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2022 Q4 Newsletter

Updates to observation tools and Foundational courses now available

Selected Content Updates in Q4 2022

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

  • Refined Competency Reflections

    Competency Reflections are tools found in all 15 foundational courses and can be used as both a tool for self-reflection and a tool to assess and document a staff member’s competency. The Competency Reflections can be used with new staff members or family child care (FCC) providers completing their foundational training or more seasoned staff and providers can use them to document their professional growth or identify goals for improvement.

    The Competency Reflections in all the foundational courses across the FCC and center-based Direct Care tracks have been reviewed and refined to support caregivers and Training & Curriculum Specialist’s observation and reflection. The number of practices has been reduced to be more supportive of the observer and only the most critical practices are listed. The language was also refined to ensure all practices are actionable. Additionally, competencies are now marked as E, D, M to indicate emerging, developing, or mastered rather than a numerical rating.

  • Updated Caregiving Observation & Reflection Tool

    The Caregiving Observation and Reflection Tool (CORT) found in Lesson 5 of the Using VLS: Coaching to Enhance Practice course is a comprehensive tool for identifying strengths and areas of growth for caregivers across 5 domains. The practices within each domain and the corresponding examples have been reviewed and refined to guide program leaders in using the tool effectively. Special attention has been given to the Emerging category of the tool to ensure that examples truly represent emerging practices rather than practices that may be harmful and require immediate action. Updates also now allow Training & Curriculum Specialists and Program Managers to view the full CORT on their device while only having to print the CORT Observation Sheet or the domain specific Observation Sheets to record their responses. For specific details regarding all the updates, see the October 2022 Caregiving Observation & Reflection Tool news article.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2022 Safe Sleep Policy Guidelines

    In 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated the recommendations for reducing infant deaths in the sleep environment. The policy guidelines provide the evidence base for updated recommendations, which apply to children up to 1 year old. The AAP emphasizes the need for infants to sleep on their backs without soft bedding and highlight the risks of bed-sharing under various scenarios. These updated guidelines have been included and are now available in Infant Toddler Safe Environments Lesson 5.

  • FCC and SA Track: Foundational Courses Updated

    The VLS team continues to update the Foundational Courses across all tracks in order to provide staff and program leaders with the most up-to-date research and information in the field. In addition to the Preschool (PS) & Infant & Toddler (IT) track updates that were completed this summer, the following courses in the School-Age (SA) and Family Child Care (FCC) tracks have now been updated: Professionalism and Physical Development. Revisions included new content and activities, and updates to the CDC Developmental Milestones. Some highlights include:

Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Tips for Inexpensive and Healthy Alternatives to Fast Food

    The Military OneSource podcast entitled; Faster Than Fast Food: Leveraging Seasonal Vegetables for Meals and Snacks, provides tips from a registered dietician and culinary educator on how to prepare nutritious meals and snacks for families that are less expensive, more nutritious, and faster than fast food.

    To listen to this podcast, visit:

  • Understanding and Responding to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Almost all children will get RSV at least once by the time they are 2. It's the most common cause of respiratory infections in this age group but may cause severe illness in children under 1. While there is no vaccine for RSV, there are many ways to limit the spread. This year, the virus is showing up earlier than usual, and more children are getting sick. Early care and education program staff members and families need to understand the symptoms of RSV so that they know how to respond when children and adults get sick. The National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (NCHBHS) has a new resource to help staff learn more about RSV, including the importance of daily health checks, the inclusion of ill children, and information on what to do when it’s more than just a cold.

    To view the resource for RSV information visit:

  • Making Diverse Books Available for All

    The Diverse Books for All Coalition is made up of twenty-seven nonprofits and membership organizations from across the U.S. that joined forces to tackle a common challenge: the lack of high-quality, affordable children’s books by and about diverse races and cultures. Early language and literacy skills are closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories.  Seeing characters that look like them and represent their own experiences tells children that their lives are worthy of being discussed and celebrated.  Books that feature a wide variety of characters and experiences are a powerful way for all families to challenge stereotypes from the start.

    As a member of the Diverse Books for All Coalition, Zero to Three provides a list of recommended books and a Diverse Book Finder link.

    For additional information and resources, see:

  • Supporting Children with Disabilities

    During the pandemic, children with disabilities suffered disproportionately compared to their peers without disabilities. The Board on Children, Youth, and Families hosted a workshop on June 13-15, 2022, to learn more about what policies and practices might be sustained or implemented beyond the pandemic to support children with disabilities and their families. In this workshop, presenters included service providers, researchers, government leaders, youth with disabilities, and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities. Practices were identified that could improve the system of care for children with disabilities as well as improve access to services for underserved and marginalized populations. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published; Supporting Children with Disabilities: Lessons from the Pandemic: Proceedings of a Workshop.

    To download a copy of the proceedings, please visit: Supporting Children with Disabilities