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

Assembly of the Healthy Child: The Right Next Steps

by Administrator 22. October 2015 15:08

Last year, Dr. Kathleen Gallagher of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) told the story of one of the most famous studies in early childhood—FPG's Abecedarian Project. The video of this talk, “The Healthy Child: Assembly Required,” quickly become UNC’s most popular TED Talk of the year. Now, Dr. Gallagher is back with the sequel, “Assembly of the Healthy Child: The Right Next Steps,” which she delivered recently at the TEDxMemphis conference.

In this new TED Talk, she explains the lifelong benefits of early education found through the Abecedarian Project, addresses the achievement gap that begins long before children start school, and shows how meaningful, healthy relationships with adults can have a profound impact on young children.

“The key…is that children learn best in the context of healthy relationships. Young children who have healthy relationships with their parents, with teachers and other children, learn that they are worthy of learning and education--of good health and wellbeing. We assemble healthy children by making certain that they have access to healthy, supportive relationships. Healthy relationships literally change the brain structure and prepare it to learn.”

Dr. Gallagher also emphasizes that the return on investment from early childhood education benefits both individuals and society. Extensive research shows that a child’s early years are a crucial window to have the most powerful impact on education, health and economic prosperity. 

“To build economically vibrant communities, we need healthy children to grow into healthy community members who can contribute their resources, voices, informed perspectives, and personal capital. We need individuals whose relationships--in home and community--have taught them what it means to contribute in a democracy.”

The full text, video and many of the illustrations from the TED Talk are available here.

Dr. Gallagher’s research and applied work focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based approaches that support the learning and well-being of young children, families, and early childhood professionals in the contexts of poverty and disability.

Durham Touchpoints Collaborative begins a new Individual Level Training

by Administrator 29. September 2015 14:37

Today, another group of service providers from agencies across Durham began Touchpoints Individual Level Training, making them the 6th cohort to be trained as part of the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative


The Durham Touchpoints Collaborative is a certified Touchpoints community site, now with two complete training teams. This allows the Touchpoints Collaborative to provide even more training for additional service providers, furthering the reach of the Touchpoints approach through our community and enhancing how professionals engage with each other as well as with the families they serve.


This cohort of trainees included representatives from Duke Primary Children’s Care, Durham Early Head Start, Durham Head Start, Durham Public Schools, Healthy Families Durham, and East Durham Children’s Initiative. With multiple people from each agency, the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative hopes to saturate these partner organizations. There are now several organizations that have had 100% of their staff complete Touchpoints training!


Touchpoints is an evidence-based theory of child development based on the work of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton that is used by providers across disciplines (e.g. pediatrics, home visiting, early education). Once implemented by providers, this method helps parents understand regressions that accompany their children’s developmental spurts, which occur often during the first years of life. The Touchpoints approach gives providers tools to support parents during these challenging times and to strengthen the parent-child relationship. Touchpoints also helps to build relationships among providers to create a common language when working with families.

Since the launch of the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative in 2013, 95 providers from 16 organizations have completed training, reaching more than 2,000 families through their services. For more information, please contact Paulette Stephens, Director of Training and Community Engagement at Durham’s Partnership for Children.

Parenting workshops at Lincoln Community Health Center

by Administrator 11. September 2015 14:08

Lincoln Community Health Center is offering free parent workshops through December as part of their Parent-Child Readiness Program for children birth to age 5.

These monthly bilingual workshops target common concerns of parents of young children, fulfilling Lincoln’s mission to care for a child’s physical and social/emotional wellbeing and development. The program provides support from an early age to help prepare children for success in school and in life.

The workshop topics are:

September 23: Power of Play
Children learn and develop through play. Come learn how to use play to stimulate your child. 

October 14: Healthy Eating
Learn about providing young children with a healthy balance meal.  

October 28: Baby Massage, Exercising with Baby and Toddler
Stimulate growth and parent-child bonding through massage and exercise.  

November 18: Behavioral Problems
Having a difficult time managing your child’s behavior? Learn simple and practical strategies to help manage behavior.

December 16: Speech
Do you have concerns or questions about your child’s speech? Bring your questions and learn how to stimulate your child’s language.  

All workshops are open to the public and will take place in Conference Room B from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. Educational materials and refreshments will be provided. For a bilingual flyer, please click here. For more information, please contact Diana Marroquin, Case Manager, at 919.956.4060 or diana.marroquin@duke.edu.

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!

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 intern@dpfc.net if you know of other agencies we should include! 

Annual Kids Count Report Ranks NC 35th in Nation on Child Well-Being

by Administrator 22. July 2015 16:18

The number of children in North Carolina living in poverty has increased by 25 percent since 2008, according to a new report released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Casey Foundation's Kids Count® Data Book uses data from the U.S. Census, Department of Education and other federal agencies to measure a series of indicators linked to children's long-term success. Our state ranks 35th in the country for children's overall well-being, a measure that includes rankings for education, economic well-being, health and family/community.

While the report is rather grim, North Carolina did make moderate gains in nine of the report's 16 indicators, including higher reading and math proficiency rates, lower teen drug abuse rates and significantly lower rates of uninsured children. However, the report paints a big picture of a state where many children and families have been left behind in the economic recovery of the past several years.

But this is not a reason to throw up our hands and cry defeat, because we know that high-quality early childhood programs have a profound impact on children and their communities. Investing in early childhood programs that promote good health, strong families and high quality early learning environments is the most effective way to allow all children to realize their potential and grow up to be productive adults who can give back and strengthen our communities. Everybody wins when children have the early experiences that they need in order to thrive. 

The opportunity to make the most powerful changes lies in early childhood, and this report shows that we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Please continue to be a voice for young children in Durham and across the state. Click here to sign up for our advocacy e-alerts, get more involved in our legislative efforts, and find out how you can be a champion for young children in Durham!

Click here to download North Carolina's full 2015 Kids Count profile.

Center for Child & Family Health celebrates grand opening of new facility

by Administrator 5. June 2015 11:21

On Tuesday, June 2nd, the Center for Child & Family Health celebrated the grand opening of their new home on Kent Corner in Durham. It was celebration full of community members, collaborative partners and local supporters who share a common goal of serving Durham’s young children and families. 

We partner with CCFH in many ways, particularly through Smart Start and Durham Early Head Start. Healthy Families Durham, a program housed at CCFH, is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start and 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. Healthy Families Durham serves families with multiple stressors from pregnancy through 3 years of age using the Parents as Teachers curriculum in the home to enhance child development, health and safety. Family support workers see families in their home on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for up to 3 years and also provide families with case management services to connect them to appropriate community resources.

We also partner with CCFH to provide the home-based program model of Durham Early Head Start. Families receive 90-minute weekly home visits in English or Spanish by highly trained home visitors using the Parents as Teachers curriculum. This strengths-based approach focuses on promoting the parents’ role in school readiness and healthy child development. There are currently 36 expectant parents, infants, toddlers and their families served through this home-based program.

Healthy Families Durham staff and Partnership staff at the grand opening

CCFH’s new facility is a strong anchor for the community and a more accessible neighborhood resource for the families they serve. Congratulations to our great partners on this wonderful development!

Click here to see more pictures from the event.

Early Childhood Bus Tour shows impact of high quality care, programs and services

by Administrator 21. May 2015 13:11

Yesterday, the Partnership hosted community leaders and volunteers for another Early Childhood Bus Tour. This event allows us to invite participants to learn more about our work throughout Durham and view the community through the lens of early childhood. 

We kicked off the event by asking attendees to build Blast-Off to Kindergarten Kits, which is a key part of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative and one of many volunteer opportunities here at the Partnership. After introductions and kit-building, attendees joined us as we traveled to Healthy Families Durham, Bryson Christian Montessori School, and Forest View Elementary.


The first stop on the tour was to the Center for Child & Family Health to learn more about Healthy Families Durham, a program that is funded by the Partnership through Smart Start. Visitors got to see the brand new facility and learned about importance of early intervention and home visiting for high-risk families with young children. They watched a powerful video showing a home visit with a young child and heard about another activity at Healthy Families Durham, the MAMA’s group, which works to counteract social isolation for Spanish-speaking mothers.  


The next stop on the tour was Bryson Christian Montessori School, where participants had a chance to enjoy the beautiful day in the state-of-the-art outdoor learning environment. This school is one of three Durham Early Head Start centers, and visitors got to see first-hand how the classroom can be extended from inside to outside by touring the gardens, theater area, trails, and many other features of the outdoor learning environment. The Partnership also administers the state-funded NC Pre-K program at Bryson’s, offering high-quality early education to 4-year-olds in Durham who will benefit most from services. Guests got to visit an NC Pre-K classroom and even got to see a performance of a special song that their new “friends” prepared just for them!


Our final stop was Forest View Elementary, where guests learned about the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools. Forest View is home to a TTK Transition Team that hosts several events each year for rising kindergartners and their families, giving them an opportunity to meet future classmates, tour the school, interact with kindergarten teachers, and participate in parent-child activities. Attendees heard from the school Principal, Title 1 Coordinator and a Kindergarten Teacher, all of whom expressed a lot of gratitude for the collaborative relationship with the Partnership and the impact it has had on their students and families. Before leaving, guests had a chance to peek into some of the kindergarten classrooms, ending the tour with some smiling young faces.


All participants left the bus tour with a deeper understanding of the scope of the Partnership’s work, as well as the need for community-wide commitment and efforts to ensure that every child in Durham enters school healthy and ready to succeed. One way you can join this work is to become even more informed, involved and invested! Sign up for our email list for news and advocacy alerts, subscribe to this blog, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, join us on a future bus tour, and contact Davida Major for information about upcoming activities and volunteer opportunities at the Partnership.

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.

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