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Early Learning Counts 2012 Toolkit helps parents/educators prepare youngest for school and for life

Posted By Sheri Holm, Tuesday, September 04, 2012
It's the first day of school for most Minnesota children. The Minnesota Department of Education and the Working Family Resource Center want to remind parents and educators that school readiness begins A LOT earlier than that first kindergarten class. To help prepare our youngest children for a lifetime of success, they have compiled their 2012 Early Learning Counts toolkit, where you will find flyers and information about the different webinars, podcasts, e-newsletters, and resources available.


There are a few new items available this year, including login information for the archived webinar series for 2010-11 and i-Parent Insights. i-Parent Insights are 60-90 second audio clips that can be accessed and used on websites, Facebook pages, and used as discussion starters for parenting classes. We have also scheduled a special live webinar event on December 12, with Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and on February 13, 2013, Angele Sancho Passe will be presenting her webinar, "Literacy Begins at Home,” in Spanish.

Find the toolkit's contents here. Or you can access many of these online resources on the resource page of the Working Family Resource Center's website at

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Art Rolnick Video: "Early Childhood Development is our best investment"

Posted By Sheri Holm, Friday, March 23, 2012

We're thrilled that Art Rolnick, economist and former research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, is such a vocal proponent for early childhood development. Share this video!

Rolnick's TEDxTC Talk.

Tags:  Art Rolnick  early childhood development  economic development  TEDxTC Talks 

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Placemat aids Otter Tail County Public Health's campaign against childhood obesity

Posted By Sheri Holm, Tuesday, November 29, 2011
You wouldn't think a brightly colored placemat for kids would do much to counteract childhood obesity, but Otter Tail County Public Health is hoping it will be just the thing to get parents and children to think more about what and how much they eat.

Otter Tail County Public Health is utilizing the new "My Plate" design, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created to replace the Pyramid.

"The 'My Plate' design is so new that we were unable to purchase materials geared for children so we had to make our own," said Marion Kershner, the family health nursing supervisor for Otter Tail County Public Health.

They decided to design a placemat that highlighted the new suggested portion sizes, and a chart that shows how to determine these sizes.

"The nurses are finding the placemats to be very useful in having conversations with parents and children about healthy food choices and portion sizes," Kershner said.

Download your own My Plate placemat below.

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Tags:  childhood obesity  My Plate  Otter Tail County Public Health  portions 

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Video Available for Childhood Trauma-Induced Intervention Training

Posted By Sheri Holm, Monday, October 03, 2011

Here is the video of the presentation given by Deena McMahon, MSW, LICSW. She gave a brief overview of early brain development, trauma and toxic stress, and their effects on development and how to intervene.

VIDEO: mms://  


This is wonderful professional development training for child protection teams, guardian ad litem, foster parents, Children's Justice Initiative Teams, judges, family practice attorneys and anyone who touches a child's life during the fragile time when chidlren experience out-of-home placement or are part of a custody dispute.

Tags:  Childhood Trauma  Deena McMahon  intervention  training 

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Report on early childhood and U.S. economy

Posted By Sheri Holm, Thursday, September 29, 2011

PEW's Partnership for America's Economic Success released an issue briefexamining the early childhood sector of the U.S. Economy.

In the first comprehensive calculation of its kind, the Partnership for America’s Economic Success estimates the annual value of U.S. resources devoted to children from birth to age five at nearly $400 billion.

Read issue brief.

Tags:  early childhood  early childhood sector brief  report on early childhood and U.S. economy 

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U to Study Family Challenges of Returning Guard Member

Posted By Marsha Erickson, Thursday, May 19, 2011

Minnesotans returning from National Guard deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq have often found it challenging to resume everyday life. Conditioned to take cover from explosions, many have felt unnerved by loud noises back home. Trained to scan roadways for insurgents or roadside bombs, many have felt anxious in heavy traffic on 35W or on residential streets cluttered with trash bins and obstacles.   A frustration for some returnees is the difficulty in reconnecting with their families -- their spouses and their suddenly older children who got by in their absence by developing their own routines.

Gwen Zimmerman and her husband both were deployed as members of the Minnesota National Guard -- in one case their deployments overlapped and their children stayed with in-laws -- and found the returns challenging.   "For me, it was hard to be the outsider looking in at my own family ... It had been six months and I felt like I was still watching my family through the lens of a video camera instead of actually being there," she said.  

A new University of Minnesota study is examining this problem and what types of supports work best for Guard members once they have returned home to their families. In collaboration with researchers at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, the U will recruit 400 Guard and Reserve families for the study. (Eligible families must include recently deployed Guard members who have children in the 5-12 age range.)   Participating families will either receive existing support options or a new service called ADAPT (After Deployment: Adaptive Parenting Tools) that has been tailor-made for military families in the National Guard and Reserves. The families will be interviewed four times over two years to evaluate their progress and to see if the ADAPT program offers superior results.  

According to a U of M press release, families will be paid $400 to $635 over the course of the study. Parents in the 14-week parenting program will also receive on-site childcare and homework help for their school-aged children while they attend groups. More information can be found online.  

Zimmerman and her family participated in an earlier test phase of the ADAPT program. She said it was helpful and that support back home was necessary -- even though her family tried to remain connected during deployment through Skype, letters and care packages. Existing reintegration services don't focus much on parenting issues, she said.   "There always seemed to be lots of things for the soldier; there's lots of things for the couple, and it was that parenting piece that was (missing,)" Zimmerman said.

Research out of the Minneapolis VA and the U.S. Armed Forces has confirmed that reintegration is different for Guard members as compared to soldiers in active military components. Adding to the challenge: symptoms of depression and PTSD continue to be more prevalent among Guard and Reserve members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the latest deployment health assessment data.

Tags:  MN National Guard 

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Online art that is fun and for a good cause!

Posted By Sheri Holm, Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here is a fun project for you and the kids in your life--bread art! One dollar goes to Share Our Strength for every bread art created.

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Minnesota marking National Infant Immunization Week

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 22, 2011
National Infant Immunization Week starts Saturday, and it's taken on a special significance for Minnesota health officials this year.

View article...

Tags:  National Infant Immunization Week 

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April is Autism Awareness Month..pass it on

Posted By Sheri Holm, Friday, April 08, 2011

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people.
ASDs are "spectrum disorders.” That means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.
There are three main different types of ASDs:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called "classic” autism)
    This is what most people think of when hearing the word "autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger's Syndrome
    People with Asperger's syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called "atypical autism”)
    People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger's syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder, but they could also have more difficulties. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.

Download and print this fact sheet

Tags:  Autism  Autism Awareness Month 

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School Readiness presentations available online

Posted By Sheri Holm, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Powerpoint presentations of the School Readiness 2011 keynote and breakout sessions are available online at

Tags:  school readiness  School Readiness Forum 2011 

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