First United Methodist Church Early Learning Center Wins "Invest in Children" Display Contest
In celebration of “Week of the Young Child,” Smart Beginnings MHC recently held a contest for the most creative display showcasing the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s “Invest in Children” poster series. The contest was designed to engage early childhood educators and businesses in helping get the message out to the community about the importance of investing in early childhood education. Research shows that every dollar invested in high quality early childhood education saves the public $8 - 17 in future special education, grade retention, criminal justice and welfare costs. The display created by Laura Elkins’ team at First United Methodist Church Early Learning Center used a group of colorful children’s books to frame literary posters selected from the series. Smart Beginnings MHC awarded First United Methodist Church Early Learning Center a $50 gift card for having the most creative display.
Week of the Young Child
April 14-20, 2013 was the nationally celebrated, Week of the Young Child. As part of the celebration many local activities were planned. SBMHC staff collaborated with the Blue Ridge Regional Library and Children's Medical Center to read aloud to children.
There was also a "Bank Book Drive" to collect children's books. We are very grateful to American National Bank, Fidelity Bank, River Community Bank and Suntrust branches and the wonderful donors that participated in and made this project a success.
JMU Visits SBMHC
The "14 Day Challenge for Children" was a recent campaign designed by Smart Beginnings MHC to help submit over 300 surveys from educators and caregivers of young children to the James Madison University Community Assessment Project. Dr. Harris, from JMU, visited with us on Friday, April 12 to meet with parents, caregivers and educators about what the survey revealed all across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
United Way Seeks an Early Childhood Initiatives Director
The United Way seeks an energetic, creative team member to lead progressive initiatives around Early Childhood Education. Proven ability to organize and manage community coalitions, demonstrated grant writing experience, and excellent communication skills required. Send resume and cover letter to email@example.com. No phone inquiries.
Holiday Basket Extravaganza
Join us at Piedmont Arts Association on November 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a Silent Auction to help support Smart Beginnings MHC. There will be a wide variety of basket themes, great for use as gifts or a personal reward. If you need more information or are interested in donating a basket or supplies for one contact Brenda Jordan or Francia Brown at 276-666-8901.
West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board awards Smart Beginnings $10,000
West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board awards Smart Beginnings $10,000
~Outgoing board members recognized for their leadership~
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012) – The West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board (WPWIB) awarded on Monday the region’s Smart Beginnings network $10,000 to help build the region’s infrastructure for a Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI).
VSQI rates the quality of licensed public and private preschool and childcare providers.
According to WPWIB Chairman Jim Daniel, the workforce pipeline does not begin in high school, but as early as preschool and childcare.
“Research shows that positive early childhood experiences dramatically improve children’s opportunities for success in school and life. Equipping all of our region’s preschools and childcare providers with intensive professional development services is a good investment to advance the quality of our emerging workforce,” Daniel said.
Funds will be used to recruit and train three raters and 10 mentors in the board’s service area of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania.
Raters evaluate participating childcare programs; and with the evaluations, mentors work one-on-one with childcare owners, administers and/or instructors to make needed improvements to get star ratings over an agreed length of time.
“As this star quality initiative grows, we anticipate that early childhood educators will be asking how their centers can become high performing settings,” Daniel said. Smart Beginnings is a network of locally operated coalitions that are working to improve the quality of care and education for children from birth until kindergarten in the Commonwealth. Currently, there are Smart Beginnings networks in Danville-Pittsylvania and Martinsville-Henry County. Patrick County is in early planning stages of creating a Smart Beginnings network.
Also on Monday at its October board meeting, the WPWIB recognized outgoing board member Jerry Hughes for his decade-long service on the board. He recently relocated to Independence, Virginia, to accept the town manager position there. Hughes was formerly the executive director of the Patrick County Education Foundation.
The board also recently recognized Barbara Redd for her service on the board. She recently retired from the Virginia Employment Commission as manager of the Martinsville office.
WPWIB funds and monitors the region’s four Virginia Workforce Centers and numerous employment services and training programs for employers, jobseekers and the youth.
Read for the Record Survey
Don't forget Read for the Record!! Smart Beginnings MHC is participating to help Jumpstart prepare every child in America to enter school prepared to succeed. Pledge to Read for the Record on October 4th. ONE DAY to jumpstart a child’s future. To obtain a free copy of Jumpstart's Read for the Record book visit WeGiveBooks.org.
Help Smart Beginnings better serve the community, fill out this short survey to help us provide better services.
JMU Needs Assessment Survey for MHC
Smart Beginnings MHC has been selected to participate in a statewide early childhood needs assessment project, which is being directed by the VA Department of Social Services in partnership with the Office of Early Childhood Development. They have contracted with James Madison University to conduct the assessment which will include fiscal mapping. The JMU needs assessment will include a review of state level data, but they have also selected a few communities were local data will be reviewed (such as our community!) They are using a multi-faceted approach to the needs assessment that includes discussions with local leaders, parents, service providers, survey, videotape and photography. Communities involved will receive a site specific summary report at the conclusion of the project.
Part of the assessment process includes gathering input from families, educators and service providers in our community. JMU has put together two surveys – Family and Educator – which we are working to distribute across our community to gather this needed input. We need your help in getting these into the hands of families, co-workers, educators, and other service providers in our community! For every 100 surveys completed, JMU will be giving away a digital camera . Those who complete the survey will be asked to give their contact information (on a separate sheet from the survey so surveys will remain anonymous). All names will go into a drawing for the camera.
Please share this On-line Survey – this link will take you to either the Educator’s Survey or the Family Survey. Then simply click the appropriate link. The first page will ask for their personal information so they can be registered for the drawing for the digital camera.
Ages and Stages Assessment Expansion
The Starting Place is now offering Ages and Stages Assessments at the Health Department. Call 276-666-8901 for more details.
Martinsville Bulletin - Monday, November 7, 2011
Smart Beginnings program for preschoolers funded
The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville has received a three-year, $537,225 Harvest Foundation grant for the Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry County Initiative, according to a press release.
Smart Beginnings MHC is a coalition of 18 community partners who provide services for children up to the age of 5, their parents and child care providers.
"We appreciate The Harvest Foundation's support that will allow us to grow our work with parents, caregivers and the community so every child can have a smart beginning in life," Sheryl Agee, Smart Beginnings MHC director, stated in the release. "We will continue to be dedicated to building an early childhood system that is an effective part of the cradle-to-career education continuum for Martinsville Henry County committed to producing successful students ready for lifelong achievement."
Over the past several years, Smart Beginnings MHC has reached more than 400 caregivers and parents of small children with education, developmental screenings, and training certification classes for child care providers, said the release. It added that efforts will be enhanced with the grant funds.
Smart Beginnings MHC will expand the Healthy Beginnings partnership to incorporate developmental screenings as standard parts of well-child visits with additional doctors, according to the release. Earlier developmental screenings means earlier detection and intervention, when necessary.
Smart Beginnings also will start a program to help local child care providers receive star-quality ratings through the Virginia Star Quality Initiative or VSQI. Those ratings help parents identify top-quality local child care providers, the release said.
The goal is to help place young children in the best position to succeed by the time they reach school-age.
"Through their work, the Smart Beginnings Coalition has been able to make a collective impact in our community," said Angela Logan, Harvest Foundation program officer. The coalition has "pulled together partners to work towards a common goal - making sure that every child is ready for school and ready for life. We are delighted with the work they have accomplished, and look forward to their future efforts."
The Harvest Foundation was established in 2002 from the sale of Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County. It researches and invests in programs and initiatives to improve health, education, and community vitality.
Commonwealth to Observe "School Readiness Month" in August
Virginia Early Childhood Foundation Shares Ten Tips for Families
Richmond, VA (August 2011) - The first day of school for the 2011-2012 academic year is just round the corner and the workforce of the mid-2020s is busy getting ready to start kindergarten. In recognition of the Commonwealth's commitment to early childhood initiatives as the
foundation for success in school and in life, Governor Bob McDonnell has proclaimed August as School Readiness Month" in Virginia.
"The first five years are a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a positive and long-lasting impact on a young child's school preparedness," said Scott Hippert, President of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. It's an unfortunate fact that about one in five children in Virginia start kindergarten without the necessary skill-set required for this structured learning environment," he said. "School Readiness month will focus attention on the importance of providing the next generation of workers with a smart beginning in the early years, which is essential to their success and to Virginia's economic prosperity."
During "School Readiness Month," families can help their young children prepare for success in the classroom, whether that's in a daycare, preschool or elementary school setting. Some school readiness tips from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation include:
- Adjust bedtimes so that children will have enough sleep for those early-morning wakeup calls and enough time to eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Contact the local school board for more information on registering a child for kindergarten if you haven't already done so.
- Call your school to see if there are opportunities for you and your child to take a tour or
- meet the teacher before the first day of school; ask if there are any supplies that your
- child should bring on the first day.
- If your child will ride a school bus, contact the school to get the bus number, route and
- schedule in advance.
- Make appointments for medical checkups; a health exam is required. If additional
- screenings and/or immunizations are identified, make any necessary appointments.
- Encourage young children to have listening ears, walking feet and inside voices when they're in a group setting; also, praise children when they follow directions, take turns and treat others with respect. This behavior is expected in a classroom.
- Read aloud to young children every day, especially books with rhymes and big colorful pictures, which are favorites of preschoolers.
- Play simple-yet-instructional games with young children. For example, "Go Fish" improves number recognition and Candyland helps children identify colors, which are important school readiness skills.
- Plan fun family outings to provide young children with enriching school readiness experiences, such as visits to the library, the local petting zoo and the park.
- Talk to your child about what to expect on the first day to make the transition easier; share your excitement about this new adventure.
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