Talking with babies can
be fun and it builds their brains!
Watch the videos below to see great everyday examples of
people just having fun interacting with our littlest kiddos:
Yes! These silly, funny and crazy fun moments build babies’ brains! It is really that simple, and these moments bring laughter and fun into your world. Studies also show that laughter is good for stress management in adults!
What the experts have
to say about talking to our littles
“Serve and return interactions shape brain architecture. When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills.” –The Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University.
That’s what you just saw!
Now it’s your turn
Do you want to make a difference in the life of a child? You
can! No matter who you are or what your role is with children, simply having
some crazy fun interactions with a child will help to shape their future and
bring joy (and less stress) into yours.
Written by Kay Ducharme, Regional
CCR&R Senior Manager at CCSA
Becoming a Gigi
Guess what? I finally became a grandmother! Over the past three years, I have had the honor of becoming a grandmother (or Gigi, as my oldest granddaughter Mila calls me) to three little girls. I used to wonder why my friends never seemed to have time for me anymore after they had grandchildren. I actually found myself feeling sorry for some of them because they were always consumed with babysitting when I wanted to go do fun things on weekends. Now, I understand. “Mila adventures” occur on my weekends now, and I love every minute of them. I find myself doing things such as going to the kiddie splash pad, brushing billy goats, riding carousels, planting flowers, visiting playgrounds, shopping for shoes and other weekend girly things. We have gone through so many things, such as potty training, sleep issues, screen time limits, visits to petting farms and zoos, being gentle with animals, learning to walk dogs, etc.
Not Now, Gigi, I’m Busy Writing My Dissertation!
As a former preschool teacher many years ago, I was fascinated with language development. As I worked with young children, I tended to focus on language skills, and obviously do the same with my grandchildren. My oldest daughter is trying to finish her Ph.D. and is on the last leg of completing her dissertation. She called me the other day and told me Mila’s teacher had just called saying that Mila had been standing over a whiteboard. The teacher asked Mila why she was standing up to write. Mila’s reply was, “I am working on my dissertation.” I have heard Mila say that she was working on her dissertation many times and didn’t even think about it being different because this dissertation is something we talk about frequently in our family.
As a result of being a Gigi, I have a renewed appreciation
of what we do at Child Care Services Association (CCSA) for parents, young
children and early care and education professionals. I am keenly aware of child
care deserts for infants and toddlers, the cost of child care and the
navigation systems that parents use to unravel the mystery of child care for
their young children. I have visited and observed child care programs as a Gigi
and talked with teachers about their days and how things work in their
programs. I am amazed at how much they are accomplishing. I see new things that
Mila learns at her preschool every week and am in total awe of her development,
but most of all those language skills.
Mila really doesn’t know what a dissertation is, but she does
know that it involves writing. No one actually prompted Mila to say the word
but obviously has heard it numerous times at home, and it just comes naturally.
As I watch my younger grandchildren learning language
skills, I am reminded of what we need to do even with young infants. We respond
to their crying at first because we want to understand what they are trying to
tell us. This takes practice, but if you really pay attention, you will
understand. When they begin babbling, we imitate their sounds and help them
learn new ones.
Recently, I listened to my younger granddaughters as they
were learning to make sounds and navigate through the house by crawling or
walking around wobbling from side to side. One of them kept repeating the “B”
and “M” sounds that she had just learned, and her mother would imitate her
attempts. They had great games going back and forth, and truly there was a lot
of glee and bonding! Finally, she started saying “momma” by the end of the week,
and this week she has learned to follow directions and kiss her momma when
Young children, as we all know, do repeat what they hear and imitate what they see. Conversations with parents aid in language development and nurtures learning. Talk at home is a powerful tool in the development of language and communication skills. Talking with babies and young children in natural tones and modeling the words that we want them to adopt is extremely important. Instead of teaching Mila the word “dissertation,” we used the word many times while we were around her. It is meaningful to her. Hopefully one day, she will write a real “dissertation” as she explores her own world!
When around young children, it is important to relax and
talk to them. Children are listening and understand much more than we sometimes
give them credit for. Making them perform their new language skills can
sometimes make them clam up, so be careful that you are not asking for
Remember that play and language development go hand-in-hand. A great deal of language is developed through pretend play. Give them lots of opportunities to talk, sing and read books. Reading books with rhyming words and sounds, or singing songs are great ways to develop language skills.
Sometimes language skills emerge over a long period of time
and sometimes they emerge overnight. All children are different and develop at
their own pace. The conversations we have with children nurture their
development and learning. Our talk at home and in preschool settings is a
powerful tool in the development of young children.
5 Power Tools to Help Develop Your Skills in Expanding Language
Here are a few ideas for helping young children develop
Talk naturally in your authentic voice;
Tell stories, sing, read books, ask questions;
Sometimes just be silly with songs, books, and
When they point at a ball, expand on it and make
a sentence out of the word they used or object they pointed out; and
Add colors, prepositions or numbers of objects
in everyday language (i.e. “We are going to climb up 7 brown steps now”).
Numbers, prepositions, colors and words used will all become a natural part of
They are soaking it all in and learn so much from you. Your words are truly powerful! Model the language that you want them to use and you can create learning opportunities wherever you go or whatever you are doing with children. Enjoy them. They grow up too fast!
Allison Miller, VP of Compensation Initiatives at CCSA
Australia has the right idea. They celebrate Early Educator’s Day on
September 4, 2019. We should do the same! We have National Provider’s Day in
May, but shouldn’t we celebrate teachers who work with our young children at
every opportunity? They deserve our recognition; children need them, parents
need them and the nation needs them. They truly are the workforce behind the
Workforce Behind the Workforce Deserves Better Compensation
Early educators make it possible for other professionals to go to
their jobs, to lend their expertise to the community, to grow the economy. To
be productive in the workforce, parents need peace of mind that can only come
from knowing their children are in safe, stable, positive and engaging
environments with teachers who can appropriately guide their learning.
It’s a lot to expect when early childhood teachers, on average, earn $10.97 per hour in North Carolina. It’s not an easy problem to solve because most parents cannot afford to pay more than they do. That’s where the Child Care WAGE$® Program comes in.
Compensation Strategy: The Child Care WAGE$® Program
Early educators deserve to be paid commensurate with their education and the importance of their jobs. Sadly, that’s simply not the case. The Child Care WAGE$® Program is an education-based salary supplement program for teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children birth to five. Awards are issued after the eligible participant has completed at least six months with the same child care program.
As a result of this additional compensation, early educators not only
earn more, but they are more likely to stay and increase their education. The
quality of child care is improved when turnover rates are low, education is
high and compensation is fair.
WAGE$ is made possible with the funding provided by the local Smart
Start partnerships that elect to participate and the NC Division of Child
Development and Early Education.
Yes! In the fiscal year 2018-2019, WAGE$ recipients from the 55 participating N.C. counties earned an average six-month supplement of $974, which breaks down to about $.94 more per hour for full-time employment. The vast majority of participants had at least a two-year degree with significant early childhood coursework and they stayed in their programs. Only 14% left their employers last year, which is notably lower than turnover rates prior to WAGE$ availability.
In addition to the program results of increased education, retention
and compensation, WAGE$ recognizes the importance of early educators and the
key role they play in our lives. It is a way to show appreciation and to boost
morale for an underpaid workforce.
In fact, 97% of survey respondents said that WAGE$ makes them feel
more appreciated and recognized for their work.
The feedback of participants always highlights this message.
One teacher shared, “WAGE$ has shown the
value of giving incentives to teachers.
Teachers need to feel appreciated and rewarded. All teachers deserve a chance to feel special
and loved; that is how WAGE$ makes me feel.”
We all need to take the time to show our appreciation to this
workforce. They deserve it. Happy Early Educator’s Day!
On August 11, 2019, every parent’s worst nightmare happened in Erie, Pennsylvania, as a fire in an overnight family child care home took the lives of five young children ranging in age from 9 months old to 8 years old. Harris Family Daycare was regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and operated out of a three-story home for nearly 20 years. The owner offered nontraditional (and overnight) hour care to meet the needs of working parents in her community.
When I saw the news day,
my heart was heavy and my thoughts were with the families and the family child
In the United States, one out of five adult workers has a nonstandard work schedule (working early morning hours, evening hours, or overnight compared to those who work more traditional day time jobs). Among low-income families, studies have found that half of parents work jobs during nontraditional hours (e.g., cleaning offices at night or working second shift retail or food service jobs). For families who need child care during nontraditional hours, the search for child care is extraordinarily difficult. Few child care centers offer care during nontraditional hours and about one-third of regulated family child care homes offer nontraditional hour care.
In the Erie case, the mother of four of the children who died was working as a nurse during an overnight shift. The father of three of the children was a fireman responding to a call at a different location. The fire occurred at 1:15 a.m. presumably while everyone was sleeping. Fire investigators found one smoke detector located in the attic and preliminary reports indicate the fire may have been caused through an extension cord malfunction.
For regulated child care (centers and homes), federal law requires an annual inspection for health, safety and fire standards. However, fire safety rules and inspection compliance procedures are set individually by each state. To operate a licensed family child care home in North Carolina,
A battery operated smoke detector or an
electronically operated (with a battery backup) smoke detector is required.
For homes operating overnight, a battery
operated smoke detector or an electronically operated (with a battery backup)
smoke detector is required in each room where children are sleeping.
An annual licensing inspection is required and a
local fire inspection is required if the county in which the home is located
How do the North
Carolina child care licensing requirements measure up against National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations?
Unrelated to whether a home is used for child care purposes, NFPA requires that at a minimum, smoke alarms be installed in each sleeping room and on every level of the home. NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be tested once per month. For smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries, the battery should be replaced immediately if the alarm chirps (indicating the battery is low). For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, batteries should be replaced once per year.
In the case of the Erie family child care home fire, there was confusion about whose job it was to check for smoke alarm compliance (e.g., the P.A. Department of Human Services during annual inspections or the local fire department). Pennsylvania state legislators are now drafting legislation to clarify roles and responsibilities and requirements. Perhaps it is time for us to review those regulations and make sure that lessons learned from Pennsylvania are used to inform safety practices here in North Carolina.
Fire safety generally is a large issue. North Carolina does need fire safety rules and effective monitoring in place for licensed child care. At the same time, the public generally needs to be aware of potential fire danger and NFPA smoke alarm recommendations. It is important that all centers and homes be equipped with working smoke detectors, that those smoke alarms are regularly tested and that batteries are replaced on an annual basis. At $5 – $20, many smoke alarms are an inexpensive investment.
for licensed family child care homes, it is critical to ensure that fire
protection policies are clear, and that the roles and responsibilities for
safety checks are clear as well. Parents work nontraditional hours. Child care
is needed, which may involve hours in which everyone in the household is
asleep. The tragedy in Erie, P.A. gives us a chance to review fire safety rules
for N.C. licensed family child care homes and centers. A child’s life depends
Care Services Association works to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality
child care for all young children and their families by supporting our future leaders—young
children—and those that educate them. And we’re always looking for fresh ideas
and new ways to do just that. Each semester, CCSA hires interns from
surrounding colleges and universities to help drive our goals, better
understand our communities and support future leadership. This spring and summer,
we had three incredible future leaders here at CCSA.
We are pleased to share what our interns said about working with CCSA:
Katie Thayer interned spring 2019 as
a graduating senior from UNC-Chapel Hill working in our Family Support
department. After graduating in May with her bachelor’s in human development and family
studies, she was hired full-time as the family engagement counselor for
Durham PreK and now works alongside the Durham County Government initiative to
ensure high-quality pre-K for all Durham County 4-year-olds.
“Interning at CCSA has been an incredible education and work experience for me…Through my internship, I worked on many different projects throughout the organization. I was able to develop relationships with people from each department and other Durham-based organizations, and I learned so much about pre-K, early childhood and nonprofit organizations. Everyone at CCSA has treated me like one of their own since my first day, and they’re always willing to help when I need it.
“I spent most of my time helping the Durham PreK Senior Manager, Alex Livas-Dlott, with Durham PreK applications, screening children for pre-K, planning teacher events and surveying teachers on family engagement practices in the classroom. Now, I have added community outreach for family applications and social media to my list of daily activities as the family engagement counselor.
“Being an intern at CCSA was a wonderful experience, and I am so glad I have the opportunity to stay.“
Colleen Burns, a rising junior from
UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in anthropology and biology, spent her summer
interning in CCSA’s Communications department and spearheading the Anchors
Away! for CCSA Awareness campaign on our social media and blog.
“Almost every student’s concern when starting an internship is, “How much of this will be gaining experience versus me just being someone’s assistant?” Working at CCSA has truly been nothing but an enriching experience.
“This summer, I had the opportunity to create and launch a social media campaign to spread awareness about CCSA and its many different programs. This was a big undertaking as CCSA operates so many programs, projects and initiatives. At first, I wasn’t really sure how to cover this extensive nonprofit adequately, and when I originally came up with the idea for Anchors Away! for CCSA Awareness, even I was skeptical if the amount of workload needed to run this campaign was possible. However, I received a ton of support from the Communications Manager, Jennifer Gioia, and when we presented the campaign to Marsha Basloe, the president, she believed in us.
“As soon as the campaign kicked off, it was at full speed. A large process of the campaign was ensuring the other programs were on board and willing to work with us as we gathered information for daily content, including interviews and videos. Overall, we had a huge amount of support for this campaign as the staff and community were excited to not only see their own program featured but also learn things about the other programs CCSA operates.
“This has been an insightful and rewarding experience for me, not just for the communication and social media skills I earned, but also for learning about the issues that affect our community. Through the campaign, I was able to read and listen to the many testimonials given about CCSA’s efforts to strengthen quality child care for children, families and teachers. So many people appreciate the various resources CCSA provides. Even if only for the summer, I am grateful to be a part of something that is making a difference in the community.“
Our third intern to highlight is
Sarah Hanson, a Master of
Public Administration student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been interning at
CCSA since May in two departments, both in the Administration and the Systems,
Research and Development departments.
“In Systems, Research and Development, my main task is following up on workforce surveys that were sent out in April. Many of the surveys were missing crucial information and needed clarification in order to properly assess and analyze the data.
“In Administration, I had the opportunity to observe a Board Orientation. It helped me better understand the non-profit process. I am updating board committee descriptions and the Board of Directors Manual. I’m also creating an e-manual for Administration where the documents are all located in one e-manual making them easily accessible from anywhere.
“Throughout the summer, I have learned about the importance of research and accurate data collection in policy and program development and implementation. It is necessary to improve and expand the services the organization provides. I have also learned more about how policy and funding impact non-profits and the services they provide. Oftentimes, the importance of early childhood education is overlooked even though it plays a critical role in child development. CCSA is working to change that.“
Publicly supported preschool services for 4-year-olds is a huge need in Durham County, yet NC Pre-K does not have all its seats filled for this school year, which starts in only a few weeks.
According to the Durham County Government, there are nearly 4,000 4-year-olds each year in Durham County, about half of whom live in households making less than $50,000 a year. Children from lower-income households are often left behind their peers, furthering inequality and setting the stage for an achievement gap that persists through high school. As a vibrant, growing community, Durham recognizes the short- and long-term benefits of a high quality early childhood program for the community, but most especially for children and their families, particularly those earning low-incomes.
Our research found there are six low-income preschool children for every one publicly funded preschool space in Durham through programs such as NC Pre-K, Durham Public Schools and Head Start. With funding from the Durham County Government, the Durham PreK umbrella offers the opportunity for universal services for all 4-year-olds in Durham County through these programs.
“Durham is making a bold investment in the future by supporting early education for our young children,” said Linda Chappel, Senior Vice President of Triangle Area Child Care Resources and Referral Services at Child Care Services Association (CCSA). “We will not rest while some of our children are left behind, furthering inequality and setting the stage for the achievement gap that persists through high school and beyond.”
As president of CCSA, I have authorized CCSA’s Triangle Area Child Care Resource and Referral Services Division to make this our number one priority, and I hope Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools do the same.
Every child deserves affordable, accessible, high-quality child care, and Durham PreK works to ensure just that. We hope to be able to utilize every spot for Durham PreK, Durham County’s commitment to high-quality publicly-funded preschool for all 4-year-olds.
Durham’s Partnership for Children is still accepting applications for enrollment for this school year. Families can apply for NC Pre-K by contacting Durham’s Partnership for Children at 919-403-6960 or by visiting dpfc.net/our-work/ncpk/. CCSA works with the Partnership to enroll children in the Durham PreK program once they are in NC Pre-K.
About Durham PreK:
Durham PreK is committed to improving the quality of preschool programs by providing financial support, training opportunities for teachers and increasing eligibility for families to enroll their child. Beginning in 2018, Durham County Government has committed to equitable access to high-quality preschool for all children in Durham. Investments will not only increase the number of publicly funded pre-K slots but also broaden eligibility and work with teachers and private centers to build their quality through teacher and director education, mentoring and coaching. For more information, visit https://www.childcareservices.org/durham-prek/.
About Child Care Services Association:
Founded in 1974, Child Care Services Association’s mission is to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all young children and their families. Using a holistic approach, CCSA supports children and families find child care in the Triangle, helps child care professionals improve the quality of early education children receive and provides scholarship resources so all families can afford and access high-quality early care and education. CCSA also provides healthy meals for children at child care centers throughout the Triangle with our Meal Services program. Our T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, Child Care WAGE$® and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ programs give child care educators the means to obtain an education and supplement their salary based on that education, increasing teacher education, retention and compensation. CCSA also licenses T.E.A.C.H. and WAGE$ across the U.S. and conducts early childhood systems research and policy development statewide and nationally. For more information, visit www.childcareservices.org.
My children were born in the late ‘70s, and I remember as a young parent having discussions with our realtor about whether there was lead in the paint of the very old house we were buying. Almost all houses built before 1970, at least in the U.S., contain some form of lead paint. The house we were buying was built much before 1970, and it was clear that we would have to sand and paint every room, change the plumbing and all the good things that come with owning an old home. And fortunately, we did all of that over time, very carefully.
I will admit, however, that I do not remember
if lead testing was one of the many conversations I had with our pediatrician
about the health and safety of our children. Today, however, it is an essential conversation to have!
Lead Poisoning Today
Lead poisoning has been in the news a lot over
the last few months due to the concerning levels of lead found in the water
supply of child care programs and its potential impact on the health and safety
of the surrounding community. Currently, North Carolina does not require
testing water for lead in child care programs, unless a child is found to have
elevated blood lead levels. The news has been especially alarming for parents
and families who work hard to keep their children safe and on a path to reach
their fullest potential. Lead in the public water supply threatens that daily
This issue is not only an issue specific to child care programs: An estimated 10 million Americans get drinking water from pipes that are at least partially lead.
Young Children are the Most at Risk
Young children are especially at risk of harm
from lead. Babies and young children’s bodies are still developing and are in a
critical life stage for brain development. When they are exposed to lead from
water or other sources, it enters directly into the bloodstream where it can harm
developing organs, muscles and bones. Infants who rely on formula get 100% of
their nutritional intake from water. If that water is tainted with lead, they
get an enormous dose of it compared with older children and adults.
Research shows there really is no safe level
of lead exposure for a child. Even at the lowest levels of exposure, lead can
reduce IQ and harm a child’s ability to concentrate and focus in school. These
effects are permanent and can affect a child’s education, health outcomes and
long-term earning potential.
Lead poisoning is preventable by identifying lead before children are harmed. The most important step that parents, teachers and others can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs. The North Carolina Commission for Public Health is proposing a change to a child care sanitation regulation that will significantly reduce exposure to lead for some of the youngest and most vulnerable children in our state. With U.S. Environment Protection Agency grant money to pay for the first round of testing, North Carolina can work to make drinking water safer for infants and young children without adding to child care costs.
Prevention: The Proposed Child Care
We all know that prevention is the best medicine. The proposed child care sanitation rule is an example of a good preventative approach to lead exposure. The following requirements included in the proposed rule will help ensure that it protects children from potential lead in child care drinking and food prep water:
for lead in drinking and food prep water every three years – Lead levels in water can fluctuate over time. Changes in water source
or chemistry can cause leaching of lead from pipes into water, increasing water
lead levels. This is what led to the Flint water crisis.
Additionally, unforeseen plumbing problems such as a dirty aerator or a partial
clog can release lead from pipes into drinking and food prep water. Finally,
improper maintenance of filters by child care operators can decrease the
effectiveness of mitigation measures taken to prevent lead exposure.
all buildings despite age – Buildings constructed
after the 1986 Lead Ban may still pose a significant risk of lead contamination
in drinking and food prep water. The ban, effective as of 1988, defined “lead
free” as materials containing less than 8% lead, which allowed lead to remain
in pipes that convey drinking water to homes and in fixtures and faucets in
homes. An amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act, effective as of 2014,
redefined “lead free to require faucets and pipes to contain less than 0.25%
lead; as such buildings constructed between 1988 and 2014 can still contain
plumbing and fixtures with significant lead content.” Testing all
buildings despite age will ensure that no building poses a considerable risk of
all taps – The concentration of lead in one tap is not
indicative of the concentration of lead in all taps in a building. Lead
concentration across taps can vary because lead can originate from an
individual faucet, a dirty aerator or a filter that hasn’t been changed.
Therefore, it is critical to test all taps to ensure safe child care center
drinking and food prep water.
What You Can Do
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on lead poisoning that you can read and share.
Talk with your health care provider about lead
screening. Lead screening measures the level of lead in the blood through a
blood test in the finger or vein. It is important. Lead is a toxin that is particularly
dangerous for young children because of their small size and rapid growth and
development. It can cause behavioral and learning difficulties, anemia,
seizures and other medical problems. A lead test is the only way to know if
your child has lead poisoning. Most children who have lead poisoning do not
look or act sick. Talk to your doctor about this.
Child Care Services Association (CCSA)
provides free referral services to families seeking child care, technical
assistance to child care businesses and educational scholarships and salary
supplements to child care professionals through the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®,
Child Care WAGE$® and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ Programs.
Through the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center, CCSA licenses its
successful programs to states across the country and provides consultation to
others addressing child care concerns. Ensuring that every young child can grow
and learn in a healthy and safe learning environment is central to our mission.
CCSA supports the adoption of this rule that
would protect thousands of babies and children from lead exposure in child care
drinking and food prep water. Additionally, requiring cost-effective mitigation
where elevated lead water levels are found will have the added benefit of
getting rid of other harmful toxicants such as copper and chlorine by-products.
In North Carolina, public health officials
have been working for more than 30 years to eliminate childhood lead poisoning,
and have come very close to doing so. Childhood blood lead levels have dropped
dramatically population-wide. Unfortunately, some pockets of high exposure
remain. Ending lead exposure in drinking and food prep water is an important
step to move us toward the goal of no lead exposure for our state’s young
children. The proposed amendment will help get us there.
The best way to protect kids from lead exposure is to be proactive about getting rid of lead, rather than waiting for a child to be found with elevated levels in their blood. To do so, we must be willing to get rid of toxic lead in children’s environments. This rule will help us do just that. You can show your support of this rule and submit your comment to the North Carolina Commission for Public Health by August 2, 2019.
It’s summer in North Carolina and it’s hot! Did you know that North Carolina is ranked 6th compared to all other states for child related deaths due to being left in a hot car?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the temperature inside a car (even with the windows cracked) can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body and as a result, even for a short period of time, it is not safe to leave a young child alone in a car.
The majority of cases in which a
child has died from a heat related car death involve a parent who unknowingly
has forgotten an infant or toddler in the car. It might be that the parent has
had a change in routine and inadvertently forgets that a child is asleep in a
rear-facing car seat where the child can’t be seen or heard or that a caregiver
has become distracted or is tired and accidently forgets.
In 2018, throughout the country, a record-setting 52 young children died from heat related car deaths in 2018.
In North Carolina, 35 young children have died after being left in hot cars since 1990, the most recent involved the death of a 10-month old infant in May in Winston-Salem.
Nearly 90% of child deaths in hot cars occur among children under age three. To date this year, throughout the country, 21 children have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke, the most recent death occurred earlier last week in Richmond, Virginia.
We can prevent these tragedies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock campaign to get the message out to all parents, grandparents and other caregivers to be alert about the harmful and potentially fatal effects of leaving children in hot vehicles.
NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended
Make it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car
ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach
If you see a child left in an unattended vehicle, call 911 and get help immediately
Kids and hot cars
can be a deadly combination. Don’t take the chance and always “Look
Before You Lock.”
CALL TO ACTION:
bills (H.R. 3593 and S. 1601, the Hot Cars Act of 2019) are pending in Congress
to require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a rule requiring that
all new cars be equipped with a child safety alert system (as well as a study
recommending ways to retrofit current cars to ensure that young children are
H.R. 3593 is under committee consideration in the House. S. 1601 has been approved in committee and is pending on the Senate calendar. If we can have a seatbelt reminder in cars, we can certainly have a reminder to check the backseat for young children.
There are steps we all can take to ensure that children are safe. We can double check the backseat always before locking the car. However, we can also urge our North Carolina Congressional delegation to cosponsor the Hot Cars Act and urge its passage.
It only takes a few seconds to dial the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative in the House or your Senator. If you aren’t sure who represents you, every state has two Senators. In North Carolina, Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis represent us all regardless of which county we live in.
To find out who represents you in the House, click here and enter your zip code. The message is simple: In the Senate, ask that each Senator cosponsor S. 1601, the Hot Cars Act, to help prevent the death of young children in hot cars. In the House, ask that your Representative cosponsor H.R. 3593, the Hot Cars Act, to help prevent the death of young children in hot cars. And, then, ask them to support passage of the bill this year. It’s that simple!
PED was right – addressing the achievement gap requires much more attention to a child’s earliest years. While Pre-K expansion was recommended, research points to the birth to age 3 period of a child’s life as the time when the largest impact on a child’s development is possible. This period of early childhood must also be taken into account as we plan for the future for all NC families.
PED was charged with reviewing school districts nationwide with high poverty rates and at least average achievement by students to see if there were common strategies that could be used within North Carolina school districts. The project addressed three research questions,
are the characteristics of school districts that have high percentages of
economically disadvantaged students yet demonstrate high academic performance?
policies or practices are high-achieving disadvantaged districts implementing
that may contribute to student performance?
policies or practices could North Carolina implement in order to improve
performance in districts with high percentages of economically disadvantaged
The results were sobering. PED found that local school districts throughout the country struggled in attaining grade level or better student performance. In fact, PED identified only 5% of predominantly economically disadvantaged school districts that also had grade level or better student performance over a 7-year period. Within North Carolina, 45 of 115 school districts were identified as predominantly economically disadvantaged, which is about 39% of North Carolina school districts. Of those 45 school districts, only 7 (about 16%) met the bar of student performance at grade level (or above). While higher than the national average, 16% is nothing to boast about.
What PED found was that within economically disadvantaged school districts where students are performing well (at grade level or above), third grade is an important marker. Student growth occurs after 3rd grade but that efforts to address student competencies before grade 3 are most important in reducing the achievement gap.
PED conducted interviews within 12 economically disadvantaged school districts (comparable to school districts within North Carolina) with grade level (or above) student performance to see if there were any common strategies that led to higher student outcomes. One of the factors that the 12 school districts had in common was a significant investment in public pre-kindergarten (pre-K). Pre-K in two of the school districts (Durant Independent School District in Oklahoma and Steubenville City Schools in Ohio) target both three- and four-year-old children for enrollment. Four of the five North Carolina counties in which case study districts were located had 75% or more of eligible children participating in NC Pre-K.
However, PED notes that current funding enables only 47% of low-income eligible children statewide to participate in NC Pre-K.
The PED report makes two
Recommendation #1. The General Assembly should require low-performing school districts to include an early childhood improvement plan as a component of their required plans for improvement. PED calls for the development of specific strategies aimed at boosting achievement from pre-K to 3rd grade and lists expanding pre-K, improving pre-K quality, ensuring alignment of pre-K curricula with elementary school curricula, developing transition plans, providing professional development that focuses on early learning and providing instructional coaching focused on pre-kK through 3rd grade.
Recommendation #2. The General Assembly should require an assessment of early childhood learning as part of the Department of Public Instruction’s comprehensive needs assessment process for districts.
While those of us who have worked in the early childhood education field are glad to see the recommendations related to pre-K, and agree the NC Pre-K program should be fully-funded so all eligible children have an opportunity to participate, children are not born at age four.
Research shows that pre-K makes a difference in a child’s school readiness, particularly for low-income children. However, that same research also notes that a child’s gains in pre-K are directly related to his or her prior experiences before pre-K.
Neuroscience research shows that a child’s earliest years, from birth to age three, play a critical role in the development of brain wiring that lays a foundation for all future learning. In the first years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed every second.
This wiring frames the architecture upon which all future abilities are built. While people learn throughout their lives, a child’s earliest years are critical because they set the foundation. Genes and experiences help shape a young child’s brain development, which begin long before a child enters pre-K. And, remediation strategies are much more difficult as children (and adults) age.
According to the U.S. Census
Bureau’s latest data, throughout North Carolina:
356,007 children are under age three
465,783 children are under age six who also have working parents (young children residing in two-parent families where both parents work or in a single-parent family where the head of household works)
Young children with working mothers are in child care every week for about 36 hours according to the Census Bureau. Most of these children are not age four; they are not in pre-K. This is why any directive to the General Assembly to address the achievement gap, which rightly calls for addressing the early childhood landscape, has to not only focus on access to pre-K but also must focus on access to high-quality child care and the early childhood workforce that cares for our youngest children.
We applaud PED’s call for low performing school districts to include an early childhood improvement plan and an assessment of early learning opportunities as part of district comprehensive needs assessments. However, early learning is not limited to pre-K settings. High-quality child care programs are important early learning settings at all ages. Any needs assessment and early childhood improvement plans that are derived from such a landscape review must include our youngest children. Child development, school readiness and reducing the achievement gap depend on it.
By Linda Chappel, Vice President, Triangle Area Child Care Resource and Referral Services at Child Care Services Association
This week the Best of The Triangle 2019 was published in INDYWEEK, naming most favorite activities, foods and events voted on by readers and described as the “wisdom of the crowd.” I present the Best of the Triangle as Durham PreK.
In 2018, the Durham County Commission voted to make historic local investments to open access for more 4-year old children to high quality preschool services. At a time when North Carolina’s legislators are talking about funding virtual preschool, Durham is boldly creating face-to-face opportunities for children with local funds.
A primary goal of Durham PreK is supporting the learning and development of young children to improve the quality of their lives now and in the future. We know from years of research that high quality preschool enhances children’s school readiness by providing substantial early learning, which can have lasting effects far into a child’s later years of school and life.
Research finds high quality preschool programs can accomplish this goal by producing large and lasting gains in outcomes such as “achievement, educational attainment, personal and social behavior (e.g., reductions in crime), adult health, and economic productivity.” These gains are broad and last long into adulthood.
The importance of funding pre-K in Durham
At CCSA, our research found there are six low-income preschool children for every one publicly funded preschool space in Durham through programs such as NC Pre-K, Durham Public Schools and Head Start.
Currently, more than 25% of Durham census tracts with more than 50 low-income preschoolers have no publicly funded preschool slots. In a random survey of approximately 2,000 Durham parents, 92% of parents rated cost-free preschool as desirable or essential. 
Durham PreK benefits the community
While a child’s success in school and life
addresses our society’s greater good, children from lower-income households are
often left behind, furthering inequality and setting the stage for the
achievement gap that persists through high school. As a vibrant, growing
community, Durham recognizes the short- and long-term benefits of attendance in
a high quality early childhood program for children, their families and the
These benefits range from reduced need for
special education services or remedial support during the K-12 years to
increased tax revenue and reduced dependency on government assistance in
adulthood. Researchers quantified these benefits and found a return on
investment of $3-$13 for every dollar invested in early childhood. Even at the
low end of this estimate, this is a significant return.
With an abundance of evidence that high-quality universal preschool could reduce the disparities in skills among subgroups of children at kindergarten entry, Durham’s policymakers are focusing considerable resources on the development and expansion of quality preschool programs for 4-year-olds.
Durham PreK will help improve the quality of early education in Durham County by improving classroom instruction, supporting family engagement and building capacity for high quality through practice based coaching, while expanding access to publicly funded preschool services for all the county’s 4-year-olds. A critical component of this initiative is the implementation of preschool classrooms in diverse settings, including public schools and community-based programs. Durham PreK provides teachers and directors with regular coaching and professional development on cultural competence and social-emotional learning and conducts quality improvement activities to enhance children’s classroom experiences.
Unlike many programs around the country,
Durham PreK requires teachers hold a Birth to Kindergarten teaching certificate
and that they be paid at the same salary level as teachers in Durham Public
Schools. Durham PreK places this emphasis on the teachers’ compensation to
attract and retain the most qualified teachers.
Our overall goal in Durham is to improve the quality of and access to preschool programs for more children. We started with an ambitious two-year plan that runs through July 2020. We know this will be a journey that builds each year until we can serve all Durham’s children and ensure their life-long success. Durham PreK plans to stay Best of the Triangle.
 Phillips, D.A., Lipsey, M.W., Dodge, K.A., Haskins, R., Bassok, D., Burchinal, M.R.,…Weiland, C. (2017). Puzzling it out: The current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects, a consensus statement. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Downloaded July 24, 2017 from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/consensus-statement_ final.pdf
 Durham Supply and Demand Study, Child Care Services Association, (2018). https://www.childcareservices.org/research/research-reports/early-childhood-system-studies/
 Phillips, D. A., et al. (2018). The changing landscape of publicly-funded center-based child care: 1990-2012. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 94-104; Cascio, E. U. (2017). Does universal preschool hit the target? Program access and preschool impacts. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research; Yoshikawa, H., et al. (2013). Investing in our future: The evidence on preschool education. New York: Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development.