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Council Connections - RMECC

The Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Council (RMECC) is the new Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Agency for Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties.  A huge THANK YOU goes out to Early Childhood Network who did this work for the last 10 years!  They continue to be an valuable partner in Garfield County as the coaching agency working with programs.
So, what is CCR&R?  The Child Care Resource & Referral network is utilized throughout the state to deliver referral services (connecting families to child care services) and to coordinate resources for providers and families.  This network was established in order to ensure efficient and effective delivery of child care information and resources to families and programs.  Below is a short list of services and resources available to programs and to families in the 3 county region.
For Providers:

  • We are currently updating provider information and you will be receiving a call or email from Kristin Sparkman from the Council.  This update will take no more than 30 minutes to complete and ensures provider information is up-to-date for referral specialists.
  • We are always looking for new licensed providers!  It is no secret that there is a child care shortage.  If you know someone who is interested in starting a child care business, please send them our way!
  • We maintain a training page on our website (www.rmecc.org).  This page contains trainings we know about and are available throughout the region. 
  • We are continuing our outreach efforts to providers so they are aware of funding and incentives available through a variety of sources.  Please call us for more information and eligibility requirements.
  • We promote engagement and provide technical support for the Colorado Shines QRIS system, the Professional Development Information system (PDIS), and Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP).
  • We support programs with resources to develop and implement the Colorado Child Care Disaster Plan.
  • We collect data for the 3 county region regarding the supply and demand for child care services
For Families:
  • We provide links to resources in order to find child care in the region that fits the family’s needs, parent education opportunities and local resources
  • We work to collaborate with a number of resources in each community to help connect programs and families to available services.
  • We provide resources to families to help support them as they are looking for quality care for their children.  This includes information about what quality looks like, information about the Colorado Shines Rating system and available financial help they may qualify for.

This is just a snapshot of what we do!  We welcome a chance to talk with you directly about Child Care Resource & Referral and what needs you might have and how we can support your program.  We sent out an informational flyer that can be given to families as a resource.  It is also included here, but if you need us to resend it to you, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Stacy Petty, Council Coordinator                    Kristin Sparkman, Early Childhood Specialist
rmecc@mtnvalley.org                                       rmeccspecialist@mtnvalley.org
719-486-7273                                                   719-293-2378

CCRR Flyer
Garfield County logo

March Licensing Corner

Our new childcare licensing computer system has come into play! This may not be the most exciting news, but here are some good things to know…

  • It is built on the existing Colorado Shines platform, so updates from one system to the other will happen more readily (e.g., a closed program will no longer show up on Colorado Shines search). 
  • You will start seeing licensing specialists using a new APP to create your Reports of Inspection. This APP will likely make our visits with you shorter…unless you really want us to stay longer! 
  • You will see your Reports of Inspection from licensing visits over the past 3 years linked to your Colorado Shines program profile. While already considered public information (e.g., posted in plain sight in your program or notice posted where reports located; could be requested through the Colorado Office of Early Childhood Website), they are now available for on-line review as a result of Federal Block Grant requirements.
  • The new system is having some roll out glitches. Delays in applications and continuation processing along with new license production may result. If you are experiencing an unusually long delay, please let your licensing specialist know so we can assist.        
  • In the near future, you will be able to do many paper and pen processes (applications, waiver and appeal requests) as well as pay fees on-line. 
  • Following an inspection, you will now receive an automated confidential survey via email. Please let us know how we are doing, including any missed opportunities to share resources.
Updated General Rules (apply to all facilities) are now available for easy review on the Office of Early Childhood Website: coloradoofficeofearlychildhood.com. Updates to fees are not included yet. Reflected changes currently include but are not limited to:
  • Clarification and streamlining of Appeals and Waiver process. Intent is to make process simpler and faster for programs.
  • By 2023, all child abuse and neglect inquiry background checks must be renewed every 5 years to help ensure no charges filed after initial check.

We will continue to keep you posted. Please let us know if you have any questions or would like resources to help embed rules and regulations into routine practice.

Cheers, Rebecca, Mark & Sandy


Look at you - being an advocate!

It’s always been important to stand up for what young children need; they can’t, and if we don’t who will? This time of year, for example, there is important legislation going on at the national and state levels, and there are many ways you can learn more and speak up for the children:
  1. Learn who your elected officials are at all levels - http://americaforearlyed.org/take-action/contact-your-elected-officials, put in your address and it’s all right there.
  2. Vote – this site lets you find out if you are registered, you can change your name/address, or register if you aren’t already - https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/home.xhtml. You can register on line or at your county clerk’s office, and you can register even on election day.
  3. Go to representatives/candidates town hall meetings, email or call elected officials – you would be surprised how effective your voice can be.
  4. Participate in events like “Speak Up For Kids” day at the state capital, organized by the Colorado Children's Campaign – https://www.coloradokids.org/about/event-types/speak-up-for-kids-day/, this year set for March 14.
  5. Write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.
  6. Talk to your friends and neighbors about your expertise on young children so they can be more informed.
These are good links to get you started – remember you are a child’s champion!
NAEYC is a leading organization advocating at the National Level - https://www.naeyc.org/get-involved/advocate is a great place to get started.
Colorado Children's Campaign is a non-partisan organization at the state level that focused on early childhood, K-12 education, and child health - https://www.coloradokids.org/advocacy/.

                                                                Shirley - Kids First, Director


Clipart chldren in a line

What’s the Difference Between Encouragement               and Praise? By Deb Bair

     They sound somewhat similar, right? We give encouragement and praise daily while working with the children under our care. So, why is it important to understand the differences? According to the research, praise, such as saying “good job, or nice work” teaches dependency on external feedback, while encouragement teaches internal validation and motivation. Most children and adults like praise, it makes us feel good. But like too much candy, it can be unhealthy by creating dependence on others and a lack of faith in one’s self.
     So, how do we encourage rather than praise? By focusing on a child’s effort and progress. Instead of saying “good job” when a child completes a puzzle, try saying, “I noticed you worked really hard on that puzzle,” or “you figured it out on your own.” These encouraging statements help promote enjoyment in doing the work, rather than seeking adult approval. Just by changing your words from “I like” to “I notice” is an easy shift in moving toward using encouragement rather than praise. The long term effect of encouragement is creating more independent and self-motivated children.
     There is certainly a place for praise as well. If you do want to use praise, make it behavior specific. Again, instead of using general praise such as “good job”, be specific, describing the action,  “good job with completing the puzzle. You stayed with it for a very long time.”
     Your work with children is invaluable. This article is just one suggestion to try in the myriad of things that you do on a daily basis. If you would like further coaching around this or more articles on this subject, feel free to contact me at the following:

Deb Bair, Garfield County Department of Human Services, Childcare Consultant
 (970) 945-9191 EXT. 3065   dbair@garfield-county.com

ECN people on the radio
ECN logo


 Yes!  This is Kelly and Joni from Early Childhood Network on the KMTS radio station with Joan Chovanec, Director of Children’s Mini College.  We spent time on the airwaves helping Joan promote her annual Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser and talking about quality in childcare programs. 

Center teachers, directors and home childcare providers, the public is becoming more and more aware of our Colorado Shines childcare rating system.  Dollars from the state and local level are being spent to inform parents of Colorado Shines and what quality care looks like.  Consequently, ECN is receiving calls from parents asking questions such as “I see that the program that I am looking at sending my child to has a Level 1 rating.  Does this mean they are poor quality and should I be looking elsewhere?”  Our answer is “No, Level 1 programs have met the licensing requirements but have not gone through the steps to become a Level 2 or a rating to become a Level 3-5.”  That being said, if you are interested in increasing the level your program has been assigned or have questions concerning this new rating system please contact your county’s coaching agency.

Garfield County – Early Childhood Network    (970) 928-7111

Pitkin County – Kids First    (970) 920-5363

Eagle County – Early Childhood Partners   (970) 331-6844

Lake County – Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Council   (719) 486-7273

If you had the misfortune to miss the Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser, remember it will happen again next year just in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the traditional way (eating chocolate!).  Additionally, if you are having a fundraiser for your early childcare program, don’t forget to contact us.  We would love to help you promote it!

ASpen Mountain Tots - Child Directed Play

Aspen Mountain Tots—Child Directed Play

If you peeked into the Aspen Mountain Tots preschool classroom last week you might have been surprised to find a large pirate ship complete with a sail, oars, a plank, and many mates on deck. The classroom was immersed in the Creative Curriculum Pets study, however, the interest of the students took the curriculum down an alternate path. This is a great example of child directed play. Inspired by books in the classroom about pirates, and the pet parrot, the children initiated a play idea that lasted for several days and involved the majority of the classroom students.

While reading Pirate books by David Shannon and Melinda Long as well as by Mem Fox, some of the children requested the pirate costumes and parrot from the closet. As the play unfolded, the children were encouraged to expand on their ideas. They needed a ship, so they turned over the meal tables and pushed them together. They added a "plank", and then came the request for a pirate flag. The children went to the art area, and used the pictures from the books to brainstorm what their pirate flag could like. Then they worked together to create the flag. They also created maps and used map   reading skills to decipher where the treasure was buried. Because so many children were  interested in the play they added a second, smaller ship off to the side. From the recycle bin came paper towel rolls for telescopes, cardboard boxes for treasure boxes, poker chips became  treasure, brooms were the oars. Off they sailed, singing along to sea chanteys. When a fellow pirate stepped out of line they were required to "swab the deck" or “walk the plank”. When their baby on board began to cry they recalled lines from the book when the baby was "caterwauling", and recalled they needed to rock the baby and get a babysitter (but pirates don't sit on babies).  Favorite lines from the book were recalled, recited and integrated into their play. Over the course of several days, the play ensued inside and outside.  Costumes and props were brought to the playground where the ship was constructed of large outdoor blocks and the crew set sail for the Spanish main land - but, as in all pirate stories they somehow always made a wrong turn at Bora Bora.

This type of child-directed play incorporates language and vocabulary expansion, fine motor and gross motor  practice, role play, brainstorming and creating, as well as analysis and problem solving.  The children are provided opportunities to learn social skills like teamwork, cooperation, sharing, negotiation, and handling disappointment. Each individual in the classroom is a valued contributor to the  play idea.  The teachers role is to support the children’s ideas and facilitate and enrich the play experience. 
  Dawn Ryan—Director

Coaching Corner 
Megan Monaghan, Kids First Coach

The Yes Brain and the Importance of Play

Recently, I had the opportunity attend a speaking engagement hosted by the Hope Center at the Hotel Jerome, in Aspen. The guest speakers, Dr. Dan Siegal and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson introduced their new book, The Yes Brain. If you know me, then you have probably heard me speak enthusiastically about these authors and their previous books, No Drama Discipline and The Whole Brain Child. I am a big fan of these experts in childhood social emotional development and neuroscience, and was so excited to hear them talk about their new book, so of course I bought myself a copy!

The Yes Brain- How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child is a book written for parents and for anyone who cares for children. The book gives us skills to bring children into what the authors call the “Yes” state, where they can respond to life receptively, rather than reactively. Chapter 2- The Balanced Brain has a section called The Science of Play. Most of us early childhood education advocates claim to understand the importance of play to the development of young children. But did you know that when children engage in unstructured play they are building physical, language, cognitive and problem-solving skills? According to the authors, play also builds “executive functions such as planning, predicting, anticipating consequences, and adjusting to surprises.” Furthermore, when children engage in the cooperative aspects of play they must negotiate, figure out what’s fair, take turns, and respond with empathy. Play gives children opportunities to try on new roles, extend their imaginations, focus on tasks for extended periods of time and deal with disappointment and fear- all skills that lead to resilience. So next time someone asks you why the children in your classroom or home are “just playing” you can tell them that world renowned neuroscientists, Dr. Tina Payne Bryson and Dr. Dan Siegal, say that when children play they are improving their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills, as well as building their emotional balance, and resilience.

Aspen Family Connection


March 14th 2:00-4:00 pm
March 15th 9:00-4:00 pm

Check it out before or after your conferences!
Aspen Middle School Cafeteria
Summers can be tough to figure out... we want to support you! Activities and camps throughout the valley will be represented. This is an amazing opportunity to hear about all the things our valley offers.

Aspen Family Connection flyer
Music flyer

The Importance of Music

The Importance of Music
March 20th
5:30- 6:30
Aspen Elementary School

Music is such a huge piece of brain development for children. Come hear how to support this learning and what our community has to offer!

Mountain Valley logo

Early Intervention -- PART 1 of 3

This is the first in a series of articles about early intervention, what it is, how it works, and the role you may play. Stay tuned to future newsletters for parts 2 and 3; or go to https://www.mtnvalley.org/children-and-family/ for more information.

Early Intervention (EI) services are provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  In the state of Colorado, “Early Intervention program provides supports and services to children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families from birth until the child’s third birthday. By providing needed services families will be able to help their children with special needs develop to their full potential, and may decrease the need for additional help later in life.”  Mountain Valley Developmental Services holds a contract with the State of Colorado to provide these services to Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Lake Counties. 

Usually a parent, caregiver or doctor who has concerns about developmental milestones that are not effectively being met makes a referral. Anyone may make a referral on the behalf of a child or family.  A child may have a delay in development in adaptive development, cognitive development, communication development, physical development and, social emotional development. Evaluation and assessment are conducted by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the home and free of charge to the family.

If you are concerned about your young child’s development: Kids First is your contact for referrals to Early Intervention Colorado developmental screening (child find) for young children. 888-777-4041.  You can also make referrals to Sarah Brotherson at (970) 230 9822.

Riverbridge logo

Imagine 6

Imagine a world where kids are free to be kids, where their only worries are about play and learning.  Together we can make this dream a reality.
Join us for Imagine 6 to celebrate the work that is already being done and to raise money for a better tomorrow. 

iverbridge Flyer

Imagine 6

All proceeds benefit River Bridge Regional Center
Imagine 6, River Bridge Regional Center’s annual fundraiser evening, will take place on Saturday, April 28th, 2018, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Old Thompson Barn in Carbondale.
Event-goers will be treated to live music by the Leonard Curry Trio, extensive silent auction, as well as a delicious culinary experience.
Tickets are $75 per person and include local gourmet foodentertainmentdancing, and silent auction.


ECN conference table picture

Early Learning Ventures to Sponsor and Present at the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference

Early Learning Ventures (ELV) is excited to announce that we will once again be a Gold-level sponsor for the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference (RMECC) March 16-17 at the Colorado Convention Center in Downtown Denver.

Each year, RMECC brings together the entire early childhood community from the Rocky Mountain Region. The conference focuses on professional development and networking to encourage discussion about early childhood education.

ELV will have a booth (#2) in the Exhibitor Hall, so come stop by for your chance to win some prizes, meet our team, and have some fun.

Directors, owners, and administrators are also invited to come to our session on Friday from 1:30-3:00 p.m. to learn why hundreds of child care providers throughout Colorado are partners with ELV. We have a great session planned so don’t miss out and register today.

If you can’t attend our session please contact us and we will do a one-on-one presentation just for you! To reserve a time slot for your one-on-one presentation contact us at 303-789-2662 x269 or email us at info@earlylearningventures.org

Don’t forget to follow us on social media for updates on the conference, as well as an opportunity to get a sneak peek at some of our prizes. We look forward to seeing you there!

Hand washing

Garfield Environmental Health

80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touch! That includes food that is touched with contaminated hands. The top three things you can do to prevent the spread of food-borne illness, such as Norovirus, are:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm, running water for at least 15 seconds and dry them with a disposable paper towel. For every 15 seconds spent washing hands, 10x more bacteria is removed! Most bacteria are under the nails and on the fingertips, but people tend to wash their palms and miss those areas.
  • Avoid touching food with bare hands. Instead, use food grade gloves, tongs, or other utensils when preparing food for others.
  • Stay home when you are sick! This can be challenging for many of us, but it is one of the leading causes of outbreaks in school, child care, and restaurant settings. Staying home will protect others and protect your reputation!
Natalie Tsevdos, MPH
Environmental Health Specialist II
Garfield County Public Health
2014 Blake Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Office: (970) 665-6375

Garfield County Trainings
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