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2023 Q4 Newsletter

A new Focused Topics course and upgraded content and activities in foundational courses available

Happy Holidays from the VLS team! We appreciate all that you do to make the world a better place for children, families and staff. We are grateful for all the ways that you support military children and youth and strengthen the VLS project. This year, military child and youth professionals have earned more than 493,000 hours of professional development through the VLS. Thank you for your collaboration and for being part of our mission to support high quality programs across the world!


New Content

New Focused Topics Course Available

Family child care is a valuable resource to many families, including military families, as it plays a significant role in meeting their child care needs. Valuing and Building Family Child Care is a new Focused Topics course that explores the value of family child care (FCC) and examines the critical role that FCC coordinators play in recruiting and retaining high-quality FCC programs, as well as the unique supports FCC providers need.

For specific details regarding the new content, see the October 2023 New Focused Topics Course on Family Child Care announcement.


Selected Content Updates in Q4 2023

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 made to national guidelines. Selected content updates over the last three months include:

  • New Activities and Course Updates for Training & Curriculum Specialists

    Four additional courses within the Training & Curriculum Specialist (T&CS) track have been updated to ensure that coaches have access to the most up-to-date research and relevant information in the field as they train and coach direct care staff. These updates can be found in the Safe Environments, Healthy Environments, Family Engagement, and Cognitive Development courses in the T&CS track.

    For specific update highlights, see the T&CS Course Updates in November 2023 announcement.

  • Updates for Storing and Preparing Human Milk (Breastmilk)

    Based on the latest guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, content addressing the preparation and storage of human milk (breastmilk) has been revised within the VLS. Updates include the recommendation to swirl the expressed breastmilk to mix the fat which may have separated before feeding the infant, as well as recommended temperature and storage times for best quality. These updates can be found in Lesson 5 of Healthy Environments (Infants & Toddler track), Lesson 5 of Healthy Environments (Family Child Care track), and Lesson 3 of Essentials in Child Care Food Service (Focused Topics).

  • A New Child Abuse Reporting Poster from the Department of Defense

    The latest child abuse reporting poster from the Department of Defense (DoD) has now been added across all tracks of Child Abuse: Identification and Reporting, Safe Environments, and Child Abuse & Identification & Reporting for Support Staff. The poster can be downloaded and printed to post in your classroom or program to help everyone understand the seriousness of reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.


Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Boosting Success in Mathematics

    Kindergarten readiness has been shown to predict academic success later in life. Developing math skills like counting, one-to-one correspondence, and number recognition are important parts of preparing children to enter kindergarten. The Regional Educational Laboratory Program (REL), part of the Insititute for Education Sciences (IES), recently published an infographic on creating supportive conditions for success in mathematics. This infographic contains a multitude of resources related to supporting Pre-K math skills and preparing young children for kindergarten mathematics. You can access the REL infographic here:

  • Webinar on Improving Staff Wellness and Job Satisfaction

    Caring for young children is rewarding and exhausting work. Due to the demanding nature of this profession, compassion fatigue and burnout are significant factors that impact job satisfaction and staff turnover in programs across the United States. The Office of Head Start offers a variety of resources for teachers and caregivers looking to enhance their self-care practices, including webinars like the one found here:

    You can find additional tools and resources to support your own social emotional learning and self-care in the VLS Focused Topics course, Social Emotional Learning for Teacher (SELF-T).

  • New Podcast from the 2023 DoD Child Care Summit

    The 2023 Department of Defense Child Care Summit took place in September, when DoD leaders met to discuss equity and consistency within military child care systems. Families, child care employees, and DoD leadership addressed gaps, exchanged ideas, and explored solutions for ensuring high-quality care is available to all military families. You can listen to some of those ideas and solutions here:

  • Supporting Early Literacy Development

    Reading with young children is one of the best ways to support their early literacy development. With so many skills and areas to focus on, it may not be clear to families how best to use their time reading with children. This research brief from the Crane Center of Early Childhood Research and Policy outlines eight tips for making the most of the time families spend reading with their children. These concrete strategies would be excellent to share with families and staff who are looking to make shared readings more enriching for children. This resource also includes a link to sign up to receive free books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. While the link provided by the Crane Center is limited to families in Ohio, you can check availability for your area at

    Read the research brief here: