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January 2014
In This Issue

Learning with Frosty the Snowman!

Try some of these snowy learning activities with children. They can be done indoors or outdoors depending on the weather!

Start by building a snowperson.

If you're outside, roll snow to make balls of different sizes to pile on top of each other.  Help children use their arms and legs to roll and lift and pack down the snow to make your snow man or lady.

Inside, make a snowperson by gluing together different sized circles of white paper.  Build one big snow person together or ask each child to build his/her own.

Infant and Toddler Early Learning Foundations: Social Emotional: Attachments and Relationships; Physical Development and Health: Gross Motor or Fine Motor;

Preschool Early Learning Foundations: Physical Development and Health: Gross Motor or Fine Motor; Social and Emotional Development: Social Relationships and Cooperation

DE Stars logo Rising to the Challenge:   

Good News about the  

2013 Early Learning Challenge Goals! 


Delaware's accountability under the Early Learning Challenge Grant is closely tied to meeting performance measures involving Stars under the federal grant.  While not all the performance data is in yet for 2013, we are very happy to share the following good news:
  • The number of Stars programs increased in Delaware to 435, exceeding the Year Two target of 405. 
  • In addition, 43% of all Stars programs (189 of 435) were in the top tiers (Star 3-5) in 2013, exceeding the target of 42%.
  •  Our state increased the percent of children with high needs in Stars top tier programs to 42% (6,306*), exceeding its Year Two target of 35% while increasing the percent of children with high needs in the Stars /QRIS programs to 67% (10, 011*), exceeding the Year Two target of 50%. 
(* - these figures are preliminary).
Many new initiatives and supports developed through the Challenge grant helped to lead to this success - all are important and required the dedication and commitment of many partners to implement successfully. Join us in celebrating this good news for children and early learning in Delaware!


Early Learning Gains Additional Funding via

Omnibus Appropriations Act  


President Obama has signed the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which included restored funding and some increases for preschool programs. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services celebrated these highlights:
  • $1.025 billion increase to Head Start to restore the funding cut by sequestration and provide programs with a modest cost-of-living increase. $500 million of that is set aside for new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships proposed by the Administration to increase the supply of high-quality infant and toddler care for America's youngest children. (NIEER's recent report illustrates how important this will be.) New or existing Early Head Start programs will be able to use this funding to partner with local child care centers and family child care providers serving low-income infants and toddlers.
  •  $154 million increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to restore the sequestration cuts along with a small increase, bringing the total CCDBG to $5.25 billion.
  • $250 million in new funding through the Department of Education's Race to the Top (RTT) program for grants to States to develop, enhance, or expand access to high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income families. 
The Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant is set at $634 million for FY 2014, which represents a $30 million increase from the FY 2013 post-sequester level, or a restoration of approximately 87 percent of the sequester reductions.

This support of the Congress and the Administration for advancing early learning across the nation is welcome news and shows our message to Congress is being heard!


Gov. Markell Discusses Impact of Federal Funds on Early Childhood Education 


Governor Jack Markell shared Delaware's experience with improving early childhood education with a number of other governors as 2013 came to a close.


The governors joined U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a December 19 press conference call  to discuss ways to spend federal grant money awarded to their states.


After earmarking $22 million in state dollars for early childhood education in 2011, Delaware was awarded a Race to the Top Early Education grant two years ago. Markell detailed the changes the state made to its early education programs with those funds, saying they've helped greatly expanded those programs to poorer children.


"Before that change, low-income kids attended programs that quite frankly did not have the incentive, or the resources, to improve," said Markell. "And the kids from the least affluent neighborhoods, those that had the greatest need for the best early learning environment, were often locked out of the top programs in the state."




Delaware Business Leaders to Serve as Advocates for  

 Public Investment in Early Learning

Top Row:  Casey Melson, Corporation Service Company; Kim Fremont Fortunato, Campbell Soup; Ed Dulin, Independent Newspapers; Jeff Castellano, Shaw-Keller, LLP; Michael Rasmussen, Painted Stave Distillery; William Allan, DE Community Foundation; Charles McDowell, Potter Anderson Corroon, LLP; Daryl Graham, JPMorgan Chase; Halsey Spruance, DE Museum of Natural History
Middle Row:  Lynne Howard, Lynne Howard Consulting, LLC; Polly Mervine Adams, Fauxbulous FX; Meredith Stewart Tweedie, DE Department of Justice; Lynn Kokjohn, Fauxbulous FX; Jocelyn Stewart, Barclays; Ellie Corbett Hannum, Veritext Legal Solutions; Tara Elliott, Fish & Richardson; Lisa Hastings-Sheppard, DE Technical and Community College.
Seated:  Nicholas M. Marsini, Jr., Co-Chair, PNC Bank  Delaware; Governor Jack Markell; Paul H. Harrell, Jr., Co-Chair, DE Department of Education; Harriet Dichter, DE Office of Early Learning

Early childhood education in Delaware has some new champions - a group of more than twenty prominent business leaders. Governor Jack Markell joined them on January 14 to launch the Delaware Commission on Early Learning and the Economy.   The commission, part of the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, will serve as Delaware's leading business voice for quality early learning programs throughout the state especially for the first state's most at-risk and youngest learners.

Governor Markell spoke with commission members about the urgency and importance of their commitment to advocate for Delaware's youngest learners. "Decades of research confirm that engaging children in quality early learning is critically important for all children, and the impact of quality early learning, especially for our most at-risk children, can have a profound positive effect on their lives," said Governor Markell. "Having this distinguished group of business leaders as advocates for quality early learning programs is vitally important."



All About the ERS Assessment Team for Delaware Stars


DE Stars Logo The Delaware Stars ERS Assessment Team plays an important role in helping Delaware Stars program practitioners improve the quality of early learning offered to the infants, toddlers and preschoolers in their care.  The highly trained assessors visit the Stars programs throughout the state and, using the observational tools of the Environment Rating Scales (ERS), assess the quality of early childcare and education programs.  

  • The Infant-Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R) is used to assess childcare setting serving children 6 weeks through 30 months.
  • The assessors use the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) to assess classrooms serving children 30 months to 60 months.
  • The School-Age Environment Rating Scale is used to assess school-age only programs.
  • The Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale-Revised (FCCERS-R) is used to assess family child care and large family childcare programs.  

The ERS assessment takes approximately three to four hours. Based on the rating scale guidleines, the assessor observes the program, noting the interactions between children and adults, the activities presented and the materials used. Following the observation, a teacher interview takes place to capture information that may not be evident during the observation.  


The information gathered during the observation is used to help childcare practitioners identify program strengths and opportunities to improve program quality.  In this way the ERS Assessment Team members become partners with the childcare providers in improving quality learning in Delaware.


DAEYC Welcomes New Executive Director 

Join us in welcoming Valerie A. Jermusyk, Administrator of the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children.  She joined DAEYC in December after serving two years at Girls Inc. of Delaware in the roles of Director of Advancement and Interim Executive Director. She also has served as the Director of Development at the Delaware College of Art and Design, and Director of Marketing and Director of Membership at DCCA. She is passionate about human rights, equality and opportunities for all and is enjoying her new role working in an organization which is a key partner in the development of an enhanced early learning system in Delaware.    

Connecting Generations Seeks Input on Workshop Topics 


Connecting Generations is a nonprofit organization pairing adult mentors with children and youth to promote positive social and emotional development. Our experience and a growing body of research has shown the importance of introducing social and emotional skills in early childhood as key to academic success.


A key component to Delaware's commitment to create and sustain a comprehensive early childhood system for all Delaware children and their families is the professional development of child care providers.To that end, Connecting Generations is exploring possible topics for professional development workshops. We have developed the survey linked below and are asking that Delaware child care providers - teachers, assistants and directors - take a few moments and share your opinions on the topics we are proposing.


Your input is vital to this process. Connecting Generations will use the information from the survey to create workshops that provide relevant and informative training that aligns with the goals Delaware's officials have outlined in the "Early Foundations for Success" and in "Sustaining Early Success: Delaware's Strategic Plan for a Comprehensive Early Childhood System".


Here is the survey link. Contact Cindy LaRock 302.656.2122 x 16 or with any questions or comments regarding this upcoming series of training sessions or the survey.


Delaware Early Childhood Council will hold its next meeting on February 11 from 9 - 10:30am at the Nemours Prevention and Health Services,
252 Chapman Rd., Suite 200, Newark, DE 19702.

Rising Stars Shining Bright!

We are excited to announce that Chester Bethel Preschool and Day Care  and Kindercare Learning Center (Meadowood) have attained 5 Star program status!  Star Level 5 is the highest level of achievement for programs in Delaware Stars. 


Programs achieving Star Level 4 are: Mom's House of Wilmington, Ministry of Caring / Il Bambino, Odessa Early Education Center, Precious Moments Education & Community Center, Inc., Sharon Temple Child Care Learning Center and Grace V. Sudler

We also congratulate the Delaware Stars programs that have attained new status as a Star 3 programs during the past month!.  As Delaware families look to the Stars when searching for early childhood programs for their children, they find quality early learning programs such as the Stars programs that have moved up in quality rating!   


  See the complete list of who is moving up!   

Investing in Early Education
Marsini and Harrell talk about The Commission on Early Education and the Economy

The Commission on Early Education and the Economy seeks to advocate for investment in quality early learning programs in Delaware as an effective education and economic development strategy.


Nick Marsini 

Nick Marsini, regional president of PNC Bank, is now the co-chair of the new commission. His investment to early childhood education stemmed from knowing that the key to building the technological workforce in Delaware was education. However, he and his company knew that starting education reform programs in 6th grade was not beneficial enough.


"We thought, 'What's the best bang for our buck if we were to invest in education?' and we knew it had to be early childhood education," Marsini said.


Marsini said he and his company are firm believers in focusing their attention on where the most impact can be made, especially with at-risk children aged birth to five.


He related the education system to a skyscraper: "If you don't have the building foundation in place, it's going to crumble, and it's the same with the education system," he said.


Marsini said he has already visited early learning centers in Wilmington and done observations to see what the centers are like, and what the commission can help improve to get all early learning centers in Delaware to a 3, 4 or 5-Star quality rating.


Paul Harrell, the director of public/private partnerships for the Delaware Department of Education, is

Paul Harrell 

the other co-chair of the new commission, echoed Marsini's sentiments about personal dedication to early childhood education. Harrell said by linking education with business leaders across the state, change can be made faster and more effectively.


"From the beginning, it's been very clear to me in my position that unless we have the business and private sector buying in, we wouldn't be able to sustain the gains made in enhancing the quality of Delaware's early learning system," Harrell said.


Both Harrell and Marsini described how important, and how necessary, a strong early childhood education program is to the state of Delaware, especially for disadvantaged children.


"Without having a quality early childhood education program in our state, we will never be able to reach the levels of education achievement for children and system reform that we want,' Harrell said. "If those children aren't coming to kindergarten prepared and ready to learn, they have a great deal of difficulty catching up."



Who's Good at Math?

If a 6-month-old can distinguish between 20 dots and 10 dots, he or she is more likely to be a good at math in preschool. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that part of our proficiency at addition and subtraction may simply be something we're born with.   

Click Here to learn more 


 Simple Ways to Support Talking, Reading, and Writing

Talking and reading together each day lays the foundation for babies to become readers and writers. This LINK offers some fun and simple ways for babies and caregivers to enjoy talking, reading, and writing as they go about their daily activities.



Sesame Street Presents: Little Children, Big Challenges 


Young children face big challenges every day. Getting dressed, saying goodbye, waiting in line, and going to bed can feel like big hurdles to a young child. Sesa­me Street has created new resources that provide parents, caregivers, and edu­cators with daily activities and positive routines to help children (ages 2-5) build resiliency skills.

These FREE materials include the following:

¨ Multimedia bilingual resource kit with a Sesame Street DVD and Family Guide

¨ website with all resources available for downloading

¨ Educator Activity Guide with tips and activities to be used in classrooms with children

¨ Tip sheet for parents and caregivers

¨ Breathe, Think, Do app for children to use with adults on tablets and phones, availa­ble on Google Play, the App Store and the Amazon Appstore 

¨ featuring playlists of videos related to the initi­ative   

For more information, e-mail 



New Resource for Games 

Looking for a game to engage kids in safe and healthy play? Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Playworks staff has found, created, and sorted hundreds of games the will get kids off the sidelines and into the game. Whether you want to keep kids active for a full recess period or just do a few minutes of ice breakers before an activity, there's a game here for your needs. Sort by Age! Group size! Play on! Here is the site: 




Supporting Babies Through QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement Systems)

These documents aim to help ensure that QRISs are supporting the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers. Current titles in the series include:

* Implementation Status and Tools in US States and Other Jurisdictions- A national scan of the operational status of U.S. states' and jurisdictions' QRIS, as well as links to their QRIS standards and tools

* Inclusion of Infant and Toddler Quality Standards- Examples of QRIS standards that have been included in statewide QRISs and intentionally help programs promote the healthy development and learning of infants and toddlers

A self-assessment tool for states and jurisdictions to use to identify the strengths, opportunities, and gaps in their coordinated system of quality improvement for programs serving infants and toddlers will be coming in the spring of 2014.



Validation of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS): Examples from Four States


This BRIEF provides detailed examples and findings from QRIS validation activities in four states: Indiana, Maine, Minnesota and Virginia. The brief demonstrates how different states have approached QRIS validation, compares findings, and highlights challenges in designing and conducting QRIS validation studies.



Early Childhood Development: the Promise, the Problem, and the Path Forward

The Brookings Institute recently published a paper,  Early Childhood Development: the Promise, the Problem, and the Path Forward (November 2013),

Authors Tamar Atinc and Emily Gustafsson-Wright discuss the gains to be had from investing in early childhood development programs toward improved health and education for millions of children under five around the world.  

Innovative Approaches to Preparing and Training Educators for Family Engagement 

The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. Past issues may also be reviewed at the  website.


Positive Development of Minority Children

Author Natasha Cabrera and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee provides an overview on the growing body of research that focuses on the positive development of minority children.    Download Report Here


Enhancing Emotional Vocabulary in Young Children 

Here is a booklet from Vanderbilt University's Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning offering teaching strategies for positive social emotional development.

Download Booklet Here 



Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition


This paper by James J. Heckman and Tim Kautz and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reviews the recent literature on measuring and boosting cognitive and noncognitive skills. The literature establishes that achievement tests do not adequately capture character skills--personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences--that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. Their predictive power rivals that of cognitive skills.  



The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8: A Focus on Literacy and Math Achievement Outcomes and Social-Emotional Skills


This report from MDRC summarizes research conducted primarily over the past 10 years on how families' involvement in children's learning and development through activities at home and at school affects the literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills of children ages 3 to 8.  



Internet Safety Tips for Children
The Delaware Department of Technology and Information has published a newsletter of helpful tips to keep children safe while using the internet. 

Download Newsletter Here.


Tummy Time

Here's a great video about why tummy time is important and how to do it, even for very young infants or for babies who dislike it. It covers how, when, what and why in clear and easily understandable words and images. Additional videos on related topics are available from


DEC Offers Monograph
DEC is a leader in advocating for quality services for young children with disabilities and their families. YEC Monograph 14 considers contemporary perspectives about strategies to support young children who are dual language learners who are served in inclusive early childhood settings. Information included in this monograph is useful for practitioners and families and will demonstrate the value of thoughtfully and systematically approaching assessment, interventions and services for the benefit of children who are dual language learners and their families.

CLICK HERE to purchase Monograph 14 from the DEC Bookstore

Contact Division for Early Childhood if you have any questions about purchasing monographs or other items from the DEC Bookstore. Phone Number: 310-428-7209 I Email: 

Impact of Poverty on Early Learning
This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lydon B. Johnson's 1964 War on Poverty.  Child Trends points to five ways poverty can harm crucial components of our childrens' development and widen gaps in learning and achievement.  During President Johnson's time, the national child poverty rate was 23%.  As of 2012, the rate was 22%, with higher rates of poverty among Black and Hispanic children.   Click here for article. 


Phases of Brain Development 

According to analysis conducted by researchers at Yale, the human brain develops in three distinct phases: 

1) 1-6 months, when brain architecture is developed,  

2) a lull of activity beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy except for genetic activity in specific regions of the neocortex.

3) The third burst occurs from late childhood/early adolescence into adulthood -when the neocortex in shaped to perform more specialized tasks.


Read Bill Hathaway's article here.


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