Archive for parenting

Math & Stem Resources Available for Parents

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The Division of Early Learning has shared their Math & Stem Resources for Parents. Enjoy!

Click here to download Math & Stem Resources from the State of Florida’s Division of Early Learning.

Download (PDF, 486KB)

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

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. #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 [email protected] 


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


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:


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 Division 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. 


  • 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 Division 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.


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:


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 or on Facebook at


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. #ELCsTakeAction #Covid19UnsungHeroes


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

Email: [email protected]  

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. #ELCsTakeAction #Covid19UnsungHeroes

Photo Link:



Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

PARENTS’ PAGES – January 2020

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The January issue of Parents’ Pages, a newsletter for families, is available on OEL’s website and below as an insert/attachment.


Topics in this issue:

  • Children’s Week Celebrate Literacy Week
  • Florida Celebrate Literacy in Your Home
  • Vision Screening for Children
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Download here:

Download (PDF, 14.16MB)


PARENTS’ PAGES – Winter 2019

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The December issue of Parents’ Pages, a newsletter for families, is available on OEL’s website and below as an insert/attachment. 

December is Family Safe Toys and Gifts Month

You can learn about toy safety and find which toys are best for infants, toddlers and
preschoolers in the December Parents’ Pages.

Read this issue to learn the importance of:
ꟷ Hand washing
ꟷ Immunizations
ꟷ The gift of time
ꟷ The 2020 Census
Learn more about scholarships that are available for young children and an organization that
builds beds for children that need a bed of their own. Find some fabulous resources to support
your preschooler’s learning at home.

Download here:

Download (PDF, 9.72MB)


Family Engagement Month is November – Activities for Your Family

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November is Family Engagement Month

Join us as we celebrate families and encourage families to be engaged in their child’s learning, development and well-being.

Did you know that family engagement is important because it supports children’s school readiness and promotes children’s school success by increasing motivation? It also reduces behavioral problems and improves the social-emotional development of children. Family engagement also fosters skills in young children such as impulse control, attention, memory and planning skills.

Celebrating Families

Throughout the month of November, we want to celebrate Florida’s families. Be sure to use #EngagedFamiliesFL when posting on social media. The Division of Early Learning will be sharing #EngagedFamiliesFL tagged posts on our social media throughout the month. You can follow along using #EngagedFamiliesFL on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Family Engagement Materials

Vroom Week

November 18-22

A child’s brain grows the fastest from birth through age 5! Helping them learn now gets them ready for school, friends and life.

Parents, the time you spend with your child helps their brain grow strong. Even a few minutes count! Learn how to turn every day moments into brain building moments with Vroom. You already have what it takes!

Vroom Week Flyer

Download (PDF, 580KB)

Helping Hands Newsletter – July Edition

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Enjoy the Helping Hands Newsletter for July! Look for local updates and fun family ideas for the summer. Please note, the correct date for the Early Educators Conference is Saturday, January 18th, 2020.


Download here.


Download (PDF, 1.43MB)

January Parents’ Pages Now Online!

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Division of Early Learning Parents’ Pages features articles this month about having a new baby, flu prevention, play at school and literacy celebrations… Read this month’s issue, full of great information that you can use, brought to you by the Division of Early Learning. Click here to read the full issue. 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[Press Release] Free Family Concert Featuring Jack Hartmann

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PALATKA, Fla., September 12, 2012 — The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) is sponsoring a free community concert on Saturday, September 22, 2012. The concert will feature children’s singer Jack Hartmann, with special guest Elmo from Sesame Street.

Hartmann has written and recorded more than 700 educational children’s songs as well as a children’s book titled “Over the Ocean.” More recently, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, University of Florida.

The concert, geared for families with children aged two through eight, will be held at Beasley Middle School auditorium at 2 p.m. Each family will also receive a complimentary Jack Hartmann CD. Associates of the ELC will be present at the event and encourage families to donate any new or slightly used pre-school age-appropriate books to benefit less privileged children.

Beasley Middle school is located at 1100 South 18th Street, Palatka, Fla.

For more information, contact Joan Whitson at [email protected] or call 904-819-3544. To learn more about Jack Hartmann, please visit To download concert information as a flyer, click here: Hartmann_Concert_Flyer

To download high-resolution photos of Jack Hartmann, click here or here.



Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator


[email protected]



Children’s Activity: Thanksgiving Placemat Craft

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When it’s time for dinner, your preschooler will be excited to share his or her artwork in the form of decorative placemats. Making Thanksgiving placemats is a great way for your child to express creativity. Dinner guests love these homemade placemats, and they can even do double duty as party favors.

Things You’ll Need
·         Large pieces of construction paper in fall colors

·         Clear contact paper

·         Non-toxic craft glue, markers, scissors, crayons, and glitter

·         Cut-out Thanksgiving shapes or stickers

What to Do
1.    Give your preschooler a large piece of construction paper and lay out the art supplies within easy reach. Have your child choose which guest will receive this placemat, and talk together about why you feel thankful for that person.

2.    Now that your child has some great inspiration, help him or her decorate the construction paper to make a personalized placemat for each guest. Write a special message from your child on a corner of the placemat. Don’t forget to date the artwork.

3.    When the glue is dry, you can laminate the placemat to keep it clean. Simply place it face down on a piece of clear contact paper. Place another piece of contact paper over the back, and then trim the edges to make them even.

If you make this, please share your creations at

Check Out Our Winter Newsletter!

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The Winter Newsletter is Hot Off The Press!

Hello Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library family and friends! Our winter newsletter is out and ready to be viewed by YOU. In this issue, you can find information on our upcoming Toddler Fests and other exciting winter events. Also, you can learn about what to read to keep your little ones calm at bedtime, how to share your family album to your children as a story, how to contribute to our books for bravery program and much much more!

You can go straight to the newsletter by CLICKING HERE or sign up for the emailed version HERE. Enter your name right under the Free Books For Babies logo on the left side of the page.By signing up for the email you receive our newsletter straight to your inbox every time it’s published. This way you are the  first to get all the latest and greatest reading tips and ideas, sign up today!

Happy Reading!