Monday, December 2, 2013

Importance of Car Seat Safety Stressed

Child car seat safety is important to most parents but to Daniel and Kristen Icard it is doubly important.  As the parents of two young children they want their children to be safe at all times while riding in the car.

When Kristen was pregnant with her first child she bought the best and safest seat but recognized that the seat was only safe if it was properly installed.  Kristen visited the Alexander County Partnership for Children for a car seat inspection.  As a United Way of Alexander County funded agency, the Partnership for Children serves as a car seat inspection site.  Studies have shown that over 70% of child car seats are installed improperly. 

When Kristen was pregnant with her second child she knew that a properly installed car seat was important in preparation for bringing home her son from the hospital.  A few weeks before the baby was due she made an appointment and stopped in to insure the car seat was installed properly.  A certified car seat technician made some minor adjustments and Kristen rested easy knowing that her newborn would be riding safely.   When asked about the car seat inspection program at the Partnership for Children Kristen quickly responded, “I can definitely say that I would be lost without this service. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person however, car seat installation baffles me! My husband and I both are afraid that we would do it incorrectly. When it comes to the safety of your kids, you want everything to be perfect. We didn't want to take the chance of installing the car seat improperly... So we took them to the experts. There is definitely a sense of comfort and security knowing that your children are safe in their car seats! I insisted that any family member that transported my children to have their car seat installed or checked at the Partnership. I'm very thankful that we have this service in Alexander County!”

Many times car seat inspections become a family event at the Partnership for Children.  Parents come in and have a car seat inspected and then the grandparents will come in.  Joe and Renee Williams, grandparents, expressed appreciation for the service.   Kristen’s mom, Renee Williams, also stops by and has her car seat inspected periodically.  She explained, “My daughter Kristen and son-in-law Daniel insisted that we go to the Partnership to have the car seat installed. When it comes to the safety of the grandchildren, there is no reason not to go to the Partnership! They are the experts!”

Children riding safely is important to the Alexander County Partnership for Children, an agency passionate about inspecting as many car seats as possible to ensure that children are safe and adequately protected while traveling on the roads and highways.  The goal of the Partnership for Children car seat program is to increase parent education while emphasizing the importance of inspections by offering on-site clinics at child care facilities and participating in community awareness events to reach out to the citizens of Alexander County.  If seats are found to be improper they are replaced through United Way funding.  The car seat inspection and replacement program is a free service to Alexander County residents.

Susan Cogdill, Executive Director of the Alexander County Partnership for Children, expressed her appreciation to the United Way of Alexander County.  “Without United Way funding our agency would simply not be able to offer this valuable service to the citizens of Alexander County.  Like many nonprofits in Alexander and across North Carolina, our agency has suffered budget cuts that limit our ability to provide necessary services.  With United Way funding the Partnership for Children continues to ensure that children are riding safely.”

Get Up Get Moving Was Successful!!!!


The Get Up Get Moving campaign, offered by the Alexander County Partnership for Children and funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, has ended with Millersville Child Development Center claiming the title of most steps walked during the campaign.  Millersville Child Development Center was also the winner of the October challenge recording 2.7 million steps.  A total of 17,328,122 steps were recorded by the staff participating at Millersville CDC during the six month Get Up Get Moving campaign.

Debbie Morgan was the individual overall winner walking the most steps of any child care provider in Alexander County, 2,151,144  steps.  Coming in second was Shirley Hickerson with 1,953,608 steps.  Debbie and Shirley are mother and daughter who constantly motivated each other.  They would check each other’s pedometer throughout the day to see who was the most active.  They would even call each other in the evening to check on their pedometer step counts.  Both Debbie and Shirley are employed by Millersville Child Development Center.  Debbie was the overall winner for the month of October with   steps.

Other winners recognized for most steps at their center included Dara Grinton from LuLus Child Enrichment Center with 1,509,932  steps and Rita Parson from First Baptist Child Development Center with 642,992  steps.  LuLus CDC was the second place winner with 11,996,578 steps recorded for the campaign.

The Get Up Get Moving six month campaign began in May and ended in October.  Over 41 million steps were recorded by participants using pedometers that recorded each step that participants took.  Each month individuals reported their total steps to their employer and the child care center reported total monthly steps.  This campaign was designed to encourage movement and activity within the child care center.

During evaluations, participants reported feeling better, reducing stress, and losing weight.  Most participants indicated they will continue wearing the pedometer to record steps to ensure a higher level of activity.

Susan Cogdill, Executive Director of the Alexander County Partnership for Children, spoke on the benefits of the Get Up Get Moving campaign.  “The Partnership for Children was honored to be chosen to receive funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.  Child care teachers are influential in the physical activity of young children.  Movement throughout the entire day while caring for young children is not only a necessity but a requirement to maintain a successful classroom environment.  Preschool children begin learning about the importance of physical activity in the classroom through their role model, the classroom teacher.  Get Up Get Moving has allowed over 72 teachers and assistants to recognize and value movement throughout the day.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Learn About FXS

The most common cause of inherited intellectual disability is Fragile X syndrome (FXS).  It is estimated that about 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 6,000 to 8,000 females are born with FXS.  FXS occurs in all racial and ethnic groups.

Some of the signs of FXS include developmental delays.  Examples include not talking, walking, and/or sitting at the same time as children of the same age.  Another sign could include learning disabilities such as trouble learning new skills.  FXS signs include social and behavioral problems that are exhibited in not making eye contact, trouble paying attention, acting and speaking without thinking, frequent tantrums, and hand flapping.  Children with FXS can also have anxiety and mood problems and be sensitive to light and touch.

Males who have FXS usually have some degree of intellectual disability that can range from mild to severe. Females with FXS can have normal intelligence.  Only about one-third to one-half of affected females has some degree of intellectual disability.

Physical signs of an individual with FXS, that are subtle that become more obvious with age, are long, narrow face, large ears, large head, overly flexible joints (especially the fingers), and prominent forehead and chin.   Girls with FXS generally have fewer physical signs of the condition than males.
A diagnosis of FXS is confirmed through testing a person's DNA by a blood test.  This test is ordered by a doctor or genetic counselor.  The blood sample is sent to a laboratory and checked to determine if there is a gene mutation (change).   Around 35 to 37 months (three years of age) boys are diagnosed.  Girls are diagnosed later at forty-one months.

A diagnosis of FXS helps the family understand the reason for a child’s intellectual disability and behavior problems.  An early diagnosis also helps the family learn more ways  to help the child reach his or her full potential. 

Most children with FXS have a normal life span and do not have serious medical problems.  Five percent of girls and fifteen percent of boys affected by FXS develop seizures, that are most often are controlled through medication.  The risk for chronic inner ear infections is increased in children with FXS and may increase the need to have tubes placed in their ears.

A child with FXS may have mitral valve prolapsed, a heart condition, that causes heart murmurs.  In most cases this is not life-threatening and does not require treatment.

While there is no cure for FXS there are treatment services that help with learning skills such as learning to walk, talk and interact with others.  Medicine can be used to control behavior problems.  Early intervention services (birth to age three) may help improve a child’s development.  Through the local Children’s Developmental Services Agency a child can be evaluated and receive treatment.  A treatment plan that involves parents, child, teachers, and health care providers allows everyone to work together to help guide the success of the child with FXS.
For more information on FXS contact your physician.  Additional information is available online at the National Fragile X Foundation- .

Photo Courtesy of Free Digital Photo + Net

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Autism 101 Community Education Event Scheduled

A community education event is scheduled on Thursday, October 17, 2013, 5:30pm at Alexander County Head Start,  5860 Hwy 64/90 West, Taylorsville.  This event will provide information on Autism 101-The Facts.  Dinner will be provided.  Child care is available by reserving a spot-call 828-632-3799.

One of the complex group of disorders of brain development is termed Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism.  Characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors, autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. This increase can partly be explained with the increased awareness and improved diagnosis. Studies have also shown that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.

Some of the common signs of autism include impaired social interaction.  Even in early infancy a baby with ASD may not respond to people or focus on only one item for long periods of time.  A child with ASD might appear normal and then withdraw in a social setting.  Often children with ASD do not respond to their name and avoid eye contact with others.  The child may not understand social clues, like facial expression or tone of voice in others. 

The child with ASD may have repetitive movements such as rocking back and forth or in self-abusive behavior, head-banging or biting.   Speech may be delayed.  Children do not know how to play with other children.  Some children speak in a sing-song voice and talk about a narrow range of favorite topics.

Additional signs may include difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.  The most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.  Outcomes for children with ASD are improved through early intervention with proven behavioral therapies.  A psychologist or psychiatrist evaluates individuals for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you have concerns about your child, talk with your child’s physician.  A website with information on Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder is .  Autism Speaks is dedicated to improving the lives of persons with autism and their families.

Partnership Receives IMPACT NC Grant!

Alexander County Partnership for Children was recently awarded funding from IMPACT NC for “Disability Aware”, a community focused program designed to promote early education of disabilities.  Over 1,000 families of children in Alexander County will be reached through events at child care centers and other venues for families of young children. The program will increase awareness of disabilities as a way for families to secure early intervention services prior to kindergarten. Studies have shown that early intervention services have significant impact in assuring success of child upon entering kindergarten.

 Autism 101-The Facts will be the first community education event will be held on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at Alexander County Head Start and is open to parents and caregivers of all Alexander County children.  Dinner will be served at 5:30pm and child care will be available for all children.  Please call the Partnership for Children at 828-632-3799 to request child care. 

In addition a parent/caregiver group is available for parents and caregivers of all children. This group meets weekly on Thursdays from 10am to 11:30am at the Partnership for Children.   A child’s program is available while parent and caregivers meet.  Call the Partnership for Children at 828-632-3799 to learn more about this group.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Circle of Parents Opens Another Group

Beginning in April, Circle of Parents has added a new day for parents and children to come for family fun and support.
The weekly meetings take place at Alexander County Partnership for Children on both Monday and Thursday mornings from 10-11:30. You can choose which day of the week works best for your schedule.
Alexander County Partnership for Children's Circle of Parents support groups meet weekly at their offices on Highway 90. The group is open to all parents and caregivers who are residents of Alexander County and who have children 6 months to five years of age.
In addition to the parent group, the children have a wonderful playroom filled with toys and activities that promote early learning and development as well as giving children the opportunity to play with other children and learn social skills that will help prepare them for kindergarten.
The Circle of Parents support group helps build friendships with other parents and caregivers who share common challenges and experiences in parenting. It’s also a place for parents and caregivers to be able to share their successes with one another. The weekly group is co-led by parents and a trained group facilitator. The group is an open place for parents and caregivers to share their experiences and find strength in each other.
What can you hope to gain from this group? You can have a feeling of belonging and relief while you learn that you are not alone in the challenges of parenting. You will learn about opportunities and other resources within the community and listen to others as they share their stories. You will also get a chance to learn how to become an advocate for yourself and others while giving and receiving support. The best part of this group is that the parents involved make the decisions about what the group will discuss.
The Alexander County Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services for families and children in the County.
If you or someone you know needs parenting support, or if you would like more information about this program, please stop by the Partnership at 1565 NC Highway 90W in Taylorsville, call 828-632-3799 or visit

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Read Early... Read Often

Read early and read often. The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. It's never too early to begin reading to your child! The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

Read together every day

Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close.

Give everything a name

Build your child's vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects. For example, "Look at that airplane! Those are the wings of the plane. Why do you think they are called wings?"

Say how much you enjoy reading

Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about "story time" as the favorite part of your day.

Read with fun in your voice

Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices. Ham it up!

Know when to stop

Put the book away for awhile if your child loses interest or is having trouble paying attention.

Be interactive

Discuss what's happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions.

Read it again and again

Go ahead and read your child's favorite book for the 100th time!

Talk about writing, too

Mention to your child how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.

Point out print everywhere

Talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word on each outing.

Get your child evaluated

Please be sure to see your child's pediatrician or teacher as soon as possible if you have concerns about your child's language development, hearing, or sight.

Source: Reading Rockets, "Reading Tips for Parents of Kindergartners," PBS,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Easy ways for you and your child to spend more time together

When you spend time with your child, he knows that both he and his suc­cess in school and in life are among the most important things to you. As much as your child might beg for a new toy or the latest blinking game with sound effects, what he wants most is to spend time together. Here are some ideas for spending time with him:

·         Turn ordinary tasks into together time. Thirty minutes of playing on the floor with your child is wonderful. Taking him along on your Saturday afternoon errands and talking with him for the whole time is just as effective.

·         Eat meals together as often as possible. Research shows that more family bonding happens around the kitchen table than anywhere else. Ask your child what he did in school that day.

·         Exercise together. Move with your child daily. Use this time to talk about your child’s favorite books.

·         Engage in your child’s interests. If he likes soccer or T-ball, kick or toss the ball around together outside. If he likes dinosaurs, check out a dinosaur book from the library and read it together. Occasionally, snuggle up together to watch a movie or an educational TV show.  Make connec­tions to what your child is learning.

      Source: T.R. Lee, “How to Spend Quality Time with Your Child,” College of Education and Human Services, Utah State University
Check out more Parenting Tips and Information in
the Helping Children Learn Newsletter at:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Child Care in Alexander County-Get the Facts!

Did you know that....
     approximately 1,621 children under six in the county live in families where their sole parent or both parents are working? The need for child care is critical to the economic viability of these families.
     the county received and spent $1,013,577 (not including Smart Start funding) to help parents pay for child care in fiscal year 2010-11? In December 2011, the county served 266 different children with child care subsidy and had 0 eligible children on the waiting list for subsidy.
     Alexander County has 26 licensed child care programs? Of these, 18 are centers and 8 are family child care homes. Of all the licensed programs in the county, 28% of centers and 38% of homes have a 4 or 5 star rating. These businesses employ 138 people directly, and also contribute to the economy through purchases of goods and services provided by other businesses in their communities and state.
     there are 579 birth to five year old and 308 school-age children currently enrolled in these child care programs.
     among birth to five year old children enrolled in centers in Alexander County, 75% are in 4 or 5 star licensed centers. Among birth to five year old children enrolled in homes in Alexander County, 33% are in 4-5 star licensed homes.
     13 teachers, directors and family child care providers living in Alexander County participated in the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Project in fiscal year 2010-2011 with 8 child care programs supporting their employees returning to school through this scholarship program?
     using federal guidelines for setting subsidy payment rates and data from a 2010-2011 market rate study, the 4-star center market rate for two year olds in Alexander County is $616 per month?
     most families in Alexander County cannot afford the full cost of child care? Low-income families and families with more than one child have to pay a high percentage of their income for care. A single mother with one child earning $34,668 or less per year can receive child care subsidy as funds are available. If funds are unavailable or if this parent’s earnings exceed the income eligibility limit, a parent would pay 21% of her gross income (see chart) for child care offered at the county rate. Little is left in the family’s budget for food, medical, clothing, travel or other basic living expenses. Due to the high cost of child care, parents such often make difficult choices. Some maybe forced to seek TANF. Others may seek cheaper, often inadequate child care or leave their children unattended.
© 2012 Child Care Services Association. Figures derived using the most recent available data from Child Care Services Association, Internal Revenue Service, N.C. Budget and Tax Center, N.C. Division of Child Development, N.C. Division of Social Services,
N.C. State Data Center and U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Public Instruction.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Partnership Hosted 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Event

The Alexander County Partnership for Children hosted 26 families and 38 children at their 2nd Annual Gingerbread Making Party!  On Saturday, December 1st and Thursday, December 6th from 10am-12pm the Alexander County Partnership for Children welcomed families of children five and under to join in a the seasonal tradition of Gingerbread House-Making at their office. To look for future events like this one you can follow us on Facebook or get updates at our blog  

Alexander County Partnership for Children is a United Way organization and funded with NC Smart Start funding.