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Make the Most of Playtime

Fred Rogers said, “For children, play is serious learning.” That’s why the folks at the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) at Vanderbilt University want us to Make the Most of Playtime. In an article of the same name, adapted from a Zero-to-Three resource, CSEFEL staff describe not only the importance of play but the hallmarks of play development over the first three years of life. They also provide specific ideas parents can try with children at various ages, like imitating sounds in a back-and-forth “conversation” with young babies and supporting an older toddler’s imagination “by providing dress-up clothes . . . and props such as plastic kitchen bowls and plates or toy musical instruments.” This is an excellent resource to share with families. Check it out and share your ideas in the comments below.

This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this res

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lego block tower buildTis the season for giving gifts, including to the littlest ones in your life. Yet according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2017 there were approximately 251,700 toy-related injuries; around 36 percent of those injuries happened to children under 5*. To encourage a safe and fun holiday season, Prevent Blindness has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.

Keep the holidays joyful by keeping the following guidelines in mind when choosing toys for children of all ages**:

  • Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
  • When purchasing toys for children with special needstry to:  Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy
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sunset with flamesOn Wednesday, December 5, at 12:00 PM Pacific Time, The Western Region Public Health Training Center & the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center are hosting a FREE webinar, entitled “Fires, Mudslides, Earthquakes, Shootings: Promoting Personal and Community Resiliency after Mass Trauma.”

Clinical psychologist and behavior sleep medicine specialist Professor Patricia Haynes (University of Arizona) will support participants to “formulate ideas to promote connectedness and hope within the community.” She will also “describe evidence-based approaches to the promotion of resiliency” for individuals exposed to trauma and identify the “five essential elements of short-term mass trauma intervention.”

Register here for this informative webinar:

Continuing education contact hours are available for certified health education specialists through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc., and are pending

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Universal Children's Day - November 20

child holding globe

The United Nations has declared November 20th to be Universal Children’s Day, a day for people to come together worldwide “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.”*

A brief history of important events related to Universal Children’s Day:

For more information on how you can participate in Universal Children’s Day, check out the United Nations website at, or the UNICEF website at

* United Nations, 2018.  

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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black ribbon logo“The early childhood years build the foundation for a lifetime of health and development” (DEC, 2012).

In a position statement from September 2012, the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) outlined six recommendations “for the promotion of health, safety, and well-being of all young children including those with or at‐risk for disabilities.”

These six recommendations included the following:

Prenatal care services and early universal screening;

  • Culturally-responsive, developmentally appropriate, individualized care in affordable, safe, nurturing, and inclusive environments;
  • Correctly administered, ethical, valid, reliable, culturally sensitive, formal and informal assessments;
  • High quality systems of pre‐service and in‐service professional development;
  • Advocacy efforts focusing on public regulations and policies for supporting the provision of services for all young children; and
  • Research that focuses substantial attention and resources to id
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World Prematurity Day 2018

event flier with purple background and font

November 17th is World Prematurity Day. On this day, organizations around the globe raise awareness about the reality of premature births: 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide, and premature birth is the leading cause of death for children under five*. The World Prematurity Day campaign also seeks to educate the public on the prevention of preterm birth, raise funds for research, and advocate for legislation to support parents and babies.

To find out more about World Prematurity Day, including how you can participate, visit

* March of Dimes, 2018.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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parent hugging son and daughterOur friends at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) have curated an impressive collection of articles written just for families. For example, one set of articles, on social and emotional development, includes the following titles:

This resource also includes articles on Guidance, Relationships, and Behavior and Development, many of which may be of interest to families in Early Start. View all the articles by clicking here.

This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.

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November is Prematurity Awareness Month

baby in hospital

The March of Dimes has declared November to be Prematurity Awareness Month to bring attention to the issue of premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) in the United States. Here are some facts about premature birth in the U.S.: 

  • Around 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year, which makes up 9.8 percent of births.
  • The preterm birth rate in the U.S. is one of the worst of industrialized nations.
  • Babies who survive premature birth may experience long-term health and developmental problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness, and hearing loss.
  • The preterm birth rate among black women is 49% higher than the rate among all other women. 

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign’s goal is to reduce pre-term birth in the U.S. and increase the chance of babies to reach full term, which includes addressing racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in premature birth. Learn more about the Prematurity Campaign here:

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children at school collageThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention website states: Essentials for Childhood proposes strategies communities can consider to promote the types of relationships and environments that help children grow up to be healthy and productive citizens so that they, in turn, can build stronger and safer families and communities for their children.” The authors outline four goals:

  1. Raise Awareness and Commitment to Promote Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments and Prevent Child Maltreatment;
  2. Use Data to Inform Actions;
  3. Create the Context for Healthy Children and Families through Norms Change and Programs; and
  4. Create the Context for Healthy Children and Families through Policies.

Each goal is then broken down into multiple steps which community leaders and policy makers can follow to build relationships and environments that promote healthy social and emotional development and prevent child maltreatment. The guide is also filled with abundant resources to explore. Essen

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Parenting Resources at

mom dad and son family photoTo help young children grow and learn, it is important for parents to understand child development and strengthen their parenting skills. Knowledge of parenting and child development is so critical that it is named as one of the five Protective Factors in the Strengthening Families framework, a project of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. But with so much information out there, it can be challenging for parents to know where to go for information and resources. Zero to Three is here to help, with a large library of parenting resources that families can access for free on their website, From positive parenting, to supporting development, to figuring out the best time to get a dog, Zero to Three’s parenting resources cover a wide variety of topics to help parents understand their child’s development and build their parenting skills. Resources can be filtered by topic, format, and age range, and families can use the Search function to easily find the resource

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World Cerebral Palsy Day 2018

earth globe with blue green yellow logoCerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood, directly impacting the lives of 17 million people worldwide. CP affects movement ranging from “weakness in one hand” to an “almost complete lack of voluntary movement,” according to the website  They go on to describe World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Day as “a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families, and the organizations that support them, in more than 65 countries.” Their aim is “to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy . . . have the same rights, access, and opportunities as anyone else in our society.” Learn more about CP by downloading the organization’s infographic here or visiting their website here.

This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out: https://earlys

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kids playing

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month! This is a month for advocacy, awareness-raising, and promoting causes that positively impact the lives of people with Down syndrome across the country. The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) offers some ideas for getting involved with Down Syndrome Awareness Month nationwide and in your community:


Here are some facts about Down syndrome from NDSC’s Down Syndrome Informational Brochure (also available in Spanish):

  • Down syndrome occurs when a baby inherits one extra chromosome at the time of conception. There is no known cause. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socio-economic status.
  • In the United States, approximately one in every 700 children is born with Down syndrome.
  • While exact numbers are not known, it is believed that between 250,000 and 350,000 people in the United States are living with Down syndrome.
  • Down syndrome is not a disease or i
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Webinar: Implementing OAE Screening

baby with hearing meterIf you are responsible for training staff at your Early Head Start or Head Start program on how to effectively implement Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) screening, this free online training session is for you! The Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative is hosting a webinar on evidence-based OAE screening and follow-up practices to help you train and supervise others to implement OAE screening. This webinar is also useful for pediatric audiologists who partner with early childhood programs. Details on this free training session are below; learn more at


WHEN: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT (2-3:30 ET)


QUESTIONS?  Contact the ECHO Initiative at

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126702174?profile=RESIZE_710xHow long has it been since you’ve seen the Provider Tips for Supporting Social-Emotional Development? That’s what we thought!

So today we’re revisiting this important resource, developed for the California State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) with the support of the California Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) on Early Intervention and the Early Start Comprehensive System of Personnel Development.

Provider Tips describes eight evidence-based practices all Early Start personnel can use every day. It’s a quick read and may refresh your memory of strategies you’d like to incorporate into your daily practice.

Provider Tips is also great for reviewing before you meet with a family to bring those research-informed ideas front of mind and after an interaction as a way to self-assess what took place during the visit. Provider Tips gives concrete examples of ways we can nurture parent-child relationships throughout all our interactions.

If you’ve seen it before, it’s worth a quick review

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Reading Your Child's Cues

Before they learn to talk, young children express their feelings in a variety of ways. It can sometimes be difficult for parents and caregivers to understand what a baby or toddler is trying to tell them. Parents can’t read minds, but they can learn to read their child’s cues and respond accordingly to their child’s emotions and needs. This resource from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) helps caregivers identify, interpret, and respond to their child’s behaviors.

What are some of the ways that the young children in your life let you know how they’re feeling? Tell us in the comments below!



This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.

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Applying evidence-based practices is a foundational component of the early intervention service delivery system. Thankfully, families and practitioners do not have to pore over scholarly journals to identify those evidence-based practices—there are many free, online resources that house these practices and offer both parents and professionals the opportunity to learn more about them, and how to apply them to children under three with disabilities or delays. One of these resources is the ASD Toddler Initiative Project at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The ASD Toddler Initiative Project website houses free, self-paced, online learning modules on six different evidence-based practices that have been found to be effective for use with toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

To view the learning modules, visit the following website:


This resource is related to one

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September is Baby Safety Month!

September is Baby Safety Month, sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). This year, JPMA is helping educate parents and caregivers on the importance of properly choosing and using all the best products for your child’s age and developmental stage as outlined by the manufacturer. Visit to learn more.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out

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baby wearing striped sweater and blue goggles

To wrap up Children's Eye and Safety Month, we are letting you know about an upcoming webinar on a vision screening tool for children ages birth to 12 months from the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness. This webinar will be simultaneously interpreted into Spanish! See details and registration information below:

Webinar: Vision Screening Tool for Very Young Children 
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. PT (1–2 p.m. ET)

Register here:

Topics for the webinar include:

  • Vision development milestones during a baby's first year
  • Updates to the previously released vision screening tool
  • What to do when a baby does not maintain eye contact with a parent or caregiver
  • Free resources for families to support follow-up care

For more information, see the National center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness' announcement here:


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street signs

The California State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) is not the only initiative that is focusing on social and emotional development. Family engagement and parent-child relationships are at the core of many programs at the federal, state, and local level right now, and there are a lot of great resources and learning opportunities out there as a result. Here are two upcoming webinars from the Office of Head Start's National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement:


Relationship-Based Competencies to Support Family Engagement for All Early Childhood Professionals: An Overview

Thursday September 6, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. PT (3-4 p.m. ET)

Register Online Now!

Explore relationship-based competencies (RBCs) to support family engagement. They apply to all early childhood professionals, including teachers, family services staff, and home visitors. This four-part webinar series focuses on the RBCs—knowledge, skills, and individual practices—staff need based on their roles. Discove

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Guidance on Avoiding Preschool Expulsion

California Department of Education Management Bulletin 18-06, released just last Friday (August 24, 2018), outlines new requirements for steps which must be taken to avoid expulsion or disenrollment of children from California State Preschool Programs because of behavior. Previously, some of California’s youngest learners may have been expelled or unenrolled from preschool, child care, and other developmental settings due to challenging behaviors. Assembly Bill 752, however, requires agencies running state-funded early childhood programs to work with parents and guardians to take specific supportive steps before expelling or disenrolling a child. Learn more about the new requirements and information and training available to support social and emotional development and address challenging behavior by clicking here.

This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood he

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