Message from the President
The 2017 Florida legislative session is officially underway, and committees are currently deciding how to best spend limited state resources.  Budget decisions are being made now that may impact programs and services for Florida’s children, families, and child care professionals.
We are pleased with Governor Scott’s budget recommendations and remain hopeful that legislators will address his priorities which include:
  • $10 million for the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program which helps to establish a well-qualified, fairly-compensated and stable workforce for Florida's children. Operated by the Children's Forum, T.E.A.C.H. now offers scholarships for Bachelor degrees in Early Childhood Education for child care professionals. T.E.A.C.H. also provides scholarships for an Associate degree in early childhood education, the National Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, Florida Staff Credentials, the Director Credential, and renewals for each credential.
  • $2.45 million for the Help Me Grow® Florida Program to promote healthy development for every child in our state. Help Me Grow® is designed to address the need for early identification of developmental and/or behavioral disabilities, and to link children and their families to the appropriate community-based developmental and behavioral services and supports.
  • Increased funding for the School Readiness program that provides financial child care assistance to more than 200,000 low-income families and the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program that provides state-funded preschool for all four-year-olds regardless of income.

    Community leaders and policy makers are beginning to understand that the first five years of a child’s life influence outcomes in the years to come.  That’s a big step, and I’m thankful for advocates like you who understand the lasting benefits of investing in evidence-based strategies to change the trajectory for young children. A new study entitled Persistence and Fadeout in the Impacts of Child and Adolescent Interventions claims that the cognitive benefits of early learning experiences yield minimal results that fade out over time. Nobel laureate economist James Heckman and other community leaders dispute the study’s claims and point to long-term studies such as the Perry Preschool Project, documenting a lifetime economic return of 7-10% per year, and North Carolina’s ABC/CARE programs, showing a 13% return on investment, to illustrate increased productivity and reduced reliance on government assistance as long-term benefits of these interventions.

    We have an opportunity to help policy makers understand that investing in the early years promotes healthy and stable adults, economic stability and a competent workforce for the future. The time to act is now. I urge you to call your legislators and visit them in their district offices or here in Tallahassee. Legislators are elected to represent the needs of their constituents, so let’s educate them by sharing why they should support high-quality early learning programs that work…."because kids can’t wait"

    -Phyllis Kalifeh, Ed.D. 

In This Issue:


Children's Forum Annual Repor

The 2016 edition of the Children's Forum annual report is available for download! Please contact Jenna Brown at 850-487-6344 or if you would like to receive a printed copy.

March Madness Membership Promotion

Are you in need of a membership with a professional organization in the early care and education field that satisfies the requirement for your staff credential? As a program director, are you searching for a way to fulfill your professional contribution requirement for the renewal of your Director Credential? A Children's Forum membership fulfills these requirements and so much more!

Our membership options are affordable and offer a myriad of benefits. Learn more by visiting

Want another reason to join? During the month of March, we are running two exciting membership promotions!

  • Individuals who become a Forum member or renew their membership will be entered to win a $100 Visa Gift Card – just in time for tax season!
  • Directors of child care programs who purchase two memberships for themselves and/or their staff will receive a third membership for free!* 
     Click here to watch a video of the membership promotion

Don’t delay!  These promotions are only available through March 31 and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 3 via Facebook Live.  Good luck!

*The offer for child care directors is only available by phone.  Please call 888-FL-CHILD and ask to speak with Membership Services.

Did You Know..
The Forum provides graphic design, marketing and technology consulting services for early learning coalitions and nonprofit organizations? We know your audience and your initiatives!  We can create high-impact projects that evoke emotion and generate a desired response. These services include:

  • Graphic design consultatation and materials such as annual reports, logos, brochures, website development, posters, and custom displays
  • Communication strategies that include drafting white papers, surveys, news releases, and op-eds
  • Conference coordination such as online registrations, site negotiations, speaker
    recruitment, and promotional materials
  • Developing and hosting websites that include custom programming, firewalls, and advanced security
Please call us at 888-FL-CHILD for more information on how we can increase your organization's identity and build support for your cause.

Welcome New Employees!

As Registry Coaches, Elizabeth O-Neill (pictured left) and Iesha Grinnell (pictured right) process the input and verification of participant information into the Quality Counts Career Center Registry. Iesha enjoys watching all the latest Oscar-nominated movies and listening to music while Elizabeth is obsessed with her Corgi and enjoys scrapbooking.

  Brenda Romuald (pictured left), Shania Galloway (pictured center), and Liovani Nazario (pictured right),  are T.E.A.C.H. Assistants. They are responsible for the clerical duties associated with program recruitment and administration of the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program. Brenda loves to run and read fiction books; Shania is a foodie and listens to country music; and Liovani is a personal trainer and enjoys camping.

As a WAGE$ Assistant, Cristian Oliva processes and reviews applications for database entry and maintenance, tracks payments in the program database, and inputs data entry as needed. He likes to fish and play soccer in his spare time. 

Alex Goldberg is a T.E.A.C.H. Program Specialist who provides support for T.E.A.C.H. Counselors, applicants, scholars, and child care programs. She enjoys playing with her dog and cooking.

Welcome New Forum Members!
The following individuals became new members of the Forum or renewed their membership from November 1 to March 10:


Ivelisse Alicea
Emilu Alvarez
Piedad Alvarez
Jennifer Andreasen
Angie Bailey
Teresa Barca
Margaret Bardes
SueEllen Bennett
Tammy Bizier
Sylvia Blanford
Tara Bolesta
Cherrie Boykin
Melissa Bradford
Lisa Breeden
Sabrina Brown
Diane Caldarelli
Aureliz Camacho

Yolanda Chapman
Elorine Clarke
Debra Cleland
Peta-Ann Coombs
Sandra Crenshaw
Sister Elsie Cruz
Jessette Dawson
Michelle Dazer
Suzette Dean
Diane Dolby
Kayra Donahoo
Cynthia Durr
Susan Eichler
Teresa Eldridge
Beatrice Fernandez Franco
Victoria Flowers
Trudie Fluharty
Donna Fong
Deborah Frazier
Terri Gainer
Maria Gazca
Karen Girten
Yolanda Gonzalez
Tina Gore
Jessica Grear
Roselene Guex
Kathy Hagmann
Sandra M. Haynes
Lenora Holmes
Carrie Jackson
Helen Jenkins
Lesia Johnson
Mary Kahl
Sheri Kersey
Jeannette Lascell
Lidia Latibeaudiere
Deborah Lawson
Celeste Levell
Colley Lightsey
Cynthia LuceDiana
LuqueVoloria Manning
Shirley Marcel
Peggy Mariskovic
Pearl Mays
Roxanne McKenzie
Libya Midgette
Robyn Mills
Ursula Moore
Dawn Nandkishore
Chantrala Nanton
Bibi Nazim
Colleen Nicolini
Robyn Ossi
Lula Owens
EllyAnn Parker
Luney Parr
Lynn Pino
Rodolfo Prada Serrano
Beatrice Quilantan
Kristina Ranieri
Regina Robinson-Thompson
Vivian Robles
Shea Sanders
Tristina Shea
Madeline Sherri
Kristina Simmons
Marilyn Smith
Brittany Smyrski
Beth Summers
Sandy Tillotson
Wendy Turpin
Adil Vayani
Shaukat Vayani
Yasmeen Vayani
Marcia Vigue
Kimberly Whigham
CarrieAnn Wingo
Jossie Yashinskie
Meralis Acevedo
Patricia Adams
Sandra Alegria
Zelma Anderson
Beverly Ayala
Deborah Barr Odalys-Barreto
Shawndricka Barrett
Kimberly Batts
Mamie Beach
Angelica Benavides
Marilyn Benjamin
Regina Benjamin
Charmaie Bentley
Denise Best
Jacquelina Blackwelder
Shauna Boatwright 

Tonya Bonnell
Vicky Bowen
Julia Bowman
Jen Bradford
Donna Brashears
Cindy Breeding
Selina Brew
Cathy Britton
Felicia Broadnex
Diana Browder
Tongerla Browder
Tawanna Bryant
Diane Busto
Karen Butts
Dulce Maria Camps
Maura Castro
Martine Cazimir
Marie Cesar
Jessica Charres
Sarahbeth Chazal
Lizzie Clark
Monica Cole
Sandra Colon
Crystal Coluzzi
Nitza Corchado
Joy Cornelius
Mary Crews
Blairetta Curry
Annette  D'Souza
Sekennia Davis
Shannisha Davis
Shanta Dawson
Paula Delacruz
Juana Diaz
Samantha Dunham
Gwendolyn Edwards
Andrea Egloff
Wendy Fiallos
Constance Foster
Erika Garcia Flores
Latoia Gillis
Tania Gonzalez Quevedo
Julia Green
Juana Gutierrez
Tonya Haddock
Melody Hamby
Sandy Hamrick
Diane Haneef
Joan Harrell
Kimberly Hawke
Michal Hen
Marbelia Hernandez
Ruth Hernandez Rivera
Mary Hill
Nicole Hill
MaryJo Hoefer
Brooke Howell
Gina Hubbard
Wendy Hutchens
Rubina Ismail
Enid Jackson
Angela Johnson
Susan Jones
Nafisa Karim
Sarah Kauk
Karen Keller
Amy Kish
Melanie Kissell
Helen Langelier
Danielle Lanza
Gwelda Lemon
Rosa Levy
Jamie Loach
Lianette Lopez
Maria  Pilar Lopez
Nina Lucchini
Rita  Martin Garcia
Cassandra Mason
Lawanda Mike
Ann Miller
Vanessa Mitchell
Savilita Montgomery
Gildrette Morales
Touraya Mouncet-Ajose
Berta Moure
Jennifer Murphy
Margery Woods Murray
Johanne Narcisse
Cindy Oakes
Regina Ocasio
Mirtha Ortega
Andrea Panta
Brittani Passaro
Maria Paz
Augustina Peasah
Juliana Peasah
Jacinth Pierre
Gisella Portaluppi
Sherry Portillo
Andrea Powell
Jennifer Price
Crystal Prince
Beatrice Quilantan
Grecia Raudales
Carolyn Reddick
Jacqueline Ricarte
Jennifer Richards
Katie Rivera
Barbara Rodgers
Consuelo  Rodriguez
Diana Rubier
Amy Rucker
Yannai Sanchez
Maria Sattler
Leonidad  Sejour
Diana Simpson
Amber Smith
Pam Smith
Sara Snow
Olga Sorokina
Maybel Sotolongo
Haley Stough
Dyana Suter
Irela Torres Terry
Hong Tran
Jessica Valenzuela
Murielle Vega
Mary Vickers
Nersa Volero
Laura Wagner
Alesia Walters
Carmen Walters
Emily Wanecski
Sarah Warren
Christina Weimer
Tara White
Yeumica Wilborn
Mario Williams
Phyllis Williams
Jean Wright
Jessica Young
Amy Zucker 

T.E.A.C.H. Updates

Ambassador Program Update
Having launched a very successful Ambassador program in the fall, we are happy to report that the number of T.E.A.C.H. scholarship applications has increased significantly. Compared to last year at this time, we have received over 3000 scholarships, which means approximately 50% more scholars who are making progress toward their professional development goals!  
We have 80 Ambassadors who are working hard to ensure that local communities throughout Florida are fully aware of the benefits of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship program. Our Ambassadors have played a critical role in assisting potential scholars and directors with the online application process, as well as sharing important information and answering questions in real-time.  Jean Yankovich, one of our new Ambassadors, had this to say:
“As a voluntary T.E.A.C.H Ambassador in Brevard County, a staff member in the Early Childhood program at Eastern Florida State College, and a prior owner/director (for over 25 years) of four child care center preschools throughout Brevard County, I can show them {directors} how the program directly helps overcome concerns I faced as a child care center owner.  They are overjoyed by seeing how easy it is for them to get started in T.E.A.C.H.  Even though the online application procedures are straightforward, as an Ambassador, I am able to provide those who still have questions about the process with some patient guidance. They are excited by what they see as a great opportunity…with a big payoff!” 

Scholar Spotlight
T.E.A.C.H. loves to receive letters from scholars who have been positively impacted by our program. We recently heard from April Williams, our first scholar in the new ECE Leadership Master’s degree program at the University of North Florida. She shared the following with us:
“I've always been an avid learner and lover of school. The aspect of learning new concepts and sharing ideas that could enrich the lives of my students drive me to be a better teacher each day. Thanks to the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program, I’ve been given the opportunity to do just that! For me, this program means reaching more students, families, teachers and members in my community. Opportunities that once seemed unattainable are now within reach with the assistance of my amazing T.E.A.C.H. counselor, professors at UNF, and the support of my center. The T.E.A.C.H. Program's educational assistance has helped me grow from being a floater to a lead teacher and I have been able to apply what I learned in my coursework to my classroom at work. I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my educational journey and am working hard to make it a successful one.”

Upcoming Conferences
This year, we have had an opportunity to participate in regional conferences across the state—and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting current and potential scholars.  Networking with the local community has allowed us to develop new relationships and build stronger partnerships. Here is a list of conferences we will be attending from March through July, 2017:
  • March 14-16 – Florida Head Start Association Conference - Orlando, FL
  • March 25 - Early Learning Conference - Ocala, FL
  • March 25 – Child Care Provider Conference - Indialantic, FL
  • April 1 – Tracks to Excellence Conference - Gainesville, FL
  • April 1 – Uniting for Children Conference - Leesburg, FL
  • April 8 – Spring Early Childhood Education Conference - Lake City, FL
  • April 8 – Ready, Set, Grow Conference - St. Cloud, FL
  • July 19-21 – One Goal Summer Conference - Tampa, FL
T.E.A.C.H. and Complete Florida Partnership
T.E.A.C.H. and Complete Florida have joined together in a partnership that will help professionals in the early care and education field earn a college degree.  Complete Florida is a service provided by the state of Florida to help adults come back to college and finish their degree. All courses are 100% online and eligible students will be matched with a Personal Coach to assist them along the way. Currently, the partnership extends to two institutions in Florida: Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) and Florida International University (FIU).
In addition to the support provided through Complete Florida, a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship is available to scholars who apply to either FIU or FSCJ.  If you are pursuing a degree in ECE and are currently attending, or are interested in attending one of these two institutions, please submit your T.E.A.C.H. application and follow up with the link to Complete Florida on our website
Facebook Page
Are you a Facebook user? If so, we would love to be your friend! “Like” our page and get important T.E.A.C.H. reminders, updates to our program, current news on early care and education topics, and a myriad of other useful information. Click here for a direct link to our page or find us on Facebook. We are listed as T.E.A.C.H. Florida Scholarship Program. 
Help Me Grow Initiatives
Developmental delays in children can impact their potential academic performance and are often not identified until they enter school. Achievement gaps that exist in Kindergarten are difficult to overcome in later years. Early identification of child development issues can minimize delays and maximize academic achievement. Intervention services for developmental and/or behavioral issues not only improves the chances of a child developing to their full potential, but also accrues economic gains. According to a recent RAND study, investing in early intervention services has measurable positive outcomes with a rate of return as high as $17 for every $1 spent.
The Help Me Grow® Florida Program (HMGF) ensures that families have access to services and resources to promote the healthy development of every child. By addressing the need for early detection and intervention services, HMGF connects families to community-based resources to assist them with concerns regarding their child’s development and education. Families can easily contact HMGF by dialing 2-1-1. HMGF case coordinators remain in contact with families until they have been successfully connected to one or more services to meet those needs. 

Comprehensive physician and community outreach and centralized information and referral centers are key pillars of the HMGF philosophy. With the exception of developmental screenings, HMGF does not provide direct services but links families to existing resources and services for children birth through age eight.
In 2014, the Florida legislature appropriated $2 million to establish a State Coordinating Office for HMGF, providing an infrastructure for a statewide program. Currently, HMGF services 27 counties (approximately 40 percent of counties in Florida).
HMGF is requesting the continued funding of $1.88 million during this year's session to identify at-risk children and help their families find community-based programs to meet their needs. This appropriation will provide access to free developmental screening and care coordination services to children and families in these communities.
According to a report from the Help Me Grow National Center, more than $2,300 per child is saved in foregone initial costs of medical specialist consultation and diagnostic testing. In Florida, for each 1,000 children moved to this model, it would yield a savings of $2.3 million.

For additional information on HMGF, visit


Children's Week

Children's Week is still the only true broad-based promotion of children's and family issues in Florida, offering hundreds of community events and activities statewide. The event brings thousands of parents, children, elected officials, professionals, community leaders and concerned citizens together to share valuable knowledge and information about children's issues across the state and culminating at the State Capitol. A true grassroots event since its inception, Children's Week is now supported by more than 100 different corporate, non-profit, philanthropic, and faith-based organizations.

Visit the Children's Forum at Children's Week

The Children's Forum will be at Children's Capitol for a Day on Tuesday, March 28!  Stop by our booth on the first floor in the Capitol Rotunda, the Help Me Grow booth on the second floor, and our Forum CARES booth outside in the courtyard.  We look forward to seeing you!. 


Children's Forum's History with Children's Week

The precursor for Children's Week was "Children's Day," spearheaded by the Children's Forum that became a law in 1983. We invited the State Coordinating Council for Early Childhood Services to join in coordinating the statewide activities in 1996. Other organizations that held activities recognizing children's issues also agreed to collaborate and schedule activities during the same week to strengthen the focus and impact for children. Later, however, the State Coordinating Council was subsequently removed from the statute and a Children's Week committee was formed to plan and coordinate activities. In 2002, "Children's Day" was changed in statute to "Parents and Children's Day" recognizing the contributions of families in supporting their healthy growth and development.

The Forum initiated the signature "Hanging of the Hands" tradition at the Capitol beginning in 1986, thanks to the efforts of the child care central agencies. "Hanging of the Hands" provides a visual and powerful statement that every set of hands represents a child who is impacted by the legislature's decisions. Currently, we support broader Children's Week efforts.

2017 Events and Activities

The events and activities at this year's Children's Week include:

Children's Week Awards Dinner & Reception
Monday, March 27, 2017 • 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. University Center Club

This event brings together more than 400 advocates, elected officials and organizations that dedicate their lives to children's issues. Enjoy a dynamic keynote speaker, a decadent dinner, live entertainment, and the presentation of the Chiles Advocacy Award.The dinner is a wonderful opportunity to network with advocates, policy makers, and business leaders. Tickets are $50.

Children's Week Breakfast
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m State Capitol Courtyard

Join us as we kick off the "Children's Capitol for a Day" activities with a free Grab and Go Breakfast to the first 1,000 attendees.

Teens Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Governors Cabinet Room

The Town Hall Meeting hosted by Florida YMCA Youth in Government provides a forum and voice for students from across the state to work together with Florida's Children and Youth Cabinet to address important issues relating to children's services.

Children's Week Press Conference 
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 12:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. State Capitol Courtyard

Join legislators, policy makers, business leaders and child advocates from across the state to celebrate Children’s Week at the State Capitol.  Statewide leaders will address hot topic issues being debated by the 2017 Florida Legislature and remind Floridians that we must take care of Florida’s most valuable resource – our children.

Storybook Village
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. State Capitol Courtyard

Children's Week partners and volunteers will create a "village" of interactive reading booths for children to explore stories and characters from their favorite books!

Children's Week Luncheon
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. State Capitol Courtyard

Thousands of attendees will receive a healthy and nutritious lunch from Newk's Eatery! Lunches are provided on a first come, first served basis. 

Young Lives Matter: Exploring the Root Causes of Youth Violence

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 • 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tallahassee City Hall

Join The Children’s Trust’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) for a dynamic 90-minute workshop that digs into the root causes of youth violence, examining the risk factors that affect both individuals and communities.YACers will share first-hand experiences from their service learning project on youth violence in Miami. This is sure to be an event you won't want to miss!

Looking for more information about Children's Week? Contact Jason Zaborske, Children's Week Statewide Coordinator, at 850-251-7274 or

Presenters Needed for One Goal Summer Conference

The One Goal Summer Conference is celebrating 31 years of bringing together early education and care providers, leaders, and advocates from around the state to improve services and outcomes for young children.  It will be held at the Hilton Tampa Downtown on July 19-21, 2017.  The conference will include general sessions, concurrent presentations, and exhibits of appropriate materials to enhance child care programs, practices, and techniques.

We would like to invite you and your staff to submit a proposal presentation.  An electronic version of the proposal form is located on the conference web site, The deadline for proposal submission is April 7, 2017.   All proposals will be reviewed by the Planning Committee and the primary presenter will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance of the proposal. While multiple proposals are encouraged, we will only select one or, space allowing, a maximum of two.

The conference registration fee of $75.00 will be waived for the primary presenter. All co-presenters will need to register and pay the registration fee. All presenters are responsible for making their own hotel reservations and any other expenses incurred.

To date, sponsors of the 2017 One Goal Summer Conference include:
  • Creative Center for Childhood Research & Training 
  • Association of Early Learning Coalitions
  • Child Development & Education Alliance
  • Children’s Forum
  • Florida Association for Child Care Management
  • Florida Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Florida Children’s Services Council
  • Florida Department of Children & Families
  • Florida Department of Education
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Florida Family Child Care Home Association
  • Florida Head Start Association
  • Florida Head Start Collaboration Office
  • Florida Institute of Education at University of North Florida
  • Nemours Brightstart!
  • Office of Early Learning
  • The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation
  • Training & Technical Assistance Services at Western Kentucky University
  • United Way of Florida

Please Frankie Allen, One Goal Conference Coordinator, at (850) 893-6270 or email: for more information. 

Celebrate Week of the Young Child, Worthy Wage Day, and Provider Appreciation Day

Week of the Young Child is April 24-28
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state, and regional affiliates. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. This year's Week of the Young Child will be celebrated April 24-28.

Although NAEYC designates the Week of the Young Child™ dates, events are planned and implemented by local communities. Celebrations are organized and coordinated by regional, state, and local NAEYC Affiliates, and by individual early childhood programs and community organizations providing services to young children and families. Local communities may tailor celebrations to meet their own needs. For example, while NAEYC traditionally designates a Week of the Young Child™, some groups generate so much enthusiasm and support that they celebrate the "Month of the Young Child." Others have modified the dates of their celebration to coordinate with other community scheduled events. 
 However adapted, the central purpose remains unchanged - to promote the needs of young children, their families, and the early childhood programs that serve them.
Visit the Week of the Young Child website for more information.

Worthy Wage Day is May 1
The Worthy Wage Day Campaign is celebrated annually to highlight the importance of quality care for children and its relationship to worthy wages for the child care workforce. Child care teachers, family child care providers, school age teaching staff, Head Start teachers and others who work directly with children mobilize together on Worthy Wage Day to improve the compensation and work environments for the early care and education workforce. Worthy Wage Day is always held May 1 and is designed to have pockets of people, such as policy makers, community members, stakeholders, and decision makers "job shadow" in an early childhood classroom for a morning. After their experience in the classrooms, they begin the conversation around next steps they are ready and willing to take to support child care teachers.

Many early childhood teachers today rely on federally funded programs to pay their bills, seek medical attention, and even feed their families. Researchers Marci Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howe state that 46 percent of early childhood workers on a national scale rely on food stamps and welfare for support.  In addition, 57 percent of early childhood educators who are also parents worry about simply having food on their table.
There are a variety of ways to get involved with Worthy Wage Day. Local events have included rallies, conferences, lobbying efforts, public displays, job shadowing, media events, and fundraisers.
Visit for more information.

Provider Appreciation Day is May 12
The second Sunday in May has long been recognized as the day to honor mothers and their commitment to children. The Friday before Mother's Day, May 12, is Provider Appreciation Day. This special day recognizes  the 2.8 million child care providers, teachers, school-age staff, child care program administrators, and other employees who care for nearly 11 million children under age 5.

"Children and parents depend on our child care providers," said Phyllis Kalifeh, President and CEO of the Children's Forum. "May 12 is the day to recognize their hard work and dedication and to acknowledge their contributions to quality care."

In recent years, local governments across the United States have joined many Governors in proclaiming this day of recognition. Around the globe, Department of Defense installations celebrate Provider Appreciation Day by recognizing those who care for the children of military parents living both at home and abroad. Events such as luncheons, parades, dedications, and other recognition celebrations are planned throughout the United States to honor and thank child care providers for their hard work and commitment to children.

Visit the Provider Appreciation Day website for more information.
Early Learning Coalition Briefs
Early Learning Coalition of North Florida 
The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida has selected Marie Klingner, a teacher at Memorial Lutheran Chapel School in St. Augustine, as “Preschool Teacher of the Year.” This award acknowledges the quality, creativity and hard work of those who teach children during a time when, according to researchers, rapid brain development can be leveraged toward long-term academic achievement.

Other nominees included Elizabeth Biskentawi of Lighthouse Learning Center in Orange Park, Giana Jackson of Rainbow Center, Damaris Jimenez of Polka Dot Kids Center in Palatka, Jill Maunz of Shadowlawn Elementary in Green Cove Springs, and Lori Studenski of Amdromeda Preschool in Orange Park.
"We celebrate and thank the important role these teachers have in supporting our youngest learners, who are our future leaders," said Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at the Coalition.
The nominees were recognized at the Early Educators Conference with a luncheon and awards ceremony on January 21, 2017. 

The Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County
The Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County has piloted a program called LENA Grow which measures the amount of talk going on in a classroom, providing objective feedback that helps teachers talk more with children.

Through LENA Grow, children wear a “talk pedometer” developed by the LENA Research Foundation that enables teachers to measure how much they talk with their students. The children wear the LENA device about once a week and teachers meet with a coach from the Coalition to evaluate how much they talked with children and strategies to increase interactions in their classrooms.

The Coalition launched the LENA Grow program as a pilot last fall, and has since quickly expanded it. Starting in three classrooms at two childcare centers, it is now rolling out to reach 129 children in 12 classrooms.

Early results from the pilot show that teachers in the toddler classrooms have increased how much they are speaking to the children by 54 percent, and the children are responding back 88 percent more than before the program on average. The infant classrooms also show substantial increases in interaction.

“We’re just getting started,” says Bruce Watson, Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition. “The teachers are surprised by their own data and how it motivates them. We’ve found that even teachers who aren’t participating in the program yet are paying attention to what the LENA teachers are saying and doing, and now they are talking more as well!”

For information on bringing LENA Grow to your community, contact Jess Simmons at 303-441-9048, or

Early Learning Coalition of Duval
School Readiness Recipient is Thankful for Coalition Services
Mary Goggins raised five children of her own, never thought she would be raising two more at her age, but ‘family is family’ and her two granddaughters needed her. “At first, I thought, Lord what am I going to do with these little ones, but God is good.”
Paying for child care is expensive for families. That’s why the Early Learning Coalition of Duval and other Coalitions across the state work hard to help lower the cost, making high-quality child care affordable and available for people like Mrs. Mary, as she is known.

“I went to the ELC Office and I am so grateful they were able to give me some assistance,” says Mrs. Mary. I have seen hard times, but children need a positive early learning experience. My granddaughters are so smart and I know it is because they learned and continue to learn the educational and social skills they need to succeed.”

Coalition Participates in Children’s Literacy Week
They didn’t catch any flies,but they jumped like frogs and croaked like frogs while listening to their teacher read, I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty.  Students at Chappell’s Early Learning Centers joined child care centers in Jacksonville and across the state in a simultaneous reading activity as part of Children’s Literacy Week.
“Reading to your child is so important to their development and learning potential,” says Susan Main, President & CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Duval. “That is why we not only encouraged our centers and family child care homes to participate in this activity, but we also provided them with the two books the state chose for this activity, including I Don’t Want to be a Frog for 3-to-5-year-olds and From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle for infants and toddlers.” Overall, the Coalition distributed more than 400 books.
Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway
Coalition to Host Children’s Day Event and Early Educators Conference
On Friday, March 31, the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway is celebrating Children’s Week with a local community event in Lake City. This collaborative event will offer children’s games, bounce houses, a petting zoo, pony rides, free food, and resources with for families. The Lake City Mayor’s Office will declare the Coalition's Children’s Day at 9 a.m. and the event will end at 12 p.m. Additional information can be found at

In addition to Children's Day, the Coalition will be hosting an early educator's conference entitled “Inspiring Curious Minds" on Saturday, April 8. Keynote speakers include Pam Phelps and Cynthia Krosky. Additional sessions will be presented by Early Childhood professionals who inspire curiosity and learning in young children.
 Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida
The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida purchased and distributed 150 books to 55 preschools for a simultaneous reading of the book I Don’t Want to be a Frog – by Dev Petty on January 25, 2017 as part of Children’s Literacy Week. The Coalition also encourages young readers throughout the school year with their all-volunteer Literacy Buddy Program. This program pairs adult volunteers with their little buddies at a preschool for an exchange of books and letters three times a year. This year, Literacy Buddy volunteers will also be participating in the reading event. For more information, contact Brenda Griffin at 239- 935-6186, sign up at, or visit the Coalition’s Facebook page.
Early Learning Coalition of Orange County
On February 11, 2017, the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County held When Disaster Strikes: Emergency Preparedness Conference to help better prepare child care owners, directors and family child care home providers about how to proactively plan for crisis events. The conference featured speakers from Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Harbour House, child care owners, directors and administrators who have experienced disasters in their child care programs and shared how to be prepared for when the impossible happens. Eric Alberts, Manager of Emergency Preparedness at Orlando Health, closed the day by sharing how planning for crisis made the difference in their response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in July. 
Stanley L. Murray and Arthur L. Wilson spoke on behalf of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office providing information about resources that early care providers can use when a crime is committed near or within their facility, what can be expected from law enforcement officers and preventative steps that can deter criminals from targeting their facilities. Yelitza D. Zamora of Harbor House shared resources available to parents and children in Orange County who are victims of abuse. Michelle Ferkovich, from the Community Coordinated Care for Children (4C), talked about a break in in which parent’s confidential information may have been accessed and what they did moving forward to prevent this from taking place again.
Emergency plan templates and crisis management books for teachers and children were distributed to attendees.   Inspired by the information shared, Pat Cronon, owner of Hand N’ Hand Child Enrichment Center, has since implemented a LOVEY policy to protect children from being left in cars unknowingly.  LOVEY stands for “Leave One Vehicle Empty – YOURS” where child care staff contact parents whose children have not come in by 10 am.  Parents contacted have been positive about Hand N’ Hand taking this extra step to protect their children as warm weather arrives. 
Early Learning Coalition of Polk County
During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County continued the Nemours BrightStart! (NBS!) program for early literacy in Polk County.  A total of 76 childcare programs provided evidence-based early literacy screenings and intensive early literacy instruction to assist children who may be at-risk for reading failure. 
The program results from NBS! have shown the majority of at-risk children who received instruction continue to demonstrate effective phonological awareness skills that support future reading performance.  During the 2015-2016 year, 1,161 children ages four and five-years-old were screened through Pearson’s Get Ready to Read-Revised.  Based on the standard cut-off score, 477 children (41 percent) qualified for NBS! instruction, which was delivered by their teachers through a 20-lesson course over the program’s timeframe.  Following NBS! instruction, the average Get Ready to Read-Revised raw score increased by 8.65 points, or 98 percent. The average Get Ready to Read-Revised standard score increased by 17.38 points, or 22 percent.  The average standard score of children who received NBS! instruction went from 79.76, indicative of reading readiness skills in the at-risk range, to an average score of 97.14, indicative of reading readiness skills in the average range, or at a performance level to commensurate with children the same age. 
To date, the program has expanded to 94 sites including two family child care homes. The kits are being used in the majority of 3-year-old rooms as well as the 4 and 5-year old-classrooms.
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