December 2021 eNews

Inside this Edition

  • ICS Releases New Research on Early Childhood Workforce
  • Upcoming Event: 2022 NDM Conference
  • A Profile: the ICS Staff, a Year in Service
  • What We've Been Up To: Featured in The NY Times, The Post & Courier, and The Bump
  • Year-End Giving
  • Worth Repeating

by Megan Carolan, VP of Research and Amber Posey,
Policy Research Associate

In this research, the authors examine the current and future state of the early childhood workforce by looking at challenges that persist at systemic, organizational and individual levels across sectors serving children–medical, education, social work, mental health, and child care.

The brief focuses on core issues that are pervasive across these professions and quick to undermine the stability of the workforce and quality of care for families: compensation, burnout, retention, and safety. ICS looks at solutions available at the policy- and program-levels to support this workforce and, by extension, improve outcomes for young children and families.

Many of the concerns presented throughout this brief have existed for decades. This research considers the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the state of early childhood professions while maintaining focus on the deep-rooted nature of the challenges born out of an imperfect system. The publication expresses a call-for-action on all levels, with emphasis on organizational shifts and bold leadership which can address the issues in a more substantive manner, while also relieving the burden of the individual professional to reform their industry.

Excerpt: Why address so many related fields in one brief? Traditionally, the professionals working in the early childhood sector have been discussed in their individual silos–early childhood educators discussed separately than pediatricians who are discussed separately from social workers, and there may be even further differentiations within these groups (for example, Head Start teachers versus private child care versus school-based pre-K). While these distinctions may be necessary for the sake of funding streams, regulations, and qualifications, at the end of the day this workforce all serves different needs of the same families within a community and face many similar issues. It may not seem intuitive to discuss the professional earnings of the childcare provider with an associate's degree who is barely making poverty-level wages compared to the pediatrician who finished medical school and is earning six figures. However, a review of the existing research shows that in both scenarios these professionals are under compensated compared to their adult serving peers and face high levels of burnout. Any of these factors can jeopardize the stability of this workforce, which impacts the quality of care the families they serve are receiving.

Upcoming Event
Nurturing Developing Minds Conference & Research Symposium: Strengthening Families
ICS will once again be presenting the Nurturing Developing Minds Conference and Research Symposium, in partnership with Prisma Health, SC LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) and South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council. On Friday, February 25 from 9:30 AM-4 PM ET, researchers, policymakers, medical practitioners, early childhood educators and all those working to optimize children’s development will convene for a day of learning and enlightenment. Attendees will have a choice to join the event in-person or virtually online.

More information on continuing professional development credits for medical practitioners and early childhood educators will be made available soon. Continuing Medical Education credits are pending approval.

Keynote Address
Family Resiliency in the Era of COVID-19
Carol Weitzman, MD

Dr. Carol Weitzman is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician and the Co-Director of the Autism Spectrum Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine. She is a Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine. Nationally, she is the immediate past president of the Society for Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP) is the immediate past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics and a member of the American Board of Pediatrics DBP sub-board Dr. Weitzman is the author of the AAP Clinical Report “Promoting Optimal Development: Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems,” which is undergoing revision this year. She authored the AAP Interim Guidance on Supporting the Emotional and Behavioral Health Needs of Children, Adolescents, and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Breakout Session 1
  • Early Childhood Education Quality During Rapid Expansions: Lessons from the Field and Opportunities
Rasheed Malik, Center for American Progress
Christina Weiland, University of Michigan
Ariel Ford, Director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education for the Department of Health and Human Services 

  • Active Ingredients of Early Interventions for Social Communication and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) 
Sarah Edmunds, University of South Carolina; Community-Oriented Lab for Autism and Behavioral Interventions (COLAB) 

  • Program Innovations for the “New Normal”: Making Pandemic Adjustments Permanent for Families
Tanya Camunas, A Child’s Haven
Ben Goodman, Family Connects International
Sonya Frankowski, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Telehealth

Breakout Session 2
  • Measuring What Matters: Equity Considerations in Early Childhood Measurement Tools
Tyson Barker, EC PRISM (Early Childhood Precision, Innovation, and Shared Measurement)
Katie Hammond, EC PRISM 

  • LEND Family Panel
Moderator: Karen E. Irick 

  • Addressing Health Inequities Impacting Children
Mary C. Garvey, ICS
Breakout Session 3
  • Early Childhood Workforce: Supporting the Professionals Who Support Our Families
Megan Carolan, ICS
Amber Posey, ICS 

  • Genetics of Autism
Dr. Curtis Rogers, Greenwood Genetic Center 

  • Universal Screenings as a Tool for Child Well-being
Kerrie Schnake, South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA)
Kerry Sease, Prisma Health
Kristine Hobbs, SC Department of Health and Human Services

*Tentative Session and Speaker lineup.
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
The 2022 Nurturing Developing Minds Conference & Research Symposium is a hybrid event. Registrants have the option of attending in-person at the Greenville ONE Center in downtown Greenville, SC or they may choose to attend virtually. ICS, Prisma Health, SC LEND and SC Developmental Disabilities Council will observe local, state and federal COVID-19 guidelines, and will seek the guidance of public health experts on any additional safety measures. Our utmost concern is the safety and well-being of all attendees and staff.
Proof of full vaccination will be required for all in-person attendees. Attendees will need to provide proof of full vaccination, or a negative PCR/Rapid COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours.* Entry to the Nurturing Developing Minds Conference will not be permitted without proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

*Timeframe is subject to change.

For questions, please email John Young Shik Concklin.
Profile: the ICS Staff, a Year in Service
by Amber Posey, ICS Policy Research Associate

This year showed up late. It was huffing and puffing as it neared the starting line, not yet ready for the race to begin. After all, it had taken what seemed like an eternity for the previous year to end. Still, though sluggish, the year quickly found its stride, and somehow, the staff at ICS managed to keep up the pace.

Among our team of ten, we welcomed a marriage, two healthy babies, an engagement, we weathered a surgery, we slowly and cautiously reconnected with loved ones we hadn’t seen in ages, we grew stronger as a team–restructuring and redefining our individual roles to evolve and collaborate in new and exciting ways. We fostered new relationships and worked with long-time partners on efforts we believe will better the lives of all children and the families that care for them. We hosted our first virtual conference where some of our most tech-savvy team members shined the brightest. We dug deep into the state of the early childhood workforce and published a paper on our findings. We kept the processes processing. Payroll, grant reports, board meetings, staff meetings, the list goes on….

We have always been an organization strengthened by our teams: Leadership; Equity and Innovation; Operations; Strategy and Development; Communications; and Research. These teams help us maintain focus when the world is spinning and when the world is dizzy after it finally stops spinning. They drive us to see the big picture of what matters to us as professionals, as individuals, and as humans. These teams encourage us to work closely together, share ideas and efforts, and rely on one another in ways that can sometimes feel like one giant trust exercise. It is a special and fulfilling kind of thing to be a part of this team. There is a warmth and comfort in knowing and trusting the integrity, professionalism, and work ethic of your peers. This year, we all regained some of the ordinary, the usual grind, that was taken from us at the start of this pandemic. The one thing that has always been and continues to be extraordinary, however, is the hard work and dedication of our staff. May they continue to grow, learn and do good in the year to come.

Happy Holidays to all!
What We've Been Up To
The Post and Courier's Hello Family Article Features ICS's Garvey and Story
In the piece, "Community partnerships push Spartanburg’s Hello Family initiative," Garvey spoke about the feasibility study ICS conducted for the city to gauge the needs in child development and how best to address them.

Hello Family Spartanburg is an initiative that focuses on improving outcomes of children from prenatal to age five. The city received $1.5 million in federal funding (COVID-19 relief funds). Additionally, the project is being supported by local philanthropic organizations.

Spartanburg’s City Manager Chris Story (and ICS board member) said, “Social scientists in the economic analysis community indicate that the highest return on investment that a community can make in its citizens is in the earliest years.”

ICS's Megan Carolan Discusses the Potential Trauma of Active Shooter Drills in The New York Times
Megan Carolan, VP of Research was featured in The New York Times discussing the potential trauma of younger students in active shooter drills.

With nearly all US public school students in Kindergarten through 12th grade participating in lockdown drills, Carolan suggests other approaches to mitigate the risk of school shootings. They could include helping children develop “emotional regulation, identifying when something feels off and feeling comfortable speaking up to an adult.”

ICS partnered with the Association for Chamber of Commerce Executives to deliver a webinar on November 30. It focused on how
COVID-19 exacerbated the strains on child care systems across the country, showing how critical this infrastructure is for the US economy to run. City and business leaders shared steps they are taking to break barriers and move forward to help advance economic development in South Carolina.
Carolan Talks Holiday Meltdowns and Self-Regulation in The Bump
In The Bump's, "How to Survive Holiday Toddler Meltdowns," Carolan gives advice for handling your little one's temper tantrums.

She warns that overstimulation and change in routine may be the culprit of those meltdowns, and that when planning new activities, you should not expect things to go as planned.
Year-End Giving
Worth Repeating

The Schmidt & Shi Endowed Legacy Fund will ensure that the Institute continues to thrive and create positive impact for children far into the future.
As friends of ICS, we invite you to acknowledge the dedication of Dr. Schmidt and Susan Shi, PhD by considering a gift to support the success of all children. 
Visit, or email Linda Brees to inquire about giving, or call 864-287-8063 to donate by phone. 
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