ELC News Alert HeaderELC News Alert

Issue 10

October / November 2011

President's Message

Evelio Torres

Dear Friends:

Quality Counts, Miami-Dade's Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS), has been recognized on a national level. The program is well known in Florida for improving the quality of care and education received by thousands of children in Miami-Dade County. Hundreds of programs have benefitted from technical assistance, career advising, professional development opportunities, stipends and learning materials provided by Quality Counts.

Recently, several research articles and webinars have featured Quality Counts, catapulting our program into the national spotlight. These articles examine the definition and measurement of quality in early care and education programs. Quality Count's participation in the Quality Rating Systems Assessment Project (funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation), the Quality Rating Systems National Learning Network and the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Pathways to Cultural Competence Project demonstrates its readiness to help provide high quality early education.

We do not work for recognition; we work to better the lives of children. Yet I am delighted by the support and appreciation this program has received. I would especially like to thank the Quality Counts team that includes the Early Learning Coalition, The Children's Trust, the Children's Forum and Web-Based Early Learning System (WELS) for contributing to these studies through making themselves and the data available to researchers. Our organizations thrive through the hard work and generosity of team members like these.

Read two of the studies in which Quality Counts was featured:

Defining and Measuring Quality: An In-Depth Study of Five Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

Measuring Quality Across Three Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Findings from Secondary Analyses

Evelio C. Torres
President & CEO
Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Important Announcements

Amazing Deal from Domino's Pizza and the ELC Dominos

The Early Learning Coalition and Domino's Pizza have collaborated to bring you a pizza deal like no other. The ELC is selling Slice the Price cards for $10.00 each. This reusable discount card will give you one FREE large pizza for every large pizza you buy at regular price from now until June 30, 2012. That means you buy three large pizzas and get three more free, with no limits on the toppings. There is no limit on the number of times you can use the card until then, but using it just once pays for itself.

The ELC will receive 50 percent of the proceeds of each Slice the Price card bought. Help us fund early childhood education programs to ensure that children are school-ready and set for success in life.

Don't miss out on this opportunity. Applications for Slice the Price cards will be available in our office until the end of the year. For more information, contact Yesenia Reyes at yreyes@elcmdm.org.

DOH's Drain and Cover Campaign

FL Dep of HealthThe Florida Department of Health reminds residents to "Drain and Cover" to prevent catching diseases mosquitoes carry. Their campaign reminds us to drain standing water from garbage cans, gutters, toys and other containers where water has collected. Use tarps that don't accumulate water to protect vehicles. Remember to empty plastic swimming pools when not in use. Wearing clothes that covers skin and applying repellent before going outside will protect you.

Following these few simple steps could stop mosquitoes from living and multiplying around your home or business. Resources are available on our site in English, Spanish and Creole. Visit http://www.elcmdm.org/downloads/drainandcover.pdf to learn more.

State Board of Education Raises Readiness Rate to 70%

On September 20, the State Board of Education unanimously agreed to set the 2010-11 Voluntary Prekindergarten Readiness Rate to 70 percent. This decision was based on the premise that there is only one opportunity to provide instruction to 4 year olds. This threshold means that 70 percent of all students included in a provider's VPK Readiness Rate would have to score "ready" on both state accountability measures: 1) Early Childhood Observation System (ECHOS) and 2) Florida Assessment for Instructional Reading (FAIR).

VPK providers classified as "low performing" are eligible to apply for a good cause exemption to continue to refine instruction. The Board wanted to reinforce the message that the goal of VPK is to have students ready to enter kindergarten. They discussed the impact of setting the readiness rate at 70 percent and felt the two-year good-cause process provides an opportunity for improving instructional techniques.

The State Board also unanimously endorsed the legislative budget proposal that would support the purchase and implementation of a pre-post assessment in VPK along with funding for providers to implement an evidence-based curriculum.

The presentation that was shared with the State Board of Education may be accessed at floridadoe.org.

Open Forum Conference Call

We have an exciting opportunity for you to interact with Provider Representatives sitting on the Early Learning Coalition's Board of Directors. We have scheduled monthly conference calls beginning in November for providers to voice their concerns, ask questions or just get to know the Board Members. This is a chance to build a comfortable working relationship with the incredible people collaborating with the ELC to bring quality educational opportunities to all children in Miami-Dade and Monroe.

Please join us on the following dates:

Monday, November 14th

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Monday, December 12th

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

To join the calls, please dial our conference line at 786-389-5135 or 866-502-2994. When prompted for the code, dial 802#.

For more information, please contact Leeana Pena at 305-646-7220 ext. 246.

Help the ELC Raise Funds through TICKETS fore CHARITY

Tickets fore CharityThe Early Learning Coalition is participating in the TICKETS fore CHARITY program, a unique fundraising initiative designed to improve the quality of life for children and families in the communities where PGA TOUR and Champions Tour tournaments are held. By purchasing tickets to this event, you will be directly affecting the funding of programs through the Early Learning Coalition. One hundred percent (100%) of the proceeds of tickets bought on behalf of the ELC will come straight back to our organization.

To order tickets, download the order form on our website or visit ticketmaster.com. The promotional code for the ELC is CCENV9V. Please note that the code is case sensitive.

New Name for 4-Year-Olds' VPK Program

On Oct. 18, the State Board of Education formally adopted the Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards for Four-Year-Olds (2011). These Standards create a framework and language for providers of VPK Education Programs as well as School Readiness Programs serving 4-year-olds. In short, the standards will no longer be known as VPK Education Standards but as the Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards for Four-Year-Olds. These come as a collaboration between the Department of Education Office of Early Learning and Florida's Office of Early Learning.

The Standards for Four-Year-Olds reflect the latest research on child development and developmentally appropriate practices for 4-year-olds. New training has been developed to ensure all instructors and directors of programs serving these children are effectively utilizing the Standards.

Please look for training dates in your VPK News Alerts and our website at www.elcmdm.org (click on events). Trainings should begin in mid- to late-November 2011. Remember, if you have already taken VPK Standards Training and have a certificate, you do not have to take the training again. We will send out information on how to order Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards for Four-Year-Olds 2011 Books as the information is available from the Florida Department of Education Office of Early Learning.

To view the new Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards for Four-Year-Olds 2011, please visit our Website.

FREE Monster Ad Postings for Providers

Do you have a job opening at your center that you would like advertised for free?

The Early Learning Coalition has eight available postings on monster.com. The advertisements will be given away to the first eight respondents at absolutely no cost to providers.

All inquiries must be received by Nov. 18, 2011. Once posted on monster.com, the ads will run for 60 days. Providers can access resumes and make changes to the posting within that period. Responses to the postings will be sent directly to the provider.

If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity please contact us at info@elcmdm.org. Be sure to write "Monster Ad Request" in the email subject line.

We will forward the requests from the first eight emails to Customer Service Representatives at Monster. They will send you information on how to set up your free ad within 24 hours.

AECE Announces Receipt of Grant Award

The Alliance for Early Care & Education, Inc. (AECE) is proud to announce the receipt of a grant award from the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation and the City of Hialeah. The grant is focused on preventing childhood obesity and will train eligible early learning practitioners to implement the bilingual OrganWise Guys preschool curriculum. By partnering with Public Allies Miami, participating childcare facilities may also receive technical support and a mini-grant to install an on-site food garden. Look for the OWG Application Form in the November 2011 issue of the AECE newsletter.

AECE is a nonprofit professional organization committed to ensuring that all children receive a high quality early learning experience upon which they can build a lifetime of success. For further information, please call 786-999-8596.

ASQ-3 Screening Update

The Early Learning Coalition and Community Action Department of Human Services is pleased to announce the ASQ-3 ONLINE SYSTEM is up and running. Approximately 125 community child care providers are using the online system. It's quick and easy and is found on the same website as your online attendance. If you are not using online attendance, this can be started along with the ASQ-3. On-site support is available throughout the county.

If you have questions or need further information, please contact:

South area: 305-270-2905

North area: 305-260-1240

Florida Employment News

Florida's unemployment rate for September is 10.6 percent, down 1.3 percentage points since January 2011. Florida's unemployment rates over the last five months are at the lowest since August 2009. The national unemployment rate has gone up 0.1 percent during the same five-month period.

fl employmentFlorida has gained 110,300 private sector jobs since January and had a net gain of 92,400 jobs during the same time period with a net gain of 23,300 jobs in September alone.


"We must continue our efforts of coordinated economic development to create jobs and ensure our workforce is skilled and ready to be matched with employment opportunities," said Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Doug Darling.

To read more about the current state of Florida's labor force, please visit floridajobs.org.


*Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) press release, "Florida's 12-Month Job Growth Percentage Outpaces the Nation for the First Time Since 2007 - October 21, 2011; 10:00 A.M."

The Children's Movement of Florida

Children's MovmentThe Children's Movement of Florida is a statewide, citizen-led, non-partisan campaign with the objective of educating political, business and civic leaders - and all parents in Florida - about the urgent need to improve the way we care for our children, making the well-being and education of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, Florida's highest priority. To learn more about the movement, please visit www.childrensmovementflorida.org.



Meet the ELC Board MembersE Jacobs

Esther Jacobo has practiced law for almost 20 years. She received both her Bachelor's degree and law degree from St. Thomas University in Miami. Since graduating from Law School in 1992, Jacobo has served as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County, where she was the Division Chief of the Domestic Crimes Unit and supervised all domestic violence prosecutions. In 2007, Jacobo went to work as an associate at the Law Firm of Elser & Foster-Morales.

Jacobo joined the Department of Children and Families in 2008 where she was the Deputy State Director of Children's Legal Services, leading litigation skills training for CLS lawyers and helping ensure that vulnerable children and families are safe and receiving the services they need. She was recently appointed Regional Managing Director for the Southern Region of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Thank you, Ms. Jacobo, for taking the time to partner with the Early Learning Coalition!

Team Member Spot Light

Pamela Hollingsworth joined the Early Learning Coalition in December 2007 as the Program Director for Quality Counts at a time when the program was beginning implementation. She is excited to see the growth of the initiative during that time. Her proudest moment at the ELC was an invitation for Miami-Dade County to join the NAEYC Pathways to Cultural Competence Project, an honor since it is very unusual to break rank and invite a county to join the system. Most states that join Pathways have a long-standing quality rating system, while Miami-Dade's countywide initiative is young in comparison.

Pam has been building programs for children for more than 25 years and holds a Masters Degree in Social Foundation of Education with a focus on Multicultural Education and Early Childhood. Before joining the ELC team, she served as the Director of Education for Family Central. Pam believes strongly in the power of education, calling it "the difference between darkness and light." It is an illuminating force, the single most important tool one can use to improve our world. Pam insists that early education is a window of opportunity, especially the time between 0 and 3 years. This is the time where educators and parents have the opportunity to lay a strong foundation for excitement in learning. If it doesn't happen in this stage, Pam worries that we could be playing catch-up for the rest of a child's life.

When away from the office, Pam has an eclectic blend of interests. She loves the theater, museums and touring historic homes. Pam also loves thrifting and especially enjoys collecting vintage dresses and designer handbags. She is a fan of reality television, and says her favorite show is "The Real Housewives" of any city. Pam also enjoys spending time with her family, including her daughter.

Monroe County News Briefs

Wesley House Holds Annual Meeting

Wesley House Family Services recently held its Annual Meeting at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West. CEO Doug Blomberg provided the annual report of accomplishments. Judge Tegan Slaton presided over the installation of the 2011-12 Board Officers. New Board Chair, Bryan Green, recognized board members and community supporters of Wesley House. Evelio Torres, CEO of The Early Learning Coalition, was introduced and acknowledged the valuable partnership with Wesley House in Monroe County.

Pictured left to right: ELC CEO Evelio Torres; Wesley House Board Chair Bryan Green; Judge Tegan Slaton; ELC Managing Director-Monroe Mary Williams; Wesley House CEO Doug Blomberg.


Save the Dates




Quality Counts

From the Desk of Suzette Frazier, Regional Safety Program Manager Department of Children and Families Child Care Licensing

This section of the News Alert is designed to inform and remind providers of the licensing requirements of the Department of Children and Families. This licensing corner is a new and innovative way for providers to stay connected to childcare licensing and will serve as a guide to new regulations, information about recalls, licensing updates and much more!

Effective immediately, the Child Care Program of the Department of Children and Families will no longer require local law enforcement checks as part of the Level 2 background screening process. Individual childcare providers may require a local law enforcement check from potential employees as part of the hiring process, but it is no longer a DCF requirement for licensing. Childcare personnel may attend trainings or orientation before the screening process is complete, but they must still receive a level number clearance prior to employment and direct contact with children.

For more information about this policy change, please contact the Policy Unit at 850-488-4900.