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2021 Q3 Newsletter

Latest updates to Foundational and Focused Topics courses, research, and resources

Selected Content Updates:

The VLS integrates the latest research and best practices into its professional development system. Our content team continually reviews new research and updates to national guidelines. Selected content updates over the last three months include:

  • Updated Guidance on using Competency Reflections

    Within VLS Foundational Courses, Training & Curriculum Specialists use Competency Reflections to observe and document staff member’s competencies related to specific best practices. To better support T&CS’s use of this key tool, we added to Lesson Four of the Focused Topics course, Using the VLS: Coaching to Enhance Practice new guidance around key practices for completing the Competency Reflection efficiently and effectively. Additionally, a new video has been added and a sample of a completed Competency Reflection will be added to the course to better illustrate the Competency Reflection’s use. 

  • Cognitive Development Course Updates

    The Infant & Toddler (IT), Preschool (PS), and School-Age (SA) tracks in the Cognitive Development course have been updated to include new content and activities on theories of cognitive development, scaffolding children’s learning, and interactions and experiences that support children’s cognitive development at various ages.

    For specific details regarding updates to lessons and activities, see the July 2021 news announcement here:

  • Healthy Environments Course Updates

    The Healthy Environments courses in the Infant & Toddler (IT), Preschool (PS) and School-Age (SA) tracks have been updated to include new content, resources and activities that are essential for child care programs to successfully provide healthy environments for children, families, and staff. The course includes updated posters and resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control. Check out the new child care provider handwashing posters provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Healthy Environments Lesson 2 of the Infant & Todder, Preschool and School-Age tracks. Additional updates are planned for the Healthy Environments course in the Family Child Care (FCC) track.

  • Creating Inclusive Environments

    Creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for all children and families is critical in early care programs. A program’s climate influences children’s self-concept and parent’s connection to the program, as well as engagement with their child’s experiences within the program. A new resource identifying specific strategies on how to build and maintain a welcoming, inclusive classroom, program, and community has been added to Lesson Five of the Focused Topics course, Creating Gender Safe Spaces. See the full article here:

Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Raising the Future: America's Child Care Dilemma

    Families in the U.S. struggle to find affordable, high-quality childcare. In the face of this child care dilemma, many experts suggest looking to the military child care system as a model for high-quality care. Providing high-quality, affordable care for service members and providing fair wages and benefits for child care providers; the military child care system has been described as the gold standard for childcare. A PBS series: Raising the Future: America's Child Care Dilemma, highlights how the military child care system could be a model for the nation.

    To view the full episode, visit:

  • a child covers her eyes to play peek-a-boo

    The Importance of Play

    Research has shown that “serve and return” interactions, where parents and caregivers actively engage and respond positively with children, have a profound impact on a child’s developing brain. Parents and caregivers can support children’s healthy brain development by engaging in rich interactions during play, such as in a simple game of peek-a-boo. In this TED Talk, seven- year-old Molly Wright breaks down the tangible benefits of positive, reciprocal "serve and return" interactions and provides effective strategies that can help all kids thrive by the age of five.

    To view the full TED talk, visit:

  • Factors Impacting Teacher Well-Being

    The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment recently published the Early Childhood Workforce Index 2020 Report which provides a state-by state guide on policies and conditions that affect the economic, physical, and emotional well-being of ECE professionals. The Index details each state’s policies that focus on ECE qualifications, work environments, and compensation. It provides an overview of each state’s response to workforce financial and health risks that were intensified by the COVID -19 pandemic. The Index sheds light on the inequitable policies that require systemic change, such as inadequate wages for ECE professionals who largely are women and women of color. The Index includes five essential elements of early care and education policy to support early educators:

    • Qualifications and educational supports
    • Work environment standards
    • Compensation and financial relief
    • Workforce data
    • Financial resources

    To read the full report, see:

  • Preventing Childhood Toxic Stress: Partnering with Families and Communities to Promote Relational Health

    In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for focusing on safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) to prevent toxic stress and buffer its effects on children. The statement focuses on just how important relationships and positive childhood experiences are in preventing and healing toxic stress. This policy changes from a problem-based model which focuses on a child’s past adverse experiences and instead moves toward a positive, strengths-based approach that fosters solutions for families and communities.

    Read the policy statement here:

  • Racial Justice Resources for Military Families

    Sesame Street in Communities offers a variety of resources and tools for military families to explain racism to children and raise upstanders. Child friendly videos and printable activities are available to families on a variety of topics including racial justice. For additional information on this resource and to share with families you work with, see