Archive for Media Release

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Holds Ocean Program at the Kids in Action Learning Center in Palatka

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

Image/Caption: 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Volunteer Robin Robinson, Outreach Assistant Sue Murphy, and the teachers and students from the Kids In Action Learning Center in Palatka learning about the ocean on July 22, 2021.

DOWNLOAD FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE HERE: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Robin-as-the-shark_edit.jpg 

(More photos can be found below the release.)

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Holds Ocean Program at the Kids in Action Learning Center in Palatka

PALATKA, Fla., July 23, 2021 – On July 22, the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida’s outreach team organized an ocean-themed literacy program at the Kids in Action Learning Center in Palatka. This early education program teaches kids all about the ocean and the many creatures that reside in it.

The kids explored ocean-related questions such as “What makes sand?”, “What are the layers of the ocean?” and “Which creatures live in each layer?”, along with supporting facts about numerous ocean creatures. For example, “Do you know how many brains an octopus has?” Answer is: Nine. One in each tentacle and one in their head. 

Through fun books and activities, the ELC outreach team makes the ocean come to life.  The children made their own ocean in a bottle, painted sea shell creatures and made sand necklaces. Each child received a free book called “Ocean Creatures” published by Scholastic and the school received a large bag of teaching resources to further teach the ocean unit. The ELC outreach team consists of paid staff plus a team of volunteers. 

The ELC of North Florida is looking for more volunteers to help with its themed literacy programs and its volunteer reading program. Volunteer readers read to preschool children on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Training is provided. Contact Joan Whitson, Outreach Manager for more information about volunteering at:  jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or 904-342-2267 ext. 202.  

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s website, Facebook and YouTube pages have up-to-date resources for providers and parents, in addition to their child care services, school readiness services and VPK programs. Please visit their website at www.elcnorthflorida.org; Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elcnorthflorida or YouTube at www.youtube.com/elcpsj

 

More Ocean Program photos can be found here for use:

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Organizes Bubbles Program Throughout St. Johns County

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

Image/Caption: 

Early Learning Coalition volunteer Erika Bauserman and students from Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine learning about bubbles on July 6, 2021.

DOWNLOAD FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE HERE: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/IMG_0902.jpg 

(More photos can be found below the release.)

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Organizes Bubbles Program Throughout St. Johns County

JOHNS COUNTY, Fla., July 16, 2021 – The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida’s outreach team is blowing bubbles all over St. Johns County this summer! Eight locations have been “hit” with the bubbles so far as ELC’s educators look to reach preschools with their Fun with Bubbles Science Program. This early education program teaches kids the science behind bubbles while having fun.

Students learn fun facts about bubbles (i.e. bubbles are air trapped in soap film), and then do activities to illustrate the new fact. The teachers receive a bag of supplies to do activities, including: bubble printing, bubble painting, free play making small and huge bubbles, straw ping pong and blowing art with bubble paint. Tying in literacy with science, the teachers also receive themed books for their classroom including “PoP! A Book About Bubbles” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 

The ELC outreach team is committed to promoting literacy through science and creative themed programming. Each child also receives a book relating to the theme. For more information about volunteering with the ELC outreach team to put on programs like this, contact ELC Outreach Manager Joan Whitson at 904-343-2267 ext. 202.  

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s website, Facebook and YouTube pages have up-to-date resources for providers and parents, in addition to their child care services, school readiness services and VPK programs. Please visit their website at www.elcnorthflorida.org; Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elcnorthflorida or YouTube at www.youtube.com/elcpsj

 

More Bubble Program photos can be found here for use:

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

 

[RELEASE] Early Learning Coalition Offers Assistance with Childcare

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Brighton Day CareFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: 

Teresa Matheny

Chief of Programs

Episcopal Childrens Services

904-726-1500 Ext. 247 

Cell: 904-521-6803

Teresa.Matheny@ecs4kids.org

 

Image/Caption: 

Brighton Day Care is one of many child care centers that offer services for children in North Florida. The Early Learning Coalition is accepting applications for funding for child care. Please visit www.ecs4kids.org/programs/school-readiness/ to apply. 

Full Resolution Photo Link: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Brighton-Day-April-2021-Group-Photo.jpeg

 

Early Learning Coalition Offers Assistance with Childcare

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., May 2, 2021 – Florida, akin to much of the country, has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic, and some parents of young children are caught in a cycle of not being able to work because childcare is not available or is too expensive. The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) can help parents find and afford childcare to help them return to work. Families who are in need of childcare are encouraged to contact the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida for both financial help and assistance in locating childcare. The ELC is partnering with Episcopal Children’s Services (ECS) to coordinate childcare services.  For more information, contact ECS at 904-726-1500, toll free 1-800-238-3463 or visit

www.ecs4kids.org/programs/school-readiness/.

 

The average cost for childcare in Florida is $8,400 a year. For parents hovering around the poverty level, this means that childcare is one of the factors preventing families from rising above the poverty level. Another issue is that finding childcare can be very difficult. Episcopal Children’s Services Chief of Programs Teresa Matheny explained how the ELC funding program works. 

 

“The ELC offers financial assistance to families making up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level,” said Matheny. “Once enrolled, the family can continue to receive services until they earn up to 85 percent of the Florida Median Income. In practical numbers, this means a family of three earning up to $32,580 a year is eligible for funding and can remain in the program until their income exceeds $53,601.” 

 

Currently, there are waivers in place that relax the requirements for applying services.  The waivers allow individuals who are unemployed and seeking work to apply as well as those that have had a reduction in their work hours to qualify for funding through the ELC. These waivers will expire at the end of June. 

 

Eligible families are charged a fee based on income and family size. They may be required to make up the difference between the ELC funding and the fees charged by the childcare provider.  Matheny described the financial obligation for a hypothetical parent in the ELC program. 

 

“While each preschool is different, an example of this situation would be that the parent is charged a parent fee of $5 per week. The ELC pays for $150 a week to the childcare provider. If the provider normally charges $175 a week, the parent may be asked to pay $30 a week, representing the $5 parent fee plus the $25 difference,” said Matheny. 

 

In addition to helping parents pay for childcare, ECS will help parents locate child care as well. Currently, ECS is able to get most waitlisted children into childcare within 30 days. 

 

The ELC provides child care assistance to families who meet certain income requirements and who are working or going back to school. This school readiness program is designed to increase a child’s chance of achieving future educational success. The ELC also administers and manages Florida’s FREE VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds).  For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its other programs and services, please visit, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.

 

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

 

The Cat in the Hat is on the Loose in North Florida for Early Literacy

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The Cat in the Hat was on the loose in North Florida during the month of March. In celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) held a drawing at its Annual Early Educators Conference for several of its counties’ child care centers and preschools to receive a Dr. Seuss program in their school. The program, put on by ELC staff and volunteers, consists of a story time with special guest “The Cat in the Hat” followed by various activities relating to Dr. Seuss books. Each child received a free copy of the book “Ten Apples Up on Top”. Teachers received a resource bag filled with a set of eight Dr. Seuss books and other related teaching materials.

The winning schools were: First Baptist Preschool in Palatka; St. John Paul Early Learning Center in Ponte Vedra; Baker Pre-K Center in Macclenny; Yulee Baptist in Yulee; The Goddard School; First Class Learning Center; Kindercare Oakleaf; Kids Kampus in Orange Park and Pinewood Christian Academy in Middleburg.  

“Promoting early literacy is a priority mission for us at the Early Learning Coalition,” said ELC’s Literacy Outreach Manager. “Getting children excited about books and making sure that all children have them can make all the difference in their success in school all during their lives.” 

In addition to hosting the Dr. Seuss programs, ELC  held a contest for the most creative Dr. Seuss themed classroom reading corner. Forty schools entered their classrooms into the contest. The first place winners are: First Baptist Preschool in Palatka and Bartram Academy in St. Johns. The three second place winners are Fernandina Beach Head Start, Rainbow Family Education Center in Starke and Bartram Academy in St. Johns. The first place winners received a Read and Learn Area Rug and the second place winners received a set of soft-sided child furniture.  

The ELC of North Florida provides child care assistance to families who meet certain income requirements and who are working or going back to school. This school readiness program is designed to increase a child’s chance of achieving future educational success. The ELC also administers and manages Florida’s FREE VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds). 

Additional Photos are here:

Putnam County:  

Photo #1 – 

Photo Download: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/First-Baptist-Palatka-Putnam-Cty.-copy.jpg

Caption: Cat in the Hat fun with children from First Baptist Preschool in Palatka as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

Picture #2 – 

Photo Download: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/First-Baptist-Palatka-Putnam-County-2.jpeg

Caption: Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Volunteer Jane Hafner having fun with the Dr. Seuss book “Ten Apples Up On Top” with children at First Baptist Preschool in Palatka as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

St. Johns County:  

Photo Download: 

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Caption: The Cat in the Hat receives big hugs from children at St. John Paul Early Learning Center in Ponte Vedra as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

Baker County:  

Photo Download: 

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Caption: The Cat in the Hat with children from Baker Pre-K in Macclenny holding up their new “Ten Apples Up On Top” books as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

 Clay County: 

Photo Download: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Kindercare-Oakleaf-Orange-Park-Clay-County.jpeg

Caption: The Cat in the Hat with children from Kindercare Oakleaf in Orange Park holding up their new “Ten Apples Up On Top” books as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

Nassau County: 

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Photo Download: 

The Cat in the Hat enjoying his visit with children from Yulee Baptist Early Learning Center as part of the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Outreach Program in March 2021. 

 

 

 

For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its programs and services, please visit, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.

The Early Learning Coalition is the leading voice in six counties for child care. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how we assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org. Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.


 

[RELEASE] Coalition Announces Infant & Preschool Teachers of the Year Award Winners

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Learning Coalition Announces Infant & Preschool Teachers of the Year Award Winners

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., January 11, 2021 – Whether exceptional teachers are born or made is not the question. What matters is that by the time they make it into the classroom, they are filled with the necessary passion, drive, education and genuine love of teaching children that students need to succeed according to the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida.

 

This critical need for support of exceptional teachers is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) presents its winners of the fifth annual Preschool Teacher of the Year Award. The goal of the six-countywide preschool teacher recognition award is to acknowledge the creativity and hard work of those who teach children at the most fundamental time in their lives. 2020, particularly, provided its own set of extra challenges for preschool teachers. This year’s winners are honored for rising to challenges and exceeding expectations. 

 

“These are the kind of teachers that children will remember for the rest of their lives,” says Dawn Bell, ELC CEO. Bell is the leader of this 19-year-old nonprofit organization and ELC works with their partner, Episcopal Children’s Services, to assure their providers have coaches, funds and volunteers for their learning environments. 

 

A new category was added in 2020 to highlight the efforts of teachers taking care of infants and toddlers. 

 

“These teachers so often get overlooked, but the foundation they set in their classrooms sets the groundwork for a child’s successful learning career,“ said Bell.

 

 The ELC announces Emily Muserallo is its 2020 Infant/Toddler teacher of the year. Emily is currently a teacher at the St. John Paul II Early Learning Center in Ponte Vedra, Fla. 

 

“Emily is one of the best teachers I have ever worked with,” said St. John Paul II Early Learning Center Director Kristen Conway. The children are thriving in her room under her calm, warm, disciplined and loving way. Artwork lines the classroom and she has taught her children their shapes, colors, and numbers, but also good manners and kindness for each other.” 

 

The 2020 Pre-K Teacher of the Year Award working with children ages 3-5 is Kelly Yeager, a VPK teacher at Baker County Pre-K/Kindergarten Center in Macclenny, Fla. According to her peers, Kelly is committed to excellence in every aspect of her profession and is constantly assessing her students through observation, anecdotal notes, formal assessments and conversations. She has been described as the epitome of an amazing childhood educator and creates a positive classroom climate for all her students. 

 

Both winners were surprised in December with a prize patrol of flowers, candy, and balloons.  Emily and Kelly will be honored at the annual ELC Early Educators Conference being held January 16th at the Thrasher Horne Center in Orange Park. They will each receive a $500 cash prize from Kaplan Early Learning and Clay Electric, the 2020 Teacher of the Year sponsors. 

 Emily Muserallo accepting her 2020 Infant/Toddler teacher of the year award.

Link: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Emily_Muserello_Group_Picture.jpg 

 

Kelly Yeager accepting her 2020 Pre-K Teacher of the Year Award working with children ages 3-5 award.

Link: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Kelly_Yeager_Group_Photo_2.jpg 

Emily Muserallo holding her 2020 Infant/Toddler teacher of the year award.

Link: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Picture_of_Emily_Muserello_alone_1-rotated.jpg 

 

The Early Learning Coalition is the leading voice in six counties for child care. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how we assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] Children Explore the World of the Ocean Through Palatka Daycare’s Early Literacy Program

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PALATKA, Fla., November 30, 2020 – The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s (ELC) outreach and volunteer team led an ocean-themed literacy program at Palatka’s Children’s World preschool on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. 

 

Their World of the Ocean literacy program introduces children to sea life while helping them improve vocabulary and engaging their imagination. Preschoolers learn facts about dozens of ocean creatures and find out what life is like living in a coral reef. The program begins with an interactive story followed by an age-appropriate activity. Story time shark ELC volunteer Jane Hafner helped children make their own ocean in a bottle, paint sea shell creatures and make colorful sand necklaces. At the event’s conclusion, each child received a free book about life in the ocean and the school received a resource bag of items to further teach the theme again in the future. 

 

This is one of several varieties of ongoing themed literacy programs that ELC leads in local preschools in the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau Putnam and St. Johns counties. 

 

“Promoting early literacy is a priority mission for us at the Early Learning Coalition,” said ELC’s Literacy Outreach Manager Joan Whitson. “Getting children excited about books and making sure that all children have them can make all the difference in their success in school all during their lives.”

 

Photo Download: 

https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/childrens-world-4-scaled.jpg

Photo Caption: Early Learning Coalition volunteers Jane Hafner and Carol White read the book “Mr. Seahorse” by Eric Carle to children at Children’s World in Palatka, Fla., Wednesday November 18, 2020. 

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida is the leading voice in six counties for child care and parents with children from birth through 5 years. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, or to learn how to be a literacy volunteer, please visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Sponsorship by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

[NEWS RELEASE] Simultaneous Reading Event Held for More Than 6250 Children in Local Counties

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., November 9, 2020 – Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) joined readers across the country on Thursday, October 29 to celebrate Read for the Record, America’s largest shared reading experience.

Each year schools and child care centers participate in trying to break the world record of reading the same book on the same day to the most kids. Read for the Record is celebrating its 8th year and is sponsored by Jumpstart.org. The ELC of North Florida participates in this literacy event each year. 

Locally, ELC provided a free copy of the the official campaign book “Bear Sees Colors” by Karma Wilson and an activity packet to all of six county preschool providers in Clay, Nassau, Bradford, Baker, Putnam and St. Johns counties. The book was read at schools, libraries and countless special events from coast to coast. Eighty-two providers participated for a total of 6,257 children participating in all local counties.

In St. Johns County the ELC also partnered with the United Way of St. Johns who provided special guest readers to local preschools. Officers from the St. Augustine police department and volunteers from the Flagler College sorority Phi Alpha Omega were among the guest readers.

Launched in 2006, the campaign brings together millions of people to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record for reading the same book on the same day.

Many schools followed their reading of the book, “Bear Sees Colors”, with a variety of color themed learning activities. The book is about a bear that goes for a walk with his friend Mouse and sees so many colors along the way. It encourages children to go on their own colors hunt and is the perfect book to teach young children about colors.

“The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida is delighted to be a reading partner for this year’s Read for the Record Day,” said Joan Whitson, ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager. “Early literacy is so crucial in a child’s development and future learning success. We are on a mission to help children in our counties enter school prepared to succeed.” 

The Early Learning Coalition is the leading voice in six counties for child care. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

All Counties: Clay, Bradford, Baker, Putnam, St. Johns and Duval Counties:

 

Photo Download: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/clay_county_fun_little_years.jpg

Photo Caption: Children from Fun Little Years in Clay County, Florida being read “Bear Sees Colors” by Karma Wilson participating in Read for the Record Day, Thursday October 29, 2020. 

 

St. Johns County Specific:  

Photo Downloads: 

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Photo Caption: Officer Caroline Drouin of the St. Augustine City Police Department reading to the children at Island Prep West in St. Augustine, Florida the book “Bear Sees Colors” by Karma Wilson as they participate in Read for the Record Day, Thursday October 29, 2020. 

 

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Photo Caption: Children from Village Academy North in St. Augustine, Florida proudly showing off their artwork to represent the book “Bear Sees Colors” by Karma Wilson for Read for the Record Day Thursday, October 29, 2020.

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North FloridaSponsorship by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

[NEWS RELEASE] ELC of North Florida Announces Book Video Contest Winner

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ELC of North Florida Announces Book Video Contest Winner

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Early Learning Coalition book video contest winner Treasure Harbor Preschool in St. Augustine, Florida with video creators Chase Glisson, Elissa Glisson and Danni Clay on August 7, 2020.

 

Image/Caption:

Early Learning Coalition book video contest winner Treasure Harbor Preschool in St. Augustine, Florida with video creators Chase Glisson, Elissa Glisson and Danni Clay on August 7, 2020. 

ELC of North Florida Announces Book Video Contest Winner

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., August 19, 2020 – During the month of July, the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida held a children’s book video contest. Child care centers and preschools were invited to create their own videos acting out or reading a children’s book. The winning school would receive a free iPad and their video would be featured on the ELC YouTube page and shared at their annual early educators conference in January 2021.

The winner of the video contest was Treasure Harbor Preschool in St. Augustine. They took the contest to a new level and created a video using a unique method called stop motion. 

Danni Clay, the director at Treasure Harbor, described the process.

 “They took a picture every time they moved any prop,” said Danni. “Even a centimeter. So, for example, 8 pictures are in one second. The video is about 720 pictures long (1:30). She said they got their own background and gathered their props and moved every prop and took every picture themselves.” 

The video was edited in Adobe Premier. The video is the book “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss and can be viewed on the ELC of North Florida YouTube page here: https://youtu.be/GA1fTxiJR2Q 

“We were very impressed with the creativity of this video and its ingenuity,” said Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager for the ELC of North Florida. On Friday, August 7th, the school was visited with a prize patrol to receive their prize.  

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s website and facebook page has up-to-date resources for providers and parents in addition to their child care services, school readiness services and VPK programs. Please visit online at www.elcnorthflorida.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elcnorthflorida.

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) supports potential and current providers through Episcopal Children’s Services, the ELC’s contracted primary service provider. Episcopal Children’s Services is available to offer information about starting a new child care business (including directing to DCF for licensing) and enhancing your program. Episcopal Children’s Services is eager to assist providers with Contracting with the Coalition and with questions about the VPK and School Readiness programs. Contact ECS at 904-726-1500, extension 7054.

 

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[NEWS RELEASE] Florida Governor Deems Child Care as an Essential Business

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State of Child Care Services in North Florida During the Coronavirus

Ms. Christina educates at Brighton Day Academy preschool in St. Augustine on Thursday, April 3, 2020, one of the child care centers in North Florida willing to be open to serve essential workers during the coronavirus. www.elcnorthflorida.org #ELCsTakeAction #Covid19UnsungHeroes

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 4, 2020 – Despite stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus crisis, essential personnel with children still have a need for high-quality and accessible child care. To aid workers, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has deemed child care an essential business. Child care centers are currently operating at only half-capacity in North Florida counties; however, parents can be matched for immediate openings at willing centers through a centralized resource hotline.

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) gives support to parents of children ages birth to five years by managing the Child Care Resource and Referral Network (CCRR), Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) and School Readiness programs in the counties of St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, Putnam, Baker and Bradford. Parents can call ELC’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network to be matched to child care services at 1-800-238-3463 ext. 7702. 

 

Because of the support of early childhood educators willing to ensure that both the safety of their children and the needs of the community are met, those in medicine, first responders and grocery store workers are able to report to duty during this crisis. It may also take the burden of child care off aging grandparents, who may be at higher risk for the coronavirus.

 

ELC, along with the Office for Early Learning in Florida, are suggesting that providers do what they can to stay open for those who need care. Help is available for them as well as parents. 

 

Continuing the child care system enables parents to work and earn money to support their families, a critical component of economic stability and growth, as well as helping children to meet developmental milestones, according to ELC.

 

What Kind of Child Care Help Is Available for Parents?

 

The Child Care Resource and Referral Network (CCRR) has been in place to help families find care that is easily accessible, educational, safe and affordable. Additionally, ELC’s managed School Readiness programs allow families who meet certain income requirements to enroll their children in daycare. Parents pay a co-payment based on a sliding fee scale and developmental screenings are conducted by ELC. 

 

 “We work with our primary service provider, Episcopal Children’s Services, to offer resources for parents who need to find quality and affordable child care through our hotlines,” said CEO of ELC North Florida Dawn Bell. “We are monitoring things very closely and will continue to offer our services as is our mission to help children and families.” 

 

Parents can call the Child Care Resource and Referral Network at 1-800-238-3463 ext. 7702 or email ccrrhotline@ecs4kids.org 

 

More information can be found on the homepage of The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s website www.elcnorthflorida.org

 

Pertinent Information Regarding Child Care in North Florida During COVID-19

 

What Centers are Now Open? 

 

Episcopal Children’s Services (ECS) keeps a current list of all centers, their capacity, and the ability to take in new families through actively surveying centers. According to ECS’ Chief of Programs and Administration Teresa Matheny, when parents call, they will be able to find placement within counties for services. 

 

“Our child care centers have really embraced our request to be available for parents,” said Matheny.

 

“Some of the centers cannot operate at full capacity due to CDC guidelines. Centers are limiting their ratio of providers to children per room, and at the same time, many have parents now staying at home so spots are opening up,” said Matheny. “Our centers are following protocols for safety to minimize risks as much as possible. I would strongly recommend parents call us.” 

 

First responders have been able to find child care so far in ELC North Florida’s counties, but there are some shortages in counties like Bradford, according to Matheny. Also, some centers like Brighton Day Academy preschool would be willing to keep their day care open for night-shift workers 24/7 if needed. 

 

““We are taking every precaution for safety during these times.  No parents are allowed past the lobby and we take each child and staff member’s temperature before they are allowed back into the classroom area,” said Tracy Roberts,  Director at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine. “We are open to business and still enrolling. We have fewer children enrolled right now but are working hard to keep all of our staff on the payroll.  Our priority is and has always been to the safety and well being of the children in our care.”

 

What Are Child Care Centers Doing Now to Be Safe?

 

Providers are taking guidance from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to determine how to operate. Guidelines from FDOH can be found here: http://floridahealthcovid19.gov/schools

 

They also received the following guidelines to adhere to from the Department of Children and Families, Office of Child Care Regulation. 

 

These include: 

  • Require pickup and drop-off in the lobby/entry way of the operation, unless it’s determined there is a legitimate need for the parent to enter an operation. For example, meet the parent at the pickup area and escort the child to the parent.
  • Prohibit any person except the following from accessing an operation: operation staff; persons with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, Child Care Licensing staff, and Department of Children and Families protective services staff; professionals providing services to children; children enrolled at the operation; and parents or legal guardians who have children enrolled and present at the operation.
  • Limiting students and employees to no more than 10 people in a single occupied space, therefore breaking students into groups as necessary, maintaining social distancing best practices for proper hygiene.
  • Ensuring students get individual meals and snacks; not family style. 
  • Any person that is allowed to enter must be screened for fever, cough, respiratory symptoms and he/she should not have traveled outside the country in 14 days or have been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person. 

 

What Crisis Support is Provided to Parents Needing Child Care? 

 

The parent fee is being waived for those who are part of the School Readiness subsidized child care program that ELC North Florida manages. The Office of Early Learning will pay the entire cost of that fee. This also means parents will not have to come up with that portion right now and their providers will still be paid. 

Additionally: 

  • VPK programs are still being fully funded and supported although not all programs remain open.
  • ALL terminations of School Readiness eligibility are suspended.
  • Timelines required for ALL redeterminations of School Readiness eligibility are extended.
  • Required documentation for School Readiness child absences are waived.

 

What Is Being Done to Help Child Care and VPK Centers to Stay Afloat? 

 

The Office of Early Learning (OEL), in addition to waiving the parent fee, will continue to pay centers per child enrolled before the crisis for those who are part of the subsidized school readiness program and VPK while providers are open.

 

Additionally, they are: 

  • Reimbursing School Readiness and VPK providers during temporary closures related to the COVID-19 virus emergency.
  • Cancelling remaining child screenings and assessments for both School Readiness and VPK.
  • Extending timelines for provider improvement plans and reports.
  • Waiving accountability implications of the fall 2020 kindergarten screening for VPK providers – which means that 2019-20 VPK readiness rates will not be calculated.
  • Canceling remaining School Readiness program assessments.

 

While OEL’s plan doesn’t help centers whose parents pay the centers directly, there is also some other government relief for small business owners as of mid-March which may be applicable to many child care centers . 

 

Governor Ron DeSantis put into action the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses. According to the guidelines, These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.https://floridadisasterloan.org

 

Additionally, providers can participate in the Paycheck Protection Program which allows a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer to receive loans. A document from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business answers questions regarding how to apply for the new emergency loans; eligibility; terms and guidelines available to small businesses under the CARES Act signed into law by President Trump on Friday, March 27, 2020 Visit this link to learn more: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Paycheck-Protection-Program-FAQs-for-Small-Businesses.pdf

 

Child Care Centers can apply for both the Emergency Bridge Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program at the same time.  

 

What Should Parents Do Right Now? 

Still wondering what to do as a parent? You’re not alone. 

 

As a word of encouragement to parents discerning the choice to put their child in care, Matheny offers, “As a parent this is a tough time and what is the right thing to do. Know we care about your children and follow best practices but always trust your gut when it comes to your child. You are doing the right thing.” 

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s website and facebook page has up-to-date resources for providers and parents in addition to their child care services, school readiness services and VPK programs. Please visit online at www.elcnorthflorida.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elcnorthflorida.

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) supports potential and current providers through Episcopal Children’s Services, the ELC’s contracted primary service provider. Episcopal Children’s Services is available to offer information about starting a new child care business (including directing to DCF for licensing) and enhancing your program. Episcopal Children’s Services is eager to assist providers with Contracting with the Coalition and with questions about the VPK and School Readiness programs. Contact ECS at 904-726-1500, extension 7054.

 

www.elcnorthflorida.org #ELCsTakeAction #Covid19UnsungHeroes

 

Contact: Dawn Bell, CEO, Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Email: dbell@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: (904) 342-2267 ext. 204 (office); (904) 377-5248 (cell)

Image/Caption: Ms. Christina educates preschoolers at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine on Thursday, April 3, 2020. Brighton Day Academy is one of the child care centers willing to be open to serve essential workers during the coronavirus in North Florida. www.elcnorthflorida.org #ELCsTakeAction #Covid19UnsungHeroes

Photo Link: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Ms-Christina-Brighton-Day-Care-St-Aug-scaled.jpg

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Governor DeSantis Announces Florida’s New B.E.S.T. K-12 Standards

Posted by

For Immediate Release

January 24, 2020

Governor DeSantis Announces Florida’s New B.E.S.T. K-12 Standards

Naples, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced that the Florida Department of Education has completed the review of Florida’s K-12 academic standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics and made recommendations for revisions. The proposed Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards will provide the foundation for teaching and learning and will be unveiled before February.

“When I took office, I made a pledge to the citizens of Florida to overhaul our educational standards to remove all vestiges of Common Core and return to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Governor DeSantis.

“I am pleased that this historic task has been completed and we are well on our way to making Florida the best state in the nation for education. My deepest thanks to Commissioner Corcoran and Department of Education staff, Florida teachers, parents, subject matter experts and stakeholders for their participation in this transparent, in-depth and comprehensive process.”

“Governor DeSantis has proven once again that he is the Education Governor,” said Commissioner Corcoran. “Under his bold leadership, these new standards represent the highest quality knowledge-based standards in the nation. They not only incorporate civics throughout every grade, a first of their kind in the nation, ensuring that our students are well versed in the United States Constitution and the responsibilities of citizenship, they also provide educators with clear and concise standards. I am confident our students will thrive academically and be well prepared for success.”

On January 31, 2019, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-32, outlining a path for Florida to improve its education system by eliminating Common Core and paving the way for Florida students to receive a world-class education to prepare them for jobs of the future.

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