Early Education Newsletter

February 2022

CASY office will be closed:

Monday, February 21, 2022 in observation of President's Day
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Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant Round 2

A second round of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants is available for Indiana child care and out-of-school-time providers. Check the Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant webpage for the latest information and details.


Early childhood and school-age programs are eligible to apply if they were licensed and/or registered to operate by March 11, 2021, (if not CCDF eligible) or Jan. 14, 2022, if active in the CCDF program. Programs must be in good standing, open and serving children on the date of application, and meeting state and local health requirements. Head Start and Early Head Start grant recipients are not eligible.

Build, Learn, Grow Scholarships Extended

For families with qualifying incomes, classified as essential workers, the state of Indiana can cover 80% of your child care costs for kids up to age 12. That even includes before-school and after-school care.

New applications must be submitted by March 31, 2022 to be eligible for the scholarship to be extended through June 2022.

Visit https://brighterfuturesindiana.org/scholarships/families to learn more and apply.

Provider recognition program

The Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning is grateful to all of the

early educators and out-of-school-time professionals serving Indiana families.

OECOSL is pleased to launch a provider recognition program to

acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Indiana child care


Nominations for this award can be entered starting on

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at 8 a.m. EST until Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at

5 p.m. EST. You may also scan this QR code:


  • Educators from across the state will be selected to receive classroom materials from Lakeshore or Kaplan. Each SDA will have at least one awardee:
  • Four educators receive a $500 award to Lakeshore/Kaplan
  • One educator receives a $1,000 award to Lakeshore/Kaplan

If you have questions, please contact OECOSL at OECOSLproviderinquiry@fssa.in.gov

and put “Provider Recognition Program" in the subject line.

Quarantine and isolation guidance for child care

Effective Jan. 13, 2022 the Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning offers new guidance around quarantine and isolation. In light of new information, the CDC has shortened quarantine and isolation recommendations for those who can consistently and correctly mask. Click here to view the changes to recommendations for child care.

Early Childhood Professional Support Groups

Are you wondering how to deal with the effects of trauma on your staff, your children, and their families? We are offering an opportunity to talk about these challenges in an online setting with your peers and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This one hour, weekly opportunity is designed for the sharing of issues, discussion of ideas and suggestions for follow-up.

The next round of this unique FREE opportunity begins this month. Take advantage by clicking below and filling out the short interest form. Spaces are limited.

Professional Development

SPARK Course Collections

Are you or a staff member new to your role as an educator or leader in early childhood and need to get started with training? In Indiana Learning Paths, register for a course collection to access your onboarding courses and get the training you need to get off to a great start!

What is a course collection?
A course collection is a planned group of related courses that learners can register for as a group.

Available Course Collections:

  • Educator Onboarding Part 1: Mandatory

  • Colección de Cursos para la Inducción de Educadores Parte 1: Cursos Obligatorios/ (Educator Onboarding Part 1 Spanish)

  • Educator Onboarding Part 2: Effective Teaching & Assessment

  • Educator Onboarding Part 3: Connecting with Children and Families

  • Leadership Onboarding Part 1: Quality Programs & Professionalism

  • Leadership Onboarding Part 2: The Business Side of Early Childhood Education

To Access:
1. Login or create a free account at ilead.in.gov
2. Click the green "Start My Indiana Learning Path" button
3. Choose "Course Collections" on the left-hand side

Playful Learning, Not Play vs. Learning in Preschool: How Play Fosters Cognitive Development

February 2, 2022

2:00 PM Eastern Time

We hear it all the time: “All they are doing is playing.” As Profession Edward Zigler says, “play is under siege.” While school-age children suffer from the loss of recess and time on screen, educators in early care and education programs feel pressure to teach to standards for “school readiness.” The result often means more teacher-directed than child-initiated play. Ironically, children have not benefited from the additional focus on “educational” instruction, and in fact, their cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development suffer, especially in this COVID era.

Play and learning are not incompatible. It is possible to have strong curricular goals that are presented to children within a playful pedagogy. Join this webinar by acclaimed researcher, author and play advocate, Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek to learn how play spurs cognitive development. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek will explore the evidence for the importance of free and guided play as a catalyst for learning in social and cognitive development. Using science as a base, she will show how play offers a successful midway position between the warring factions of playful and didactic approaches to early childhood education. We thus propose a prescription to reinstate PLAY as an important part of children’s everyday life and of their daily school curricula. Click here for more information.

Trauma-Informed Leadership: Practical Strategies for Lead Educators to Support Teachers

School and district leaders we speak with find themselves at a loss for how to be supportive to teachers. Teachers are as stressed as ever. Students have experienced a wide spectrum of trauma over the past two years. What are you as a leader to do? Teachers must feel supported in ways that “supports” like new curricula or new technology don’t provide, mostly because those “supports” feel like “one more thing to do” when in fact, feeling supported is what they really need and want. How? Click here for more information.

Mind Mapping for Ideas in Early Childhood Programs

February 17, 2022

2:00 PM Eastern Time

Have you ever used mind maps in your practice? Mind mapping is the process of graphically organizing emerging ideas and interests as they evolve, like they might if you were brainstorming ideas. Mind maps are intuitive frameworks that will help you build connections and see relationships. Referred to webs as they resemble a spider’s intricate creations, mind maps have so many possibilities. In fact, you can use this layered approach to support your professional learning, planning for your program, and even with the children as young as 4 or 5. Presented by emergent curriculum expert and author, Diane Kashin, this interactive webinar will lead you through the theory and application of this non-linear strategy in an engaging way designed to activate your minds and those of the children with whom you work! Click here for more information.


Build, Learn, Grow Scholarships Available for Your Families

Did you know the tools to share the Build, Learn, Grow scholarships with your families are available? Click here to access the Family Toolkit to share this amazing opportunity with your families. Don't forget...child care employees are essential workers and your staff can qualify for the scholarship too!
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Top Five Benefits of Early Childhood Education

One major benefit of early childhood education is the freedom it gives parents. Without childcare, it's extremely difficult for parents to secure full-time work or attend school. But with early childhood education, parents are able to take back some time for themselves.

Early childhood education programs give parents a safe and secure place to leave their kids during the day. The positive impact of early childhood education on families can be seen by looking at the way Washington D.C. handles early learning.

In 2009, Washington D.C. began rolling out its universal preschool program. Today, three-quarters of preschool-aged kids are enrolled in the district. Once they introduced free preschool, labor force participation for women with young children increased nearly 10%. The impact for low-income mothers was even higher, at 15%.

While Indiana doesn't have the same universal preschool program, there are many early childhood education programs to choose from. There are also funds available to help make early childhood education accessible to all families. Read more.

Painting with Plastic Wrap

This is one of my favorite process art activities. Since it works best if you apply the paint fast and generously, it is a great way to loosen up tight artists!

The results may vary greatly depending on the technique used, but generally you end up with a uniquely patterned and textured paper reminiscent of frosty window panes.

Instructions here

How to Engage Families in Their Child’s Learning

An educator in a professional learning environment quickly learns that taking care of the children also means taking care of their families. This is easier said than done, however, because modern parents have identified that they are experiencing burnout, largely through working between 40 to 50 hours per week. So how can we engage the children’s families when the last thing they need is to do more? Learn more here.

10 Tips for Finding Nature to Bring into Your Classroom

To spark children’s noticing, wondering, and drawing, we need appealing and concrete objects. Nature provides just those objects, usually for free and with just a bit of preparation. Find 10 tips for finding nature-based objects to prompt curiosity, questioning, observation, and learning here.

Family Resources

Family Webinar- When Grandparents Become Parents … Again ~ Thursday, February 17th at 1pm

Raising grandchildren can be a challenge – but many grandparents take on that responsibility every year. In 2020, more than 7 million grandparents lived with at least one grandchild. Join CASY's Family Engagement Specialists as we welcome Gail Wright, Extension Educator with Purdue Extension - Parke County, to discuss how to better care for your family by better caring for you.

Register here.

Family Webinar- Sweet, Loving, and Kind One to Another ~ Thursday, February 24th at 2pm

Being kind is important every month of the year, but can often become more of a focus during February. Join CASY's Family Engagement Specialists as we discuss tips for teaching kindness to your children.

Register here.

Recorded Family Webinar- Indiana First Steps Is Here to Help - Child Development Is Important

First Steps early intervention services are happening in family homes and childcare settings all across Indiana. This recorded presentation will explain how to monitor and encourage infant and toddler development, and what First Steps can do to help you if a baby’s development is delayed.

Recording link

Recorded Family Webinar- Observe, Explore, Discover! Engaging Young Children in STEM

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education can begin before children are in a classroom setting and it is likely your child is already engaging in some STEM principles through play. This recording demonstrates ways you can engage your young learner in STEM-based hands-on activities using objects you can find in your own home.

Recording link

9 Skill-Building Activities to Do with Young Kids This Winter

During the cold winter months ahead, when young children may fall back on the common “there’s nothing to do!” refrain, parents need all the at-home activities they can get. Fun, easy, and inexpensive, the 9 activities in this blog post will help keep active young children busy and boost key skills essential to healthy development. Share these with the families you know, and keep them handy for those long winter days at home when young minds and bodies need something new to engage them.