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by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Whole Foods Market’s Community Day Generates $8,000

Whole Foods Market employees in Montgomery present check to the APC

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) participated in the Whole Foods Market 5% Community Giving Day at all five Alabama stores on October 17, 2019.

Volunteers were on-hand at all Alabama stores both mid-day and during the evening hours. The volunteers provided activities for children, such as creating an apple car snack using apple slices and grapes, and some even read books about healthy eating. Volunteers also spoke with many customers about the APC and how the organization supports child care programs across the state to develop healthy menus, and to increase their access to healthy foods — especially locally grown foods.

APC is grateful for this partnership with Whole Foods Market and the outpouring of support received from customers who took the time to learn about the APC’s great work in Alabama.

APC will receive $8,041.88 from this event, and plans to use these funds to organize a gardening grant for ECE programs!

Child care programs in Alabama that are interested in implementing Farm to Early Care and Education activities are encouraged to complete this short questionnaire for a chance to win a $70 Wal-Mart gift card!

For more information, please contact Caliste Chong at cchong@apcteam.org.

 

by Caliste Chong Caliste Chong No Comments

How Can We Help You Start a Farm to Early Care & Education Program?

The Alabama Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Coalition has created an online questionnaire for child care providers because we want to learn more about how we can provide support to implement food and farming education activities in the classroom, to grow your very own fruits and vegetables on-site, and to purchase locally grown produce! Over the next several months, we will be working to develop training presentations and resources to answer questions you may have and to tackle challenges ECE programs face when implementing these types of activities.

We would love to hear from you! You can complete this short online questionnaire and enter your contact information at the end for a chance to win a $70 Wal-Mart gift card! It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. Please feel free to share this opportunity with any programs you feel may be interested.

If you have already completed this questionnaire, you do not need to complete it again.
For more information, please email Caliste Chong at cchong@apcteam.org.
by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Project HOPE’s National Conference Held in Alabama

(Pictured L-R) Lee Johnson III, Director of State and National Cross-Agency Collaboration at the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education; Bernard Houston, Administrator for Childcare Services and Workforce Development at the Alabama Department of Human Resources; Dawn Owens, Tandem Early Education Consultant and Project HOPE diarist; Darryl Rock, National Program Director, Southern Christian Leadership Foundation

 

The APC was honored to host the Project HOPE National partner meeting in Montgomery October 15-17. The meeting brought in attendees from Project HOPE programs in Minnesota, California, and New Jersey. This 3-day conference allowed this multi-state, cross-systems team to work on building program capacity to advance shared actions within the early childhood systems, and to advance positive outcomes for children and families. Led by the BUILD Initiative, HOPE stands for Harnessing Opportunity for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood Development. Chosen through a competitive grant process, the Alabama team consists of members from the Alabama Partnership for Children, and departments of Early Childhood Education, Human Resources, Mental Health, Public Health, and Rehabilitation Services/Early Intervention, and the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

“Alabama was host to the October convening of Project HOPE. We had an amazing time sharing insights from beneficiary voices from as far west as California and as far north as Minnesota. Most salient of the lessons learned was the value of cross sector collaboration for innovative approaches to serving vulnerable populations.”

–Bernard Houston, Administrator for Childcare Services and Workforce Development-Alabama Department of Human Resources

This collaborative initiative aims to develop a targeted action plan for promoting early childhood systems that are explicitly and measurably equitable — and excellent for all children. This time for planning allows systems to have the capacity to understand differential impact, including the historical and current context of services, programs, policies, funding, and regulations. This work is critical to enable a better understanding of how to distribute state and federal resources in the service of achieving outcomes for young children and their families. Strategic action-steps were highlighted during the conference to practice using roles, responsibilities, and leadership’s authority and influence to implement actions that lead to a reduction in racial, economic, and geographic inequities and disparities.

In addition to the work sessions, the group also heard from guest speaker, Rachel Egboro, from The Whole Story who led a workshop on effective ways for state teams to tell a collective story about efforts taken to target inequities in their state.

The next national meeting will be held in Minnesota in March 2020.

Dr. Valda Montgomery, Civil Rights Activist, Historian, Author, and Professor; pictured with Darryl Rock, National Program Director, Southern Christian Leadership Foundation.

by Caliste Chong Caliste Chong No Comments

Whole Foods Market Community Giving Day to benefit the APC

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) announced that it will receive 5% of net sales from five of Whole Foods Market’s locations around the state on Thursday, October 17th as part of the nonprofit’s annual Community Giving Days. All funds raised by Whole Foods Market will support Alabama programs that help children from birth to 5 years have all the resources they need for their healthy development.

“We are committed to providing early care and education programs with every support needed to give young children in their care the best and healthiest start in life,” said Caliste Chong, APC’s Early Childhood Program Coordinator. “When young children grow up in healthy learning environments – including receiving healthy foods, loving interactions, developmentally-appropriate education, and lots of physical activity – they are prepared for success when they enter school.”

Volunteers will have a healthy snack activity for kids set-up at both stores from between 11:00 am – 2:00 pm and again from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm.

The October Community Giving Day initiative is Food and Wellness, focusing on organizations, partnerships, projects and events that leverage food as a preventative, nourishing and restorative health and wellness resource. More than 500 Whole Foods Market locations will participate in the Community Giving Day by donating to organizations, projects and programs that support the mission of strengthening communities through food.

 

WHAT:         Whole Foods Market Community Giving Day
to benefit the Alabama Partnership for Children

WHEN:         Thursday, October 17th, 8:00am-10:00pm

WHERE:       Whole Foods Market locations:

  • 2501 Memorial Parkway SW, Huntsville
  • 3780 Riverchase Village, Hoover
  • 3100 Cahaba Village Plaza, Birmingham
  • 450 Taylor Road, Montgomery
  • 3968 Airport Boulevard, Mobile

 

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 the opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org.

About Whole Foods Market® 
For 39 years, Whole Foods Market has been the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As the first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. To learn more about Whole Foods Market, please visit media.wfm.com.

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Encouraged by CCDBG Funds Increase

The average cost of child care in many places in America exceeds the average family mortgage or in-state college tuition: that is outrageous. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the threshold for what is considered ‘affordable’ child care is no more than 7% of a family’s income.l In reality, today that percentage is often closer to 30%, which can completely change the economic well-being of a family. When families struggle, entire communities struggle.

In Alabama the annual cost for high-quality child care takes up from 10.4% to 13.1% of a family’s income. For a state with over 203,000 children under the age of six, with 69% of them in low-income households, the cost can force families to settle for cheap, low-quality and risky child care options so they can support their family financially. It is unacceptable for any family to have to choose between staying home to care for their child or being gainfully employed.

There is help for families through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) subsidy program. But currently only 30% of eligible Alabama children are receiving this vital child care assistance. That amounts to about 97,950 unserved children at risk.2 That amounts to almost the entire population of Tuscaloosa.3

We are encouraged by Congress’ progress on improving child care quality and access by steadily increasing funding to the CCDBG, which helps to narrow this “child care gap” by providing the needed subsidy for more eligible children. The CCDBG received an historic $2.4 billion increase in 2018, which supports states’ advancement efforts in meeting families’ child care needs.

Alabama saw a 76.5% increase in discretionary CCDBG funds that helped to drive its grant to $93.9 million.4 This increase meant Alabama received $40.4 million more to go toward efforts like eliminating the child care waiting lists, increasing eligibility for low-income families, and providing assistance to serve 4,000 more children. Alabama is also using those additional dollars to ensure subsidy rates support high-quality care and to increase the quality of early childhood teachers through professional development, including those in faith-based programs.

The ask to Congress for 2020 is simple: an increase of $20 million to the CCDBG. Investing in the best possible care for all children not only supports healthy child development and school readiness, but it is a necessary support for working families in Alabama.

For those of us working every day promote the healthy development and education for all of Alabama’s youngest citizens, it’s a no-brainer: when children thrive, entire communities thrive. We encourage everyone to contact their Congressional delegates now and ask them to fight for this game-changing increase in CCDBG funds.

Join us in contact Senator Shelby to thank him and ask for his continued support.

Washington D.C. Office

Mailing Address:

304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Telephone: (202) 224-5744

Link to Send Email:  <https://www.shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailsenatorshelby&lt>

Montgomery Office

Mailing Address:

FMJ Federal Courthouse
15 Lee Street, Suite 208
Montgomery, AL 36104

Telephone: (334) 223-7303

Fax: (334) 223-7317

Gail Piggott is the executive director for the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC), a 501(c) 3 non-profit 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 AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org


1 When Child Care Costs More Than a Mortgage, by Ann Bahney, CNN Business, August 29, 2019.
The Business Case for Increasing Child Care: Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Funding, collaborative publication of Alabama Arise, Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children, July, 2019.
3 Alabama Cities by Population, Alabama Demographics published by Cubit, from the U.S. Census Bureau, annual estimates of the resident population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018.
4 Report: Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families, by Carol Gundlach, July 2, 2019, Safety Net, Economic Opportunity.

by Ramona Okonyo Ramona Okonyo No Comments

Project HOPE: Harnessing Opportunity for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood Development

Knowing that no single agency alone can achieve Project HOPE goals, these memos remind us of our shared North Star:
Each and every child, regardless of race, neighborhood, or family income, has equitable opportunities to achieve positive health and education outcomes.
 

What is Project HOPE?

In sum Project HOPE is funded Robert Wood Johnson and implemented through the Build Initiative to 1)promote optimal health and wellbeing, 2) shift or realign aspects of systems to increase access, & 3) engage community members and create feedback loops to ensure ongoing communication between state and local policy.
Our cross-system team has gathered this month to analyze data we’ve gathered during the past few months to secure ways that will highlight how we move forward. We identified 3 actions to address opportunities and challenges, determined which agencies or departments can take on those actions, and return to the focus communities to check our analysis.
 

Project HOPE Timeline

  • September 2019: Confirm and frame the cross-sector equity challenge or issue; host race/ethnicity, equity and inclusion training.
  • October 2019: Identify mechanisms to modify policy, practices, and funding; host Cross State Project HOPE Meeting in Montgomery
  • November 2019: Develop a process for feedback loops between communities and state; confirm and frame the cross sector equity challenge or issue
  • April 2020: Select mechanism to modify policy, practice and funding; begin the process needed to improve service access and quality for a targeted population

Alabama Project HOPE Cross Sector Team

  • Bernard Houston, Administrator for Childcare Services and Workforce Development at the Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Lee Johnson III, Director of State and National Cross-Agency Collaboration at the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
  • Faye Nelson, Deputy Commissioner at the Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Gail Piggott, Executive Director of the Alabama Partnership for Children
  • Janice Smiley, Director of the Perinatal Health Division at the Alabama Department of Public Health
  • Jane Duer, Early Intervention Coordinator, Alabama Department of Mental Health
  • David Walters, State Director, Alabama Adult Education, Alabama Community College System
  • Betsy Prince, Director of Early Intervention at the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
  • Kathy Hall, Deputy Commissioner at Alabama Medicaid

Alabama Project HOPE Staff

  • Dr. Ramona Okonya, Project HOPE Coordinator shared among Alabama Partnership for Children, Alabama Department of Human Resources, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
  • Dawn Owens, Project HOPE Diarist, BUILD Initiative
by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Alabama Partnership for Children’s Strengthening Families Coordinator Joins National Health Advisory Team

Tish MacInnis will serve on the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP’S) Early Relational Health Advisory Team

Tish MacInnis, the Strengthening Families program coordinator for the Alabama Partnership for Children, has joined the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP’S) Early Relational Health Advisory Team. She will be among 12-15 national experts from across the fields of child health, infant mental health, communities, early childhood systems, policy, equity, parent networks and research.

“As the Strengthening Families State Coordinator, Tish has a rich experience in supporting parents and families, helping communities provide support that builds protective factors and resilience, and in working with multiple partners to improve the lives and developmental trajectories of babies in Alabama,” said Gail Piggott, APC executive director. “She will be an asset to this new Advisory Team, and we are glad that our agency and our partners will be connected in such an important way to this new national effort.”

According to CSSP, Early Relational Health (ERH) is a dynamic concept that has emerged in the last few years from leaders in pediatrics, public health, early childhood mental health, and child health policy.  ERH is defined as the complex interpersonal interactions between young children (birth – age 3) and their parents, extended family, and caregivers, which can have positive impact on a child’s healthy development.

The purpose of ERH is to elevate the vital importance of the earliest relational experiences and interactions between infants and their caregivers that build the foundations for health, learning, and social well-being.  It is multidimensional, building on interdisciplinary research from the fields of child development, social-emotional development, infant mental health, parent-infant observations, neurodevelopment, interpersonal neurobiology, resilience, and trauma.

“This is not about judging or training parenting, but rather recognizing, supporting and strengthening the emergent development of all early caregiver childhood relationships,” states David Willis, MD-Senior Fellow at CSSP. The key elements are:

  • maternal and family wellbeing;
  • positive, attuned and nurturing caregiver-child relationships;
  • a focus on resiliency in the face of trauma;
  • an explicit effort to advance equity, family engagement and social supports; and
  • a paradigm shift in early childhood to improve child and family health, development.

Beginning in September 2019, Ms. MacInnis and the ERH Advisory Team will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore together the concept of ERH and best practice, contribute to the Frameworks Study and co-develop future ERH initiatives
  • Advise CSSP on the development of a survey of ERH interest, current ERH activities and best practices across various relevant EC networks (i.e. child health, EC systems, place-based communities)
  • Advise Frameworks and CSSP on the interpretation and opportunities that emerge from the focus group discussions of the core concepts and discussions about ERH and possible activities to advance equity
  • Advise and contribute to the development of an ERH consensus agenda and strategic action plan
  • Advise CSSP on the dissemination and spread of ERH activities
  • Advise CSSP on ERH measurement development

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society in which all children and families thrive. It works to translate ideas into action, promote public policies grounded in equity, support strong and inclusive communities, and advocate with and for all children and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices. For more information, visit CSSP.org.

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit 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. The APC’s Strengthening Families™ initiative is a research-based, cost-effective strategy to increase family stability, enhance child development, and reduce child abuse and neglect. It is supported by a grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention.

For more information, visit AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org.

by Caliste Chong Caliste Chong No Comments

Celebrating Successes of Child Health and Wellness!

Since 2016, the Alabama Partnership for Children and partners across the state have rallied together with the goal of supporting the healthy development of young children that attend all types of Early Care and Education (ECE) programs in Alabama.

The purpose of these initiatives are to support ECE programs’ efforts to implement best practices in relation to obesity prevention and to develop healthy child care environments. The APC and many other partners across the state have made great progress over the last year and are celebrating milestones achieved.

Currently, the APC contracts with partners in five areas of the state (Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa County areas) to implement the Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives program for all types of child care around obesity prevention topics, including nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding, and screen time. The learning collaborative model includes in-person trainings, assessments, networking, and technical assistance to develop and implement program specific action plans. These learning collaboratives have reached 163 child care providers over the last three years and have increased from two collaboratives annually to five. Participation includes both centers and home-based ECE programs.

Formerly known as the Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Stakeholder Group, the AL Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Coalition (AL HKHF) met in July 2019 to share updates, celebrate successes and to discuss plans for collaboration throughout the next year. Several projects have been developed and are being piloted through the work of this group. Here are several updates:

  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Focus: The APC and Nemours invited the Institute for Public Health Innovation to lead a two-day training on health equity, diversity and inclusion for the AL HKHF Coalition to learn about how to have a more intentional focus on equity and diversity. This training took place on August 29-30, 2019.
  • Online Go NAPSACC Program: The online Go NAPSACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) Program is an assessment and action planning tool that is available to any child care program in Alabama! This tool will help child care staff to learn about and implement obesity prevention best practices in their programs. To learn more and to register, please see the attached flyer.
  • Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care: In partnership with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), Alabama Department of Public Health, and the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee, the APC has worked over the last year to support the development of the Alabama Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Program. The program is currently being piloted. ACES and APC have provided many training opportunities for child care providers across the state so far this year.
  • Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE): The Alabama Farm to ECE Coalition finalized a three-year strategic plan early in 2019, and the Coalition was awarded an opportunity to participate in a Farm to ECE innovation and improvement project through the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN). They are working now to develop training materials and to implement an ECE learning collaborative focused on Farm to ECE.

We are thrilled at the progress that has been made so far, and we are tirelessly working to continue reaching more child care programs to ensure that our Alabama children have a healthy start in life!

To learn more or to get involved, please contact Caliste Chong at cchong@alabamapartnershipforchildren.org.


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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.

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