Early Education Newsletter

July 2021

CASY Office will be Closed:

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Don't Miss Out on Important Information

The Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning sends out text updates with urgent policy changes, funding updates, COVID-19 resources, and much more. If you do not currently receive these text messages, text “Updates” to INKIDS to get convenient updates straight to your phone.

If you already receive text updates, take the next step and update your text preferences. You can subscribe to the information that is most relevant to you, like program information about the Child Care and Development Fund, On My Way Pre-K, or Paths to QUALITY.

Text “Updates” to INKIDS or 465437

As a CCDF-authorized program, why am I being asked to provide my program enrollment data?

Enrollment data reported by programs will help provide insight into the early childhood education supply and demand gaps across our state and better inform ongoing relief and recovery efforts. For more information click here.
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Build, Learn, Grow Scholarship

What is the Build, Learn, Grow Scholarship? For families with qualifying incomes (128%- 250% of the federal poverty level), classified as essential workers, the state of Indiana can cover 80% of child care costs for kids up to age 12, including before-school and after-school care. As an example, a family of four earning $66,000 per year will qualify for a Build, Learn, Grow scholarship.

Remember that early childhood education and care and out-of-school-time workers are essential, so those with qualifying incomes can also apply to receive this scholarship for their children!

Program Requirements

Early care and education and out-of-school-time programs must be CCDF eligible to participate in the Build, Learn, Grow scholarship program. If your program is not CCDF eligible, contact your state licensing consultant to get started.

Programs must complete the required Build, Learn, Grow informational session in SPARK Learning Lab and submit their Build, Learn, Grow consent form in order to claim family scholarships.

Complete the 30-minute Build, Learn, Grow Information Session in Indiana Learning Paths. Log in or create a free account at ilead.in.gov. Then click the green "Start Your Indiana Learning Path" button. Choose "Courses" from the menu on the left-hand side, and search "Build, Learn, Grow Scholarship Fund Information Session" to register and start the course.

Learn more about Build, Learn, Grow here.

Important Update: I-LEAD Consent Forms

Starting September 1st, 2021, the Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning, in order to ensure compliance with federal regulations, will no longer be accepting paper consent to release forms to process background checks for caregivers. All consent forms must be submitted online through your I-LEAD account. If you have not accepted your program invitation, now is the time to do so! If you have accepted your program invite and you are not seeing all of your programs listed within your account, you may still have a lingering invitation to accept.

We can help you complete this process! Reach out to our Program Engagement Specialist, Kristi, at 812-231-8902 or kburkhart@casyonline.org. If you have any questions about how to activate your account or you are not receiving your invitations. We can assist you in getting your account started, understanding how to navigate I-LEAD, inviting staff, finding professional development, and more.

Share your Story with INAEYC!

The Workforce Systems team at INAEYC wants to connect with YOU – what challenges are you and your team working to solve right now? What celebrations do you want to share about the hard work happening in your program? How can we help you and your team meet your professional goals? Share your story with our team, and we can collaborate, share resources, and offer supports to help you reach your goals!

Our team can offer support and resources related to recruitment and retention, supportive work environments, planning for professional growth, national accreditation, and more!

Contact us at workforce@inaeyc.org to ask about completing your Workforce Profile and connecting with an Early Childhood Workforce Coordinator in your community.”

Join SPARK Learning Lab's Mailing List

Join SPARK Learning Lab's bi-weekly newsletter mailing list to stay up to date on all SPARK's latest news. Click here to learn more.


Groups is a new feature in My SPARK Learning Lab that provides the opportunity to engage with peers-24 hours a day. Allowing you to collaborate, ask questions, and share advice with other early childhood education and care professionals when it’s convenient for you.

With My SPARK Learning Lab Groups you can:

  • Post on boards specific to their interest
  • Comment on others’ posts
  • Create polls and gather feedback
  • Upload and share tools and resources
  • Receive daily or weekly notifications about new posts and comments

Learn how to get started here.

Professional Development

Purdue University: Center for Early Learning Conference

August 2


The Center for Early Learning is hosting a free half-day professional development conference designed for pre-service and in-service teachers in preschool through 1st grade classrooms. This year the conference will have two sessions led by Purdue faculty on Social Emotional Learning and Teaching Math Through Picture Books. There will also be post-session breakout rooms for participants to discuss these content areas as well as the challenges they have had over the past year and learn from each other how to build and adapt for success in the coming year. After the event, participants will receive a certificate for three hours of professional development.

Registration is free but limited to 100 spots. Registration will close on July 15th so register today to secure your attendance in the 2021 conference!

Register Now

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Free Spirit Publishing is making professional learning fun, fast, and flexible this summer. Join us for the Choose Your Own PD Adventure, where you’ll find three learning tracks, each with a variety of Free Spirit resources (most of them free!) all in one place.

Start your journey to:

  • learn from experts
  • watch webinars and earn free CE credits
  • save on select books
  • download free printable classroom tools
  • and enter for a chance to win a Free Spirit gift certificate!

Whether you have a few minutes or a few days to devote to your adventure, you’ll find resources that fit your needs. Click here to get started.

MCCOY | Power Hour: Creating & Sustaining Safe Spaces for Youth

July 13, 2021 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM EST | Virtual

Safe spaces allow youth to thrive within their environments-in the classroom, a OST program, or other youth space. If you want to demonstrate that you are a welcoming human for ALL students, you must start with diligently creating and mainlining an environment that tells them they belong and are safe within your presence. This presentation will address how oppression in its various forms (zero-tolerance policies, forced assimilation, disenfranchisement, etc.) separates one from one's right to self-actualization. Participants will also explore how various policies and systems within traditional education continue to impede the self-actualization of students. Learn more here.

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Are you a CCDF Eligible Program?

If you’ve not yet done so, complete the SPARK “Fundamentals for Business Sustainability” training. To access the training, log in to ilead.in.gov and click “Start Your Indiana Learning Path”. Once there, choose “Courses” from the left-side menu. Search for the training name and register. Programs have until Aug. 31, 2021 to complete this training.

Engineering With Nature: Learning and Communicating through Construction Play, by Tina Reeble and Kirsten Haugen, M.A.

August 25, 2021

2:00 PM Eastern Time

Children communicate competency, ideas and emotions through block building and other three-dimensional work. In this energizing webinar, nature learning and universal design experts, Tina Reeble and Kirsten Haugen will share research, classroom stories and practical suggestions to support engineering play with natural and human-made materials for building. Join us to strengthen your capacity to identify opportunities for natural engineering play indoors and out. Learn more here.

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    Registration for the ZERO TO THREE Annual Conference 2021 will open this month.

    Get ready to register early!

    Sign up for updates

    This year’s theme is Take Heart. Join us to advance our shared goals, grow your professional network, and deepen your learning and practice. Throughout the conference, you will Take Strength from this community. Be inspired by one another and empowered by what we can and will do together. Take Chances and be a brave learner with us. You will learn new perspectives and have courageous conversations about the most pressing issues young children and families face. Take Action and be an advocate. Your voice matters. Take Care before, during, and after the conference. When we take care of ourselves, we take better care of our babies.

    The last year has been hard. Join Zero to Three to reflect, renew and imagine what we can accomplish together.


    Summer Safety in Extreme Heat

    With the warmer weather, it is important to review your written emergency plan and ensure everyone in your program knows how to keep children safe in the heat. Check out our resources on extreme heat to learn more.

    Encouraging Mud Play!

    Children plunge into messy play with great enthusiasm and no hesitation about getting dirty. The adults in their lives, however, may need a little more encouragement to understand the value of playing in and with mud.

    Launching a mud area in your play space requires careful planning and communication with staff and families. This article offers advice on how to get over those hurdles. Then, let the fun begin! Read more.

    Allergy Season: What We Need to Know

    As we welcome warmer days, outside activities, and summer plans, some of us may be reluctant to run out the door as allergy season is upon us.

    How can we recognize allergy symptoms in children and youth? How can we help those suffering from seasonal allergies?

    Allergist Sandra Hong, MD, of Cleveland Clinics, reports that one telltale sign that a child has seasonal allergies is they are rubbing their face, including often rubbing both their nose and eyes.

    Cleveland Clinics Health Essentials lists 8 tips for what to keep in mind when managing a child’s allergies on.

    • Know your Opponent

    • Age Matters

    • Parents Pass it On

    • OTC Medication Overview

    • Hone Your Delivery Technique

    • Pollen Avoidance

    • Allergy Immunotherapy

    • Realize the dangers of unrelated allergies

    To learn more about the 8 tips to keep in mind with dealing with allergies and our youth, click here.

    Summer Weather Safety: Beat The Heat, Check The Back Seat!

    A reminder for both you and your families!

    One of the biggest weather related risks during the summer months is the possibility of a child dying in a vehicle from heat stroke. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, and 50 degrees in an hour- even when outside air temperatures are in the 70's! The inside of a car acts like a greenhouse, where actual temperatures inside the vehicle can reach 120°F in minutes and approach 150°F in as little as an hour! This can cause hyperthermia (heat stroke) in only minutes, particularly in children, whose body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult. Studies have shown that "cracking the windows" provides little (if any) relief. Learn more here.

    Resources for Families

    Family Webinar: Kindergarten Readiness: Supporting Your Child's Learning at Home ~ July 15th @ Noon

    As we prepare to jump back into school and you prepare your child to enter Kindergarten, you may be feeling excited and overwhelmed. How can you make sure they are learning, understanding the lessons, and growing their developing brains? Join CASY's Family Engagement Specialists, during this webinar, as we discuss what you can do at home to support your child's learning as they start school.

    Register here.

    Family Webinar: Connecting Kids to Coverage ~ July 29th @ 12:30pm

    Join CASY's Family Engagement Specialists as we welcome Ann McCafferty with Indiana Rural Health Association to share about the statewide Connecting Kids to Coverage program.

    Register here.


    We all mess up, sometimes. But apologies are hard — even for adults.

    Sometimes “I’m sorry” comes out of your child’s mouth, but the words aren’t genuine and the behavior doesn’t change. Apologies should be about repairing a connection — not about just saying some words. How do we help our kids learn how to say “I’m sorry!” and really mean it?

    Here are a few ideas, and some ways to engage with them as a family with songs from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” that your child already knows and loves!


    Portraits of summer camp showcase sun-splashed children playing sports, swimming, and getting freckles. Not pictured is any sign of anxiety, a natural reaction to a new adventure and a several-week separation. All children experience a mixture of excitement and nervousness when summer camp approaches. For most, excitement trumps nerves, but some children develop anxiety serious enough to get in the way of what should be a fun, formative experience. Read more here.