Early childhood bus tour a success

by Administrator 8. March 2013 12:45

This week, stakeholders from across the Durham community attended the Partnership’s latest Early Childhood Bus Tour, a hands-on event that helps illustrate the work of the Partnership through visits to a variety of partnering sites within the community.  These models of best practice help showcase how our youngest children and families are being served within the early childhood system.

The March 5th tour began at the Partnership offices where attendees enjoyed breads baked on-site in the Child Care Services Association kitchen, which provides nutritious food options for child care centers throughout Durham as part of its Meal Service Program.  Discussion was opened by Partnership Executive Director Laura Benson. 

Destination A:  Grace House at Grace Lutheran Church
Grace House is a partnering site with the Durham Early Head Start program, which provides child development and family services to families with children birth to 3 years of age.  DEHS Home Visitation Supervisor Dr. Karen Carmody and DEHS Home Visitor Ebony Sneed guided tour participants through the home while explaining:
•    The evidence behind the home-visiting model of DEHS
•    How DEHS trains parents to be their child’s first teacher
•    Needs are still high, including transportation for families and mental health support for moms

Bus Tour participants had the opportunity to meet a parent enrolled in the DEHS program and hear about her experiences.

Destination B:  Ernestine Gladys (EG) Brown Memorial Day Care

EG Brown Memorial Day Care is a 4-star site that currently enrolls eight children, ranging from 2 to 5 years of age.  Monnie Griggs, Technical Assistance Director with Child Care Services Association, was joined by Site Director Mary Lewis to discuss the growth of the high-quality center.  During the tour, Monnie and Mary explained:
•    What indicates high-quality at a child care center
•    The amazing transformation the site has undergone with the support of Quality Enhancement and Quality Maintenance (QE/QM), including increased program standards and staff education
•    Prior to working with QE/QM, teachers at the center were volunteering their time.  Now – made possible by scholarships – they are in school obtaining their degrees, increasing education standards at the site, and are full-time, paid employees.

Destination C:  Transition to Kindergarten Initiative (Y.E. Smith Elementary)
Our final stop on the bus tour highlighted the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a collaborative project of Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools.  The Initiative offers a set of coordinated activities for families and schools that supports the educational success of Durham children, and Y.E. Smith Elementary is a paragon of how transition activities can be executed effectively to engage parents and rising kindergartners.  Assistant Principal Darlene Escudero welcomed bus tour attendees to the school, while EDCI Executive Director David Reese and EDCI Program Director Mary Mathew explained the importance of parent involvement as linked to a child’s success in school. Mary highlighted many of the transition activities currently being done, such as Steps to School Family Nights, Kindergarten Safari Nights at Y.E. Smith, and the role of parent advocates.  We were joined by kindergarten teacher Ms. Latisha Johnson who explained:
•    The challenges faced by rising kindergartners, especially those who have no previous high-quality early childhood experiences (which represents about 62% of kindergartners at Y.E. Smith)
•    How early interest and parent engagement can greatly improve academic outcomes for young children

The Partnership would like to thank all of the agencies involved and their staff for welcoming our group and for supporting this opportunity to showcase the work being done on behalf of young children in Durham County. We look forward to continuing to educate our community with future tours!

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