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In 2011, the Georgia General Assembly authorized a longitudinal study of Georgia’s Pre-K Program to examine children’s learning outcomes and the quality of their classroom experiences.  This study is currently following over 1,100 children from Pre-K through the fifth grade.  Here to talk about the latest results is Susan Adams, Deputy Commissioner for Georgia’s Pre-K Program and Instructional Supports, and Dr. Bentley Ponder, Deputy Commissioner for Quality Innovations and Partnerships.Support the show (
In September, Commissioner Jacobs presented the Second Annual Baby Golden Radish Award to the Baldwin County School District for creating an innovative and successful Farm to Early Care & Education Program that advances the learning and development of its Pre-K and Head Start students.  Joining us to talk about Nutrition in the Baldwin County Schools and the Farm to ECE effort is Susan Nelson, Director of School Nutrition for Baldwin County School District; Lori Smith, Director of the Early Learning Center; and Diana Myers, DECAL’s Nutrition Health Educator.Support the show (
Here at DECAL, we’re committed to ensuring that Georgia's youngest citizens receive high quality services to prepare them for school and for life. To help meet this commitment, we’ve developed the Georgia Professional Development System (GaPDS) where early childhood educators can create and maintain a profile and search and register for the latest training.  Recently GaPDS was upgraded to Phase 2 making it better than ever!Support the show (
It’s a big week here on Capitol Hill as the 2019 Georgia General Assembly convenes.  There’s a new governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, over 30 new house members, some new senators, new committee chairs.  Always an exciting time when the Legislature is in session…even more so this year with the 155th Georgia General Assembly.  We'll discuss with Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs, DECAL Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Administration Rian Ringsrud, Director of Government Relations Liz Young, and Polly McKinney, Advocacy Director with Voices for Georgia’s Children. Support the show (
Thanksgiving Week seems like a good time to discuss food...and we mean really discuss food, as in the Best Places to Eat in Georgia.  As a state agency, our employees travel A LOT, especially our consultants working with providers and parents through CAPS, Child Care Services, Georgia’s Pre-K Program, Quality Rated, Nutrition and so much more!  For this episode, we’re calling upon some bonafide culinary experts, Deputy Commissioner for System Reform Kristin Bernhard and Chief Legal Officer Ira Sudman.  Hope you're hungry!Support the show (
Scheduler, assistant, gatekeeper.  Maybe the way to really get to know Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs is to get to know her Executive Assistant and Board Liaison Quandra Collins.  Hear what happens behind the scenes at DECAL and then take a quiz on how well Quandra really knows the Commissioner.Support the show (
It’s never too early to be thinking about your child’s college education...even if your child is in Georgia’s Pre-K Program.  That’s the idea behind the Path from Pre-K to College Sweepstakes, happening March 15 to April 30 and sponsored by DECAL and the Path2College 529 Plan.  Our special guest is Mitch Seabaugh, Executive Director of the Path2College 529 Plan.  Support the show (
Each year, Bright from the Start administers the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, created to ensure that children 18 and under can continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations, when they don’t have access to lunch or breakfast at school.  Here to talk about this effort in Georgia is Cindy Kicklighter, Nutrition Marketing and Outreach Manager, and Phyllis Oliver, Nutrition Director with the Chattooga County Schools.Support the show (
DECAL is a statewide agency but we realize the real work in promoting early childhood education and working with children and their families takes place at a grass roots level in cities and towns across the state.  That’s why earlier this year we launched our Early Education Community Partnership initiative and named community coordinators in each of our six regions.  Our special guests in studio are Jill O’Meara, Early Education Community Partnership Manager, and Clayton Adams, Lead Community Coordinator in our Athens and Northeast Region, with field reports from all of our coordinators. Support the show (
Our 2016 Economic Impact Study of the Early Care and Education Industry in Georgia showed that early care and education provides more than 67,000 industry jobs statewide.  The DECAL Scholars program promotes high-quality, stable learning environments for Georgia’s children, by supporting the early care and education professionals who work with them day after day.  DECAL administers these programs to encourage, support and reward Georgia’s early care and education workforce.  Here to talk more about DECAL Scholars is Charlotte Pelz, Program Director for DECAL Scholars.  Support the show (
Since 1993, Georgia has had a nationally recognized Pre-K Program funded by the Georgia Lottery that prepares four year olds for success in Kindergarten.  Children four years of age on September 1 of the current school year who are Georgia residents are eligible to attend Georgia's Pre-K Program.  This year, we have over 81,000 students enrolled in over 3,800 classrooms around the state…both public schools and private child care centers.  Here to talk about our ongoing inspections of Georgia’s Pre-K Program classes is Judy Blasingame, Quality Support Coordinator, and Devon Porter, Pre-K consultant.Support the show (
Building on the success of Quality Rated and several of Georgia’s early learning programs, Governor Brian Kemp and DECAL have announced the creation of a language and literacy endorsement.  We know that early learning provides a strong foundation for the development of children’s reading skills and this endorsement will only strengthen that foundation.Support the show (
It was December, 2013, when the US Department of Education and the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded Georgia the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant, totaling $51.7 million over four years.  This week, we look back at all that was accomplished in Georgia as a result of the grant.  Joining us are three key people in the project: Susan Adams, Deputy Commissioner for Georgia’s Pre-K Program and Instructional Supports; Dr. Bentley Ponder, Deputy Commissioner for Quality Innovations and Partnerships; and from Chicago, former Deputy Commissioner for System Reform and now Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy with the Ounce of Prevention Fund Kristin Bernhard.  Support the show (
Community members and leaders from around the state are going back to school as part of Georgia Pre-K Week, an annual event to celebrate Georgia’s nationally recognized Pre-K program and other quality early learning centers.  This is our ninth year partnering with Voices for Georgia’s Children and the dates are October 7-11.  Joining us to talk about Georgia Pre-K Week and how your program can get involved is Dr. Erica Fener-Sitkoff, Executive Director at Voices for Georgia’s Children, and Liz Young, DECAL's Director of Government Relations and Special Projects.Support the show (
All across Georgia, it’s Back to School time and that can have an impact on your whole family’s schedule and routine.  On this special edition of DECAL Download, we’re going to try and cover all of your questions for Back to School from starting Georgia’s Pre-K Program, to Before and After School care at your child care program, to how this impacts your CAPS scholarship.  Support the show (
Pam Stevens is our new Deputy Commissioner for Child Care Services, but you may know her from Quality Rated, or her years as a teacher, behavior specialist, or child care director.  Learn more about Pam and this important role in the licensing and regulating of child care programs in Georgia.Support the show (
Governor Nathan Deal appointed Amy M. Jacobs as Interim Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning in June 2014. In January 2015, she was sworn in as permanent commissioner. Commissioner Jacobs leads the agency responsible for the early care and education of hundreds of thousands of Georgia’s children. She oversees an annual budget of $700 million for programs focused on child care licensing, child and adult care nutrition, child care quality, and early childhood education, specifically Georgia’s Pre-K Program.Support the show (
Governor Brian Kemp has announced that Georgia has received a three-year, $11.2-million Preschool Development Renewal Grant (PDG) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education. Georgia is one of only 20 states to receive this grant that will allow the state to expand efforts to help families access high quality early childhood services statewide. This funding builds on an initial $2.9 million PDG planning grant the state received in January 2019.  In this episode, Deputy Commissioner of Georgia's Pre-K Program and Instructional Supports Susan Adams talks with John Clark on the Georgia News Network's "Georgia Focus" program about the grant and its impacts. Support the show (
With an annual budget of over $847 million, DECAL’s Finance and Administration Divisions play an important role in the success of our agency.  Supervising these important areas, as well as the Nutrition Division, is Rian Ringsrud, Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administration.  Today we chat with Rian and then check in on our new 2019-2020 Georgia's Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year Heather Williams of the Central Georgia Technical College Child Development Center in Warner Robins/Houston County, and Johnathon Hines of Barack H. Obama Elementary School in DeKalb County. Support the show (
In January, 2014, DECAL began implementing a state law requiring all employees in Georgia's child care programs to undergo a national criminal background check based on fingerprints.  For the next two years, DECAL is paying the cost of the initial national fingerprint scan for eligible early care and education workers.  Learn more about this law from DECAL Chief Legal Officer Ira Sudman and Legal Services Supervisor Christie Bearden.Support the show (
There have been some recent changes in our System Reform Division, the home of Quality Rated.  Former Deputy Commissioner for System Reform Kristin Bernhard accepted a position with The Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago.  Former DECAL Director of Research and Policy Analysis, Dr. Bentley Ponder, will follow Kristin in this important role.  Learn more about Bentley and his 14 years working here at DECAL.  Support the show (
While many of our DECAL team members interact with providers and parents face-to-face in the field, we take a lot of phone calls every day across all of our divisions and always strive to provide excellent customer service.  Today we are talking with two members of our team known for providing excellent customer service: Renee Lind is Scholarship Administration Manager for Special Teams in the CAPS Program and Abby Mozo is a User Support Representative with the Georgia Professional Development System for Early Childhood Educators.  Support the show (
DECAL partners with Quality Rated Child Care Providers around the state to offer Quality Rated Subsidy Grants, which pay higher reimbursement to two and three-star child care programs and benefit qualified families by charging zero family fees for the child who is participating.  Today we will learn more about Quality Rated Subsidy Grants from Taijha Harden, Subsidy Manager, and Laura Wagner, Quality Rated Policy and Partnership Director. Support the show (
For the fourth consecutive year, we’re seeking applications for Georgia’s Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year.  Since 2016, DECAL has recognized a winner from a local public school system and a private child care center.  Joining us to talk about this program are Meghan McNail, Summer Transition and Outreach Manager for Georgia’s Pre-K Program, and our 2018-2019 Teachers of the Year Becky Haden and Stephanie Westhafer.Support the show (
With over 700 employees across the state, Information Technology is vitally important to the success of our agency, from personal laptops and smartphones to custom applications on a myriad of servers and websites.  2019 was a busy year of moving information to the cloud and rebranding of DECAL IT and formally establishing our internal IT Service Management processes using ServiceNow, a cloud-based IT service management platform.  Here to talk about ServiceNow and other improvements currently happening in IT is Dennis Brice, Chief Information Officer for DECAL, and Arun Kandel, our Chief Information Security Officer and Chief Technology Officer. Support the show (
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Podcast Details
Sep 24th, 2018
Latest Episode
Feb 26th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
23 minutes

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