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Registration Open for Project LAUNCH 2019 Summit

Registration is now open for the 2019 Alabama Project LAUNCH Early Childhood Summit that will be held on May 8-9 at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The Summit will focus on strengthening adult capacities to ensure children’s optimal development, and is open to all early childhood professionals, mental health practitioners, physicians, educators, home visitors, or any other professionals across the state working directly with children birth to eight years old.

Project LAUNCH, which stands for Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health, promotes the wellness of young children from birth to eight years by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of their development. The Alabama Partnership for Children partners with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Child Development Resources of The University of Alabama for Project LAUNCH’s local implementation in Tuscaloosa.

The Summit includes programs on: CARE – Child Adult Relationship Enhancement; Brain Development; Reflective Supervision – Does It Have a Place in Clinical Supervision; Brain Architecture Game; Calming Tools for Use in Early Childhood Settings; Behavior 101 – A Practical Guide to Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Manipulation, Violence/Aggression & Hoarding; and Early Childcare Providers – Supporting the Whole Family.

Registration costs $30 for the Professional Development Institute, $35 for the Project LAUNCH Summit, and $60 for both days. CEU certificates are also available.

For more information about Alabama Project LAUNCH at the state level, please contact Sarah-Ellen Thompson; toll-free 1-866-711-4025 or sthompson@smartstartalabama.org. For information about Alabama Project LAUNCH in Tuscaloosa, please contact Caroline Branton; 205-348-0459 or ccbranton@ches.ua.edu.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Click Here for more about Project LAUNCH.

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Thanks for Joining Hands During Week of the Young Child

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) held its annual “Joining Hands for Week of the Young Child” event April 9th to raise awareness of the most important time of all children’s lives — the first five years.

“We take this time each year to thank every legislator for supporting and prioritizing programs that serve our youngest children,” said APC executive director, Gail Piggott. “They understand that the first five years of a child’s life are critical to ensuring their healthy development. Investing in strong families, early childhood health, and quality early learning programs are necessary to improve outcomes in Alabama.”

Week of the Young Child spotlights the need to make early childhood education and development a state priority. It also brings awareness to the programs and partnerships in Alabama that are vital to ensuring all children, their families, teachers, and child care providers, have access to every resource they need to be successful.

Child advocates and volunteers delivered to every state legislator packets, which contained handprints made and decorated by preschoolers from around the state. It also provided important information on several programs that serve children including the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, Help Me Grow Alabama, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, and Project LAUNCH.

The APC coordinates the annual Joining Hands for Week of the Young Child event in conjunction with the national Week of the Young Child which is designed to bring attention to the needs of young children ages birth to five and the critical importance of the first five years of life.

 

On March 27th, Governor Kay Ivey signed a proclamation making April 8 – 12, 2019, the Week of the Young Child in Alabama. The proclamation states that “high-quality early childhood services represent a worthy commitment to our children’s future and an investment in improved schools and a brighter future for Alabama.”

 

Child advocates from across the state volunteer each year for this Joining Hands event to help collect handprints that children have traced and decorated. APC staff and volunteers deliver them to the Alabama Legislative offices with the hope of meeting personally with the elected officials representing their districts.

Secretary Jeana Ross, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE), kicked off the day by welcoming the event’s volunteers, and thanking them for spending their day focused on making early childhood education a priority for legislators. ADECE provided the meeting space for volunteers to gather and coordinate the deliveries.

“I look forward to this event every year, and I am so grateful to the volunteers that help bring attention to the needs of Alabama’s young children,” said Sec. Ross. “Seeing the children’s handprints go up on doors all over the State House is inspiring and encouraging. We thank our legislators for making support for the programs that promote the best possible start for children – during the most critical first five years of their lives – a high priority.”

Allison Muhlendorf, the executive director for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), shared with the volunteers ASRA’s work to expand Alabama’s voluntary First Class Pre-k program statewide, and the progress that has been made thanks to their partners and the support of the Alabama Legislature.

“I proudly stand with the Alabama Partnership for Children in shining a light on the needs of young children in our state,” said Muhlendorf. “Alabama’s early childhood community is united in our desire to provide the high-quality care and support to children and their families beginning at birth. I was very pleased to hear from many lawmakers that they are supportive of a comprehensive early childhood vision and are prioritizing new funding to help expand Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program to more families as part of this commitment.”

Stephen Woerner, the executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, also shared support and information during the event, outlining VOICES legislative priorities that, if embraced by state leaders, will have a positive impact on services to Alabama’s children and families.

“VOICES for Alabama’s Children is delighted to support Week of the Young Child and the Alabama Partnership for Children,” said Woerner. “Our youngest Alabamians need powerful advocates and special consideration. Week of the Young Child is a tremendous opportunity to engage with legislators and decision makers to ensure that these most vulnerable and important residents are accounted for and considered in all decisions.”

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC.org) to spotlight early learning, young children, their teachers, families, and communities. 

The Alabama Partnership for Children is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit www.SmartStartAlabama.org

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Welcome to Our New Website!

The APC staff is very excited to share with you our new website! It’s been a long-time in the making!

As APC continues to expand and add new programs and services for young children and families, the website upgrade helps provide improved access to resources and information through a more user-friendly navigation. This new site is also mobile-friendly, allowing APC’s resources to be easily accessed from any mobile device.

The navigational menu is located on every page, and it links to all areas of the site. From this menu pages are organized to meet the common search areas for our programs, resources, and contact information. For example, a visitor can quickly find; the Alabama Blueprint for Zero to Five statewide strategy, links to connect with Help Me Grow resources, links to the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, links to resources for families, new program links for Early Language and Literacy, and much more.

Please browse around and send us your feedback; especially if you experience any problems finding what you need. We will continually work to improve and enhance your experience with our presence online.

Click here to start browsing from the homepage. 

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‘Talk With Me Baby’ in Alabama

Collie Wells
Talk With Me Baby Professional Development Coordinator

 

Alabama is known for lots of things; Auburn and Alabama football, tailgating, hot, humid summers and our Southern hospitality. Wouldn’t it be great if we also became known as a state that successfully embraced the power of early language and literacy? It’s an exciting time in our state with an increased interest in young children and their emotional, physical, and mental health, with an added emphasis on brain development. Many initiatives exist that are making great strides in improving the health and wellness of children.

To assist in that effort, Alabama Partnership for Children is excited about a new program designed to promote babies brain development by building their language skills.  We have partnered with the Georgia Department of Public Health to offer Talk With Me Baby in our state.

Research tells us that the more words a baby hears during the early years of life, the faster they learn to read and write. The basic focus of Talk With Me Baby is to participate in intentional conversations with babies and children. Even a 2-week-old child is communicating with you when he cries to get your attention in order to address his basic needs. The coos and babbling you hear from an infant provide opportunities for a back-and-forth exchange, and lay the foundation for language development.

Talking, reading, playing, singing, and the daily routines of life provide the optimal time to engage in conversation. Look for conversational opportunities throughout the day to talk with your child, such as in the car, on a walk, at the park, at the grocery store, at the doctor, during meal time, during bath time, and at bedtime. You will be building their brain through early talk.

As Donald Woods Winnecott said, "There is no such thing as a baby; there is a baby and someone else."  Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or a child care provider, you can be that “someone else” who finds those everyday moments to build a baby’s brain.

Click here to find out more about the Talk With Me Baby program in Alabama, and to link to resources on the national Talk With Me Baby website.

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Early Childhood Education Positions

 

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC), the state-level nonprofit agency focused on young children and their families, has multiple openings in exciting new programs to support high-quality child care and children’s early literacy. Entry-level as well as program coordinator positions are available. The positions are full-time, and minimum qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a human services field, with experience in childcare/early childhood, training and professional development, and data management preferred. The APC offers an opportunity to work with multiple state agency partners, local service providers, parents/families, and advocates to deliver high-quality programs and services that promote young children’s optimum development. Full-time positions include 100% coverage of health and dental insurance, and a retirement plan is available after one year of successful employment. The agency observes state and federal holidays and has generous annual and sick leave policies. Highly organized and dedicated candidates with a strong work ethic who want to work with a high energy group of supportive professionals in a family-friendly environment are encouraged to apply.

For consideration, please send a resume and letter of interest to:

APC Employment, 2595 Bell Road, Montgomery, AL  36117, or email info@smartstartalabama.org with the subject “Employment”.

EOE M/V/F/D

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Blueprint for Strong Families, School Readiness, and Prosperity Materials Released

 

This 2018 election cycle is important, as all of our state’s administrative offices and up to one-third of our state legislature are up for election. From the Governor’s office down through many county and city officials, we want investments in young children and families to be a primary focus of those in leadership roles. Research proves that early investments pay huge dividends for years to come in better child and adult outcomes. Our message is to “invest in success, rather than paying for failure”.

Most of the concerns our state faces have their roots in early childhood when 90% of the brain is developed and when the potential for building a strong body, mind, and spirit are optimal. Our focus on building and strengthening families is a critical basis on which everything else is built; young children’s health (physical and mental) is a predictor of adult health and well-being outcomes; and high quality early learning experiences are the only proven way to bridge the wide gaps and disparities between what young children know and are prepared to do when they enter school.

Through the Blueprint for Zero to Five framework, a statewide advisory council studies the best data available on Alabama’s young children, examines best practices and successful programs, and establishes priorities for collectively working to improve the well-being of our youngest citizens. These priorities and the group’s recommended investments are included in the Blueprint for Strong Families, School Readiness, and Prosperity found at: http://www.smartstartalabama.org/about/zero-to-five/. We have also included some potential questions you might ask state and local candidates for public office. Your voice matters, and we hope you will promote what we believe are the investments needed to improve our state’s future. If you would like printed copies in folders to share with state and community leaders, groups in your community, or others who might promote our messages, please call 1-866-711-4025 or email info@smartstartalabama.org.

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New Federal Report Endorses National Help Me Grow Model Already Existing in Alabama

 

A new joint policy statement, released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, includes a recommendation for states to adopt a centralized intake, screening and referral process, specifically naming Help Me Grow® as an effective strategy, a national model from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center up and running in Alabama.

The report, which encourages greater collaboration between federal home visiting programs and federally-required state early intervention programs, notes that Help Me Grow® is a “non-federal system that assists states in identifying children at risk for developmental and behavioral concerns and then helps families find community-based programs and services. Help Me Grow is a system that helps to build collaboration across sectors, including health care, early care and education, and family support.”

Help Me Grow Alabama is a program of the Alabama Partnership for Children as an affiliate of the Help Me Grow National NetworkHelp Me Grow Alabama expanded statewide in 2016 and currently serves all 67 counties in the state through funding from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through the Preschool Development Grant, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and the Alabama Department of Mental Health through a Project LAUNCH Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. Now, every family in Alabama is able to dial 2-1-1, ask for Help Me Grow Alabama and  speak with a care coordinator who will answer questions, connect them to services, follow up to ensure a connection is made and enroll them in developmental surveillance if interested. The United Way’s 2-1-1 Connects Alabama is a statewide network of regional call centers that provide free easy access to health and human services available throughout Alabama.

“Help Me Grow is a system model that provides a framework for ensuring all children and their families are linked to the services and supports needed to thrive,” said Kimberly Martini-Carvell, executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “This policy statement endorses that screening should not happen independent of an integrated system of care that has a strong ability to link children and families to effective services.”

Nearly one-third of Alabama parents say they have a concern about their child’s health or development. Help Me Grow Alabama provides the critical service of identifying concerns early when interventions are less costly and more effective. Health care and early learning providers also use Help Me Grow Alabama to refer families for additional assistance and developmental screenings.

“Alabama was an early adopter of this simple and effective model for identifying and addressing developmental concerns early in a child’s life. As the evidence emerges, Help Me Grow is now identified as an effective and cost-efficient program as indicated by this endorsement from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Working with our state’s 2-1-1 Network and other local and regional partners, our relatively small investment results in huge cost savings and better developmental outcomes for young children in Alabama. That’s a win-win for all,” according to Gail Piggott, executive director, Alabama Partnership for Children.

More information about Help Me Grow Alabama can be viewed here: http://www.helpmegrowalabama.org.

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APC Receives $600,000 Grant to Increase Access to Quality Child Care Statewide

 

The Alabama Partnership for Children has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to increase access to quality early care and education programs statewide by educating parents, child care providers and the community about the benefits of regulated child care. The grant will support the Alabama Partnership for Children’s work of promoting public awareness through the Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care campaign and implementing a technical assistance program to support license-exempt child care centers in obtaining a license from the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).

Due to state legislation enacted in 1984, Alabama is one of the few states that allows certain child care centers to legally operate exempt from a license or inspection for minimum health and safety standards. In recent years, the number of licensed child care centers has continued to decline while the number of license-exempt child care centers has continued to increase. According to the 2016 Alabama Kids Count Data Book published by VOICES for Alabama’s Children, there are currently 1,009 licensed and 942 license-exempt child care centers in operation.

“Far too many Alabama children, including a disproportionate share of low-income children, are enrolled in unregulated child care, but a more alarming truth is that parents are completely unaware. There is an assumption and false assurance that child care programs legally operating have been inspected and are monitored,” said Gail Piggott, executive director of the Alabama Partnership for Children.

Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care, a partnership campaign of the Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children promotes public awareness about the threat of unregulated child care to the health and safety of Alabama’s youngest, most vulnerable population. The campaign primarily provides information and resources to parents and families as child care consumers, but it also promotes a broader understanding among the general population about the deficiency in the quality of Alabama’s early care and education system.

A fundamental component of the Alabama Partnership for Children’s work will include providing a technical assistance program to assist license-exempt child care centers in meeting minimum health and safety standards and obtaining a DHR license. “As Alabama parents become more aware about the concerns of unregulated child care, they are making more informed decisions on the child care they choose, and we hope license-exempt programs see this as encouragement to obtain a license and ensure they’re meeting basic health and safety standards,” said Piggott.

According to DHR’s Subsidized Child Care Statistics, there is a current shortage of infant and toddler child care options. The Alabama Partnership for Children’s technical assistance program will focus on supporting existing license-exempt child care centers in order to begin building the supply of quality child care available to working families.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation funding prioritizes efforts to increase the number of licensed and inspected child care as a necessary step in improving the overall quality of Alabama’s early care and education system. The Alabama Partnership for Children’s work supported by this two-year grant begins January 2017.

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Grantees Receive Grant Funds totaling $1,094,110

The Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention/Children’s Trust Fund presented grant awards to eleven nonprofits in the 2nd Congressional District, representing $1,094,110 in grant funding. The agencies will use grant funds on evidence-based community programs committed to the prevention of child maltreatment.

Grant recipients included:

  • Aid to Inmate Mothers
  • Alabama Parent Education Center
  • Alabama Partnership for Children
  • Elmore County Office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
  • Family Guidance Center of Alabama
  • Family Support Center
  • Gift of Life Foundation
  • Healthy Kids
  • Family Sunshine Center (Montgomery Area Family Violence Program)
  • Second Chance Foundation
  • United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile and Central Alabama

These agencies will focus on programs such as Strengthening Families, Baby Talk, Nurse Family Partnerships, Child Safety Advocacy, Love Me Don’t Hurt Me, Aid to Inmate Mothers, Dedicated Dads, HEARTS Respite Replication Project, Life Skills, Parents As Teachers, and Parent Education and Support.

The Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (ADCANP) secures resources to fund evidence-based community programs committed to the prevention of child maltreatment and advocates for children and the strengthening of families.

The Alabama Partnership for Children is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, contact the Alabama Partnership for Children, toll-free, 1.866.711.4025.

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Help Me Grow Services Expand to Families Statewide

Help Me Grow Alabama is partnering with 2-1-1 call centers statewide, allowing every Alabama family the opportunity to make confidential calls regarding their child’s developmental or behavioral concerns. The Alabama Partnership for Children became a licensed affiliate of the Help Me Grow National Network in 2011 to implement this proven model supporting children’s optimal development by linking families to community-based programs and services.

With new funding from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Help Me Grow Alabama is expanding to the nine 2-1-1 regions serving all 67 counties in the state. The United Way’s 2-1-1 Connects Alabama is a statewide network of regional call centers that provide free easy access to health and human services available throughout Alabama.

“Once implemented, every family in Alabama will be able to dial 2-1-1, ask for Help Me Grow Alabama and  speak with a care coordinator who will answer questions, connect them to services, follow up to ensure a connection is made and enroll them in developmental surveillance if interested” said Katie Naman, Help Me Grow Alabama Coordinator.

Nearly one-third of Alabama parents say they have a concern about their child’s health or development. Help Me Grow Alabama provides the critical service of identifying concerns early when interventions are less costly and more effective.  Health care and early learning providers also use Help Me Grow Alabama to refer families for additional assistance and developmental screenings.

Help Me Grow Alabama was originally launched through the United Way of Central Alabama’s 2-1-1 call center with funds from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. In 2014, Project LAUNCH provided additional funding to include The University of Alabama’s Child Development Resources Parenting Assistance Line and expand services to a total of 14 counties.

“We will be moving quickly in each new region, and we thank the pioneers in Central and West Alabama who have laid the foundation for us to follow” said Gail Piggott, executive director of the Alabama Partnership for Children.
In the coming months, the Alabama Partnership for Children and 2-1-1 Connects Alabama will begin hiring and training seven care coordinators to serve all nine 2-1-1 regions. The expansion includes the following 2-1-1 regions: 2-1-1 Information and Referral of North West Alabama in Florence, 2-1-1 HELPline in Huntsville, 2-1-1 First Call for Help in Gadsden, 2-1-1 Connects South Central Alabama in Montgomery, United Way 2-1-1 Community Connections in Auburn, United Way of Southwest Alabama in Mobile and Wiregrass United Way 2-1-1 in Dothan.

More information about Help Me Grow Alabama can be viewed here: http://www.smartstartalabama.org/programs/?pageID=51

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