Archive for preschool

Preschool Teacher of the Year Nominations Now Open

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If you are interested in nominating a preschool teacher of the year in our counties, please use the following form:

Teacher of the Year Nomination Form

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

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

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[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

[APRIL 3 WEBINAR] States’ Response to COVID-19 and Child Care – Part 1

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Child Care Aware® of America is hosting two upcoming webinars this week to help you understand the latest developments in funding and response efforts across the nation.

Join our new webinar series focusing on how states are responding to coronavirus

Friday, April 3, 2:15-3:15 p.m. EDT

In this first part of this webinar series, we are looking at how Vermont and Minnesota are responding to the coronavirus pandemic — specifically, what decisions they’re making about child care. We’ll look at their response around emergency care, supporting families with critical child care decisions, child care subsidies and supporting providers to care for essential workers’ children. You’ll hear from Aly Richards, CEO of Let’s Grow Kids and Ann McCully, Executive Director at Child Care Aware of Minnesota.

[Join the Webinar]

 

[APRIL 2 WEBINAR] Learn How to Sustain Your Child Care Program During COVID-19

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Child Care Aware® of America is hosting two upcoming webinars this week to help you understand the latest developments in funding and response efforts across the nation.

Learn How to Sustain Your Child Care Program During COVID-19

Thursday, April 2, 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT

Last Friday, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes dedicated child care funding within its $2 trillion stimulus package. Child care providers will learn what this funding means for them and hear an overview of the various business supports that are currently available to help sustain their child care business during this pandemic.

[Join the Webinar]

 

Attention Providers: How to Apply for Emergency Loans for Small Businesses

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Attention Providers: How to Apply for Emergency Loans for Small Businesses

Please review the attached FAQs from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business for answers to many of the questions you might have 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.

Paycheck Protection for Small Businesses

Download (PDF, 65KB)

The Cat in the Hat Visits the Ravine Gardens for Early Literacy

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PRESS RELEASE

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

ELC of North Florida volunteers Sara Tavender and Erika Bauserman along with the Cat in the Hat reading and having fun with the Dr. Seuss book “Ten Apples Up on Top” at Ravine Gardens.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla., March 20, 2020 – He’s back! The Cat in the Hat made a special visit to Ravine Gardens for a literacy event put on by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida on Friday, March 13th. Called “Dr. Suess at the Ravines”, the event had a special story time program featuring the Cat in the Hat followed by an activity time that featured activities centered around different Dr. Suess books. Some of the activities included playing with Grinch slime, making Fox in Sox puppets, Cat in the Hat cup stacking, a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish playdough table and more. 

This event was in celebration of literacy week, which is always the first part of March in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. This event was put on for local Putnam County preschools and more than 110 children and adults were in attendance. Each child received a FREE Dr. Seuss book and each school received a bag of Dr. Seuss themed books and materials for their classroom. 

“One of the biggest missions of the ELC of North Florida is to provide quality literacy programming to the many child care providers that we serve” says Joan Whitson, ELCNF Outreach Manager. 

The ELC would like to thank the 13-plus volunteers that showed up to help put on this event. ELC outreach volunteers assist with different themed literacy programs all year long and many of them read regularly in a local preschool. For more information about volunteering with the ELC of North Florida, please contact Joan Whitson at jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

The Cat in the Hat Tours North Florida for Early Literacy

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PRESS RELEASE

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

Kiwanis of St. Augustine members, Mary DeRose, Rita Scott, Joelyn Look (AKA “The Cat in the Hat”) and Mary Warren volunteering with the Early Learning Coalition of N. Florida to put on a Dr. Seuss program at Brandts Child Care in St. Augustine.

CLAY AND ST. JOHNS COUNTIES, Fla., March 20, 2020 – The Cat in the Hat is on the loose in North Florida during the month of March! In celebration of Dr. Suess’ birthday Thursday, March 12th, the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) held a drawing at its annual early educators conference in January for child care centers and preschools to receive a Dr. Suess 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 fun activities relating to Dr. Seuss books. Each child in attendance received a FREE copy of the book “Ten Apples Up on Top” and the teachers received a resource bag filled with a set of eight Dr. Seuss books and other related teaching materials.

Congratulations to this year’s winners: O2b Kids and Brandts Child Care in St. Augustine, First Class Learning Center and Orange Park Kindergarten in Orange Park, and River Preschool in Fleming Island.  

“Promoting early literacy is a priority mission for us at the Early Learning Coalition” says Joan Whitson, ELCNF 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.” 

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 4 year olds). Please visit www.elcnorthflorida.org for more information.

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

St. Augustine Record: Teacher of the Year

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Thanks to the St. Augustine Record for announcing our Preschool Teacher of the Year! Read more here: https://www.staugustine.com/news/20200127/education-notebook-brighton-day-academy-teacher-crowned-preschool-teacher-of-year

ELC of North Florida Announces 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year

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PRESS RELEASE

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

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s representatives stand with 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year winner Teresa Forbes at the Early Educators Conference Saturday, January 18, 2020. Left to Right: Aubrie Simpson, Fostering Connections St. Johns; Teresa Forbes, Brighton Day Academy, St. Augustine; Tony Boloutchi, Kaplan Early Learning Co., and Joan Whitson, Early Learning Coalition of North Florida.

Mascot Elsie and representatives from the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida surprises 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year Teresa Forbes, Brighton Day Academy, St. Augustine (left of mascot) with prizes last December. She was officially honored at the Early Educators Conference Saturday January 18, 2020.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., January 28, 2020 –  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.

This critical need for exceptional teachers is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is proud to present its winner of the fifth annual Preschool Teacher of the Year Award to Teresa Forbes. Forbes is a VPK teacher at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine, Fla. 

The six-countywide preschool teacher recognition is to acknowledge the creativity and hard work of those who teach children at the most fundamental time in their lives. 

“These are the kind of teachers that children will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Dawn Bell, ELC CEO. Bell is the leader of the 21-year-old nonprofit organization and the North Florida organization works with their partner, Episcopal Children’s Services to assure providers have coaches, funds and often, volunteers for their learning environments.  

Forbes was honored by a surprise prize patrol in December with balloons and flowers. She was also recognized at the ELC of North Florida’s Early Educators Conference held on January 18, 2020 at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park. Forbes was awarded a $500 cash prize from Kaplan Early Learning, Inc., the 2019 Teacher of the Year Sponsor as well as a plaque in her honor. 

With a strong nomination from her peers, Forbes stood out among educators. 

“When I hear ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ I think of Teresa,” said Donald Sutton, owner of Crowned Heart Preschools [Brighton Day Academy]. “Teresa not only teaches all of the basic core education curriculum, she does it in a fun, loving and nurturing environment. Her students leave her room prepared for elementary school and life well beyond. Her students learn a love of reading, which will help them throughout their academic career and last a lifetime.”

“In addition, Teresa strongly models awesome social skills. Her students learn about respecting others, and sharing and communicating their feelings verbally. Teresa is always organized and ever-flexible with a teachable moment when they arise. She’s the first to come in early, stay late or volunteer to help on a Saturday.”

“Teresa has told me many times that this is her calling and what God put her on the earth to do. I couldn’t agree more,” Sutton said. 

“Teaching is a special calling, and ELC is excited to be able to recognize preschool teachers who represent the best in the six counties we serve,” Bell said. “There’s no better job than guiding children down a path of success. Great teachers like Teresa have an incredible impact on our future.” 

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.

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida