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2020 Q1 Newsletter

Three New Focused Topics Courses Released

Three New Focused Topics Courses Now Available

Three new Focused Topics courses, Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviors, Sexual Development & Behavior in Children and Youth, and Trauma-Informed Care in Child Care Settings are now available. This suite of courses was designed to complement one another and provide professionals with the training and skills to support children with diverse life experiences and behaviors. See additional course details in our previous news posts.

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Content Updates

  • F&NS - Feeding Infants in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

    The Food and Nutrition Service recently made available its Feeding Infants in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This 200-page resource is available in English and Spanish and offers direct care staff, food service staff, administrators, and parents tips and best practices to ensure babies get a healthy start. This resource has been added to the Healthy Environments course in the Infant & Toddler, Training & Curriculum Specialist, and Management tracks, as well as Lesson 3 in the Focused Topics course Essentials in Child Care Food Service.

    The Food and Nutrition Service also released its CACFP Trainer Tools: Feeding Infants resource which contains presentation slides and notes, videos, interactive games, and pre- and post-tests. This resource can be found in the Training & Curriculum Specialist track, Healthy Environments course, Lesson Five and in Lesson 3 of the Essentials in Child Care Food Service Focused Topics Course.

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  • NAS - Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout

    The National Academy of Sciences recently published their Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being. Though the publication is aimed at health care providers, many similarities exist between early childhood educators’ and health clinicians’ work lives: long hours, staffing shortages, high workload, paperwork obligations, etc. Both teachers and clinicians are also susceptible to multiple forms of burnout. However, these practitioners also share two assets that can help to support wellbeing: a sense of professionalism and a desire to improve lives. Lesson Four of the Professionalism course in the Management track has been updated to include new guidelines adapted from this research to support professional well-being in child care centers.

Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • COVID-19 Support

    We are holding in our thoughts those who access the Virtual Lab School during this COVID-19 pandemic, particularly child care professionals, and we wish you all good health and safety. You can find the latest information regarding COVID-19 at the Center for Disease Control (CDC): with specific guidance for child care programs, including how to talk to children about the disease. You can also find more information and resources specifically for child care professionals offered by Child Care Aware. In addition, Child Trends offers some tailored guidance on supporting children’s social emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    For more information and resources, read the full article: COVID-19 Child Care Support

  • Challenges and Risks of Lockdown Drills for Students with Disabilities

    Lockdown drills are a common practice in classrooms across the United States and are intended to prepare staff and students for the potential threat of an active shooter in or near the school. Lockdown drills can be challenging for both classroom management and the emotional well-being of any student, however they present additional challenges for students with disabilities. Child care programs and schools are required to have plans that outline lockdown procedures, including what the classroom teacher is to do in an event, as well as how lockdown plans affect students with disabilities. Recent research suggests that students with disabilities are largely unaccounted for in school lockdown plans and, despite federal guidance, there is still no clear training for staff around assisting students with disabilities during lockdown drills, or measures to ensure compliance. These findings highlight the need for robust research on best practices for conducting lockdown drills with students with disabilities so that educators are appropriately trained to support the unique needs of their students while minimizing the risk of emotional trauma as a result of these drills. Review the VLS Safe Environments course for additional information on keeping children safe.

  • Combined Prenatal Smoking and Drinking Greatly Increases the Risk of SIDS

    Many research studies have shown an increased risk of SIDS (Suddent Infant Death Syndrome) due to maternal smoking during pregnancy and some studies have found that prenatal exposure to alcohol can increase the risk of SIDS. A new study supported by the National Institutes of Health found that children born to mothers who both drank and smoked beyond the first trimester of pregnancy have a 12-fold increase of SIDS. Findings suggest that dual exposure was associated with substantially higher risk than either exposure alone. The findings of the Safe Passage Study support the recommendation that women should not drink or smoke during pregnancy while emphasizing the significance of dual exposure. Review the VLS Infant & Toddler track Safe Environments course for additional information on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

  • Month of the Military Child

    “April is designated as the Month of the Military Child; a time to honor the sacrifices made by military families worldwide, with an emphasis on the experience of the dependent children of military members serving at home and overseas. Month of the Military Child is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy and supported by many other organizations such as the DoDEA.” Read more:

  • Week of the Young Child

    The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is preparing for its annual celebration of The Week of the Young Child April 11–17, 2020. NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child celebrates young children and draws attention to high quality early learning and the critical role that teachers and families play in children’s learning and development. Learn more about the week’s themes and resources at

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  • Navy Celebrates Collective Milestone: 120 CDAs

    One Navy region demonstrated their commitment to high quality child and youth programs and well-trained professionals by hosting a special collective ceremony for CDA candidates. On February 13, 2020, one hundred twenty child care professionals working in Navy child and youth programs across the Mid-Atlantic region received their CDA in a special ceremony hosted in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Valora Washington, Chief Executive Officer of Council for Professional Recognition, gave a congratulatory speech and Capt. Bradley Rosen, Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk Commanding Officer helped to distribute candidate certificates during the ceremony.

Tech Updates

  • Preschool Activities Upgraded!

    Preschool activities are now easier to complete online. As we reported on March 1, all Learn, Explore, and Apply activities in the Preschool track have been updated to HTML. This means direct care staff can more easily engage in reflective practice by filling out activities in their web browser. Direct care staff will input their activity responses in the browser and then select the “print” icon to save the activity locally (for example, as a PDF on their desktop). Then direct care staff can attach the PDF version of the activity to an email and send it to their Training & Curriculum Specialist or coach for review and discussion. As a reminder, users must ensure that they are saving completed activities to a local machine as they will not be accessible on the site once they navigate away from the activity page. You can also access the Fillable Activities Support Article for additional guidance. The Family Child Care track activities are next in line for transition from PDF to HTML.

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