’t overcome.”

Building a Culture of Health means building a society where getting healthy and staying healthy is a fundamental and guiding social value that helps define American culture. The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors communities which place a high priority on health and bring partners together to drive local change. 

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a national Culture of Health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These communities are inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together so that every resident has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life."

Congratulations again to Durham County on a wonderful recognition of this great effort to help make our children and families healthier and happier!

Exploring nature and learning through play

by Administrator 27. June 2014 12:19

By: Winnie Morgan, Faith Initiative Coordinator at Durham's Partnership for Children

As an adult, what do you remember about your early play experiences? I immediately think of the creek where we made dams and bridges with a variety of material laid across the water, the woods where we played “house” by creating rooms with stick boundaries, and riding bikes to our neighbor’s house (which was not close in the country!). Recently I had the opportunity to see the outdoor learning space at First Environments Early Learning Environment, a child development center that serves the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Environmental Health and Science, and their contractors.


It made me want to be a child again: to play, to explore, to create, to test my physical ability, to find a quiet space for my friend and me. Any observer could see this happening in this outdoor learning space as children made mud pies; sat under the shade of a tree sharing a popsicle with a friend; climbed and balanced on ropes strung from trees; and toddlers sat in sand piles just feeling the sand. It was amazing! And it was so energizing, not only for the children but for adults as well. Brains and muscles were SO engaged in every direction of the space as children learned on their own based on just the environment.



What has happened over the generations that exploring the outdoors and spontaneous play don’t happen naturally in a child’s life? Research shows that the average American child spends 44 hours per week with electronic media. Another statement I heard recently at the Reading ROCks workshop is that a child has spent enough time watching TV before they start school that they could have completed a college degree. WOW! And we wonder why our children are not as healthy or fit as generations past, or why they cannot entertain themselves without a gadget or a purchased toy? 

Outdoor experiences encourage imagination, creativity and a sense of wonder. How does that butterfly ever come from a caterpillar? What does a butterfly eat? Can I “fly” like a butterfly? One does not need an advanced degree to figure out how to enjoy the outdoors with children. Just do it! You will develop future citizens that want to be stewards of this earth, and you will help improve their physical, social and emotional, and overall wellbeing.

When I visit my 4 year old grandson, our adventures are always outside no matter what the season or weather is - we just adapt with clothing! Our favorite place is a park with a bamboo forest that has rock ledges where we always climb to the top. It is our place: a place where we can be creative as we pretend to be explorers, and a place that always stimulates our sense of wonder. Do you include fun nature experiences in the life of your children and grandchildren or in the life of the children that attend your child care center? If not, why not? 

To help you get started, this Sunday, June 29th is International Mud Day, when children all over the world will join together to enjoy one of the best investigation and invention materials available—mud! There’s no better time than now to go outside and learn!

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children from birth

by Administrator 25. June 2014 13:53

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced yesterday that it will begin issuing the recommendation that parents should read aloud to their children from birth. This is the first time the Academy has officially weighed in on early literacy education. This new policy is part of a collaborative effort of the AAP, Too Small to Fail, Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development.

There are only 2,000 days between a child’s birth and the time that child enters kindergarten, and 90% of brain development happens in those first five years. Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, and reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  

But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies show that by age 3, children from more affluent families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from families receiving public assistance. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

The AAP hopes to close this gap by asking its 62,000 members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud by encouraging parents each time they visit their child's doctor to read early and often.

According to the AAP, the effort takes a multi-pronged approach toward equipping parents with the best tools to ensure that their children are prepared to learn and ready to enter school:

  • Too Small to Fail and the AAP will share messages across their networks and media platforms about the importance of talking, reading out loud and singing to children from birth in order to build vocabulary and promote healthy brain development.
  • To jump start the partnership, Scholastic has donated 500,000 new, age-appropriate children's books for distribution through Reach Out and Read, the non-profit organization that works with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and give books to families at pediatric visits.
  • Reach Out and Read will also distribute a toolkit to be developed by the AAP, with support from Too Small to Fail, which will equip pediatricians with resources to educate parents on how to use everyday activities to improve communication with their infants and toddlers.

To read more about the AAP’s recommendations, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

WOYC: the importance of outdoor learning and play

by Administrator 10. April 2014 13:36

Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children, and some of the most exploratory learning often takes place in nature. During Week of the Young Child, we’d like to celebrate the important positive impact of our outstanding Outdoor Learning Environments here in Durham.

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. Aside from the well-known benefits of outdoor play – such as obesity prevention, learning from sensory experiences, and encouraging physical activity – there are many other far-reaching developmental benefits. 

Children who are playing together outdoors, making up games, and following rules are learning to work together as a team, building creativity, and establishing sound ethics and positive attitudes. Children who plant flowers and grow vegetables are developing an appreciation for nature as well as an understanding of food systems and healthy choices.






Research shows that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature. According to the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University, these positive impacts include the following: 

  • Supports multiple development domains 
  • Supports creativity and problem solving
  • Enhances cognitive abilities
  • Improves academic performance 
  • Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms 
  • Increases physical activity
  • Improves nutrition 
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves social relations
  • Improves self-discipline
  • Reduces stress

Bryson’s Christian Montessori School is one example of a beautiful outdoor learning environment. This morning, volunteers from PNC’s Grow Up Great program helped plant flowers and explored the outdoors with children in the Early Head Start and NC Pre-K classes. In addition to enjoying the sunny spring weather, everyone involved left with an appreciation for the power of nature and the importance of learning through play.

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