The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County initiated services in our community-based location in Belle Glade during the month of June and have continued services in our temporary location in West Palm Beach. Our second community-based location in Riviera Beach will be opening in August, as well as our newly renovated Suite 142 within the same West Palm Beach building. In order to provide access to services for our families in hard to reach areas of the county, the Coalition will also have roving staff members throughout the entire county utilizing locations with our early learning partners.
We would like to acknowledge Early Learning Coalition’s Christy Young, Chief Operating Officer and Aruna Gilbert, Vice President of Program Operations , for their great work in coordinating the transition. In addition, the Coalition would like to recognize Dr. Barbara Weinstein, Chief Executive Officer of Family Central, Inc., and Ms. Kim Praitano, Chief Operating Officer of Family Central, Inc. Both were instrumental in assisting us with a smooth transition throughout the process. Dr. Weinstein has impacted thousands of children’s lives over the years through her advocacy and service to children and families throughout southeast Florida. In honor of her positive impact on the community, the Coalition will be opening a Resource Library in the coming months which will be named: “Dr. Barbara Weinstein Lending Library,” in honor of her work. The library will have a variety of age-appropriate child care reading material, as well as learning tools and toys that can be checked out by our local child care providers. Stay tuned!
Where do I go?
Child Care Providers:
As of August 17, 2015 Openings!
Community Service Locations
West Palm Beach
Hours of Operation
8:00am-6:00pm (varies at each location)
Fridays by phone (CCR&R Services Only)
Hours of Operation
We will also have roving staff all throughout Palm Beach County!
Check out all the information on our updated website
Our leadership team has been working hard to implement the new high-quality customer service delivery system. With the leadership, of Ms. Aruna Gilbert - Vice President of Program Operations, Mr. Jose Abreu - Director of Data and Systems, Ms. Cornesha Dukes-Chisholm - Director of Family Services, Mr. Koffi Ahlijah - Family Services Manager, Ms. Tori Clarke-Spady - Family Services Manager, Ms Anna Sheffield, Family Services Manager and Mr. Jose Zayas - Family Services Manager, we are all here to assist families at a variety of community service locations. Together, we are here to ensure our children are “Ready for School and Ready for Life”.
Family Services Department
In the past month, we have seen significant efficiencies in serving our families in Palm Beach County. Our Family Services Department has been remarkable under the leadership of Ms. Cornesha Dukes-Chisholm, Director of Family Services. During the past 30 days, the Family Services team has assisted over 1,300 families on-site. In addition, our Customer Resource/Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) team has assisted 1,200 callers through our new Customer Resource/CCR&R Call Center.
With services available Monday through Thursday during the hours of 8:00am-6:00pm in Belle Glade and West Palm Beach (also in Riviera Beach soon), families can make an appointment to discuss their available child care options for their children with a Family Services team member. All services including VPK, School Readiness, Children’s Services Council (CSC) local Scholarship program, Early Head Start Partnership Grant program are discussed with our families within one appointment. All families are guaranteed to receive reliable and respectful customer service when meeting with any member of the Family Services department.
At each community-based location, our families will even have the ability to upload their documents at the local self-service kiosk on-site (with Family Services Specialists nearby to assist). There will be 2 kiosks at our Belle Glade location and 6 kiosks at both of our West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach locations.
Rachel Mondesir, Contracts and Compliance Manager has been assisting the department which will assist in conducting an internal audit on a monthly basis. We will be monitoring for accuracy on our own files. We will review our own practices are meeting the goals through Office of Early Learning, state law and local practices for quality child care services.
Customer Resource/Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Department
Our frontline for the Coalition has been unbelievable, the Customer Resource Center provides high-quality customer service to our families here in Palm Beach County. Ms. Wanda Figueroa-Rivera, Customer Resource Manager, and her Staff have made tremendous accomplishments by answering approximately 400 - 600 calls daily with a wait time under 2 minutes. In order to provide assurance for our staff to continue providing high-quality customer service, the Coalition has implemented a state of the art phone system: Shortel – supported by our IT team under the outstanding leadership by Mr. Luis Mena, Director of Information Technology. The new phone system allows for tracking of each and every call to ensure minimal wait time and analysis of calls received at the click of a button!
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the evidence of high-quality customer service through the outpouring of positive feedback from other Coalitions across the state:
“I spoke with Ms. Kerrica Savage, Customer Resource Specialist. She was not only helpful but incredibly pleasant. Once I identified myself and told her I was calling to see how your CCR&R responded, she assured me that the entire CCR&R team would be equally responsive and pleasant. I enjoyed the experience and my kudos to your CCR&R team,” said Mr. Dave McGerald, Chief Executive Officer at the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County.
The positive feedback is also coming from parents in Palm Beach County as well. Just last week a parent by the name of “Christine” called to thank our Child Care Resource and Referral team for their patience and assistance.
“I was so happy with the customer services that (the Coalition) provided. Never in my life did I receive such amazing customer service by any agency. I have worked myself in customer service and Mo went above and beyond to help me.” Mr. Mo Kesner is one of our Customer Resource Specialist in the Customer Resource/Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Department.
Early Head Start Department
We are so tremendously grateful for the great work we are able to accomplish with our Early Head Start partnership grant. With these vital dollars, the Coalition is able to provide high-quality Early Head Start programming to approximately 150 children ranging in age from birth to 3 years of age within four high need areas of Palm Beach County including Belle Glade, Pahokee, West Palm Beach, and Riviera Beach. Over the past several months, the Coalition’s EHS team has executed several aspects of the grant and we are eager to see the full impact of the program through the children and families of Palm Beach County.
Working within Palm Beach County’s system of care, EHS was able to begin developmental screening services within the first service month of the program. By building on the existing structure created by the Children’s Services Council, children receive an Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) at entry into the program and on their birthday and half birthday each year. Any child scoring with a concern can receive services from the system’s partner agencies. Additionally, all of our EHS providers have received refresher training on the ASQ to ensure fidelity to the tool.
In May, all EHS providers received technology (including laptops for their entire program), training and access to the ChildPlus Data System and Teaching Strategies Gold (TS-GOLD) online assessment tool. Both online systems have been embraced by the providers, bringing efficiency to their daily work and serving as a communication point between each provider and the EHS office.
Photo, Left to Right: Verlencia Singletary-Family Advocate, Yolimar Erazo-Family Advocate, Laurdes Hamilton-Health Services Specialist, Alexandria Lawson-Quality Assurance Specialist, Ruth Deras-Family Advocate, Tanika Redding-Young-Family Advocate, Akia Davis-Family and Community Manager and Erin Gallagher-Director of Early Head Start
The Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County (CSC) has also funded an extraordinary transportation program for the families participating in the EHS program. EHS staff can support families in need of transportation for EHS related appointment or events by offering taxi services or monthly bus passes, based on family need.
Palm Beach State College (PBSC) has been instrumental in supporting the path to credentials and ongoing education for our Early Head Start providers. PBSC trainings cover attainment of the Early Childhood Professional Credential (ECPC) as well as training on the CLASS tool and early childhood best practices. Their professional development advising services coupled with their scholarship opportunities (offered in partnership with CSC) make educational goals attainable.
Our own Early Head Start staff have already completed training of their own on ChildPlus Motivational Interviewing. They are beginning a round of Early Head Start training to include Early Head Start 101, Governance, Fiscal Planning, Health Services and Education, Selection, Eligibility, Enrollment and Attendance (ERSEA). Staff are estimated to be finished with these trainings by September 2015.
Quality Programs Department
The Quality Programs department has been working hard in presenting several options for provider meeting locations to our providers. All the meetings are on a first come first serve basis. The full list of provider meetings can be found under the ‘Provider’ tab under Events at elcpalmbeach.org! This past week our team has conducted five meetings including in Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach and Pahokee. We are so proud of the over 300 providers who attended to learn about the most updated information regarding Volutary PreKindergarten and School Readiness. The presentation by our very own Chelsea Reinhart, Director of Quality Programs, can be found at, elcpalmbeach.org under provider meetings.
We are will be hiring our new Director of Compliance in September. They will lead in conducting an internal audit on a monthly basis.
The IT Department has been instrumental in ensuring that each department is running smoothly. Over the past month, the IT department has been implementing a variety of processes including our Easy Appointment (appointment system) for Family Services and for CCR&R and Call Center. They secured this for 60 users. With coordinating with cable companies, internet providers and a variety of vendors they are coordinated each service location. Deployed mobile brand band for our monitoring team. In the process hiring our CRM Consultant design processes and build our own custom portal. IT specialist position will be filled. Technology Refuggee System, Y-Max (wireless broadband for Belle Glade). Process in compliance for Box. (Governance and compliance)
Data and Systems
Child Care Referral Portal
The Palm Beach County Online Child Care Referral Portal has been a great success. Working with community agencies, the Coalition can assist families with early child care services through a referral system. We received referrals from the following groups.
Workforce Alliance, Department of Children and Families, ChildNet, Home Society, CareerSource, CareerSource-TANF, CareerSource-WIOA Youth, Children’s Services Council Scholarship Program, Domestic Violence Referral, Voluntary Independent Living Youth Diversion, Teenage Parent Program(TPP), High-Risk Newborn Diversion, Homeless Shelter, Family Preservation and Diversion Participation, Court-ordered or required supervision. The team has also trained several Bridges sites throughout the county.
The Office of Early Learning under the Department of Education in Tallahassee has decided to make registration for Voluntary Prekindergarten and School Readiness easy as possible. With the “new” Family Portal, parents can go directly to their Early Learning Coalition’s website and clink on the link at the homepage to access the single point of entry their the State Florida. We are so pleased with the new way to improve registration. It is easy as 1, 2, 3,
Strong Minds GOLD Program
At the annual One Goal Conference, Dr. Barbara Becraft - Assistant Director of Assessment, was given the opportunity to present the most recent accomplishments of the Coalition’s Strong Minds GOLD team. The annual event was held in Tampa during the week of July 20, 2015, bringing early learning stakeholders from across the state to collaborate and discuss the most recent occurrences in the early learning field throughout the state.
Watch the following video clip to view an excerpt from Dr. Becraft’s presentation, as well as a testimonial offered by a Director of a local ECE center about the value of the “Strong Minds GOLD Program” to children, teachers, and schools.
Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSWuXrrpy2U
In the Fall of 2015, our Assessment team is starting to work with the 10th Cohort of private child care centers and family child care homes In addition, the Coalition’s Assessment Department will welcome a large number of VPK sites within the Palm Beach County School District. The team is preparing for the introductory training for Cohort 10 and is also in the process of selecting providers to participate in Cohort 11, who will begin using the assessment tool in September 2015.
As we grow, we continue to develop strategies for success in using the GOLD online assessment system. As popularity of the GOLD spreads, we are happy to enter into collaboration more closely with the Office of Early Learning and Lutheran Services of Florida Head Start and Early Head Start school sites and family child care homes.
The next year will bring exciting opportunities for professional growth and further success for our participants as they learn to use the GOLD as an effective tool for assessing the growth and development of young children.
Early Intervention Team
We would like to congratulate both Ms. Maria Gutierrez - Early Intervention Manager and Ms. Lorca Acosta- Developmental Screening Coordinator from the Early Intervention department. Both of these staff members completed the University of Florida’s Lastinger Certified Early Learning Teaching Assistance Coaching Program offered through the Office of Early Learning. In addition, Maria Gutierrez continues to build relationships with our community leaders to support county-wide inclusion practices, specifically for our youngest learners.
The team, which includes Maria Gutierrez, Lorca Acosta, and Danaimy Perez – Data Entry Technician, accomplished remarkable results for fiscal year 2014-2015. A total of 15,186 children were offered the opportunity to receive a developmental screening through their enrolled provider (including child care centers, family child care homes, or public school district sites). Developmental Screenings is a free-to-families age-appropriate assessment tool which serves the purpose of detecting developmental and behavior delays as early as possible.
As a result of this opportunity, almost 14,000 children were screened during the fiscal year 2014-2015; this a huge return rate of 92% of children receiving services being screened. We are so proud of this Early Intervention team, our child care providers, and families who had their children tested through this great service.
Reimbursement and Finance Team
The Coalition’s Finance Department, led by Ms. Michelle DePalma - Chief Financial Officer, accomplished extraordinary work to ensure our child care providers were paid in a timely manner.
To do so, the individual teams within the Finance Department accomplished the following:
- The Provider Reimbursement team, led by Mr. Jose Abreu - Director of Data and Systems and Ms. Claudia Calitto - Reimbursement Coordinator, manually processed attendance records for a total of 23,815 children receiving services among the Coalition’s 697 contracted childcare providers for the 30 days within the month of June 2015 in only 5 business days.
- The Accounting team, led by Ms. Lourdes Arredondo - Director of Accounting, issued a total amount of $6,523,131 in payments to child care providers based on child attendance in only 2 business days.
As expected as with any transition of services, the Coalition has had a few minor bumps in the road, but we can assure the Coalition’s Board Members and Staff that our commitment to a high-quality service delivery model continues to be a top priority. We are so incredibly proud of all our teams providing outstanding customer service to the families of Palm Beach County!
Update from the Office of Early Learning (OEL)
The Office of Early Learning has streamlined the services for families to register more easily for both Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) and School Readiness programs. With a simple click of a button, parents can register their children online through the new Family Portal created through OEL! You can register for these services online by clicking the rotating text marquee across every page on our local Coalition’s website here: elcpalmbeach.org !
We would like to also congratulate Rodney J. MacKinnon as the new Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning.
The upcoming state legislative session starts in January 2016 instead of the usual month of March 2016. Prior to the 60-day session, our Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation will be meeting across the county to discuss the important issues and proposed legislation that can be introduced during the upcoming session. The meetings are open to the public but if you want to make any formal presentation, you must sign up. It is a good idea to meet with each of your local elected officials prior to presenting at any of the legislative delegation hearings. For more information: http://www.co.palm-beach.fl.us/legislativeaffairs/legislativedelegation.htm
This year again, the Coalition will be working with our partners across the state to emphasize the need to increase child care safety and quality. We will be sure to update you on more detailed proposed policy as we approach the 2016 session.
BRIDGES BACK TO SCHOOL HEALTH FAIR!
BRIDGES at Boynton Beach, in collaboration with St. John Missionary Baptist Church, will hold its 7th Annual Back to School Community Health and Resource Fair on August 15, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 900 N Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach. Bring your family for fun-filled activities, including food, entertainment, games and prizes. Free services will also be provided, such as physicals, haircuts, STD and pregnancy testing, nutritional and health information and more! For more information, please contact Pathways to Prosperity at 561.736.1111
DON’T FORGET TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!
Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County