News

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 Lauren Lewis Lauren Lewis 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.


Related Media:

Related Resources
by Sarah-Ellen Thompson Sarah-Ellen Thompson No Comments

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

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

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

What’s next for Alabama Project LAUNCH training?

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

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

Another image from the Brain Architecture Game session.

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

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

by Tish MacInnis Tish MacInnis No Comments

Free Milestone App Available in English or Spanish

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

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

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

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

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

by Katie Prince Katie Prince No Comments

HMG Provides the Essentials Needed for Early Developmental Screening

Attention all licensed child care centers and family home providers!

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

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

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

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

by Michelle Raybon Michelle Raybon No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

by Collie Wells Collie Wells No Comments

Read Right From The Start Participation Flourishes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Read what more teachers who have participated are saying:

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

Lenora Cochran
Director for Kingdom Steps Academy in Millbrook

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

Valory Thomas
Director for Ganny’s Babies in Goodwater

 

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

Sharon Jackson
Director for Array of Light Home Care in Millbrook

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

Andrea Hancock
Assistant teacher for Kindercare Learning Center in Montgomery

 

by Lauren Lewis Lauren Lewis No Comments

Grade-Level Reading Requirement in the Alabama Literacy Act

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

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

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

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

by Katie Prince Katie Prince No Comments

Help Me Grow Staff “Celebrating Milestones” at National Forum

APC’s staff and Help Me Grow (HMG) Alabama Regional Care Coordinators attended the 10th Annual HMG National Forum in Buffalo, NY on May 6-8, and the Help Me Grow Alabama team had both a fun and productive time “Celebrating Milestones,” as the theme of this year’s conference.

Keynote speakers at this year’s forum included Angela Santomero, creator of Blue’s Clues and author of, “Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen Filled World,” and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, key researcher in the Flint water crisis and author of the recent book, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.”

In addition, Zero To Three Executive Director, Matthew Melmed, briefly gave an update on Zero To Three’s work and recognized the obvious connection and alignment between the missions of our two programs and national systems.

Dr. Paul Dworkin, founding director of Help Me Grow National Center, reflected on the past 10 years of convening in a recent blog post saying, “As a veteran of many (many, many) years of diverse meetings and related convenings, I am confident in declaring that the Help Me Grow National Forum is unlike any other in my experience from the standpoint of engagement, enthusiasm, good will, and camaraderie.”

National affiliation is a true value-add of the proven HMG model, including the ability to contribute to the National dialogue around the needs of families with young children, and to learn from other states to prevent “recreating the wheel.” The annual forum is just one example of the camaraderie that continues throughout each year, and it is always a chance for HMG Alabama to benefit from the expertise of national early childhood partners and the invaluable experiences of 30 other Help Me Grow affiliate states. Dr. Dworkin ended his blog post with a March Madness reference saying, “Unlike the ruthless, survive and advance mentality of the NCAA tournament, we are all on a championship team with the children and families we serve as the real winners.”

 

Clockwise from top-left: HMG Alabama staff; HMG National Forum sign; Dr. Man Hanna-Attisha; Matthew Melmed; Angela C. Santomero, M.A. and her book, “Preschool Clues.”

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