26. March 2013 11:59
As a valued reader of the Partnership blog, your opinion is critical to us here at Durham's Partnership for Children. We have just released a brief, 10-question survey about our social media work. Please take less than 5 minutes to complete this survey, which will guide us in evaluating how we communicate with you. Your responses will be completely anonymous.
We request that the survey be completed by Tuesday, April 9th. Thank you in advance for providing your valuable feedback!
20. March 2013 11:15
University of Chicago photo of Economist James Heckman
Today marks the inaugural blog post by economist James Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in Economics, and an expert in the economics of human development. The blog can be found on The Heckman Equation Web site and will follow conversation around Heckman’s work and research on investing in early and equal development of human potential. We can expect that this new resource will provide advocates, thought leaders and policymakers with the current information needed to make the right choices in implementing effective birth-to-five early childhood development programs.
Featured today on the blog, The Heckman Equation writes:
“The facts are quite clear. Providing quality birth-to-five early childhood development for disadvantaged families is a highly effective tool for preventing the achievement gap and producing better education, health, social and economic outcomes. This will increase productivity and dramatically reduce the need for social spending. Unlike other social programs, there are no economic tradeoffs in equity, because equal access to effective skills development will result in greater economic output for individuals and the nation. Every dollar invested in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children results in a 7-10 percent return per child, per year.”
14. March 2013 12:05
We are pleased to announce the 11 child care sites and elementary schools that will receive transition to kindergarten mini-grants through our collaborative Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative. The grant amounts total $6,030 to support early educators, elementary schools and child care sites in designing and implementing transition events for their specific student and parent populations. This is the second year the Partnership has offered mini-grants for TTK projects. Funds for these mini-grants were made available through a generous gift from Wells Fargo. The Morgan Creek Foundation also supports the TTK Initiative.
The TTK Initiative is a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools that provides specific experiences that prepare children for successful entrance into kindergarten and that prepare schools to receive children and their families.
Best practices in the early childhood field include assisting children and parents in the transition process from formal pre-school programs or home settings into local elementary schools. Parent involvement is the strongest predictor of how well young children will do in kindergarten.
“We know that prepared children and families are more successful at facing the enormous transition of entering school,” said Laura Benson, Executive Director of the Partnership. “Rising kindergartners and their families will be present, ready, and engaged if they know what to expect, and research clearly shows that being present on the first day of school matters. Children who are in attendance on the first day of kindergarten miss, on average, 9 days less throughout the school year than children who are absent on the first day.”
This year’s mini-grants include activities such as summer transition camps, neighborhood parties, field trips to kindergarten classrooms, and full day kindergarten experiences. These projects are collaborations between an elementary school and a child care center, and many of the activities will be implemented in the spring months.
Mini-grant recipients include:
Bethesda Elementary and Victorious Praise Day Care
Early Explorers Playschool and Creekside Elementary
Easley Elementary and Aldersgate Weekday School
Fayetteville Street Elementary and Scarborough Nursery School
Holt Elementary and Childcare Network #57
Mangum Elementary and Master's Garden Preschool
Merrick-Moore Elementary and Steps & Ladders Child Care Center/Everything New Child Care
Burton Elementary and Russell Memorial Child Development Center
Oak Grove Elementary and A Brilliant Beginning Day Care
Parkwood Elementary and Learning Tots Academy
Toddlers Academy, Inc. and Pearsontown Elementary
“As these projects unfold in the community, we directly address the needs of transitioning young learners in Durham County,” said Benson. “Promoting school readiness and helping to shape the future success of our youngest students is priority.”
In addition to the mini-grants, rising kindergartners and their families benefit from other TTK activities such as Steps to School Family Nights, Steps to School Newsletters, Teachers Talk Forums, and the annual Countdown to Kindergarten event held each August at the Museum of Life and Science.
12. February 2013 11:44
Did you know that of the 170 legislators in Raleigh this year, 102 of them have been serving less than 3 years? We see this as an opportunity to educate a new group of decision makers on the issues facing young children and the importance of high-quality early care and education, family support, and early intervention programs that prepare children for school and life.
Our friends at North Carolina Early Childhood Association need your help. They developed a Valentine’s campaign in which community members and early childhood supporters can send personalized cards and messages to legislators in Raleigh this Valentine’s Day to help educate on the issues our children and families face. Throughout the month of February, please utilize the Valentine’s postcard to welcome your newly elected legislators and end with a Valentine’s greeting.
» Download the Valentine’s postcard here or click on the card below.
Sample messages might include:
- “The best dollar spent for education goes to early childhood education. A Federal Reserve Bank study found that for every dollar invested in early childhood programs since 1960, over $8 in benefits were returned to the students, parents, and the general public. Over 80% of that return was given directly to the public through more efficient K-12 education, decreases in crime, decreases in welfare payments, and increased earnings. Be my Valentine and support funding for NC’s early childhood initiatives.”
- “Did you know that a great early childhood teacher partners with families around their children’s development? Be my Valentine and support funding for NC’s early childhood initiatives.”
- “A great early childhood teacher helps young children learn to work and play well with others. Children with strong social skills engage in less destructive behavior, are healthier, more focused, and have greater academic achievement. Be my Valentine and support funding for NC’s early childhood initiatives.”
- “Families need you to be their Valentine. Many families need help paying for child care and pre-k so they can work and their children can learn. Support funding for NC’s early childhood initiatives.”
- “Did you know that North Carolina has developed the nation’s best early childhood system with its 5-star rated license, NC Pre-K, Smart Start, child care subsidy and early childhood workforce supports? Be my Valentine and support funding for NC’s early childhood initiatives.”
The more cards and letters received by our legislators, the better. It is important that your message is welcoming. Be sure to sign your name and address and use envelopes that are standard size to go through the mail.
Senator Mike Woodard; Senator Floyd B. McKissick, Jr.; Representative Larry D. Hall; Representative Paul Luebke; Representative Valerie P. Foushee; Representative Henry M. Michaux, Jr.
If outside of Durham County, click here for a full list of 2013 North Carolina State Senators and Representatives by County.
1. February 2013 08:48
For a second year, the Partnership is offering competitive mini-grants to support planning and implementing transition activities targeted to families with children who will be heading to kindergarten. The goal of these grants is to foster collaboration between elementary school and early educators around transition to kindergarten, thus all mini grant applications must be a joint application for a joint project between a local elementary school and child care site. Mini grant award amounts may vary based on events/activities proposed. The average size of grants last year ranged from $300 to $500.
Sample transition activities might include:
- Summer Transition Camp
- Spring/Summer Open Houses
- Creating introductions for rising kindergartners
- Build “going to kindergarten” into the pre-school curriculum
- Kindergarten Classroom Visits
- Registration Events
- Child Care/Pre-k Visits
The application process for these mini-grants is underway and applications must be received by Friday, February 22nd at 5 pm. Eligible applicants include kindergarten teachers, elementary school principals, PTAs, and child care teachers and directors. Click here to download the Transition Mini-Grant now.
For questions, please contact Pat Harris at (919) 403-6960, Extension 224 or email email@example.com. To learn more about our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, click here.
Durham’s Partnership for Children received funding from Wells Fargo and Morgan Creek Foundation to support rising kindergartners across Durham County through Transition Mini-Grants and additional Transition to Kindergarten activities.
28. January 2013 15:51
Last Thursday’s Faith Summit on Child Poverty, a collaboration initiated by End Poverty Durham and the Partnership’s Faith Initiative, welcomed nearly 500 people and was a hugely successful event, thanks to the many facilitators, exhibitors, and speakers involved. Held at Union Baptist Church, the summit kicked off with a performance by KidZNotes and an Interfaith Worship service.
A morning call to action was delivered by Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II (director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness) that focused on how we shape the worth of children coming from at-risk situations.
“All of our children are at-risk,” said Nelson. “But there are children that come from at-risk situations. We need to deal with children in those circumstances.” Nelson spoke in depth about education as the foundation for a successful life, focusing on schools and their capacity to provide resources to our children. Then he focused on families.
“The primary educator of our children is their parent,” Nelson continued. We need to train whole families about building “relationships that will be significant to that child’s future.”
Breakout sessions (early childhood, elementary, teen) followed the morning address where attendees participated in small group discussion about current resources for addressing the issues of children in poverty, defining what are the main pressures affecting children in poverty, and what is needed for systemic change.
The afternoon keynote address was delivered by Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP. Requiring that our nation make poverty a top priority, Barber said that politicians seldom talk about the poor but instead focus on the middle class.
“Martin Luther King said that when you ignore the poor, one day the whole system will collapse,” said Barber. He then repeated the words of his grandmother, who said that a house should never be moved from the middle, but from the foundation.
“If you try to move a house from the middle, that does not work,” Barber said. “You will tear it apart. But if you move it from the bottom, then everybody in the house gets blessed.”
The question posed to all Faith Summit attendees by the Rev. Nelson and echoed in an editorial in Sunday’s Herald-Sun, was this: “What in the world are you going to do about it?”
Resources/Strategies for reducing child poverty
» Winnie Morgan, Faith Initiative Coordinator for the Partnership and Co-Chair of the Faith Summit, put together a growing listing of opportunities for faith involvement with agencies, non-profits, and community groups that work with underserved children and families. Some of the many strategies/needs on the list include: donating blankets and diapers to Durham Connects; volunteering with “Get Set, Get Ready, Let’s Read” with the Durham County Library; donating safety kits, health kits, and parent/child interaction kits to the Exchange Clubs’ Family Center; and mentoring young pregnant women through Pregnancy Support Services. Please contact Winnie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have needs to be added to this list.
» Durham County Pocket Guide of Support Services (Durham Opening Doors)
15. January 2013 09:42
Something that is perhaps not obvious to the non-teaching world is just how much ongoing education it takes to equip early educators with the skills of their field. The credentials required by the state are not even the tip of the iceberg. Topics for education include child development, atypical development, health and safety, behavior management and first aid trainings, among others. A number of the Partnership’s funded programs invest in the formal education and in-service training of our early education workforce.
One of these programs, the Early Childhood Outreach Project (EChO) of the Exchange Clubs’ Family Center, provides consultation, support and referral services to Durham child care providers and families when a child’s behavior presents a challenge in the classroom. Additionally EChO helps providers learn strategies to foster social-emotional development of all children. Recently EChO invited Partnership staff to sit in during a training.
The CSEFEL Pyramid Seminar is one of the most valuable courses in which an early educator can participate. Taught by Aviva Starr, EChO Program Manager, this free, eight-session seminar that began in September is unique in that it engages both teachers and site directors on classroom strategies to reduce challenging behaviors in young children. Participants implement strategies in their classrooms between each seminar session – putting the lessons learned into action.
During the session we attended, which focused on the importance of building positive relationships with children, families, and coworkers, we were honored to sit among a room filled with highly-qualified child care site directors and early educators. With a strong focus on the why of building positive relationships, Aviva put it into a context easily understood by working adults.
“Close your eyes and think about the best boss you’ve ever had. Now, think about the worst boss you’ve ever had. Friday at 4 pm rolls around and both bosses come to ask you for a favor. What is your response to each request? Who are you more willing to help? That is the difference between a positive and negative relationship.”
In the preschool classroom, a child hears an average of 50-60 commands every 30 minutes. Favor after favor is being requested of these young learners. Children need to learn to follow a teacher’s directions, but this happens with greater ease when a child feels the nurturing care of their providers.
“We will only have success if we have strong relationships with the children in our care,” said Aviva. “Similarly, families are only able to hear a provider’s concerns when they know the provider sees the child’s strengths as well.”
Practical strategies for building positive relationships with children, parents and coworkers were shared. Some of our favorites include:
- Show children that you are happy they are there.
- Follow a child’s lead during play.
- Speak to children at their eye level.
- Give children individual attention –in play, reading a book, talking about their interests or simply a hug.
- Give children specific praise when they are on task.
- Make naptime calls – call or send an email sharing a sweet story about their child’s day.
- Greet families by name and ask about their day.
- Have notes and materials sent home translated into family’s language.
- Schedule regular parent/teacher conferences to share information about children’s development and plan together to respond to any challenges.
- Create a family welcome area.
- Address disagreements outside the classroom.
- Model positive social skills and interactions.
- Find ways to show appreciation.
- Respond in a positive manner consistently.
- View other colleagues and professionals as supports.
The expertise shared in this training series will no doubt help create a smoother day for children in the care of early childhood professionals. Congratulations to the EChO team on engaging the community in another successful seminar!
14. December 2012 09:36
The Partnership hosted its fifth workshop in our Tools You Can Use series on Thursday, December 13th. Focusing on “How to Advocate for Young Children,” the workshop helped participants tackle several areas of strategy for advocacy work during the legislative session, including understanding the legislative process, developing messages, and educating lawmakers on the issues that affect our most vulnerable populations. Rob Thompson and Beth Messersmith facilitated the workshop and invited attendees to share their advocacy experience and take part in messaging exercises.
Rob Thompson is the executive director at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, which is a coalition of service providers, civic associations, and advocacy organizations who work to advance public policy that benefits children and families in North Carolina. Rob has held various advocacy positions. From 2003 to 2005, Rob worked as an organizer at the Center for Campus Free Speech, where he organized campus communities and lawyers around the country to protect the First Amendment rights of students. From 2005 to 2008, Rob directed NC Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG), a consumer and good government advocacy group. There he worked as the chief lobbyist and spokesperson for NCPIRG. Rob is one of the top organizers of TogetherNC, a statewide network of non-profit organizations, service providers, and professional associations that advocate for maintaining and building upon the public investments that support the fabric of our community.
Beth Messersmith has served as campaign director for NC MomsRising since 2007, where she has lead the movement to empower citizens to fight to protect children in the North Carolina state budget. MomsRising is an all-volunteer group that consists of 28,000 members across the state and advocates for early care and education, maternity and paternity leave, fair wages and access to health care, among other issues. Previously, Beth has worked as co-executive director of Democracy North Carolina and a field organizer for Democracy South.
The Tools You Can Use workshop provided an incredible opportunity for our partners to interface with leading advocacy strategists and learn of tactics that directly apply to their work. Thank you to all who participated in this event!
» To keep up to date on Partnership news from the legislative session and other advocacy events, please sign up to become a Partnership insider.
30. November 2012 16:24
With only one month left to go, already more than 1,400 children’s books have been donated to the Partnership’s Annual Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive, which just reached the halfway mark. Customers at the Barnes & Noble Southpoint store have been extremely generous this season as they donate the books at checkout. Thus far, Partnership staff has been able to organize and distribute 1,160 of the 1,400 donated books to 10 different agencies that serve young children.
Being able to match the books to specific needs is one of the most rewarding parts of this annual event. As we bring the donated books into the Partnership office, staff members organize them into categories by reading level, subject, and language. Some of the agencies to which we distribute the books require bilingual texts. Some agencies serve children with challenging behaviors and request books dealing with emotions and feelings. And a number of the books given out by the Partnership go to individual children in foster care; we get the opportunity to pair a child who loves animals or trains - for example - with a book on that subject, if available.
Without the generosity of the community, the Partnership would not be able to give the gift of literacy in such a meaningful, personal way. Thank you for giving to this cause, and please consider sharing the news of our book drive with others. Those who wish to participate can shop now through the end of December at Barnes & Noble, Southpoint.
The staff workroom where we organize and box children's books collected during our Annual Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive.
1. November 2012 09:47
Today is the official kick-off day of the Partnership’s Annual Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive. This will be our seventh year partnering with Barnes & Noble – Streets at Southpoint for the 8-week book drive, the purpose of which is to collect books for young Durham County children in need. During last year’s book drive we collected 2,880 books that we distributed to 17 organizations helping young children, including Book Harvest, Durham Early Head Start, the Durham Rescue Mission, and the East Durham Children’s Initiative, among others.
How you can help:
- Visit Barnes & Noble, Streets of Southpoint anytime during the next 8 weeks to buy a book for a young child. Books are left behind the register for Partnership staff to collect and distribute throughout the community.
- Spread the word to friends and family. Urge others to support this cause!
- Visit Partnership staff/volunteers at the store on Friday, December 14th where we will be gift wrapping for Barnes & Noble customers.
- Let us know of community agencies that could benefit from donated books.
Read about the Book Drive in today’s Herald-Sun: