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2021 Q4 Newsletter

Q4 updates to foundational courses and research highlights. Site upgrades coming Dec. 17th. Content peak for 2022.

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:

  • A New Lesson Highlighting Program Staffing Schedules

    A new lesson, Program Staffing Schedule, has been added to the Program Management course in the Management track. This new lesson highlights the essential elements to consider while developing staffing schedules including attending to ratio, staff wellbeing, ensuring coverage for professional development and planning, team building, continuity of care, and short- and long-term planning. It also highlights the importance of developing procedures and organizational systems that support staffing arrangements.  

    For specific details regarding updates to lessons and activities, see the November 2021 Program Management update announcement..

  • Safe Environments Course Updates

    The Safe Environments course in the Infant & Toddler, Preschool, School-Age, and Family Child Care tracks has been updated to include new content, enhanced activities, and resources to help support direct care staff in providing safe environments for children, families and staff. The Safe Environments lessons were streamlined and focus direct care professional’s attention on activities that are most meaningful to their awareness and prevention of important safety issues. 

    For specific details regarding updates to lessons and activities, see the November 2021 Safe Environments update announcement.

  • New Management Content to be Added in Foundational Courses

    In response to requests from the Services and DoD, new content has been developed and reviewed for the Program Management, Professionalism, Communication & Language Development, and Child Abuse Prevention courses in the Management track. This new content highlights critical elements relative to supportive leadership partnerships, developing strong teams through effective hiring and onboarding procedures and staff supervision. The new content will be released in 2022.

  • A New Focused Topics Course in Development

    A new Focused Topics course, Leadership Essentials: Getting Started as a Program Manager, is currently in development. This new course will focus on the essential knowledge and skills that program managers need to be successful in their leadership role including relationship building practices and organizational systems that support staff members and program operations. The VLS team will conduct filming visits at several military instillations over the next two months to interview program leaders. Our team appreciates the programs working with us so we can capture authentic insights from leaders in high-quality programs. This new Focused Topics course will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Military Family Readiness Policy’s Children, Youth and Families (OMFRP’s CYP) and Service leadership during 2022.


Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Labels to Describe Early Child Care Professionals

    Dr. Shayne Piasta, Crane Faculty Associate at The Ohio State University, co-authored a study investigating the labels used to describe early childcare (EC) professionals both by researchers and by professionals themselves. The key findings in this research were:

    • The most preferred term for role across all data sources was “teacher.” “Educator” was the second most common term but appeared less frequently.
    • During interviews, teachers expressed the sentiment that their work was teaching or educating young children within early care settings to prepare them for formal schooling. This notion was strongly tied to participants’ views of themselves as teachers.

    This research is valuable, especially while there is an enduring push to professionalize the field of early childhood in this country. It also offers a helpful guide and evidence-based reminder for policy makers and program leaders that those working within child and youth programs are more than “day care providers,” and prefer to be recognized as such.

    To read more about this research, see the OSU Crane Center Study: "We're More than a Daycare".

    “I think we’re more than a daycare. Like, we actually—we’re teaching; we’re helping develop these young children into being able to be productive members of society and, you know, really giving them the tools they need to succeed in school.”
  • Recognizing the Value of Home-Based Child Care

    Zero to Three’s new policy brief calls attention to the value of increasing and strengthening both Family Child Care (FCC) and Family Friend and Neighbor (FFN) child care options pointing out that home-based child care is often the first choice of families with infants and toddlers. This brief provides examples of state strategies and recommendations that policymakers can consider in building high quality options that embrace FCC and FFN as essential options for all families of infants and toddlers.  

    To access the policy brief, see the Zero to Three article on Home Based Care.

  • School Bullying Returning with In-person Learning

    The Child Trends article, School Bullying Has Decreased During the COVID-19 Pandemic, but Schools Should Prepare for Its Return, provides data relative to school bullying during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as data collected as students return to in-person learning. This article discusses findings which indicate that in American schools there was a decrease in bullying behaviors during the pandemic and suggests that school leaders should prepare for a resurgence of bullying behaviors.

    For the full article, see: Child Trends - October 2021 Bullying Article.


Tech Updates

  • VLS System Upgrade - December 17, 2021

    We are excited to announce the upcoming release of a major upgrade to the Virtual Lab School platform. This upgrade, will provide greater flexibility for our users and content creators, faster page loads, upgrades to the site's security and stability, user interface enhancements, new user roles, and engaging new content types. Additionally, nearly all the Focused Topics will become enrollable and certifiable.

    The VLS site will be unavailable during maintenance which is currently scheduled to begin at  ( and continue through Sunday, December 19, 2021. Additional downtime may occur intermittently during the two weeks following as we complete the move to the new system.

    While this is a large update that will take time, our team will be working as quickly as is feasible to get you all back up and running with as little downtime as possible. We will keep you updated along the way and once the upgrade is complete. For updates leading up to the upgrade, refer to the VLS System Upgrade announcement. Thank you for your patience as we work to improve the VLS platform!