News

by Sarah-Ellen Thompson Sarah-Ellen Thompson No Comments

Report from the 5th Annual Alabama Project LAUNCH PDI and Summit

The 5th Annual Alabama Project LAUNCH Professional Development Institute (PDI) and Summit was held May 8 & 9 in Tuscaloosa.

There were 156 registrants and four tracks at the PDI, the most tracks and sessions ever offered.  This year’s event had very positive reviews, including comments that this year’s PDI was the best one yet. See the photos below to view some of the activities and programs that took place.

What’s next for Alabama Project LAUNCH training?

There will be a two-day training on Reflective Supervision in collaboration with First 5 Alabama on September 9 & 10, 2019.  Look for information coming soon on our website.

Brain Architecture Game session where attendees may have been frustrated but had fun while learning how the brain develops and what can affect its growth in early childhood.

Another image from the Brain Architecture Game session.

During the summit, Tiffany Higginbotham and Dr. Erin Reilly returned to speak for a third time! Attendees request them back each year.

Attendees have fun while learning, and they enjoy being active participants in every session.

by Tish MacInnis Tish MacInnis No Comments

Free Milestone App Available in English or Spanish

From birth to age 5, your child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves.

Track your child’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years using a new mobile application provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC). In the app you’ll find easy-to-use illustrated checklists, and photos and videos that illustrate each milestone and make tracking them for your child easy and fun!

Get tips from CDC for encouraging your child’s development, and find out what to do if you are ever concerned about how your child is developing.

Search for “CDC’s Milestones Tracker” in the Apple Store and Google Play to download the app to your mobile device.

Click on images below to download and share with others who may be interested.

by Katie Prince Katie Prince No Comments

HMG Provides the Essentials Needed for Early Developmental Screening

Attention all licensed child care centers and family home providers!

As a child care provider, you play a vital role in recognizing developmental concerns because you are present in a child’s life during the most crucial years of their growth and development. Through generous funding from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, Help Me Grow Alabama (HMG) has the opportunity to provide you with all the essential materials, training, and ongoing assistance to begin developmental screening using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), as well as grant online access for easier administration, at no cost to you!

The ASQ is a highly valid, reliable, and parent- completed screening tool that helps identify children at risk for developmental or social-emotional delays. In addition, HMG can help you connect those children and their families with the needed resources to address concerns as early as possible.

HMG is currently offering licensed centers and home providers a free packet of books for signing up and an additional cash incentive for those who refer 3 centers or family child care homes who also sign up and begin implementing screening as well.

For more information or to get started, please contact Murrey McDonald, Help Me Grow Alabama Child Care Coordinator, directly by phone at 334-271-0304 or email at mmcdonald@smartstartalabama.org.

by Michelle Raybon Michelle Raybon No Comments

APC Launches Exciting New Program for T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Alabama Graduates

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) launched a new retention incentive program for T.E.A.C.H associate and bachelor’s degree graduates. Through this opportunity, T.E.A.C.H. associate degree graduates are eligible to receive a $1,000 stipend every 6 months, and bachelor’s graduates are eligible for a $1,500 stipend every 6 months. In order to qualify, participants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a T.E.A.C.H associate degree or bachelor’s graduate (incentives are awarded based on the highest degree earned)
  • Have completed the commitment year with the sponsoring child care program or continued to operate family child care home for a year
  • Be currently working with children at least 30 hours per week in a DHR licensed child care center or family home
  • Earn $15 or less per hour

The retention incentive program is designed to increase retention and compensation linked to increased education by rewarding T.E.A.C.H. graduates for completing their education, honoring the commitment to their sponsoring program, and remaining employed in the early childhood field.

Congratulations to the T.E.A.C.H. participants below who have received the incentive to advance their education. You will be a strong asset in the classroom and a valuable teacher for Alabama’s little ones!

For questions about the T.E.A.C.H. Retention Incentive Program or to obtain an application, please contact T.E.A.C.H. staff at 334-271-0304, or email Michelle Raybon, T.E.A.C.H. Director at mraybon@smartstartalabama.org.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Alabama is a licensed program of Child Care Services Association. T.E.A.C.H. is administered by the Alabama Partnership for Children with funding provided by the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

 

Clockwise from top-left: Facethia Hogue, Sharon Pate, Jan Coleman, and Sharon Jackson

by Collie Wells Collie Wells No Comments

Read Right From The Start Participation Flourishes

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) – through its Read Right From The Start (RRFTS) program – is offering a limited number of financial incentives to individuals who are employed in a child care facility or family child care home, and who complete a minimum of 5 hours of online coursework through the “Cox Campus.” The response since April of this year when it began in Alabama has been beyond anyone’s expectations.

As of July 1, there are 1,746 registered Cox Campus members in Alabama. During the month of May, a total of 851 courses were started with 691 courses being completed by users. To date, the APC has paid out $16,700 in incentives, with another 218 individuals who are in the process of completing the requirements for the incentive.

The one-time $100 cash incentive – provided by the APC and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through grants – is designed to create an awareness of the training courses and to enhance the skills of the teachers working with young children. Funding support comes from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, and the Daniel Foundation of Alabama.

“I would like to encourage other childcare providers to participate in this program. The incentive was a nice bonus; however, I feel these videos and the information shared are crucial to what we do as childcare providers. We are helping to raise the next generation! Language skills, emotional development, social interactions, modeling behaviors … all of it starts with parents at home and with us during our precious time with the children in our care. It’s important for us to work alongside parents to ensure children are brought up in the healthiest, safest environment to learn and explore.

“Even if you have been in childcare for a lengthy amount of time, we can all use reminders and further education in child care. Thank you for including me in this program. It has helped me at work and at home with my own children! I cannot wait to continue to learn more.”

Karen Hobbs
Lead teacher at Hooper Early Learning Center in Hope Hull


Early Literacy RRFTS Facilitators are working with multiple child care programs in Alabama to support implementation of the RRFTS initiatives, which includes content from the online training (via Cox Campus), onsite modeling and coaching, and technical assistance that will positively impact young children’s language, cognitive, and social/emotional development.

“I enjoyed the online classes. The process was easy and I was able to complete them on my down time.”

Arlean Cole
Administrator-director of Arlean’s Little Treasures in Harvest, AL


Alabama Partnership for Children adopted the RRFTS initiative to promote early-language development for children birth through age five. A key partner in our efforts is the Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center for Language & Literacy, who developed RRFTS to improve the instruction of teachers. RRFTS is a free, online professional development platform whereby individuals can complete courses, access resources, and learn strategies to enhance their language and literacy instruction with the children in their care. This interactive, video-based coursework is focused on practical strategies teachers can use immediately in their classrooms.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity. The training at Cox Campus is the best training I’ve received in 31 years of child care! I’d have never found those classes on my own, and I plan on taking the rest of the classes offered by Cox Campus very soon.”

Carol Lyn Dubbs
Child Care Worker for Tender Loving Childcare in Decatur, AL


Click here to access Cox Campus through our website and apply for the incentive program.


Read what more teachers who have participated are saying:

“I received an incentive of $100 for taking three classes on something we should all be doing in our classrooms and that is reading to our children.  I took the classes because reading to our children is very important and it improves their language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing pictures, and learning words, as they make a connection with what they love the most, which is hearing my voice and not a recording.  Although I was regularly reading to my children, taking these classes reminded me of the importance of reading every day to our children.”

Lenora Cochran
Director for Kingdom Steps Academy in Millbrook

“I really enjoyed the courses and learned so much from them.  It makes you aware how you interact with the children and how they respond to you. The courses became a guide for me to help these babies into a successful life.”

Valory Thomas
Director for Ganny’s Babies in Goodwater

 

“The skills received through this training refreshed and sharpened the love I have for reading to children.”

Sharon Jackson
Director for Array of Light Home Care in Millbrook

“Through completing the courses on Cox Campus, I’ve learned to be a conversational partner with the infants in my room.  I’ve really enjoyed introducing new books to them and using the PAT strategy.  I have learned so much useful information and am more aware of the importance of “tuning in” to the children in my room.”

Andrea Hancock
Assistant teacher for Kindercare Learning Center in Montgomery

 

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Grade-Level Reading Requirement in the Alabama Literacy Act

In an op-ed published May 21st, A+ Education Partnership President Mark Dixon wrote, “The bottom line is that children who cannot read on grade level by the fourth grade are unlikely to graduate.” Dixon wrote this in support of Alabama House Bill 388 — the Alabama Literacy Act — which would require that children not be promoted to the 4th grade if they have not met the 3rd-grade-level reading proficiency standards.

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) and its partners statewide agree that all children should be prepared for success in school and beyond, and they are working hard to elevate awareness around the importance of children developing early language and literacy skills; even before they are born. APC’s “Talk With Me Baby” and “Read Right From The Start” programs effectively promote and encourage the necessary early literacy activities for all children to develop healthy language and literacy skills during the first 5 years – the most critical time for their brain development.

Read more about the APC “Talk With Me Baby” and “Read Right From The Start” programs, and help share the vital resources they provide for parents, early child care professionals, home visitors, and teachers in 0-5 classrooms. It will take every person who engages with moms-to-be, families, babies and toddlers to impact the trajectory of every child’s life – reducing the number of children who would need to be held back in the 3rd grade.

Click here to read the op-ed published by Alabama Daily News.

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Alabama Partnership for Children Awarded $26,000 for New Books by Nonprofit “First Book”

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) was awarded $26,000 for new books that will expand the APC’s mission: to work in partnership with families and organizations to ensure that all Alabama children (birth to five) get everything they need to develop to their fullest potential.

“We want every child in Alabama to have access to a variety of age appropriate books, which will help give them a strong foundation for building emerging literacy skills,” said Gail Piggott, the APC executive director.

The APC applied for the grant in collaboration with Reach Out and Read-Alabama, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, and the office of the Governor as an effort to help bolster the Alabama Campaign for Grade Level Reading. APC will use the funds in partnership with Reach Out and Read-Alabama to put books in the hands of children and their families in under-resourced communities.

“In launching the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, my mission was to promote literacy among at-risk children. That also means providing access to quality books,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I’m proud that this First Book project brings us closer to reaching that goal.”

Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States.1 Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’ – with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children.2  Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve children in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all.3

“With this award, our pediatric healthcare providers will continue to prescribe new, high-quality books to the children we serve,” said Polly McClure, Reach Out and Read-Alabama  Statewide Coordinator. “Providing these books at checkups encourage parents to read together daily, which is essential in literacy and language development in their child.”

First Book, the non-profit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation. This national program will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.

“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments, and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book, the Alabama Partnership for Children and Reach Out and Read-Alabama are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”

Awardees will use the funding to select books from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve.  Alabama was among 9 states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019.

Eligible educators, librarians, child care providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org.


 1 Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003
2Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525
3First Book Member Survey, 2016

News Release Contacts:
Gail Piggott, Alabama Partnership for Children, 334-271-0304
Polly McClure, Reach Out and Read-Alabama, 205-223-0097
Dianna Tullier, AL Department of Early Childhood Education, 334-224-3171
Nick Moore, Education Policy Advisor to Governor Kay Ivey, 334-353-0705
Melanie Boyer, First Book, 202-639-0114, mboyer@firstbook.org


 

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 SmartStartAlabama.org

Reach Out and Read-Alabama is a program of the Alabama Chapter – American Academy of Pediatrics. The evidence-based Reach Out and Read program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. Contact Polly McClure for more information: visit www.roralabama.org, or email pmcclure@roralabama.org.

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education is the state home visiting lead agency that houses the First Teacher Home Visiting Program and First Class Pre-K. The evidence-based models of service delivery used focus on improving health outcomes for families and children, as well as better preparing both parents and children for entry into the education system. For more information, visit www.children.alabama.gov.

First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources — including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more — affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.   

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator that brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.

For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter: @firstbook.

 

by Sarah-Ellen Thompson Sarah-Ellen Thompson No Comments

Registration is Now Closed for Project LAUNCH 2019 Summit

Registration is closed 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. If you need information or have questions, please contact Sarah-Ellen Thompson; toll-free 1-866-711-4025 or sthompson@smartstartalabama.org.

ABOUT THE SUMMIT:

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 for more about Project LAUNCH.

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

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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