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DECAL and the Technical College System of Georgia have received a $150,000 grant from the Aspen Institute to increase economic mobility and well-being for students who are parents.  Joining us to talk about the Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnership is Donna Johnson, Family Support Director for Development and Partnerships with Georgia’s CAPS Program, and Cayanna Good, Assistant Commissioner for Adult Education with TCSG.Support the show (
On March 8, all Georgia Pre-K teachers, child care teachers, and child care staff in programs with a license or exemption from DECAL became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.  Since then, teachers and staff have been flocking to nine mass vaccination sites from Clarksville to Savannah as well as local health departments and pharmacies to get vaccinated.  On today’s podcast, we’re going to tackle some of the frequently asked questions we are hearing from the child care workforce.  Joining us to talk about COVID-19 vaccines for early education teachers and staff is Pam Stevens, Deputy Commissioner of Child Care Services, and Dr. Georgina Peacock who currently serves as the Georgia Department of Health Chief Medical Officer as a Center for Disease Control Assignee.  She also oversees the CDC Vaccine Implementation Unit.  Support the show (
Beginning March 22, all licensed Georgia child care providers may apply for a third round of Short Term Assistance Benefit for Licensed Entities (STABLE) payments from DECAL.  Funding for these payments comes from the federal CARES Act and part of our ongoing efforts to support early child care providers still struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Joining us to talk about Round 3 of STABLE payments and how you can apply is Woody Dover, Enterprise Project Management Director here at DECAL.  Support the show (
Governor Brian Kemp and Commissioner Jacobs recently announced plans to provide a one-time, $1,000 bonus payment to every Georgia’s Pre-K Program teacher, assistant teacher, and birth-5 child care teacher in the state.  The bonuses will be funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Joining us to talk about POWER (Providing Our Workforce with Essential Recognition) is Susan Adams, Deputy Commissioner of Georgia’s Pre-K Program and Instructional Supports; Barbara McWethy who is Manager of Workforce Support in our Professional Learning Group, and Yiet Knight who is owner of the Universal Child Care and Learning Center in Augusta, a three-star Quality Rated program, and part of our Quality Rated Peer Support Network.  Support the show (
It’s that time again!  DECAL is seeking applications for Georgia’s Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year for 2021-2022. DECAL will select a winner from a local public school system and a winner from a private child care center.  Joining us to talk about applying for Georgia’s Pre-K Teachers of the Year is Meghan McNail, Summer Transition and Outreach Manager for Georgia’s Pre-K Program; Channie Frazier is a pre-K teacher at Kids World Learning Center in Statesboro and was our Pre-K Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017; Nathan Leatherwood is a Pre-K teacher at Calhoun City Pre-K and was Pre-K Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018; and Stephanie Westhafter is a Pre-K teacher at Georgia Kids Academy in Hoschton and was Pre-K Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019.  Support the show (
Last summer, DECAL joined the Governor’s Office and the Georgia Department of Public Health in providing COVID-19 guidance for Georgia Child Care facilities.  Now, at almost a year into the pandemic and public health emergency, we have updated that guidance to support providers, teachers, and of course Georgia’s children and families.  Joining us to talk about Updates and Changes to our COVID-19 Guidance for Georgia Child Care Facilities is Pam Stevens, Deputy Commissioner of Child Care Services, April Rogers, CCS Director of Enforcement Operations, and Ebony Thomas, Epidemiologist with the Georgia Department of Public Health.  PLUS we have the latest information o n COVID-19 vaccines for Pre-K and child care teachers and staff. Support the show (
Communities across Georgia who are interested in promoting high-quality early childhood care and education are applying for three separate Community Impact Grant opportunities from DECAL.  Funding for these grants was made possible by the $11.2 million Preschool Development Renewal Grant that Georgia received in January 2020 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education.  Joining us to talk about the Community Impact Grants is Dr. Bentley Ponder, Deputy Commissioner for Quality Innovations and Partnerships, Laura Wagner, Community Outreach and Partnerships Director, and Jill O’ Meara, Community Partnerships and Projects Manager.  Support the show (
For the 11th year, DECAL is offering a six-week intensive academic program for rising Pre-K and rising Kindergarten students called the Summer Transition Program.  The program was created to support students who either did not attend Georgia’s Pre-K Program or Head Start or who need additional help before taking that next step.  Joining us to talk about the Summer Transition Program is Meghan McNail, Summer Transition Program and Outreach Manager, Ashley Manning, whose son attended the Summer Transition Program at Little Ones Learning Center in Forest Park, and Jeff Randa, Director of Quality Implementation for Easter Seals of North Georgia, who hosted five Summer Transition classes, even last summer during the pandemic.  Support the show (
Many of Georgia’s kids became especially vulnerable last March when schools closed because of the pandemic.  Families were left struggling to feed their children.  And, with many parents out of work, it’s likely that more kids—as many as one in four—may face hunger in the months ahead, especially when school is out for the summer. DECAL’s Summer Food Service Program is one solution that helps children get the nutrition they need.  This program benefits the whole community by closing the food insecurity gap and providing local economies with federal reimbursement funds.  Joining us today to talk about how the Nutrition Division will ensure Georgia’s kids will have access to meals and snacks this summer is Tamika Boone, Director of Nutrition Services and Cindy Kicklighter, Manager of Marketing and Outreach.  Support the show (
Research tells us that, regardless of their abilities, children in high-quality child care programs are better prepared to enter school and more likely to develop healthy social and emotional skills.  When child care providers offer inclusive child care, they’re supporting not only children with disabilities but also their parents who can work, go back to school, or just take a break.  That’s why every year in February we celebrate Inclusive Early Learning Week here at DECAL.   Here to talk about the importance of inclusion in early child care and Inclusive Early Learning week are Lindsey Urry, Regional Supervisor of Inclusion and Behavior Support, and Inclusion and Behavior Support Specialists Roseanne Hamrick and Megan McGraw. Support the show (
In January, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) presented its 17th edition of the Top Ten Issues to Watch Report.  The report identifies and analyzes key education issues Georgia will be or should be addressing in the coming year.  Joining us to talk about the Top Ten Issues to Watch is Dr. Dana Rickman, Incoming President of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, and Dr. Robert Gaines, GPEE Director of Communications. Support the show (
For the fifth consecutive year, DECAL has named two Georgia’s Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year recognizing the outstanding efforts of all Pre-K teachers and assistant teachers who implement this nationally recognized program every day.   Joining us today on the podcast is Alderine Healey from the YMCA Paulding Early Learning Center in Hiram, Heather Melillo from West End Elementary School in Rome, and our own Meghan McNail, Summer Transition and Outreach Manager for Georgia’s Pre-K Program. Support the show (
Last year, the Georgia State Legislature created a new position here at DECAL designed to help support social and emotional health in a child’s critical early years of life.  Despite the budget challenges caused by COVID-19, the Legislature approved an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Director for Georgia.  Joining us to talk about Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is Laura Lucas, the new Director of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health here at DECAL; and Dallas Rabig, who holds a similar position as Laura, in the state of Alabama as the State Coordinator for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. Support the show (
Recently our Georgia Head Start Collaboration Office joined the American Academy of Pediatrics and child care advocates GEEARS and Voices for Georgia’s Children to study the impact of COVID-19 on Head Start programs across the state and the children and families they serve.  Joining us to talk about this collaborative effort and what they learned is Dr. Terri McFadden, professor in the Department of Pediatrics of the Emory University School of Medicine and immediate past president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Fozia Khan Eskew is director of child health with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Britney Newton is policy analyst with Voices for Georgia’s Children; Callan Wells is Health Policy Manager for GEEARS; and Allison Setterlind is director of the Georgia Head Start Collaboration Office.  Support the show (
It’s almost time to ring in the New Year, as we count down the final hours of a most unusual 2020…unprecedented even…and prepare for brighter days ahead in 2021. It seemed like a good time for one of our sit-down chats with Commissioner Jacobs featuring questions from our DECAL team and social media.Support the show (
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning has been busy providing free child care scholarships to essential workers with children birth to five.  They have also been helping Santa with gifts for Georgia’s Foster Children through DFCS and Clark’s Christmas Kids.  Joining us from the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning is Executive Director Carrie Ashbee, along with DECAL Director of Government Relations and Special Projects Liz Young. Support the show (
In August, DECAL received over $17 million from the Governors Emergency Education Relief funding, set aside by the CARES Act, for our new SOLVE scholarships, which stands for Supporting Onsite Learning for Virtual Education.  This provides additional childcare options for students ages 5-12 whose school systems have opted primarily for virtual learning. In addition, it will allow parents who need to return to work to have a secure option for their child, ensuring they are under professional care in a safe environment.  Today we’re getting an update on this program and details around expanding the scholarships later this month. Joining us to talk about SOLVE is Elisabetta Kasfir, Deputy Commissioner for the CAPS Program, and Kay Mayfield, Scholarship Administration Director for CAPS.  Support the show (
Our Pandemic Thanksgiving is behind us…now straight ahead is our COVID Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza just a few weeks away.  Seems like a good time for a special holiday episode of DECAL Download to celebrate those age-old traditions that keep our spirits merry and bright, no matter what the circumstances.And as is our tradition, we are featuring comments from several of our DECAL team asking them what’s your favorite holiday tradition and what’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2020?  We’re also joined by DECAL Nutrition Health Educator Diana Meyers who is going to help us survive all the holiday parties and office treats that seem to be coming at us constantly this time of year.  And LaToya Longshore, CCS NW Region Consultant, and Jennifer McCreary, Regional Manager for Georgia’s Pre-K Program join us to talk about great gift ideas for children birth to five since that’s our specialty. Support the show (
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Brian Kemp has allowed licensed child care in Georgia to remain open to serve children and families. However, with more families staying at home, child care attendance significantly declined except for children of first responders and essential workers.  At one point, only thirty percent of the licensed programs in Georgia remained open.  Joining us to talk about Georgia child care open for business in a pandemic are Jennifer Paschal with Endeavor Schools in Atlanta, Michelle Smith-Lank with Kids World Learning Center in Statesboro, and our own April Rogers, Director of Policy and Enforcement with Child Care Services.Support the show (
Here at DECAL, we’re committed to ensuring that Georgia's youngest learners receive the best services possible to prepare them for school and 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. This year, the Professional Development Unit has been hard at work revamping OLLI, the Online Learning Library Initiative.  Joining us to talk about improvements to OLLI and what you can find through GaPDS is Christi Moore, Director of Professional Development, along with Barbara McWethy, Workforce Support Manager.  Support the show (
For 30 years, WSB Radio’s Clark Howard and the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has had the mission of ensuring that every child in the Georgia foster care system has at least one gift on Christmas day. Traditionally, shoppers attended live events in Walmart locations in the metro Atlanta area to purchase gifts from a child’s wish list. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s campaign is going all virtual.  Joining us to talk about this year’s Clark’s Christmas Kids is Tom Rawlings, director of the State Division of Family and Children Services, and our very special guest, a legend in Georgia broadcasting, consumer expert and popular TV and radio personality Clark Howard.  Support the show (
In May, all licensed child care providers in Georgia were invited to apply for STABLE: Short Term Assistance Benefit for Licensed Entities. This was the first round of payments from the $144 million Georgia received under the federal CARES Act and 3,789 providers received more than $38.8 million in financial support.   Now, it’s time for Round 2.  How do you apply and what can the money pay for?  Joining us to talk about STABLE Round 2 is Woody Dover, Enterprise Project Management Director here at DECAL. Support the show (
Quality Rated is Georgia’s system to determine, improve, and communicate the quality of programs that provide child care. Like rating systems for restaurants and hotels, Quality Rated assigns one, two or three stars to early education and school-age care programs that meet or exceed the minimum state requirements. This year, COVID-19 had an impact on the program, especially the deadline of December 31, 2020, for all providers receiving CAPS funding.  Our guests are Dr. Bentley Ponder, Deputy Commissioner for Quality Innovations and Partnerships, and Denise Jenson, Quality Rated Operations Director.  Support the show (
DECAL is the state agency that licenses and regulates child care programs in Georgia using a system that focuses on certain “core rules” within 15 categories ranging from diapering and discipline to supervision, transportation, and criminal records checks.  Based on research, the core rules represent critical areas to consider when determining compliance and the impact on the health and safety of children.  But how much do you know about the core rules?  Here to talk about core rules and their importance in keeping our children healthy and safe is Pam Stevens, Deputy Commissioner for Child Care Services; Shannon Carroll, Technical Assistance Coordinator for Child Care Services; and Morgan Stahl, one of our CCS consultants. Support the show (
Over 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome.  The issue disproportionately impacts families of color, especially black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and low-income families.  With that in mind, October is Safe Sleep and SIDS Awareness Month and DECAL is joining Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to remind caregivers and parents.Joining us to talk about Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is Pam Stevens, Deputy Commissioner for Child Care Services here at DECAL; Candace Gilbert is Quality Improvement and Training Coordinator with Child Care Services; Malissa Champion is a CCS Consultant serving Northeast Georgia; Rachel Brown is a CCS Consultant in the Northwest Region, and Michelle Walker is a pediatric nurse serving as Manager of Child Advocacy Programs with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  We are also joined by Sabrina Henry from DECAL's HR Division with an update on 2021 Open Enrollment.Support the show (
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Podcast Details

Created by
Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
Podcast Status
Sep 24th, 2018
Latest Episode
Apr 13th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
26 minutes

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