by Caliste Chong Caliste Chong No Comments

Complete an Online Questionnaire and Tell Us What You Need to Get Started

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 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 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 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 Sarah-Ellen Thompson Sarah-Ellen Thompson No Comments

Registration is Now Closed for Project LAUNCH 2019 Summit

Registration is closed for the 2019 Alabama Project LAUNCH Early Childhood Summit that will be held on May 8-9 at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. If you need information or have questions, please contact Sarah-Ellen Thompson; toll-free 1-866-711-4025 or sthompson@alabamapartnershipforchildren.org.


The Summit will focus on strengthening adult capacities to ensure children’s optimal development, and is open to all early childhood professionals, mental health practitioners, physicians, educators, home visitors, or any other professionals across the state working directly with children birth to eight years old.

Project LAUNCH, which stands for Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health, promotes the wellness of young children from birth to eight years by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of their development. The Alabama Partnership for Children partners with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Child Development Resources of The University of Alabama for Project LAUNCH’s local implementation in Tuscaloosa.

The Summit includes programs on: CARE – Child Adult Relationship Enhancement; Brain Development; Reflective Supervision – Does It Have a Place in Clinical Supervision; Brain Architecture Game; Calming Tools for Use in Early Childhood Settings; Behavior 101 – A Practical Guide to Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Manipulation, Violence/Aggression & Hoarding; and Early Childcare Providers – Supporting the Whole Family.

Registration costs $30 for the Professional Development Institute, $35 for the Project LAUNCH Summit, and $60 for both days. CEU certificates are also available.

For more information about Alabama Project LAUNCH at the state level, please contact Sarah-Ellen Thompson; toll-free 1-866-711-4025 or sthompson@alabamapartnershipforchildren.org. For information about Alabama Project LAUNCH in Tuscaloosa, please contact Caroline Branton; 205-348-0459 or ccbranton@ches.ua.edu.

Click Here for more about Project LAUNCH.

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Thanks for Joining Hands During Week of the Young Child

The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) held its annual “Joining Hands for Week of the Young Child” event April 9th to raise awareness of the most important time of all children’s lives — the first five years.

“We take this time each year to thank every legislator for supporting and prioritizing programs that serve our youngest children,” said APC executive director, Gail Piggott. “They understand that the first five years of a child’s life are critical to ensuring their healthy development. Investing in strong families, early childhood health, and quality early learning programs are necessary to improve outcomes in Alabama.”

Week of the Young Child spotlights the need to make early childhood education and development a state priority. It also brings awareness to the programs and partnerships in Alabama that are vital to ensuring all children, their families, teachers, and child care providers, have access to every resource they need to be successful.

Child advocates and volunteers delivered to every state legislator packets, which contained handprints made and decorated by preschoolers from around the state. It also provided important information on several programs that serve children including the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, Help Me Grow Alabama, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, and Project LAUNCH.

The APC coordinates the annual Joining Hands for Week of the Young Child event in conjunction with the national Week of the Young Child which is designed to bring attention to the needs of young children ages birth to five and the critical importance of the first five years of life.


On March 27th, Governor Kay Ivey signed a proclamation making April 8 – 12, 2019, the Week of the Young Child in Alabama. The proclamation states that “high-quality early childhood services represent a worthy commitment to our children’s future and an investment in improved schools and a brighter future for Alabama.”


Child advocates from across the state volunteer each year for this Joining Hands event to help collect handprints that children have traced and decorated. APC staff and volunteers deliver them to the Alabama Legislative offices with the hope of meeting personally with the elected officials representing their districts.

Secretary Jeana Ross, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE), kicked off the day by welcoming the event’s volunteers, and thanking them for spending their day focused on making early childhood education a priority for legislators. ADECE provided the meeting space for volunteers to gather and coordinate the deliveries.

“I look forward to this event every year, and I am so grateful to the volunteers that help bring attention to the needs of Alabama’s young children,” said Sec. Ross. “Seeing the children’s handprints go up on doors all over the State House is inspiring and encouraging. We thank our legislators for making support for the programs that promote the best possible start for children – during the most critical first five years of their lives – a high priority.”

Allison Muhlendorf, the executive director for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), shared with the volunteers ASRA’s work to expand Alabama’s voluntary First Class Pre-k program statewide, and the progress that has been made thanks to their partners and the support of the Alabama Legislature.

“I proudly stand with the Alabama Partnership for Children in shining a light on the needs of young children in our state,” said Muhlendorf. “Alabama’s early childhood community is united in our desire to provide the high-quality care and support to children and their families beginning at birth. I was very pleased to hear from many lawmakers that they are supportive of a comprehensive early childhood vision and are prioritizing new funding to help expand Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program to more families as part of this commitment.”

Stephen Woerner, the executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, also shared support and information during the event, outlining VOICES legislative priorities that, if embraced by state leaders, will have a positive impact on services to Alabama’s children and families.

“VOICES for Alabama’s Children is delighted to support Week of the Young Child and the Alabama Partnership for Children,” said Woerner. “Our youngest Alabamians need powerful advocates and special consideration. Week of the Young Child is a tremendous opportunity to engage with legislators and decision makers to ensure that these most vulnerable and important residents are accounted for and considered in all decisions.”

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC.org) to spotlight early learning, young children, their teachers, families, and communities. 

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 an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit www.SmartStartAlabama.org

by Jill West Jill West No Comments

Welcome to Our New Website!

The APC staff is very excited to share with you our new website! It’s been a long-time in the making!

As APC continues to expand and add new programs and services for young children and families, the website upgrade helps provide improved access to resources and information through a more user-friendly navigation. This new site is also mobile-friendly, allowing APC’s resources to be easily accessed from any mobile device.

The navigational menu is located on every page, and it links to all areas of the site. From this menu pages are organized to meet the common search areas for our programs, resources, and contact information. For example, a visitor can quickly find; the Alabama Blueprint for Zero to Five statewide strategy, links to connect with Help Me Grow resources, links to the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, links to resources for families, new program links for Early Language and Literacy, and much more.

Please browse around and send us your feedback; especially if you experience any problems finding what you need. We will continually work to improve and enhance your experience with our presence online.

Click here to start browsing from the homepage.