April 2015

Tara Laxer
April 30, 2015


Children’s Week in Palm Beach County!


The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County, the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, the School District of Palm Beach County, and the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County came together with the City of Boca Raton’s Mayor Susan Haynie, Deputy Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth, and City Commissioner Scott Singer at the Florence Fuller Child Development Center to celebrate Children’s Week and to stress the importance of early learning.


The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County’s External Affairs Manager, Tara Laxer, spoke of the annual celebration of Children’s Week in Tallahassee and the great work that is being accomplished locally with leading agencies, who truly work together to streamline services. Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County spoke about the importance of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children, ensuring proper access to healthcare, and providing valuable tools in order to prevent abuse and neglect. Dr. Williams-Taylor explained how addressing these issues early-on will provide a long-term workforce and a flourished economy. Ms. M.J. Steele, Director of Early Childhood Education at the School District of Palm Beach County, was also in attendance and discussed the need to utilize evidence-based information acquired through long-term studies that emphasize the tremendous need to invest in the first five years of life. Also at the event was Ms. Kristen Calder, Chief Executive Officer at the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. The Literacy Coalition has worked with the Florence Fuller Child Development Center as part of their Budding Readers program, which matches three year-old children at child care centers with a reading partner for a weekly one-on-one interactive reading session.


“Florence Fuller Child Development Centers is honored to be the site chosen to kick off Children’s Week. We are very proud to be a part of the solution as we know that investing in early learning sets the stage for a lifetime of success, not only for the child but for the entire community. This investment is the best investment that one can make,” said Ms. Ellyn Okrent, LCSW, Chief Executive Officer at Florence Fuller Child Development Center in Boca Raton, FL.








*Thank you to Ms. Deborah Sutton, Director of Florence Fuller Child Development Center







M.J. Steele, Director of Early Childhood Education from the School District of  Palm Beach County

Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

Kristen Calder, CEO of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County

Mayor Susan Haynie, City of Boca Raton

Deputy Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth, City of Boca Raton

Palm Beach County City Commissioner Scott Singer

Tara Laxer, External Affairs Manager from the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County




All the collaborating agencies were so pleased to see many of our local mayors echo the words of mission of Children’s Week by visiting local child care centers for a tour, reading one-on-one to the children and stressing the need to invest in our youngest learners.


Mayor Margolis of Wellington read “The Giving Tree” by Sheldon Silverstein at The Mattisyn School



*Thank you to Karin Carucci and staff!









Mayor Jablin of Palm Beach Gardens read “The Earth Book” written by Todd Parr at Peter Pan Preschool

Thank you Kimberly Hill and staff!













Mayor Cary Glickstein of Delray Beach at Achievement Center of Children and Families

Thank you to Stephanie Siebel and staff!






The Coalition was pleased to have Mr. Daniel Martell, President and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Inc. tour two of our local child care centers. As part of the Council’s initiative to invest in early education, the Florida Chamber Foundation has enlisted leaders across the state to push the need for high-quality early childhood education through their Business Alliance.


If you would like to learn more about the program, take a look at the following link: http://www.flchamber.com/business-alliance-early-learning/










As you may know, The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County is very excited about the rare window of opportunity to improve child care for our children and families throughout Palm Beach County.


We know early childhood is an important time in every child’s life. Experiences during the 1st five years of a child’s life provide the foundation for future success in school and chart a course for future success.


Our vision is to ensure every child in Palm Beach County is ready to succeed in school and life.  With our partners, we will build a community wide commitment for comprehensive, high quality early learning environments that benefits the children and families in Palm Beach County. We work with over 800 providers in the county through our public school district and individual providers to oversee the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten, School Readiness and Children Services Council’s Scholarships. Last year alone, we served over 33,000 individuals.


As of July 1, 2015 the Coalition will implement a quality customer care service delivery model for all your child care needs. In order to streamline services, the Coalition will now also handle all your Child Care Resource and Referral, Eligibility and Payments in addition to our other services. With our blended trained staff, call center and 21st century technology in a child friendly learning environment, our families will be able to access all their early child care resources. Together, we will work to ensure our children of Palm Beach County will be “Ready for school, Ready for life!”




*Please take a moment to listen to an interview by Warren Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer at the Coalition, which he discusses ELCPBC’s important work in the community and the upcoming transition.


If you would like to find out more information, please call 561-214-7425





This month, ELCPBC staff continued to work with our child care providers regarding our transition through the coordination of our Provider Focus Groups and regular provider meetings. As a follow-up to these focus groups, we have compiled a list of ‘FAQs’ (Frequently Asked Questions) for our providers to reference. These questions and other useful information can be found on our website under the Provider section. They will be updated frequently.



Krystal Wallick, Program Assurance Manager and Ashely Stutevoss, Program Assurance Specialist and Trainer with  Mary and Carol, Technical Assistants at Lastinger Training Institute on 4/2/15.










What are the Providers saying about Early Learning Coalition of PBC trainings?




The Coalition hosted one of their many helpful trainings throughout the month of April. Here is some great feedback about the Challenging Behaviors training that was held in Spanish, presented by Lorca Acosta at the Family Central, Inc. office.


“I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I have two staff that attended your class last night and really enjoyed it. It was great to hear them talking to other staff and sharing how they really enjoyed the training. Thanks for making continuing education fun.”


-Mary Ellen Dolen, Director of All About Kids Learning Center







 “The GOLD Program”


In the last month, the Palm Beach County “GOLD Program” offered introductory training sessions for cohort 8 at the Children’s Services Council building in Boynton Beach. This important initial training has been developed by the Coalition’s Assessment team to respond to challenges faced by new users of the  Teaching Strategies® GOLD online assessment system, and help teachers successfully enter documentation of the child-in-action. The participating teachers and site leaders in Cohort 8 are now entering child-level data that will support them to know what the children in their 0-5 classrooms are able to do and understand. This will surely benefit the children and families in the long run.


We also welcomed a special group of Family Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers into the 9th cohort of the PBC GOLD Program, which will be made up of all of our new Early Head Start participating sites. As quickly as they enrolled in our EHS program, these sites were invited into the next group to be trained and entered into GOLD. With this 9th cohort, we now have 94 child care sites that are actively participating in Palm Beach County, with over 4,000 active child portfolios in the Palm Beach County GOLD program.











We are really excited about the Early Head Start (EHS) child care partnership grant that the Coalition is currently implementing. As you may recall, the Early Head Start program is for children from birth through age 3. Last year, the Coalition, with several of our community partners, applied for a federal grant to serve an additional 150 children throughout the highest need areas of the county. Ms. Erin Gallagher, Director of the Early Head Start Partnership grant, and her team have contracted with 12 providers in the areas of Belle Glade, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, and West Palm Beach. Of the 150 spots, already 118 have been filled. The EHS team has been coordinating the participating providers to help them complete the Ages and Stages questionnaires (ASQ’s) for these children and possibly to enroll in the Strong Minds program.


What is an ASQ? This is the developmental screening tool currently completed by parents. It helps to give a clear picture of developmental norms at specific age intervals.

What is Strong Minds? Strong Minds is a local, voluntary, quality rating improvement system that promotes high-quality in early care and education programs.



Strong Minds focuses on:

·         improving children’s learning and development

·         improving adult-child interactions

·         increasing family engagement in children’s learning and development


To learn more about Children’s Services Council programs look here: http://providers.cscpbc.org/bequality!







Early Childhood Education Is Critical for our Own Kids' Future -- and the Nation's

Huffington Post


By Kris Perry

With so much discussion and debate going on about how to improve our nation's schools, we must also be thinking of smart, proven ways to invest in children's development that are more than just corrective steps. And nowhere can we make a smarter investment than in the earliest years - birth to age 5, before children enter the K-12 system - so that children are primed and ready to succeed the moment they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Parents, business leaders and elected officials are galvanizing around the notion that investments in high-quality early childhood education are a proven means of setting children on the right academic and developmental path, and also a smart financial investment.

Parents of infants and toddlers know just how critical those formative years are. The fact of the matter is that children are born learning and their brains develop at an enormous rate in the first few years of life. This is the time when they learn and develop the early cognitive and social skills that set the foundation for later success in school, career and life. As a parent, I still remember when my children were in this stage - and the extraordinary amount of time and energy I spent trying to keep up with their incredible learning curves and helping them get ahead.

The latest research backs up what we parents witness firsthand. By age 3, a young child's brain has produced hundreds of trillions of connections among neurons, or 700 new connections every second. By age 5, nearly 90 percent of brain development has occurred - motor skills, learning, analyzing, vocabulary, speech and other positive developmental strides - all of this made possible by exponentially growing connections. A child only reaches this critical development stage once in their lifetime - and it is imperative that parents and programs are in place to nurture this important period of cognitive and social growth.

The rapid development during this time period is one of many reasons why positive, high-quality early childhood education experiences are so critical. These connections made in the brain are catalyzed through human connections - daily, repeated, positive experiences that parents and caregivers have with infants and toddlers - at home, in child care, at preschool and elsewhere. The positive relationships that early childhood professionals and parents have with our infants and toddlers lay the foundation for all learning that follows, with each learned skill leading to a new one.

With all of this in mind, parents may ask, "What can I do to ensure my child is reaching their milestones?" Here's a short list of simple activities that will have a profound impact on your infant or toddler's development, as well as some age-specific resources to help your baby thrive, including:

·         Take the time to read, talk, play and sing with your child every day. Even the smallest interactions, especially before your child can talk back, help brain growth.

·         Respond to your baby's gestures and sounds by talking and cooing back, and picking your baby up when he or she lifts his or her arms.

·         Build language skills by asking questions and exploring answers together.

·         Use daily activities and routines to build vocabulary.


At the First Five Years Fund, we understand that parents can't do it alone. That's why we're working to increase federal investments in early childhood education so that all children can grow up healthy and ready to succeed. This is especially important as many parents are forced to work more for lower wages, while even the most basic child care costs go up. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that middle-income families now pay 18 percent of their budgets on child care and education - more than we pay for health care and food, and second only to housing costs. And Child Care Aware of America has shown that center-based child care costs for an infant are higher than in-state college tuition in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Parents shouldn't have to miss out on earning an income to support their families, just because the only alternative is putting their child in a subpar and even unsafe daycare situation.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan momentum in Congress to help expand and improve the good work states are doing through early childhood programs. Investing in a continuum of programs - starting at, or before birth - is a proven means of preventing developmental disparities long before they even start. This boosts school achievement and creates better health and economic outcomes not just for children and their families, but for all Americans.

Parents are sending the message to their members of Congress and state leaders that investing in affordable, high-quality early education and child care makes much more sense, both economically and developmentally, than spending greater amounts later on efforts to address problems in the latter stages of a child's development. And policymakers across the country - Democrats and Republicans alike - are beginning to heed the call. States like Mississippi and Alabama, Michigan and New York, are all making new or increased investments in early childhood programs. But we know that this is just a start. For the sake of hardworking parents everywhere and the future of our entire nation, now is the time to take definitive steps toward ensuring that a continuum of high-quality programs - from birth to age 5 - are available to every child in need across the country.









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Parents: (561) 514-3300

Providers/Administrative: (561) 214-8000
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Accessibility Statement

Special Notice: If you require Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations to participate in any ELCPBC event or activity, please notify Christie Young, Single Point of Contact, by phone at 561-214-7424 or by email at christie.young@elcpalmbeach.org within at least seven (7) days of the event.  Accommodations will be provided at no extra charge.