Resampled color

May 2014
In This Issue

Relationships Make a Difference

Mother's Day has passed and Father's Day is upcoming. These special holidays remind us of the importance of adults in supporting young children's growth and well-being. Whether we are a parent or grandparent or we are adults who work with young children every day, the way we foster the relationships between adults and children truly makes a difference.  As an adult who nurtures children, take some time to think about how you would respond when:

* You are welcomed each day as you enter the classroom or home...when you are greeted with a smile and a hug from a caring adult.

*  Someone stops and actually listens to what you are trying to say or convey from sounds or hand motions...when an adult kneels down, makes eye contact and LISTENS even for just a moment.

* Voices of adults around you are soft and gentle...their discussions with you are shared in a positive way - even when you make a mistake.

* Someone you care about or rely on offers you a hand to hold or lap to sit on.

*Play activities are designed to engage your interests.

*The things you do are given attention and acknowledged with praise.

Relationships between adults and children build those ever-so-important social emotional skills that can be found in the Early Learning Foundations. Look for ways you support children's self-concept through responsive and consistent caregiving, self-regulation by understanding the range of emotions and responses to those emotions, and social relationships by developing trust in adults and children.

 The Delaware Early Learning Challenge Report 2012-2013 Progress Report  


We're very happy to share a report that highlights the accomplishments of hundreds of partners with the Office of Early Learning under the Early Learning Challenge federal grant, first awarded to the state in 2012.  The Delaware Early Learning Challenge Progress Report 2012-2013 gives an overview of the achievements under each of the four Early Learning Challenge goals.  It is clear that the state is moving forward and is on track to meet the goals by the end of the four-year grant, helping to ensure that all children in Delaware, from birth to age 5, have access to quality early learning.

To view the report, go to   

 Institute for Higher Education Toolkit   

Funded through the Delaware federal Early Learning Challenge Grant, Camille Catlett of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina completed an alignment study of higher educations' early childhood syllabi with
Delaware frameworks, including the Early Learning Foundations and the Early Childhood Workforce Competencies. 

Responsive instructors from Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University, Springfield College, University of Delaware, and Wilmington University participated, first, in an online survey and then submitted all 73 of the syllabi from their early childhood courses for review. Findings are detailed in an executive summary, Results of a Review of Delaware Early Childhood Instructor Knowledge and Skill and Course Syllabi.  The executive summary describes the process used to obtain the information for review, the results and the recommended suggestions for further enhancements to course syllabi. Each school's course alignments were shared with them during face-to-face meetings where strategies for more explicit descriptions of their Delaware-specific instructional content was encouraged in their written materials to better match what is occurring within their classroom instructional practices. A toolkit of early childhood resources was developed and provided to all the participating Institutions of Higher Education and individualized technical assistance visits were offered to support universities' efforts to review their course syllabi and early childhood content.

or paste this link into your web browser:

or paste this link into your web browser: 

Rand Evaluation of Delaware Stars:  

Provider Recruitment Begins in 2014 

Small Family Child Care Homes, Large Family Child Care Homes,  

and ECE Centers


The Office of Early Learning has sponsored an evaluation of Delaware Stars, the state's quality rating and improvement system for early care and education programs. The RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization, will conduct the evaluation.


Beginning in May 2014, RAND will be reaching out to many childcare providers across the state to participate in the evaluation study. Participation of programs enrolled in Delaware Stars and programs not currently enrolled in Delaware Stars is important for the study's success.


The main goals of the evaluation will be to improve early care quality in Delaware and to examine the influence of quality care on children's development. Participation in the evaluation is voluntary. Only RAND research staff will have access to information collected during this evaluation. No information about individual programs, classrooms, or children will be included in any study reports. Programs choosing to participate will receive a $100 gift card as a thank you for participation.


Click the link below or Visit RAND's Delaware Stars Evaluation website to find out more about the study: 

The 2014 Early Learning Challenge All Grantees Meeting Offers Unique Forum for Exchange 


Held in Bethesda, MD in late April, the meeting participants included 200 individuals representing 20 states with Early Learning Challenge grants.  Offering a unique opportunity to be able to talk candidly and strategically about this work, states talked about the challenges and successes in building the system across the country and spent time in problem-solving sessions on a myriad of topics. 

In addition attendees also heard from national leaders in the early learning field.  The plenary sessions included speakers Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Arne Duncan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education,  Libby Dogget, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, and Linda K Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, providing updates on an array of new federal initiatives in early learning.  Hirokazu Yoshikawa of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University presented the keynote, "Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Early Education." 
In addition, workshops were offered under the following tracks: Assessment Systems, Public-Private Partnership, TQRIS, Data Systems, Communication and Professional Development/Workforce. 

For those who may be interested in learning more, the following links contain information and resources from the meeting: or

  Introducing VROOM!  A new online brain-building resource  

for parents and educators


New science tells us that our children's first years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning. Every time we connect with them, it's not just their eyes that light up - it's their brains. In these moments, half a million neurons fire at once, taking in all the things we say and do. We can't see it happening, but it's all there, all at work. That's why Vroom was developed.

Vroom turns shared moments into brain-building moments. Whether it's mealtime, bath time, or anytime in between, there are always ways to nurture our children's growing minds. 

The EARLY LEARNING AT HOME page on the GREATSTARTSDE website can take you to the the Vroom website by clicking the link: The Team Behind Vroom
Vroom was developed by a group of dedicated scientists, community leaders and trusted brands, with input from community organizations and families like yours. Together, they are providing parents and caregivers with ideas and tools to boost early learning. SEE THE TEAM
Attendees hear about the importance of advocacy.

  Early Childhood Advocacy Day at the State Capital 


 Parents, business leaders, educators and students flocked to Dover on May 7 for Early Childhood Advocacy Day. Organized by the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children (DAECY), the event included a workshop to train supporters on the many ways they can advocate for young children, resolutions from the Governor, as well as the House and Senate and a rally on the steps of

Leading the Pledge of Alligiance in Legislative Hall. 
Legislative Hall.
Lt. Governor Matt Denn reads a Proclamation from the Governor. 

Those gathered heard from Jennifer Stoner, a parent who shared how her children benefited as students in a Delaware Star program. In addition, two educators, Maria Joseph, director of  First Steps-Primos Pasos (Star level 4) and Lauran Cusick, a first grade teacher at South Dover elementary school and a member of a Delaware Readiness Team, emphasized the importance of quality early learning. Nick Marsini, co-chair of the Commission on Early Childhood and the Economy and president of PNC, explained the impact quality early learning has on Delaware's economic future. 


Students from Delaware  Technical Community College Child Development Center also participated, saying the Pledge of Allegiance at an afternoon session in the House chamber before a concurrent resolution was read.  

Child Mental Health Awareness Day 

In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of children's mental health and how to access services, the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services partnered with statewide Rita's
 Jennifer Ranji, Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, visited with the children of the Little Caboose Learning Center in Newark on May 7, where she presented the staff with a certificate of recognition and a gift basket filled with social and emotional wellness activities for the classroom.
Water Ice lo cations on May 8 for the 10th Annual Get the Scoop on Mental Health.  Over 30 staff members and community volunteers assisted with this community outreach campaign.  Information and a FREE scoop of water ice were distributed to more than 850 people attending the event. 
Educating the community is critical to promoting and supporting children's social and emotional wellness.  With the right resources, children and youth with mental, emotional and behavioral health needs and their families can achieve a better quality of life. When untreated, however, mental health issues can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse,
Volunteers offered useful information for families and a tasty treat from Rita's.
violence, and even suicide. At each of the participating Rita's Water Ice locations, volunteer staff and family members conducted outreach to families, distributing information and answering any questions. As Early Learning Challenge partners, they promoted quality early learning and the use of Delaware Stars by families with young children to find quality early childhood programs. 


Rodel Foundation Hosts International Advisory Panel on Comparison of Educational Systems 


On April 6th, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware invited its International Advisory Group members to discuss how Delaware's education system compares to those in other countries. Participating in the panel were Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Jim Dueck, former Assistant Deputy Minster in Alberta, Canada, and Ben Jensen, CEO of Learning First. 

Caitlin Gleason,
Manager, Teacher Leadership Development: Early Childhood Education for Teach For America-Delaware contributed to this article.

Delaware's teachers and professors, as well as education leaders and policy makers gathered to learn from the panel and from Schleicher's work directing the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the world's leading measurement of nations' student performance and knowledge.  I, too, listened and learned as an invested, but new member of Delaware's early childhood education community.   


Schleicher and the panel spoke to facts that we early childhood advocates know well: students were found to have an additional one-year academic gain when they participate in early education.  Access to education at an early age helps ensure that students are equipped to excel, and strategic investments in early learning have long-term benefits.  


FULL ARTICLE HERE.  Video links to the meeting below. 

How Delaware Compares to the Rest of the World: The presentation
How Delaware Compares to the Rest of the World: The presentation
How Delaware Compares to the Rest of the World: The discussion
How Delaware Compares to the Rest of the World: The discussion
   Text4baby: A Great Source of Free Healthcare Tips for New Moms and Moms-to-Be


Another great source of information and support for pregnant and new moms is Text4baby, a program founded by Johnson & Johnson which sends free health care advice and reminders via text messages throughout pregnancy and baby's first year.  Sign-up is free and messaging is available in both English and Spanish.   


Each year from May - November, Text4Baby sponsors a nation-wide enrollment contest.  A week into this year's contest, Delaware is tied for second in the small states division and third overall!  For more information on Text4baby, go to


Although the service is free for moms-to-be and new moms, it costs $40,000 per year to promote the service statewide.  In Delaware, that funding will end on June 30, 2014 and the search is underway for funding to continue getting the word out.



Anyone who has suggestion for funding sources or would like to learn more about becoming a funding partner, please contact:
Karen Zalewski,
Program Coordinator, Early Developmental Screening and text4baby, University of Delaware, Center for Disabilities Studies - 302-831-6839  

   May Is National Foster Care Month 


The Children's Bureau joins with many other organizations to support National Foster Care Month each year through a website on Child Welfare Information Gateway. This year's National Foster Care Month theme, "Building Blocks Toward Permanent Families," highlights the fundamental practices in child welfare that are key to supporting permanence for children, youth, and families:
  • Building family and community connections
  • Enhancing well-being for children, youth, and families
  • Engaging families in case planning
  • Enriching caseworker and family visits
  • Strengthening families through permanence
  • Supporting families and caregivers through services
This year's website features resources for youth, caregivers, and professionals with information about each of the building blocks to support efforts to strengthen families throughout the permanence process. The website also includes several real-life stories from children and youth in foster care and formerly in foster care, families, child welfare professionals, and others involved in child welfare. The Promote section provides a variety of tools to help organizations, agencies, and individuals spread the word about National Foster Care Month. An updated map offers state-by-state foster care information, including state officials' contact information and agency websites.

Along with the Children's Bureau, National Foster Care Month is co-sponsored by its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the National Association of State Foster Care Managers, the National Foster Parents Association, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, and Voice for Adoption.

Resources and more are available on the National Foster Care Month initiative website:

 North East Safe Strong and Engaged Readiness Team Hosts Community Event to Promote the Importance of Early Learning    

 Families, early learning providers and members of the North East Safe, Strong, and Engaged Readiness Team gathered at The H. Fletcher Brown Boys and Girls Club on Saturday, May 17, to share information and promote the importance of early learning and the Delaware Stars program. If you're interested in having a Delaware Readiness Team talk to your group or organization, contact Daphne Evans, lead facilitator for Delaware Readiness Teams,  

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2014 - 8:00am - 4:00pm

Workshops, Keynote Speaker, Exhibitors, Door Prizes,    

Continental Breakfast & Lunch, Continuing Education Unit Credits  

for Teachers & Administrators


Call for workshops coming soon; conference details to come in September 

2013 KIDS COUNT in Delaware/

FAMIILIES COUNT in Delaware Fact Book Released  

On May 20th, KIDS COUNT in Delaware released its newest Fact Book to an audience of approximately 200 individuals. The Fact Book can be found HERE or by pasting this link into your web browser


 Project Director Sought to Advance Behavioral Health System 


The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health of the Delaware Children's Department is pleased to announce that there is a  terrific opportunity for a motivated professional to help the division advance the state's children's behavioral health system. A project lead (contractor) is being sought to lead the implementation of the division's  4-year System of Care (SOC) Expansion Implementation grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

 The purpose of this grant is to build upon previous work of the Division and develop an infrastructure to support the continued use of the SOC framework in providing services for children with serious emotional disturbance and their families.  A significant part of the work will be to help the division and behavioral health providers fully engage families, resulting in services that are more family-driven and youth-led within our local system of community-based treatment services.

The Project Director will be responsible for all aspects of the grant implementation and management in order to build upon and sustain a comprehensive, statewide system of care across the state and involving state agencies, contracted providers, stakeholders, partners, and other child-serving agencies. The Project Director will provide leadership in the development, coordination, implementation, and evaluation of all grant activities. 

To view the Request for Proposals, go to:

Proposals are due by May 29th at 2 p.m.

Delaware Oral Health Summit to Promote
Optimal Oral Health Across Lifespan 

The Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Oral Health Coalition are convening a growing alliance of dental, medical, business, civic and other community members to improve oral health through policy, access, education and outreach.

Friday, June 6, 2014 - 8:00a.m.-1:00p.m.
Dover Downs, Rollins Center - Ballroom A
1131 N. DuPont Hwy., Dover, DE 19901

If you or a representative from your organization are interested in attending,
Rising Stars Shining Bright!

Congratulations to Marlette Lofland and Jennifer T. Parker, the latest early learning program to achieve 5 Star program status! Star Level 5 is the highest level of achievement for programs in Delaware Stars.  


Programs achieving Star Level 4 are:  Kidz Ink VI, Monica Dongo, Wilmington Day School & Nursery, Ministry of Caring Child Care Center, DTCC Child Development Center-Georgetown, Kidz Ink I, Little Einstein's Preschool, Mt. Olivet Preschool, Donna Nichols

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!

PNC and the Delaware Museum of Natural History  

Spark Science in Our Youngest Learners 

Governor Jack Markell is clearly enjoying learning about composting with earthworms along with the children of the Latin American Community Center


Delaware Governor Jack Markell joined Nick Marsini, PNC regional president; Halsey
Spruance, Executive Director, Delaware Museum of Natural History; Barbara Wasik, Ph.D., Professor and PNC Chair in Early Childhood Education, Temple University; and an enthusiastic group of pre-school children and their teachers at the Delaware Museum of Natural History on May 12 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the museum's Seeing Science Everywhere, part of the PNC Grow Up Great with Science Initiative.


Developed specifically to teach pre-school teachers how to incorporate science into their existing curriculums, the Seeing Science Everywhere program consists of lesson plans, supplies and other resources, outdoor learning environments, and a  

new website geared to enhance science education for pre-school children nationwide. In addition, families have participated in on-site Family Fun Nights and Free Sunday Mornings at the Museum.


"Through this program, we're having a major impact on teachers' abilities, confidence levels and ultimately their success with introducing and teaching science to very young students," explained the museum's executive director, Halsey Spruance.


Since his election in 2008, Governor Markell has stressed the importance of teaching science, technology, engineering and math (often referred to as STEM) throughout all levels in Delaware schools. Through the extension of this grant, PNC and the museum leaders share the Governor's vision.


Meeting Mr. Turtle at Family Fun Night. 

Several Delaware Stars programs participated including New Castle County Head Start, The Latin American Community Center and the Ministry of Caring.


"The Delaware Museum of Natural History's program is a success story in so many ways - for helpingchildren develop an early interest in science, instilling confidence in teachers in their ability to teach science and engaging families and the community," said Nicholas Marsini, PNC regional president in Delaware. "The Lesson Center website will allow teachers to access high-quality science activities from nationally recognized science centers, such as the Museum, and implement them in their classrooms."


New Castle County Head Start students participating in the program have made significant gains in understanding scientific concepts as a result of the program. There was a 277% increase in pre-K students scoring "meets

This program is an exciting example of how the business, nonprofit and government sectors can work together on behalf of early learning in Delaware.  Pictured left to right are: Paul Harrell, Director of Public/Private Partnership, Department of Education; Nick Marsini, PNC regional president in Delaware; Professor Barbara Wasik, Ph.D. Temple University; Harriet Dichter, Director of the Office of Early Learning and Halsey Spruance, Executive Director, Delaware Museum of Natural History.

expectations" in science and technology between Fall 2011 and Spring 2012. Throughout the state, Head Start teachers have incorporated Seeing Science Everywhere concepts in their classrooms and as a result, brought science aspects that had been difficult to teach or not taught at all to life in ways that excite pre-school students. In addition, the Seeing Science Everywhere program is having a primary impact on teachers themselves. In response to the program's resources, teachers are reporting:


*A 52% increase in their  confidence, knowledge and science skills (now exceeding their comfort levels with math, language and creative arts).

*  A 55% increase in the use of equipment, natural objects, plants and animals.

* A 35% improvement in quality of lesson plans, among other positive developments.


"The Museum's Seeing Science Everywhere program has really helped me establish science as a central part of our classroom," says Laura Sindoni, a teacher at Wilmington's Latin American Community Center, which was added to the program in 2013-14. "We do a class experiment each day, and the students are always asking to do more experiments and are even coming up with their own! Science has become our most popular subject," she adds.


The instructional website ( developed through

Temple University and Professor Barbara Wasik, Ph.D., PNC endowed chair in early childhood education, and assistant professor, Annemarie H. Hindman, Ph.D. The online lesson center includes programs developed by the Delaware Museum of Natural History, as well as other content based on PNC Grow Up Great-funded projects in science and the arts, and is designed to be used with any preschool curriculum in the country to foster children's language and vocabulary development.


As part of the program, close to 1,000 families and children enjoyed an evening of festivities at Family Fun Nights, complete with fun science activities and refreshments.

Briefs Promote Learning through Early Education


Leading Early Educators , launched by Nonie Lesaux, Stephanie Jones and their research team at Harvard University, is a new series of one- page briefs written for leaders dedicated to promoting children's learning and development through high-quality early education.  The series of 10 briefs include topics ranging from deepening understanding of quality to professional development to assessment and program implementation.  The briefs revisit assumptions that guide current policies and practices, outline common pitfalls and present actionable strategies for pressing issues. 

Click here to access the briefs:

For more information, contact Kristie Kauerz at




What does QUALITY look like?

The rise of early childhood education in media coverage has given rise to seemingly simple question: What makes high-quality in early childhood education?

A recent NPR article, with accompanying video, explores this question through the lens of a classroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

The Ounce of Prevention Fund
provides a helpful checklist of some indicators of quality.
For visual learners, First Five Years Fund's Invest in Us project provides an interactive video tour of a classroom set up for high-quality learning.

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) also provides several Observe and Learn Resource videos, in preparation for an upcoming meeting, that provide professional development.  Click on the Observe and Learn tab to access.


Building a Strong Village to Promote Black Children's Excellence: Early Childhood Education and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

In this NIEER Preschool Matters blog post, guest authors Stephanie Curenton and Iheoma U. Iruka discuss the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and what the initiative can mean for early childhood education--by focusing on what educational structures are needed to ensure that African Americans/blacks are on the path to success even before they enroll in the K-12 system.

National Science Teacher's Association offer recommendations for teaching science to early learners

Grown-ups-including teachers-tend to underestimate preschoolers' capacity to learn scientific principles as well as the length of time they'll spend exploring such ideas, the National Science Teachers Association says. For the first time, the group is offering key principles and recommendations to guide the learning of science among young children. Read the NSTA Position Statement on Early Childhood Science Education.
Guiding Families on Children's Media Use


Digital media surround children. And as access increases, so does families' desire to guide their children's use of these media. In the April issue of the FINE newsletter, published by the Harvard Family Research Project, we hear from Heather Weiss, Gregg Behr, Mizuko Ito, Marsha L. Semmel, and Katie Salen Tekinbas about the ways schools, libraries, museums, and communities can assist families as they support their children's learning through digital media.

Read the article here

Resiliency is the Subject of May Issue of Building Blocks

In life, everyone experiences different levels and types of stress. In fact, minor stress is normal and is necessary for personal development. Studies show that the experience of "everyday" and "tolerable" stress may help children's development of self-regulatory and coping skills.

This issue offers suggestions for both parents and educators to help young children develop resilience. 

Read the Newsletter, published by here.


New Resources for Early Educators


The May issue of Baby Talk features a number of resources for people who wo
rk with our youngest learners, including:
- Simple ways to encourage learning,  
- communication development,  
- working with dual-language learners,
- policy information and more.


How to subscribe:
Baby Talk is a free, one-way listserv that is distributed monthly. Each issue features resources that are high quality, readily available and free.  To join the listserv, send an email with no message to  
To suggest resources, please contact
Camille Catlett at or (919) 966-6635. 

Linkages Between QRIS Designed Ratings and Observed Quality

Most states are implementing, designing, or piloting a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). A QRIS is meant to help improve the quality of early care and education, and support parent decision-making through the provision of program ratings. States differ, though, in how they determine program ratings within their QRIS. This new brief compares the three models states use, and discusses the links between program ratings and observed quality. The brief was produced by Child Trends for the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.




Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children

This policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of children, race and opportunity. The report features the new Race for Results index, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. The index is based on 12 indicators that measure a child's success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood, in the areas of early childhood; education and early work; family supports; and neighborhood context.
The report also makes four policy recommendations to help ensure that all children and their families achieve their full potential.

View the Race for Results report at

Learn about the Race for Results Index methodology at

View data for the 12 indicators by state and racial group in the KIDS COUNT Data Center at

The Achievement Gap and the Impacts of Public Early Care and Education Programs

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the following two research briefs:

The Early Achievement and Development Gap (March 2014) - This brief describes research on the large gap in achievement and development between children growing up in poor and low-income families and their peers in more advantaged situations. It examines how early care and education policies and programs can support school readiness for all children and narrow the gap.

The Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Large Public Early Care and Education Programs (March 2014) - This brief describes the short- and long-term impacts of large public Early Care and Education programs in the United States for children before kindergarten entry, including what key features of programs lead to the best outcomes and how to sustain program benefits as children grow older. It does not include the many smaller ECE programs, including model or demonstration programs in the U.S. and abroad, that have also been evaluated.

Stay Connected

Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   
Delaware Office of Early Learning | | | 820 North French Street, 5th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

Copyright 2013.All Rights Reserved.