May 19, 2021
COVID-19 Phase V Grant Opportunity

The Office of Early Learning has released a COVID-19 Grant Opportunity for Providers who were OPEN on 04/01/2021. This grant is intended as Emergency Funding for Early Learning/Child Care Providers.

Providers who are interested in participating will have a short window of opportunity to submit the Application. Grants are paid based on 2020-21 capacities. For school districts, the grant is based on the 2020-21 enrollment. Amounts can be determined by using the chart below.

The Application is brief and requires completion of all areas to qualify. The provider should complete pages 1 and 2 of the form. The Coalition will complete page 3. The deadline to submit completed applications will be Close of Business (COB) on Friday, May 28, 2021. Completed applications should be returned via Sharefile/Coalition Document Exchange. Please create a folder titled: CARES Grant Opportunity to return the application.  If you do not have a Sharefile/Coalition Document Exchange Account, you may return the application directly to: michelle.shadoan@elcnwf.org.
 
COVID-19 Grant Applications are subject to review by the Early Learning Coalition for criteria eligibility and will be timely processed in the order they are received.

If you have questions regarding the Application, please email redline@elcnwf.org and use the keyword “COVID-19 Grant Question” in the subject line so that the appropriate staff member can respond.
Parent Co-Payments
The Office of Early Learning has waived parent co-payments beginning May 1, 2021. This will continue through June 30, 2021. OEL will reassess this waiver and as we receive guidance, we will pass the information along.
Child Assessments

A reminder that if you are wanting to do Child Assessments for the 2021-22 contract year, the deadline to purchase seats/slots is June 1, 2021. To purchase those slots, you must have an active subscription to one of the three approved OEL Child Assessment Vendors listed below:

TS Gold: Jeffrey Grybel - jeffrey.g@teachingstrategies.com 240-319-4135
ATI-Galileo: Technical and Service Support: 1-866-457-8776 
COR Advantage: Help Desk 1-857-600-1540; Help Desk Email

If you do not have a subscription by June 1, 2021, you will not be able to participate in Child Assessments or receive the differential payment.

Once you have purchased your subscription, please send proof of purchase to jenna.drew@elcnwf.org
August 1, 2021 is the deadline to upload the reliability certificates for your teachers in QPS. You must have reliability certificates for 75% of your personnel, as defined by Rule 6M-4.620. If you fail to make those updates in QPS by August 1, 2021, the Coalition will amend your contract to remove Child Assessments and remove the differential payment.

If you have any questions or need any assistance please reach out to one of our Contract Specialists.
There is one more Operation Kaleidoscope Update Meeting happening tomorrow, May 20th - 12pm. This meeting is intended to provide a general update on Operation Kaleidoscope initiatives, create a forum for Q&A with staff, and announce the next steps for the project.

This is a virtual meeting, so please use the button below to register. We look forward to hearing from you!
May is Hurricane Preparedness Month and we have compiled a list of the Top 10 Tips to ready your business for a storm or Hurricane.
The BOOK IT! Program has announced that they are expanding enrollment to include PreK students! They know that early childhood is a critical time for building a strong reading foundation and that PreK students heading into kindergarten have been adversely impacted due to the pandemic. 
 
BOOK IT! is a reading incentive program created by Pizza Hut in 1984. It empowers teachers and parents to motivate their students to read by providing Reading Award Certificates®, good for a free, one-topping Personal Pan Pizza® from Pizza Hut®. This program is free to schools and child care providers and runs October – March. For more information, visit www.bookitprogram.com
How Sensory Play Can Help Children With Autism
Written By: Tiffany Mooney
           
Sensory play is vital to childhood development but it is often overlooked in early childhood education. While learning ABCs and 123s is important, it’s also equally important that children learn how they engage in the world around them. Giving them opportunities to stimulate their senses is beneficial in numerous ways and can be particularly helpful in children with autism. 
Sensory play can be any activity that engages a child’s taste, touch, sight, hearing, or smell. When children engage their senses, it creates neural connections which support cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and language development. (Kimble, 2021) What seems like simple play is actually a vital part of brain development. It can help children focus, calm down, and engage in social interaction with their peers more easily. These areas can be challenging for children with autism, so they can benefit tremendously from sensory play. The following activities are some ideas that you can use at home or in a classroom setting:
 
1. Sensory Bottles
Sensory bottles can be made from store-bought water bottles or recycled ones. You simply fill the bottle with water and eye-catching objects such as beads, glitter, food coloring, confetti, foam letters, pom poms, etc. Once you have filled your bottle, make sure that you permanently close it with super glue so the children are unable to get it open and spill it. Once finished, let the children shake it up and enjoy! They will be mesmerized by the water movement and will have fun trying to find the treasures that are inside!
 
2. Water Table
Fill a small tub or bucket with a small amount of water, bubbles, and toys. You can use measuring cups, spoons, sponges, and small toys. For younger children, you may need to poke holes through the cups so they don’t drink the water. You can also encourage language development through imaginative play during this activity.
 
3. Sensory Bags
Take a gallon ziploc bag and fill it with water, paint, or clear hair gel. Then place items inside the bag. Some ideas can include foam letters, pom-poms, confetti, or beads. Once you have filled the bag, click it shut and use duct tape to seal the opened end. You can tape down the bags to a table or the floor and let the kids play. They can practice making shapes, numbers, letters, or spelling their names with the bag. The best part is that it’s mess-free!
 
All of these ideas can be great tools to use with your child, or if you’re a teacher, in your classroom. There are so many resources available to help with supporting a child on the autism spectrum. If you’re looking for some ideas to help your child’s development, try sensory play!


About The Author
My name is Tiffany Mooney. I live in beautiful Panama City Beach with my husband, Steve, and two sons, Logan and Camden. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication disorders and with minors in child development and religion. Since graduating, I have worked in early childhood in a preschool setting, and am currently the assistant director at the Woodlawn Child Development Center in Panama City Beach. Children are my passion! I love learning about their growth and development and hope to share some helpful information from what I’ve learned over the past 16 years.

References
Kimble, Brenda (2021) 12 sun sensory activities for autistic children. http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/12-fun-sensory-activities-autistic-children-478833
 
Pc.fsu.edu/ecap
Now, more than ever, the early childhood community has to come together to figure out life during a global pandemic. The HiMama Helps Webinar series was created as a platform for ECEs and child care experts to share stories and practical tips with each other. Check out their recordings from recent webinars and the list of classroom activity ideas.
Big Heart World

Big Heart World is an initiative produced by Sparkler in collaboration with Noggin that enables parents and educators to help children explore what it means to have a “big heart” and how to grow one. This means:

  • Learning About Me — Awareness of self: identity & belonging, feelings and self-regulation
  • Learning About You — Awareness of others: empathy, appreciation of diversity
  • Learning About Us — Relationships with others: interpersonal strategies

Have your kids listen, sing, and dance along to "Like Nobody Else", the first song from Noggin’s Big Heart Beats album. And be sure to follow their site as they will release a new video every month.
Help Me Grow Screening Event

HMG is available to offer free developmental screenings to the private-pay parents of your program.

Reserve a FREE Books, Balls, and Blocks Screening Event at your center today!
VPK Open Enrollment Provider Tool Kit

VPK Registration for the 2021-22 school year is underway. We as a Coalition are promoting VPK and encouraging families to enroll their 4-year-olds for the Summer/Fall programs. Our new "Ready, Set, Enroll" campaign has hit the market and we have created additional marketing materials for our VPK Providers to leverage for their own open enrollment efforts. In this digital tool kit you will find:
 
  • All "Ready, Set, Enroll" logo files
  • Flyers/Posters (print to distribute or post)
  • Letter to Parent Templates (current or prospective enrollees)
  • Social Media Asset
  • Tip Sheet for Parents
  • My First Day of VPK sign
 
Additionally, we will be distributing Yard Signs to those Providers who are interested in receiving one. Please email the redline to request your sign.
If you are having trouble accessing the files via Dropbox, or have any questions about how to use the tools, please send all inquiries to redline@elcnwf.org.
As OEL is reviewing VPK success rates between VPK vs. Non-VPK programs across the state, the Coalition wanted to remind you about the OEL sponsored Virtual Study Buddies (VSB) opportunities, to assist VPK teachers as they review for the end of course assessments that are required for some of the VPK trainings. These sessions are FREE and provide an opportunity for participants to ask clarifying questions and get a better understanding of the course content that they will be testing on.  
We are looking for parents to join the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)

Download a copy of the flyer by clicking the button below. Please make sure all parents in your center receive a copy of this flyer. You can print to send home with each of your children, or you can simply post the flyer on your social media page.
Florida KidCare

In a time when the health and safety of our community are most important, help keep the children in your center insured.
 
Encourage families in your centers to contact ELCNWF for information and assistance applying for Florida KidCare. Call 850-747-5400 X 108 or request CCR&R via the link below!
May Special Dates

Mental Health Awareness Month
Foster Care Month
Dental Care Awareness Month
Military Appreciation Month
Bike Month
AAPI Heritage Month
Water Safety Month 

May 21st
Pizza Party Day 
Bike to Work Day 


May 24th
Scavenger Hunt Day

May 25th
Missing Children’s Day

May 26th
Paper Airplane Day

May 31st
Memorial Day - ELCNWF Offices Closed
We exist to grow healthy children, parents, and the relationship between them.
Sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida and the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning