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This spring and summer, we’re taking a tour of DECAL’s six regions by talking to our Community Partnership Coordinators, representatives from our Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and introducing you to child care providers in each region. The Northwest Region consists of 11 counties including Fulton and ten other counties in the northwest corner of the state, spreading from Haralson, and continuing up to the Tennessee line and over to Pickens and Cherokee counties.  Joining us to talk about the Northwest Region are Glenda Davis-Canteen, Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator, and Brittney Everett, the ECE Specialist Team Lead at Quality Care for Children CCR&R of Northwest Georgia. Also joining us today is DiAnne Coggins, a family child care provider and one of our Peer Support Network Ambassadors, from College Park in Fulton County. And from further north, we have Kari Emerson, a Program Specialist with Ninth District Opportunity Head Start & Early Head Start at the Pickens County Head Start program in Tate Georgia. Support the show
Today, it’s another one of our “Day in the Life” features where we learn more about a member of our DECAL team and what they do for Georgia’s youngest learners and their families.  Today we’re learning more about CAPS…a federal program administered by DECAL that helps pay for the cost of child care so parents can work or attend school.  We’re spending a “Day in the Life” of Tara Davis, CAPS Family Support Coordinator for the Northwest Region, and Gina Haskins, CAPS Scholarship Administration Specialist.  Support the show
Like so many other industries, child care has seen its share of staffing shortages lately.  DECAL has tried to help through POWER supplemental payments for anyone eligible who is working in child care…and over $1.57 BILLION directly to child care programs in Georgia to stabilize child care, support the workforce, and increase access to quality care and learning.  Joining us with updates on POWER and STABLE is Christi Moore, Professional Learning Director here at DECAL; Woody Dover is our Enterprise Project Management Director; and Rian Ringsrud, Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administration.  Support the show
In 2018, the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning partnered with the Georgia Forestry Foundation to host the first Moonlight through the Pines, a fundraising event for both organizations featuring great food and singer songwriters from Georgia.  We had such a great time with that event, we are doing it again on May 18, this time with the foundation for the Technical College System of Georgia.  Joining us to talk about Moonlight through the Pines: A Singers Songwriters Soiree is Kelsey Bassett, Executive Director of the TCSG Foundation, and our own Carrie Ashbee, Executive Director of the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning.  Plus a special message from Commissioner Jacobs about State Employees Recognition Week 2022.Support the show
For the second year in a row, DECAL will celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week in Georgia May 2 through 6.  Similar to Georgia’s Pre-K Week and Inclusive Early Learning Week, this special week in May reminds us that the early years in a child’s life provide a key opportunity to establish safe and secure relationships and support healthy social and emotional development.  Joining us are Laura Lucas, DECAL Director of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health; Dr. Chelsea Morris, Professor at University of West Georgia and co-author of the children's book, "Suri the Spider Selects a Solution," and Lorie Summers, a Kids on the Block Puppeteer for Mental Health America of Georgia who is joining our celebration this year.  Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Over the next few months, we’re going to take a tour of DECAL’s six regions by talking to our Community Partnership Coordinators, representatives from our Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and introducing you to child care providers in each region.  Joining us this week to talk about the Southwest Region are Edward Rowell, Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator, and DJ Fitchlee, Training Director of the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency of Southwest Georgia based at Albany State University.  Also joining us is one of our Peer Support Network Ambassadors, Brett Copeland, Assistant Director for Child Development Centers at Central Georgia Technical College in addition to being the Peer Support Network Ambassador for Bibb County; and Gwen Dodson, Data Coordinator of Fort Valley State University Head Start in Fort Valley. Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Commissioner Jacobs was the guest on the April 23-24, 2022, episode of Georgia Focus on the Georgia News Network, a program heard on 181 radio affiliates statewide.Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
For over 15 years, the CDC’s Learn the signs. Act Early program has provided free milestone checklists for families, early childhood education professionals, and medical clinicians to use in monitoring the development of young children in their care.  In March, the CDC published revisions to the milestones and this week we are bringing our listeners up-to-speed.  Joining us to talk about the Learn the Signs, Act Early Program is Bridget Ratajczak, DECAL’s Child and Family Development Supervisor who serves as the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador for Georgia; Rebecca Ellis is our Director of Practice and Support Services who also happens to have two young boys and uses the Milestones; and Dr. Jennifer Zubler is a general pediatrician in Atlanta and consultant for the CDC Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program.  Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
It’s the time of year when high school seniors across the state begin receiving acceptance letters from various colleges…and making plans for starting their higher education in the fall.  But what if we told you one Atlanta high school senior has been accepted by 21 colleges with scholarships totaling more than $1 million.  And it all started in Georgia's Pre-K Program.  Joining us on the podcast is Taylor Edwards, a senior at Midtown High School in Atlanta, along with her mom Robin Lewis.   Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Today, it’s another one of our “Day in the Life” features where we learn more about a member of our DECAL team and what they do for Georgia’s youngest learners and their families.  Today we are talking to the manager behind the POWER payments, a big initiative both last year and this year here at DECAL.  Welcome Abby Mozo, Manager for the POWER payments.  Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
In January, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) presented its 18th edition of the Top Ten Issues to Watch Report.  The report identifies and analyzes key education issues Georgia will be or should be addressing in the coming year.  Joining us to talk about the Top Ten Issues to Watch is Dr. Dana Rickman, GPEE President, and Matt Smith, Senior Policy Analyst.  Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
DECAL is joining the Georgia Department of Education and the nonprofit research institute RTI International to help schools and child care programs test drinking water for lead, communicate about the testing, and remove lead from their drinking and cooking water.  Thanks to a federal grant, this testing program is free of charge and good for the health and safety of children and their families.  The project is called Clean Water for Georgia Kids…and here to talk about it is Rhonda Parker, Child Care Services Director of Field Operations, Jennifer Hoponick Redmon, the Clean Water for Georgia Kids Program Director and a Senior Environmental Health Scientist with nonprofit institute RTI International, and Crystal Lee Pow Jackson, a research environmental scientist and an outreach and communication coordinator for the program. Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Today they may be learning their colors, shapes, and letters…but before you know it, those four year olds in Georgia’s Pre-K Program will be all grown up and headed to technical school or college.  That’s why each year we join Path2College 529 Plan and the Georgia Student Finance Commission for our Pre-K to College Sweepstakes.  This is the fifth year for our sweepstakes and here to talk about Pre-K to College is Mitch Seabaugh, Executive Director of the Path2College 529 Plan, and Meghan McNail, Summer Transition Program and Outreach Manager for Georgia’s Pre-K Program.   Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
On October 18, 2021, DECAL welcomed our new Early Head Start - Child Care Partnership Director.  DECAL has been an Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership grantee since 2014. Megan Fickes joined us after 14 years of Head Start/Early Head Start experience working with Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning.  Joining us to talk about DECAL’s Early Head Start partnerships is our new director, Megan Fickes, along with Deputy Commissioner of Quality Initiatives and Partnerships Dr. Bentley Ponder.  More information can be found at Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/  Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
If you’re a food bank, school, camp, church, government entity, or nonprofit organization, you may be eligible to receive reimbursement for serving nutritious meals to kids and teens this summer through Happy Helpings...the new name for Georgia’s Summer Food Service Program.  Here to talk about how DECAL’s Nutrition Division will ensure Georgia’s kids will have access to meals and snacks this summer is Cindy Kicklighter, Manager of Marketing and Outreach.   Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Fathers, mothers, foster parents, or guardians of young children that have had a child in childcare or early intervention currently, or in the past two years…they all make up DECAL’s Family Peer Ambassadors.  The Ambassadors serve as leaders in their community, engaging families in activities to provide them with information about child development and strategies they can use to support their children’s school readiness.  Joining us to talk about the Family Peer Ambassador Program are Ann Panzica, Child and Family Development Training Specialists; Bridget Ratajczak, Child and Family Development Supervisor and three of our current DECAL Family Peer Ambassadors:  Ni’Aisha Banks-Devore, Raymond Dockery, and Mayra Velez. Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
DECAL’s Child Care Services Division is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of thousands of children in Georgia while also providing training and technical assistance, licensing new child care programs, and determining exempt programs.  The division also responds to any concerns or complaints the public may have through the CCS Consultant of the Day.  Joining us to talk about the CCS Consultant of the Day is Tahishe Smith, CCS Intake Manager for the Complaint Unit. Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
WSB Radio's Scott Slade talks with Commissioner Jacobs about the availability of child care, staffing shortages, and the impact of COVID-19 in Georgia.Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Early child development helps build a foundation for lifelong learning, behavior, and health.  With that in in mind, DECAL and the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning have named our inaugural Georgia’s Early Childhood Educators of the Year for 2022.  The infant winner is Diana Black from Pookie Bear Learning Center in Savannah, the toddler winner is Maria Claudia Ortega from My Little Geniuses in Marietta, and the preschool winner is Hannah Beth Reeves from the Academy for Little People in Chickamauga.  On this week's podcast we are joined by all three winners in addition to Thea Stevens, Infant Toddler Supervisor here at DECAL, and Carrie Ashbee, Executive Director of the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning.  We’re also joined by Maria Moor from Georgia's Pre-K Program who will serve as Maria Claudia’s interpreter.Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
Research tells us that, regardless of their abilities, children in high-quality child care programs are better prepared to enter school and more likely to develop healthy social and emotional skills.  When child care providers offer inclusive child care, they’re supporting not only children with disabilities but also their parents who can work, go back to school, or just take a break.  Here to talk about the importance of inclusion in early child care and Inclusive Early Learning week are Inclusion and Behavior Support Specialists Emily Graham and Alicia Prather. Support the show (http://www.decal.ga.gov)
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