Early Childhood NEws
2019 Early Childhood News
Happy New Year

Happy 2019!

Here we are at a new year, some new beginnings, a new legislative session soon; and always new information! I’m excited to share a new video from the Center on the Developing Child. It’s about executive function and self-regulation; most of you already know quite a bit about brain development and how important what we do in early childhood is when it comes to building brains. What is new though is the 5 minute video; I strongly urge you to share with staff, colleagues, and families. It is a great conversation starter. Better yet is the “Activities Guide – Practicing Executive Function Skills” that is on this page. There are activities for all ages starting at 6 months; things that you probably already do, like peek-a-boo and predictable rhymes for this young age. For older children activities include things like songs with movements, fingerplays, talking about feelings, and matching/sorting games.

There are great ideas for new things to try, ideas to share with families, and the connection to brain development. What a great opportunity for early childhood teachers (which we all are by the way) to share with families how children are learning, and their brains are developing all day, every day! It is easier than ever to take a quick picture or short video of a child in one of these activities and share it with parents along with the brain development that is happening – they might be learning to focus, to remember, or to manage their behavior to fit the game’s rules. These things become obvious once you learn about them, but to new parents, and new early childhood teachers, it is not so obvious. The video points out that no one is born with executive function skills, but we all are born with the potential to develop them. “Children build their skills through engagement in meaningful social interactions, and enjoyable activities that draw on self-regulation skills at increasingly demanding levels.

More in the next newsletter on the 2019 legislative session, in the meantime “like” us on Facebook, and let us know what other early childhood pages you like; the more we share, the more we learn.

Shirley Ritter
Director Kids First

PDIS Awards


Kids First would like to recognize the teachers who are making advances in their Early Childhood credentials. Great work ladies!!!
Pictures above are:
Akiko Flynn from Woody Creek Kids, Pip Pryor from The Cottage at the Aspen School District and Katie Jablonski and Katie Brzoza-Hill from The Early Learning Center

Cranberry sparkling drink

5 Tips for Living Well during the Holiday Season:

  1. Hand hygiene—it’s not just for kids! Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of disease. Wash hands after using the restroom, before contact with food or other people. Lather your hands with soap and hot water for about 20 seconds and don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under nails.
  2. Fight holiday stress—stress can make us sick. Help your mind and body relax. Meditation and yoga are helpful ways to calm. Volunteer—make someone else happy and you’ll see the benefits for yourself as well.
  3. Don’t forget to exercise—it’s a powerful tool in combating stress and staying healthy. Can you commit to a brisk 20 minute walk each day after lunch? Grab a friend and enjoy some fresh air!
  4. Eat only what you’ll enjoy--Weight gain DOES NOT have to be a natural consequence of the holidays! Reserve calories for foods that you know you’ll enjoy. And don’t skip meals in an attempt to “make up for it”.
  5. Be realistic--don’t expect perfection from yourself, or anyone else. Keep your sense of humor and enjoy the season.
Kristy Vetter, CDM, CFPP
Wellness Program Coordinator
Human Resources
130 S. Galena St.
Aspen, CO 81611
p: 970.429.1850
f: 970.797.6442

Hot Coco

Garfield County Licensing

Twas the year of New Changes,   And all through the land

The Specialists of Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle, met at the Office on Grand

Here we are again, at the end of the year,

Knowing that Twenty Nineteen, soon will be here.

To that end let us separate

Bring to your attention, the rules to enumerate.

Home play structures over 24 and centers over 18 inches high need a soft place to land,

So in the winter, Ice and hard snow are definitely banned.

Field Trips authorizations can be signed for multiple trips or show,

But if it is a new one then on paper or ‘puter parent’s ink shall flow.

New trainings on deck, to mention a few,

Playground safety and Injury prevention on PDIS will be up for review.

With background checks getting a lot of attention,

CBI, FBI, and Trails are the convention.

From CABS to IdentoGO to Twenty-Five Y J fifteen,

The numbers and website you will need for your team.

The checks will be needed for all of your staff,

With the return form CBI or FBI they can work 89 days and a half.

We love those that that help us out like Santa’s Reindeer

If they work with children, background checks are needed for a volunteer.

This all can be confusing but there is one rule that is handy

Call your Licensing Specialist Rebecca, Mark, or Sandy.

We wish you all Joy and a world of good cheer

Be Well, Be safe and have a prosperous New Year.

Mark Lapka, M.Ed
Licensing Specialist
Garfield County DHS Child Care Program
Office phone:  970.945.9191  Ext 3068
Cell Phone:  970.319.3570
Email:  mlapka@garfield-county.com

Early Childhood NEtwork

2019 is here….  We are so excited! 

Wow.  Can you believe how fast 2018 went by?  How do we slow down the time??  The staff, here at ECN, are thinking about having a conversation with Father Time!
Looking back, 2018 was a good year for Early Childhood Network.  We had a lot of positive changes.

     *We were able to add staff to better meet the needs of our community. 

     *ECN now has a locally certified playground inspector on staff to get those extra points on your Colorado                  Shines rating and, of course, meeting the greater goal of enhancing the quality of our early childhood                      programs.   

     *We settled into newer, bigger and better office space.  

     *Our Casino night was a huge success and tons of fun!

And so on and on…….  We are so thankful for all the opportunities we have had in 2018.
As I said above…… we are so excited about 2019.  We have many thoughts and ideas on how to expand the capacity, quality and accessibility of early care and education locally.  We know it is going to be a GREAT year.
With all that said, the staff at Early Childhood Network would like to wish you a very happy, healthy and productive New Year! Make it your best year yet…..


3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

November 22, 2018

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
-Melody Beattie

Monday’s EED quoted from an nbcnews.com article on reasons to practice gratitude even if you don’t feel like it. From that same article, here are three practical ways to bring more thankfulness into your lives – and not just on Thanksgiving:

“So now that we know being grateful is good for us…how can we learn to ‘practice’ gratitude if we’re just not in the mood?

1. Consider your words
Paying attention to the words you use — even with yourself — is the simplest, yet most profound way to get in the grateful mindset…Grateful people use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance…Less grateful people are preoccupied with burdens, curses, deprivations, entitlements and complaints, and their words reflect this negative focus…

2. Start a gratitude journal
When you start to feel consumed with thoughts about what you don’t have or what isn’t going right, write down three things you do have, or that are going right — even in the Notes app on your phone. Seeing these things written down might help you to recognize them as tangible pluses in your life.

3. Just give thanks
‘Thank you’ are two incredibly powerful words that can go an awfully long way. Take a second to acknowledge what the people you love bring to your Thanksgiving table, both literally and metaphorically. Let them know how grateful you are for them. You might make someone’s day.”

Source: “How to be grateful even when you don’t feel like it,” by Vivian Manning-Schaffel, nbcnews.com, November 22, 2017


River Bridge logo

River Bridge Regional Center, where silence ends + healing begins

Presented by Meghan Hurley, RBRC therapist for sexual abuse survivors and their families. Meghan has identified 10 tips every parent should know to protect your child from sexual abuse based on her work with survivors and extensive training related to sexual abuse victimization. This presentation empowers parents by teaching specific skills to make their child a “least likely” victim, and opens up communication between parents and children on this difficult topic.
January 10th, 2019 Eagle, Colorado from 5:00 t0 7:00 pm
January 16th, 2019 Basalt Middle School from 5:00 to 7:00 pm
January 23rd, 2019 Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork from 2:45 to 4:45pm
February 6th, 2019 Grand River Hospital from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
For more information visit www.riverbridgerc.org/events



What is radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from uranium in the soil and can enter homes or other buildings through the foundation. Long-term exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Colorado and other mountain states are more at risk to have high levels of radon; the only way to know if you have high levels of radon is to test.
How to test
If you haven’t tested for radon, now is the time! It is recommended to test between the months of October-April during normal business hours. Tests are inexpensive and easy to do yourself. Test kits are available for purchase at most hardware stores or you may be able to get them for free from your local public health department.
Understanding your results
If your test indicates that your facility has high levels of radon, mitigation is recommended. In some cases, radon levels can be easily decreased by making minor adjustments to the HVAC systems to increase air flow. Mitigation systems can also be installed by a certified contractor, which costs about the same as a typical home repair.
For more information please contact your local public health department.

Natalie Tsevdos, MPH, CP-FS
Environmental Health Specialist II
Garfield County Public Health
2014 Blake Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Office: (970) 665-6375


How well is your childcare program immunized?  

Does immunization status really matter?  Colorado law requires students who attend a licensed child care, program to be vaccinated against many of the diseases vaccines can prevent, including: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP), polio (IPV), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), hepatitis B (Hep B), haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), pneumococcal (PCV), and varicella (Chicken Pox). 

The number, timing and spacing of the required vaccine doses are set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  If a family chooses to vaccinate their child according to another schedule other than the ACIP, or to not have their child receive one or more vaccinations, they need to file a personal exemption, which can be found on the CDPHE website here, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/vaccine-exemptions

Immunization status does matter, when a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, it is difficult for infectious diseases to spread, because there are not many people who can become infected.  Providing this “community immunity” through vaccination helps protect vulnerable populations such as newborn babies who are too young to receive vaccinations, young children who are partially immunized, or those with weakened immune systems such as those with cancer, HIV or those taking medications that suppress their immune systems.

Every year since 2016 the state of Colorado has required childcare programs (with 10 or more students) to report their immunization and exemption rates to the Department of Public Health and Environment by December 1st.  This information is available for the public at https://www.cohealthdata.dphe.state.co.us/Data/Details/1.

Remind families that submitting immunization records before or on the first day of enrollment is a child care rule (7.702.52.2).  And that if a child is not appropriately vaccinated for his/her age, is not exempt or is not in process of getting vaccinated, that child should be denied attendance to child care (CDPHE 7.10.1.B.1).   These rules can be challenging to enforce but with initial emphasis on the importance of providing immunization records and continued communication with families to provide updated immunization information a program can reach 100% compliance with Colorado’s immunization rules. 

City of Aspen logo

Robin Strecker RN
Child Care Health Consultant, Kids First
215 N. Garmisch St.
Aspen, CO 81611
 p: 970.920.5326

Aspen Family Connection logo


Parenting can be a challenging business! Workshops offered by Aspen Family Connections provides an opportunity for parenting education and support for local families.

CLICK HERE to view the latest newsletter and see upcoming workshops!  

Glenwood Trainings
Sarah Kids First Resource Teacher

Meet the Kids First
Resource Teacher!

The Resource Teacher program provides a substitute teacher to childcare programs in Pitkin County. Sarah Filley has held this position since January 2018. She is ECE Lead Teacher qualified with experience teaching and caring for children age birth through five. She is available to substitute in classrooms four days each week. Program directors can request Sarah to sub up to two months in advance to cover vacations or request last minute coverage for teachers out sick. For these services programs pay $15/hour, the rest being subsidized by Kids First. If teachers are absent because they are pursing professional development opportunities, then the cost of the Resource Teacher is only $12/hour.

In 2018, Sarah subbed at 10 different childcare programs for a total of 157 days. The graph below shows the days she subbed, total sub requests received, and availability by month. When looking at the yellow bar- days requested when Sarah was already booked- keep in mind many programs would request the same date.


Resource Teacher
City of Aspen logo


By Megan Monaghan, Kids First

Be a Strength-Based Teacher

A recent article by Lea Waters in www.mindful.org suggests that, “By focusing on our children's strengths, we can help them flourish—and stop being so critical and worried.”

The author asks, “Why do we zoom in on the things about children that concern us more than the things that delight us? Why do we find it so hard to resist the urge to criticize, nag, and worry?”

Our brains are hardwired to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. This ancient survival mechanism is called our “negativity bias”. Ms. Waters explains this through the “Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract our attention; we look straight through it. But a dirty window is something we notice. What’s more, our focus is on one specific part of the window—the dirt—which means we often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing a beautiful view…

Ms. Waters suggests, “It’s the same with children. When things are going well, we take it for granted; but when things are going badly, that spot of dirt on the window snaps our attention into sharp focus. It gets magnified, overshadowing our students’ positive qualities, thus creating the perfect storm for conflict and for feeling anxious.  A useful evolutionary feature that keeps you and the children safe from danger can be counterproductive to fostering a positive relationship…

Luckily, according to the author, we can switch our focus to strengths, or the clean part of the window, and “override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your students.”

Where do we start?
1. Accentuate what the child is doing well or right, then we can show them how to use their strengths to attend to and minimize their challenges.
2. Notice one strength the child is exhibiting and tell the child specifically what they did well or right.  “I saw you waiting and asking for a turn, nice job being persistent.” or “I saw you smile at Sammy and help him up the steps, you were being very kind and thoughtful.” The more frequently you do this, it will become a habit for you AND it will teach the child how to recognize their own strengths.
3. Use the children’s strengths to inform your conversations. Ms. Waters recommends asking a child who is struggling, “What strengths do you have will that will help you solve this problem? I know you are good at standing up for yourself (for example). I wonder what you could do?”

What strength-based teaching does (and does not) do
Ms. Waters explains that “Strength-based teaching isn’t about lavishing your kids with false and excessive praise. It’s about real feedback based on their actual strengths. And since none of us is so perfect that we’re showing our strengths all the time, there’s no risk of creating a self-involved, narcissistic child who thinks they’re the only special one in the world. If anything, strength-based teaching drives home the point that our strengths make us unique, but they don’t make us special—because everyone has strengths…

“Nor does focusing on strengths mean we ignore problems. Instead, it shows us how to use what we’re good at to work on what we’re not so good at. Knowing their strengths gives children a solid-enough identity to acknowledge and address the areas where they need to improve. Being strength-based allows teachers and parents to approach weaknesses from a larger context—seeing the whole window, not just the dirt…

“Our negativity bias helps us to survive, but our strengths help us to thrive. Showing children how to harness their strengths is a key tool for their happiness,” writes Ms. Waters. She further states that focusing on children’s strengths builds positive relationships with children and makes us more effective and happy teachers.

Adapted from an Article by Lea Waters in www.mindful.org titled Be A Strength Based Parent

Never  stop learning

Come and learn with us!!!!

Kids First has a great selection of classes for January, February, and March. Our scheduled training's include General Orientation, Standard Precautions, CPR/First Aid,  Medication Administration and Expanding Quality for Infants and Toddlers (EQIT).

Orientation —Thursday January 10, 2019 2:00-4:00pm
Standard Precautions — Thursday January 10, 2019 4:00-6:00pm
CPR/First Aid Hybrid — Wednesday January 16, 2019 4:30-6:00pm
Expanding Quality in Infant and Toddler (EQIT) — Wednesday’s  January 9—May 1, 2019 5:30-8:00pm
Please contact Kids First if you are interested in  these January training's—KidsFirst@cityofaspen.com


Register on our website after January 10th  https://www.cityofaspen.com/326/Training-and-Registration

Flu patient
People for medical mask
Kids First logo


One hundred years ago the 1918 influenza pandemic devastated entire communities and took an estimated 675,000 American lives.  It was the most severe pandemic in recent history, sweeping the globe quickly and killing more than 50 million people.  Seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses continue to pose a unique public health challenge as influenza viruses are constantly changing.

So, how prepared are we for the next flu pandemic? Many scientific and medical advances have been made to fight seasonal and pandemic flu. Developments since the 1918 influenza pandemic include vaccines to prevent flu, antiviral drugs (which are the main treatment for flu), and a global influenza surveillance system with 114 World Health Organization member states that constantly monitor flu activity. There is also a much better understanding of non-pharmaceutical interventions that help slow the spread of flu, such as social distancing, respiratory and cough etiquette and hand hygiene.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older as the best means to prevent seasonal influenza. This vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to the flu as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
Photos and information retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/index.htm.
Have a healthy and safe flu season!
Robin Strecker RN
Kids First Child Care Health Consultant

Family Visitor Program

Family Visitor Programs Low Barrier & Commitment Bright by Three (BB3) Visits

It is the vision of Family Visitor Programs that all parents expecting a child or caring for an infant will have the personal capacity, family support and community resources necessary to enable them to achieve their full potential as parents. Most of our programs are designed to be weekly to monthly, one on one visits providing education and support. For many this frequency is ideal, and others feel this is too often. For the latter, our Bright by Three programs is the perfect fit. Bright by Three (BB3) is a simple three-step program that families can participate in any age between prenatal to three years. At each visit families receive age-appropriate materials to help stimulate their child’s growth and development and facilitate parent-child engagement. At the initial “A” (age prenatal to 1 year) visit our staff will meet with the family to go over the materials, including games, activities, books, and age and developmental stage-related information. All of our first visits at Family Visitor Programs are BB3 “A” visits as they are the perfect way to introduce families to our agency. Afterward, families are able to decide if they would like to stay enrolled in BB3 and receive yearly visits until their child is three, or enroll in a more hands-on program. If a family chooses to remain in BB3 they will receive their “B” visit approximately a year later (age 1-2 years), and their “C” (age 2-3 years) visit. At both visits, families will again receive age-appropriate books, games, activities, and information. If the family wishes to they will also be able to opt into the Bright by Text program where they will receive weekly educational text messaged targeted to their child’s specific age.

More information on our programs and services, along with our online enrollment process, can be found on our website: www.familyvisitor.org. We can also be reached by phone at 970-945-1234 X 20 or at our office 401 23rd Street Suite 204, Glenwood Springs CO, 81601 or PO Box 1845 Glenwood Springs CO, 81602. Also, please be sure to like us on Facebook @FamilyVisitorPrograms


Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is -- Mandy Hale

Wishing a Happy 2019 to all the Newsletter readers.

Powered by CivicSend - A product of CivicPlus