Leaders from across the Durham community recently attended the Partnership’s latest Early Childhood Bus Tour, a hands-on event that helps illustrate examples of best practices for young children and families here in Durham while explaining the work of the Partnership. The tour included visits to a variety of partnering sites within the community to best showcase how our youngest children and families are being served within the early childhood system.
Destination A: The Partnership offices & Child Care Services Association (CCSA)
Tour attendees enjoyed breads baked on-site in the CCSA kitchen, which provides nutritious food options for child care centers throughout Durham as part of its Meal Service Program. Discussion was lead by Linda Chappel, Sr. Vice President of CCSA, where she highlighted:
- What defines quality child care
- What services are available for families looking for child care
- What programs exist to help improve the quality of child care. The Meal Service Program is a great example of such a program, as it allows site directors to focus more attention on quality child care instead of menu planning and food preparation.
Destination B: Early Start Academy
Early Start Academy is a partnering center with the Durham Early Head Start program, which provides child development and family services to families with children birth to 3 years of age. Site Director Kim Adkins and DEHS Director Melissa Mishoe guided tour participants through the 5-star center and outdoor learning environment while explaining:
- Why birth to age 3 is such an important time for the developing brain
- Approaches to learning for infants and toddlers
Destination C: Primary Colors Early Learning Center
Primary Colors Early Learning Center is a 5-star site that accepts children 6 weeks to 5 years of age, including two NC Pre-K classrooms for preschoolers. During the tour, site director Kara Turner explained:
- The challenges and successes of running a high-quality child care center
- The benefits of taking advantage of multiple funding streams and support programs to create a unique and exemplary business model
- The rewards of seeing children graduate from preschool ready to enter kindergarten with a love of learning.
Tour participants also heard from Aviva Starr, Program Manager of the Early Childhood Outreach Project (EChO), which provides consultation, support and referral services to Durham child care providers and families when a child’s behavior presents a challenge. She highlighted:
- Why reducing expulsion of young children from child care centers is critical
- What are effective classroom strategies to address challenging behaviors
- Why, with limited funding and children on waitlists, it is so important to coach teachers in understanding children’s behavior
Destination D: Healthy Families Durham (at Yates Baptist Church)
Our final stop on the bus tour highlighted the Healthy Families Durham Program, which is an intensive home visiting program designed to reduce child abuse, improve parent/child interaction, and increase parenting skills. Tour participants were able to meet Program Director Jan Williams as well as a participating parent and a home visitor. Jan highlighted the evidence-based “Parents as Teachers” curriculum.
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!