October 2020 eNews
Teachers prepare their stations as children anxiously await.
Children mix their make-believe recipes.
Cooling off the acorn clusters!
On Saturday, October 17, I was privileged to lead on a part live, part virtual training workshop at Creative Learning Kids, an amazing early childhood setting in Spartanburg, SC. The event was organized and hosted by Quality Counts (winner of the 2020 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award), a program of First Steps Spartanburg. It was a beautiful autumn morning, and the sun was rising majestically as I drove to Spartanburg at 7:15 am. On arrival, I was so impressed to see so many attendees had beaten me to it!

The theme of the workshop was Outdoor Learning and Mud Kitchens and not only was it going to be both live and virtual, but it also included an outdoor activity while being linked to five other early childhood settings in Spartanburg, all participating in the Quality Counts Continuous Quality Improvement program. When I had discussed this with Tammy Compton (Director of Quality Counts) and Barbara Manoski (Director of First Steps, Spartanburg), I suggested the part live, part virtual way of working and they were enthusiastically receptive. Thank heavens they have very savvy IT experts as part of their team who did an outstanding job to make this all happen, while seeming effortless.

There were eight early years educators participating live, all masked and suitably social-distanced and I was so impressed to see them all washing their hands continuously during the course of the workshop. The first hour consisted of a presentation to the group which was also Zoomed to the five participating settings. We discussed the benefits of outdoor learning and looked at early brain development and how exercise cues the building blocks of the brain. We watched videos and did a reflection, and it was such a treat to have participants feeding back on their experiences with enthusiasm and good humor. We also discussed resilience and risk taking and touched briefly on Forest Schools and then looked at Mud Kitchens and their relevance in children’s play and how to design and develop a Mud Kitchen. Each participating setting had already received a starter pack for their Mud Kitchen with a “handy tips” handout and things like a bag of sand, bag of pebbles, handy pouring bucket and numerous other relevant resources. (For those interested in learning more, we recommend the resources used at our previous event, archived here).

Mary MacKenzie
ICS Senior Fellow

ICS has launched a new survey of child care providers in South Carolina to better understand the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic impacts on the sector.

In the spring, we found that child care providers were facing significant financial challenges to reopening and continuing to serve families. In this new survey, we want to understand what challenges providers continue to face, including access to health and safety supplies as well as staffing challenges.

The survey is open for new respondents and those who completed the previous version. Please complete the survey by 5:00 pm Friday, November 6, and share with others you know in the field!
Upcoming Event

ICS is partnering with the Greenville Homeless Alliance (GHA) and area nonprofits to bring you a series of virtual sessions that have been curated to broaden your awareness and understanding of hunger and homelessness in our community, how it has been impacted by COVID-19, and how community members can engage in solutions. The community forums will be from 11:00 am - 12:00 noon each day.
Resources & Media Mentions
by Caitlin Hay, ICS Health Policy
Post-Baccalaureate Fellow; John Young Shik Concklin, M.M.; Megan Carolan, M.P.P.

In our paper, Child Housing, Health and Well-Being: An Exploration of Interconnected Needs, we view housing instability and homelessness as key barriers to healthy childhoods in which children and families flourish. Family heath, economic well-being, geography, transportation, and cultural expectations all play a role in the housing decisions families make, and the impacts housing has on health and well-being. 

Housing matters to young children because they go through a phenomenal period of brain development during the first five years of life, particularly the first three years. The skills, competencies, and relationships developed during this time build the foundation for growth over the rest of their lives. Any prolonged disruption of these relationships can have negative impacts on child development and material scarcity, toxic stress and instability.

Director of Policy Research, Megan Carolan, discussed independent play and benefits of play-based learning for kids on BYU’s radio show, The Lisa Show on September 29. In this blog, she recaps her experience and provides bonus material.

"...[T]here is so much more we could have discussed, especially as parents continue to juggle the “for-now normal” of many families who have children at home. Particularly, for those families who are navigating structured virtual learning, they may find that independent play is all the more important in their lives to let a child’s imagination really flourish – but may have a hard time making it work.
Guest Blog Highlighted in Health Affairs
ICS's guest blog on child welfare for the Mary Black Foundation, "COVID-19 Pandemic Jeopardizes Child Welfare," was highlighted by Health Affairs in October in "Funding Children's Health: COVID-19 And Beyond." In the blog, author Megan Carolan fears the pandemic puts children at risk of maltreatment with fewer observers to spot the signs.
Bulletin Board
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ICS Research Committee Member and Director of Research at Children's Trust of South Carolina, Dr. Aditi Srivastav, was highlighted as one of the Best and Brightest in Columbia, SC in the September issue of Columbia Business Monthly
What We've Been Up To
On October 5, ICS hosted a 1.5-hour webinar to understand how we could better advocate on behalf of young children and families experiencing racial injustice. ICS shared stories from the parents and guardians of Black children it gathered from two surveys, Racial Injustice and Young Children, over the summer. Panelists included Mary C. Garvey; Senior Fellow, Dr. Dee Stegelin; Clemson lecturer, Jill Shelnut, Ph.D. and LaTisha Vaughn of Tri-County Cradle to Career in Charleston who addressed key questions about implicit bias and its role in racism. View presentation and YouTube recording.
Hello Family Foothills Update and Impacts of COVID-19
Inspired by the Hello Family continuum of services that will soon launch in Spartanburg, ICS has explored the potential of expanding high quality evidence-based early childhood programming into northern Greenville County since late 2019. COVID-19 caused ICS to pause and to take account of the pandemic’s effects on the population of northern Greenville County. On October 1, we shared an update on our Hello Family Foothills initiative as well as findings from the COVID-19 survey. View presentation and YouTube recording.
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