Resampled color

October 2014
In This Issue
Be smart.
         Be cool.
                    Be safe.


We hear a lot about keeping children safe and the importance of helping them understand about strangers. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children states that we need to make child safety part of our everyday life in a non-threatening way by practicing some related skills. But where and when do we start?


Be smart. Be cool. Be safe. That's what the "Safe Side" DVD tells children about safety. Safe Side has prepared kid-friendly materials that help adults talk with children about keeping safe. They use "Don't Knows"," Kinda Knows" and "Safe Knows" to describe grown-ups, and hot tips (rules) that guide children's safety.  


Toddlers and young preschoolers can learn about basic safety tips (rules) even if they are unable to identify who is a safe and who is not.

*  They need to stay within sight of an adult when they're playing.
* Ask before they accept a treat or toy from an adult.
* It is NOT OK for most people to touch their genitals.

Preschoolers and early elementary children are old enough to talk about strangers and ways to stay safe. Talk about...

* Who is a stranger? Anyone that your family doesn't know well.
* Who are safe strangers? Safe strangers are people children can ask for help when they need it.
* What are dangerous situations? What do I do if I'm in a dangerous situation?


This important information can be shared at circle time, story time or in small group activities. Be gentle and avoid scary statements.


CLICK HERE  for more great tips and resources!

Governor Markell Highlights Early Learning Survey in Weekly Address 


Governor Jack Markell recently visited kindergarten teacher Michelle Wilson in her classroom at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Dover to hear about her experiences using the Delaware Early Learning Survey to conduct a formal assessment of each of her students. Michelle and her colleagues are enthusiastic about the tool which is in its second year of implementation.     


About 80 percent of Delaware's kindergarten teachers are using the survey with over 8,500 children during the opening weeks of school to chart a variety of behavioral, cognitive, social, emotional and physical markers in their students.  The results inform individualized instruction, support services and interventions in kindergarten and the early elementary grades.  


Next year, as Governor Markell noted in his weekly address on October 10, 100 percent of public kindergarten classes will participate in the survey. The results will help early childhood centers recognize the areas in which kids need more support to be ready for school. And the data will help the state will make the most effective use of its resources.


Ensuring Students Start School Ready for Success - Governor's Weekly Message
Ensuring Students Start School Ready for Success - Governor's Weekly Message
Click the above link to view the Governor's October 10 Weekly Address and see the complete transcript.

 Infant Financial Incentive for  

Stars 4 and 5 Programs 


Through the Early Learning Challenge funds, eligible Star 4 and 5 programs are invited and encouraged to apply for the Infant Incentive through the Delaware Stars database between November 1 and November 15, 2014. To be eligible a program must be a Star 4 or 5, as of October, 2014, serve infants (with a minimum of 5 percent of its 0-5 year old children through Purchase of Care) and eligible children (any infant enrolled in your program for a minimum of two weeks in the month of October; an infant is defined by DelaCare as a child who is less than one year).




 Delaware Submits Application for Preschool Services Grant 


The state of Delaware has applied for a four-year federal grant to expand high-quality comprehensive preschool services across the state.  The application, up to $10 million a year for our state, would add more openings for children in high-needs communities to access early learning programs and expand the amount of time others receive services in current state-funded preschool. The highly competitive grant opportunity (seven to ten grants will be awarded; over 30 states expressed interest in applying) would also create Delaware models of excellence that enhance the state's early learning system, birth through grade 3, by building inclusive classrooms, providing research-based professional development and leadership training and supporting new and exciting partnerships among families and schools, early learning programs, and communities.  





What Early Care and Education Providers and Families Should Know About Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)


The Administration for Children and Families has resources to inform early care and education providers and families on how to prevent contracting and spreading the Enterovirus D68 that is being transmitted across the country. Infecting about 10 to 15 million Americans each year, enteroviruses are very common, especially during the summer and fall months. Infants and children are more susceptible to infection due to developing immune systems and lack of prior exposure to viruses.  Similar to the common cold, mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Some individuals may develop heart or brain infections or even become paralyzed.

To learn more about how you can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses, CLICK HERE



Title V of the Social Security Act reflects our nation's commitment to improving the health and well-being of mothers, children, and their families, and is administered through a block grant.  For an overview of the Title V Block Grant and the national health priorities it addresses, please visit  In Delaware, the Title V Block Grant serves as the foundation for much of the Maternal & Child Health Program, and is administered by the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH).

This month, we are beginning a statewide Title V needs assessment.  Every five years, as a part of the federal Title V Block Grant, states are required to complete a comprehensive assessment of the needs, desired outcomes, and system capacity for the maternal and child health population, including children and youth with special health care needs. The results of this assessment will be used to establish the priorities that will guide our Title V program for the next five years (2015-2020).  Over the next nine months, the Delaware Division of Public Health will be creating a number of opportunities to engage stakeholders, both organizational and community, in the assessment process.


 The Delaware Division of Public Health is seeking proposals from organizations to implement or enhance short-term evidence-based projects or programs that will increase the prevalence of healthy nutrition and physical activity in Delaware. Contracts, or mini-grants, in the amount of up to $40,000 will be awarded to no more than six (6) organizations. 

Municipalities, community-based organizations, and non-profit 501c3 organizations within Delaware, with a strong commitment to health promotion and healthy behaviors, may apply for funding.

Deadline for application: November 14th, 2014. Contact Laura Saperstein for more information at
Creating a Generation of 'Educationally Ready Children'
Highlights from Delaware Readiness Teams Second Annual Conference,
where success stories, collaboration and inspiration took center stage


Nearly 100 members of statewide teams working to bridge the gap between early learning and the traditional school systems gathered in Dover last week to celebrate some early successes and map out next steps. The second annual Delaware Readiness Teams Conference was held on Wednesday, October 1, at Delaware Tech's Terry Campus.

Sherize Urquhart - Christina Cultural Arts Center, Caitlin Gleason - Teach for America, and Greg Williams - Delaware Division of Public Health, working together on an activity designed to share information across the site-based teams.
The state's nineteen teams are all located in high-needs communities, and members are engaged in developing effective strategies to link early learning systems (birth - 5) with the K-3rd grade school system.  


Readiness Teams were developed using a 'Readiness Equation'--Ready Families + Ready Schools+ Ready Early Learning Providers + Ready Communities = Ready Children. Representatives from each component of the equation, including early learning providers, educators, community and business leaders, and parents, make up the Teams' membership. Over the last two years, each Readiness Team has completed an assessment of its community and developed individualized initiatives and   

activities based on the assessment findings.  


"These are community-driven teams, developing strategies specific to their particular needs," said Jennifer Ranji, cabinet secretary for the Delaware Children's Department, who is overseeing early learning work in the State. "These teams are breaking down silos across systems, working collaboratively and putting children and families first. I applaud the time and commitment they are putting into this important work."





Please join us in welcoming Annette Searfoss as the new director of Delaware Stars for Early Success.  She began her career in early childhood education 27 years ago as a family child care provider. She has worked directly with children in child care centers and public schools. Additionally she operated a family child care program.
Annette Searfoss

Annette has taught early childhood courses at Shippensburg University, Penn State University and Francis Marion University. Here experience alsoincludes working at child care resource and referral agencies in North Carolina and Maryland, most recently as the executive director at APPLES for Children.

Annette received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, her master's in early childhood education from Shippensburg University, and her PhD in curriculum and instruction/early childhood education from Penn State University.

Welcome Annette!

Rising Stars Shining Bright!
Congratulations to the programs moving up in September! 

CONGRATULATIONS to these brand new Star Level 5s:
Oneida A. Purnell, Samantha Davis


And it is a pleasure to announce that these programs have earned Star Level 4 status:  Foulk Preschool, Kids Cottage, Lil' Red Hen Nursery School, Inc., Sunshine Kids Academy, Tina Burton.
We also congratulate the Delaware Stars programs that have attained new status as 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!
NEWARK DAY NURSERY -  Program Director Position Announcement  

Newark Day Nursery & Children's Center (NDNCC) seeks an experienced early childhood professional for the position of program director.  As a member of the executive leadership team, the program director holds a full-time position and reports to the executive director.  The program director is responsible for the management of all early childhood programming at NDNCC.

DOE Logo
Federal Funds Available for Daycare Meals 

The Delaware Department of Education recently announced that federal funds are now available for meals served in daycare settings. These funds help child and adult day care providers in Delaware serve nutritious, healthy meals in their facilities. Sponsors for the Child and Adult Care Food Program or CACFP can receive cash reimbursements for meals served. Participating eligibility is tied to income eligibility guideline.




Nemours Health and Prevention Services has created a new Delaware Children in Nature website, offering family-friendly events to get young children and families to experience Delaware's great outdoors. Governor Markell has proclaimed October as Children in Nature Month! It is a great time to get outside, explore, learn and have great time with children, but it doesn't need to stop when October ends! There are discoveries to make outside with children in every season. Time outside supports children's physical, mental and emotional health, promotes learning across all domains and creates meaningful memories. Check out the new NHPS website at: it out at:  


Whether you are a parent, family member, friend or early care and education professional, find something new and interesting to do outside with young children on these beautiful October days! 



Sussex Success Program announces Healthy Family Dollar Dinners

Come out and enjoy a healthy affordable family dinner twice a month on Wednesdays at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club, 310 Virginia Avenue in Seaford.

Dinner starts at 6 pm on the following nights:
November 5 & 19,   December 3 & 17 and January 7 & 21.   You must pre-register by Friday at noon for the following Wednesday by calling 302-262-9459.

Sponsored by Sussex Success Program, a United Way Initiative in partnership with the Sussex County Community.

CLICK HERE for more information. 


Casey Storm Melson: Putting Resources in the Hands of Families


Casey Storm Melson 

As the working mother of young children who serves on the Parent Advisory Board of her children's childcare center, a human resources manager for Corporation Service Company (CSC) and proud member of the Commission on Early Education and the Economy, Casey Storm Melson has an acute awareness of the importance of quality early childhood learning.


As a member of the commission, Casey works with other leaders in the state to advocate for quality early education in Delaware and the recognition that there is a connection between quality early education and the economy. Commission members come together regularly to focus on the sustainability of quality early childhood education in Delaware." We've been able to watch the number of Stars programs grow voluntarily to over 75 percent, visit 5-Star programs, educate community leaders and community members on the importance of quality early education and ultimately begin to see the results of so much input to make this critical mission successful."


Casey recently implemented an initiative to ensure employees at CSC were aware of the Delaware Stars program and all the resources available to families. As a human resources manager Casey frequently talks with many parents and soon-to-be parents about their questions and anxieties about finding childcare. The two comments she hears most often are: 1) Where do I start? 2) It's too expensive. That experience, combined with her involvement as a member of the commission, led her to create an email package for employees that directs them to

to learn what quality early childhood education means, to learn about stars and to connect them with several good resources. Using the Stars data base, families can search for Stars programs within a specific city/zip code/school district and Star level.  She's also shared that initiative with her commission colleagues and encourage them to establish the same program to share this important information with employees at their place of business.    




Facing the Screen Dilemma:Young Children, Technology and Early Education

This guide (click link above) is designed to help educators and parents make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children. Just because products are marketed as "educational" doesn't mean they are. How do we best support children's growth, development, and learning in a world radically changed by technology?


A Facebook page has been set up devoted to discussing the ideas in Facing the Screen Dilemma. Visit the Facebook page at


Working on Attendance: Every Student Present


The importance of good school attendance and the detrimental impact of multiple absences is well documented. In an effort to help parents understand the effects of poor attendance, the New York State Council on Children and Families has developed the Every Student Present
public awareness campaign.

A parent web page
highlights strategies parents can use to support their children who may be dealing with: school anxiety/refusal; difficulties with school work; bullying issues; or health-related problems that can impede attendance and their children's ability to learn. The campaign is funded through a public-private partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

For more information, contact the Council at   

The Mutually Reinforcing Benefits of Health and Education  


This new report analyzes the latest research on the ways that early experiences, both beneficial and stressful, impact the health of a developing child. Children in poverty face health disparities that make them almost five times more likely than their higher-income peers to be in less-favorable health, a concerning fact when considering that a young child's health needs are tightly coupled to the child's developmental needs. Participation in high-quality early education programs that take a whole-child approach is linked to a variety of health benefits for participants throughout childhood and into adulthood.

The report offers research, policy, and practice recommendations for supporting children's lifelong health through high-quality early childhood education.
Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive - New Resources in Spanish

See new Spanish materials on Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! This site brings the entire early childhood world together around core common missions:  Getting all children screened on a schedule, celebrating milestones, and identifying delays when they occur so that supports could be incorporated as early as possible. 


Effective promotion of healthy child development and wellness is best achieved early in a child's life with well-coordinated, multi-sector coordination of services and communication with families. Public awareness of typical child development and risks for delay, developmental and behavioral screening, early identification of delays as well as linkages to referral and follow up services can be delivered anywhere young children and families spend time--in the home and in communities through a range of programs and services. 


Providors Cuidado y Educacion Infantil (Early Care and Education Providers Guide) 


Del nacimiento a los 5! Informacion y Destacados   


Promoting Social-Emotional Development: Helping Infants Learn About Feelings  


Here's a great article from the July 2014 issue of Young Children. The title says it all!




Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Infants and Toddlers


Executive function and self-regulation (EF/SR) skills provide critical supports for learning and development, and while we aren't born with these skills, we are born with the potential to develop them through interactions and practice. A new 16-page guide describes a variety of activities and games that represent age-appropriate ways for adults to support and strengthen various components of EF/SR in children. Each chapter of this guide contains activities suitable for a different age group, including activities for 6-18 month olds and 18-36 month olds.






Aligning and Investing in Infant and Toddler Programs


This report explores how shifting economic and social trends are affecting infants and toddlers. It also makes a case for why policymakers should respond to these trends by increasing investments in this age group. The current approach to service delivery for young children is fragmented and under-resourced. Growing poverty and diversity demands another look at how infants and toddlers and their families are served. It also demands a greater effort to align and expand the current patchwork of social support programs to serve young children in a cohesive way that best sets them up for success now and in the future. To provide this more robust and seamless approach to service delivery, considering growing diversity and poverty among our youngest children, this report offers  a number of policy recommendations: 







Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs

This report, published in Child Trends, provides an overview of family support programs and aims to identify the features and strategies that may be most effective for reaching and engaging black and Latino families, with the ultimate goal of supporting young children's development. The report presents a synthesis of available research on parent engagement-as well as potential barriers to their engagement-in family support services and programs, and recommendations, for both policymakers and practitioners, for designing, adapting, and evaluating culturally-relevant family support programs and services.




Increasing Provider Engagement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

As states develop and revise their Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), many have focused particular attention and effort on increasing provider participation rates. The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program, along with the National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, created this brief to highlight efforts to raise provider participation in three States: Indiana, Kentucky, and Washington, which were selected because they represent varied but successful approaches to increasing QRIS participation. Common themes include: build on current systems, consider the full trajectory of the process, consider how the identified audiences receive the information, and focus on relationships. 

New Research

Healthy Birth Weight Linked to Better Preparedness for Kindergarten

 The New York Times highlighted a study to be published in the American Economic Review that found healthy birth weight was correlated with better preparedness at kindergarten entry and higher test scores throughout elementary school. Researchers from Northwestern University concluded that poor neonatal health can negatively affect a child's cognitive development. Read more here and here.

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