Region VII Head Start Sand Box summer 2017

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Summer 2017



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Summer 2017



What’s Inside? 8 Contributors

Your Summer 2017 issue of the Region VII Head Start Sand Box TM magazine is finished! Once again, our dedicated contributors and supporters have made this a very special issue, filled with inspiring stories, news and updates from agencies and partners across the region, and beyond. From coaching, to parent advocacy — fundraising, to helping immigrants and refugees navigate the American dream, you’ll find wonderful stories reflecting the tremendous work being done by your colleagues to support Head Start children and families. Be sure to connect with the advertisers who believe in the work you do, and want to support your efforts. Building those relationships can impact so many deserving people! If you have an idea for a story to include in an upcoming issue, please call or email me. Happy Reading!

9 Immigrants, Refugees and the American Dream 12

Diving Deeper Into Data

14 Head Start Teachers Raise Funds for Projects 16 Coaching and Teacher Practices 18 Parent Becomes Strong Voice for Head Start 20

For Such a Time As This


Special Blessing’s Child Care

22 Kansas Kids Show Off Their Smiles 23 Missouri Head Start Families: Leading and Learning Their Way to Advocacy 26 Promoting Excellence through Training of Future Professionals 29 “CRANE: on earth, in sky” and “DINOSAUR ZOO” 30 Pandora’s Life and Family Strengthened through Community Action

Inspired by you,

Mike Baugher D irector of Executive Services,

and Publisher of the Region VII Head Start Sand Box TM magazine

Contact us at: R7HSA, 233 SW Greenwich Dr., Ste. 105, Lee’s Summit, MO 64082 Phone: 816.550.6388 Email: | The Region VII Head Start Sand Box™ Magazine is published by Region VII Head Start Association. Articles and advertisements do not necessarily reflect R7HSA’s opinions. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent. R7HSA does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. Information in the Region VII Head Start Sand Box™ Magazine is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed.

Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017







Associate Director, Project Eagle University of Kansas Medical Center

Outcomes Officer Blue Valley Community Action

Interpretive Services Specialist Central Missouri Community Action




SENCA Head Start and Deputy Director

Owner and Operator Special Blessing’s Child Care

Marketing Communications Specialist The Family Conservancy



Infant/Toddler Teacher Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency

Associate Director of Wellness Promotion JFCAC Head Start

Program Director for Kansas Cavity Free Kids at the Kansas Head Start Association Kansas Head Start Dental Hygienist Liaison Region 7 Dental Hygienist Liaison




Head Start/Early Head Start Director Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska

Tina Bernskoetter, Executive Director


Region VII Head Start TTA Early Childhood Manager


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

Head Start, Hispanic Heritage Group, Refugees at the Columbia, MO Celebration of World Refugee Day 2016

Helping Immigrants and Refugees Navigate to Reach the American Dream Head Start: More than a Job ... a Way of Life by Myriam Marquez, Interpretive Services Specialist at Central Missouri Community Action, Head Start Program


n 1995, my family immigrated to the United States, with the hope of prosperity and success. However, we underestimated the language, cultural, social, emotional, and academic hurdles that we would face. Edgar, my oldest son, was a bright and inquisitive five-year-old when we moved from Chihuahua, Mexico to Alabama. His teachers in Mexico praised his language skills and made remarks on his enthusiasm for learning at school, but all this changed when we crossed the border. His American teachers, who were not used to having a non-English speaking student, labeled him as a “high risk” student with “language development issues.” He was constantly in trouble due to the cultural differences and the language barrier. My son stopped smiling and playing, and I realized how difficult it was for a young child to experience these kinds of changes. He struggled to make friends. Edgar’s life had changed drastically; his entire

world changed: his language, his culture, the smells, and the flavors he was used to, even the way he made friends was different. Edgar dreamed about moving back “home” to Mexico where going to school was not as difficult and where he had many friends and relatives. Everything was very difficult for us. Culture and language were a big barrier. My kids were the first Hispanic children in the entire school. On many occasions, my children were bullied just for being different than the rest of the children. Teachers and children from my son’s school knew little or nothing about Mexican culture and traditions. The school where my son attended never provided us with an interpreter. My participation in my children’s education was limited, until I decided to speak up and give a voice to my son at school. I set out to learn English and lose the fear of talking. I bought a Spanish-English dictionary, magazines, glue, and scissors. My son and I made flashcards with English phrases and drawings, so that Edgar could communicate with others. Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


Children, like my son, who were learning a second language, became a problem for the teachers; his teachers recognized they didn’t know how to help my son, and he was often isolated and separated from the other children. Edgar was not only learning how to speak English in a different school system, but he was also learning a new culture in a hostile environment. In an attempt to help him, I started volunteering at school. An English speaking friend and I went to my son’s school to talk about Mexican culture and traditions at a school event and took every opportunity to bring our culture to the teachers and children of the school.

The population of the United States continues to become more culturally and linguistically diverse. Throughout the United States, Head Start classrooms reflect the growing cultural diversity of its population. One of the challenges for educators is to guarantee that students and their parents have equal access to resources they may be eligible for and to know the tools and resources available to help them. Another challenge is ensuring that children learn to accept and respect differences. The Head Start Program recognizes and appreciates these differences and highlights the importance of welcoming communities by: 1. providing equal opportunity to participate in Head Start programs, 2. Providing Interpretive Services Years later when we moved to Misand Skype interpretations for improved souri, and met other Hispanic families, communication to the Head Start families we soon learned that other parents 3. Engaging families and supporting their and children were experiencing similar, successful integration in our communiheart-wrenching challenges. I then ty as they work to rebuild their lives. 4. decided to dedicate myself to helping Developing relationships with children and increase cultural awareness in our family members. 5. Hosting Multicultural community. I have done many things events and equal participation. 6. Providing to accomplish this task, from creating English classes online for Head Start parHead Start Multicultural Festival, 2015 a non-profit organization named Hisents. 7. Creating a multilingual library with panic Heritage Group, to promoting books in more than 12 languages available community integration and cultural Head Start families. acceptance, talking to schools about different cultures, but it wasn’t until I started to work for the Head Start organization that CMCA Interpretive Services is taking the next steps to respond I realized this was exactly what I had been looking for. By working to diverse communities by providing training to teachers and at a Head Start Program, I could reach more families and teachers. staff in the topics of “The Voice of the Refugees,” “Working with Culturally Diverse Communities,” “Immigrant Families Living in Refugees and immigrant students represent one of the most vulthe U.S.,” and “How to work with Interpreters,” among others. nerable groups of people served by U.S. schools. There are reasons This is to prepare them linguistically and culturally to work with to believe that immigrants and refugee children may be particularchildren from diverse cultural backgrounds. Teachers learn about ly vulnerable to poor developmental and academic outcomes since the dynamics of culture in general and their student’s cultures in their parents often arrive in the United States with little to no particular, which enables them to understand their students and to economic resources, social networks, structure a successful academic experience or understanding of the country’s for them. Teachers greatly benefit from language or culture. knowledge about the nature of culture and cultural diversity, and the importance of Additionally, immigrants often meet supporting the child’s home language, and challenges upon their arrival that they the relationship of language to culture. never anticipate. These difficulties range from navigating legal complicaCentral Missouri Community Action tions to understanding school systems, Head Start has a high-quality preschool complex transportation systems, living program which recognizes cultural values, arrangements, employment, language, beliefs, and traditions. It draws upon the culture shock, psychological distress, children’s cultural and linguistic backOyundari Batsaikhan and Myriam depression, and despair. grounds to design and implement learning Marquez, Cultural exchange 2017 activities. They encourage home language CMCA Head Start Interpretive Serand English language learning and they vices serves children and their families in more than 17 languages, support the children’s appreciation of differences through carefully some of these children are refugees, immigrants, and unaccomplanned and relevant learning experiences such as an International panied children from Central America who cross the U.S. border. Mother Language Celebration, where Head Start children and All of these children have significant needs, and some of them are teachers have a wonderful opportunity to experience pen-pals enrolled in the Head Start program. Many of these children and through our Skype sessions to meet new friends from around the their families are facing a number of challenges adapting to the world. They have the opportunity to share, arts and crafts, family U.S. educational system and culture. pictures, reading books, and have learned some words in different


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

Head Start and Hispanic Heritage Group at the Columbia MO Celebration of World Refugee Day 2016

languages. This project gives CMCA Head Start children and teachers a broader view of the world, increasing their social, cultural, and linguistic awareness, as well as developing the knowledge of where their pen-pals live.

Linking newly resettled refugees with local Head Start programs can provide many benefits for refugee families. We are now seeing that more refugee families are seeking out our Head Start programs for enrollment opportunities.

CMCA Head Start collaborated with Refugee and Immigration Services Agency to organize and participate in the celebration of World Refugee Day to welcome and support refugees in our community.

In an effort to help and support our families, some of the refugees are also provided with job opportunities to work as interpreters, armed with first-hand experience as to the havoc, needs, and difficulties they have faced in the past, and currently. They also assist us in learning about their culture, traditions, and beliefs. The refugee interpreters put us in a better position to create a wonderful, professional, and friendly relationship with our families of immigrants and refugees. Through this collaboration and mutual understanding, we have been able to learn and identify ways to better communicate and to approach these families with empathy, respect, and to celebrate differences.

It was a great opportunity to meet newly-arrived refugee families in the area and to learn and identify ways to better communicate and approach them with empathy and respect. The event displayed informational booths with resources available in the area. We made fun informational posters about different cultures, and some families helped by bringing different items from their countries, such as traditional clothing, crafts, and pictures. This helped them share a little taste of their culture with the rest of the community. CMCA Interpretive Services invites members of communities, agencies, and organizations to work together to offer opportunities for adaptation to a new culture, integration into the community, obtaining services. Events like this are key to welcoming newcomers since newly arrived refugee and immigrant families are often reluctant to access important services due to many barriers such as limited English proficiency and lack of familiarity with U.S. systems and policies. CMCA Interpretive Services Head Start program has developed strategies to address cultural, linguistic, and other special needs that migrant and refugees’ parents may encounter while they acclimatize to our community. Also, exploring ways to ensure access to our services and programs are available with the translation of documents and the Head Start brochures in 7 different languages (Burmese, Arabic, Tamil, French, Chinese, Spanish, and English). By working with organizations like Refugee and Immigration Services, we have the opportunity to share and learn about some of the cultural backgrounds of refugees, traditions and their belief systems, as well as some of their behaviors and practices particularly around parenting and childcare.

Head Start is my passion. It is a mission. I identify completely with Head Start’s vision “to work diligently for policy and institutional changes that ensure all vulnerable children and families have what they need to succeed.” Looking back, Head Start would have been a life saver for me and my family. I had to fight in a place where I wasn’t sure what the rules of the game were. I was an immigrant and many years later, I have found in Head Start, the solution to many immigrant’s and refugee’s problems, as they become acquainted with their new home and way of life. This passion of mine, of helping people in my community, has become my profession, and now having the opportunity to work as an Interpretive Services Specialist at Central Missouri Community Action Head Start Program, I keep my sights continually set on building bridges of communication and cultural awareness between our diverse families and the Mid-Missouri community. Head Start has given me the opportunity to ensure my family’s, and particularly, my son’s story doesn’t repeat itself. Together, educators, parents, and students can help clear all the obstacles, including the language barrier, and help all our young ELL students make the most of their God-given talents and achieve the American Dream.

Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


Diving Deeper into

Submitted by Cheryl Severance, Outcomes Officer Blue Valley Community Action Head Start Birth to Five


bout three times a year at Blue Valley Community Action Head Start, contests are held to stir up an interest and get staff to dig a little deeper into our data. Here are some examples of the contests and pictures of the winners who received a small token and great recognition for being Data Divers!

Some Data Fun; and the Winner is ... Staci Tyma, Saline County Family Advocate! Fall 2015. Head Start Birth to Five Family Advocates began tracking more family information and data for our Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) goals in ChildPlus rather than the old pen-to-paper way and handcounting on the part of the Outcomes Officer. ChildPlus will then aggregate data and help us with reporting outcomes for families. Recently a little contest was held to guess how many minutes of contact Family Advocates had with families in the month of September. The answer was 29,235 minutes and Staci was the closest, without going over. This comes to about 1,170 minutes per Family Advocate or 100 minutes per family. We are looking for that number to grow as Family Advocates get used to recording in this new way and as the school year progresses.


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

A Data Dilemma Amanda Willey, our Divine Data Diva! Winter 2016. In an effort to decrease the number of “empty cells” in some of our data, another little contest was held to guess the number of empties out of 4,437 possible cells where the data is needed. The clues were that it was a prime number, and if it were a year, it would have begun on a Thursday. Amanda Willey, Crete Teacher and Family Advocate, deciphered this dilemma. She was deemed the Divine Data Dilemma Diva for her determination, decisiveness, and detective skills! Since that contest, empty cells decreased by 88% a month later and two months later there were no blank cells! This contributes greatly to tracking and monitoring by Service Component Officers by being able to instantly find which Family Advocate is connected with each child and family on a daily or weekly basis. Thank you Amanda for your dedication!

The Sad, Sorry Subsidy Situation Alicia Dirks Solves it! Fall 2016. Staff were asked to take a quick break from the busy beginning of the school year to help solve a sad, sorry subsidy situation. They were asked the percentage of eligible families who actually received childcare subsidy and approximately how many federal dollars are not returned back to Nebraska because of this. Alicia Dirks, Staff Resource Manager, was the closet to the answers: 12% of eligible families actually received childcare subsidy, and over the years millions of federal dollars are not returned back to Nebraska. By having BVCA staff work to sign up families who are eligible, federal dollars mean not only a break to the family’s budget, but also increased payments to childcare providers and more stability for the communities’ work force. Thank you Alicia for your sluething into this matter and supporting staff and families with childcare subsidy sign up!

A Moment for March Madness! Penny Thompson — Victorious! Spring 2017. The March Madness Data Contest was about Head Start Birth to Five’s Strategic Planning Goal: Develop and strengthen relationships among families, staff, and communities. One of the Action Steps is: Each site will have staff present to or actively participate in at least 2 community groups promoting the purpose of our program annually. Now to do the math, our 8 sites, plus the Management Team as a “site” means we should have promoted our purpose at 18 meetings and/or presentations. Staff have been trained to document these in ChildPlus so we can track more accurately. They were asked as of Tuesday, February 28, 2017, how many meetings and how many presentations have been documented this school year. A tie-breaker question was also asked: Which site documented the most presentations? Penny Thompson, Saline Supervisor, was the closest to the correct answers of 45 meetings and 16 presentations as of 2/28/17. The tie-breaker answer was the Seward Site, which includes Seward Head Start and Seward Sixpence, with 9 presentations documented! As of writing this report, the data contest reminded/inspired people to add more, so to date (3/14/17) there are now 54 meetings and 17 presentations! Congratulations Penny, and way to go Head Start Birth to Five staff on getting the word out there on how Head Start is helping people and changing lives!

Storm shelter being constructed.

Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


Head Start Teachers Raise Funds for Projects by Mike Baugher Director of Executive Services Region VII Head Start Association


n 2000, Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, wanted his students to read Little House on the Prairie. As he was making photocopies of the one book he could procure, Charles thought about all the money he and his colleagues had personally spent on books, art supplies, and other materials for their classrooms. He figured there were people out there who’d want to help — if they could see where their money was going. Charles sketched out a website where teachers could post classroom project requests, and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support. His colleagues posted the first 11 requests. Then it spread. Today, they’re open to every public school in America. (excerpt from At the National Head Start Conference in April, Donors Choose and their partner, PNC Bank, shared this vision with conference attendees, and urged Head Start teachers to utilize this powerful tool. In fact, PNC said they would ONLY partner with Donors Choose if they opened up the platform to Head Start teachers. Each conference attendee was given a $25 gift card to get them started. I reached out to Donors Choose and PNC on behalf of Head Start in Region VII, and encouraged them to attend our Leadership Conference in June, to share their vision with our attendees. They graciously accepted, and Debbie Marshall, Senior Vice President, Director of Client and Community Relations at PNC Bank, presented at our closing session and provided gift cards to each attendee at the Conference. I was excited to learn just this week, that Kristi Magruder, Infant/Toddler Teacher at Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency in Edina, Missouri, had submitted two projects to, and both projects were fully funded! So it works! Kristi was kind enough to share her projects with us in this issue of the Sand Box, so others can see how it works, and hopefully be encouraged to also take advantage of this amazing opportunity to find funding sources for their classroom projects. Please take a moment and check out Kristi’s projects. Then go to and start submitting your own projects!


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

TEACHERS AT 76% OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS in America have posted a project on 2,680,033 CITIZEN DONORS and dozens of generous corporate and foundation partners. TOGETHER, THEY'VE GIVEN $554,179,207 in classroom project funding. IMPACTING 23,201,548 STUDENTS across the country. And we won't stop until every student has what they need to succeed.

Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


Coaching and Teacher Practices by Catherine Swackhamer, Ph.D. Early Childhood Manager, Region VII TTA System


ead Start Performance Standards 1302.92 (c) (2) state “A program must implement a research-based, coordinated coaching strategy for education staff that: . . . At a minimum, provides opportunities for intensive coaching to those education staff identified through the process in paragraph (c) (1) of this section, including opportunities to be observed and receive feedback and modeling of effective teacher practices directly related to programs performance goals.” As programs complete their assessments of staff strengths and areas of potential improvements, what practices rise to the surface? As a decision-making team, what practices do you prioritize for allocation of limited resources? What will reap the greatest staff improvements? What practices are aligned with your school readiness goals and how could those practices benefit from additional supports to teaching staff ? As programs close their school years and dive deep into their data, they should have these and many more questions in mind.


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

As programs look into the data and decide where they need to invest resources, the biggest question might be what specific “practice(s)” should be their focus during the next school year. What will provide the greatest growth in outcomes for the children? This is the million dollar question. To help with this question let us identify the various ways in which we look at what a teacher does in the classroom. Obviously, we look at the environment: does the center arrangement seem appropriate for the children enrolled this year or is it the same as it always is or has been? Are the staff interactions with the children warm and inviting, as well as inclusive of parents transitioning their children in and out of the classroom? Are there adequate materials and resources within the classroom to support the children’ learning? Another way we look at what teachers do is in relationship to how they develop their lesson plans. Are they planning activities appropriate to the curriculum we utilize? Are they implementing what they said they would on the lesson plan? Are they flexible, following the lead of the majority of the children within the classroom? Do they indi-

vidualize, as needed, for those needing additional support? Do the teaching staff utilize practices that are developmentally appropriate, individualized, and targeted to achieve the greatest outcomes for the children enrolled? Wow, that is all without even mentioning the additional things looked at for licensing and monitoring for compliance! No wonder Coordinators are often confused about what they should be looking for or at during coaching and/or supervision visits. A way to support achieving the best outcomes possible could be for all teachers to be intentional in their planning through development of comprehensive lesson plans. This could entail writing not only what activities and learning environments to have available for that week, but also include the practices they will focus on during the activities and within the learning environments. This could also include the individualized practices to support children with special needs as well as those targeted for assessments that week. To accomplish this teaching staff need a clear understanding of “activity,” “practice,” and “outcome.” Perhaps one way to help in understanding the differences can be: • An activity and/or environment is something planned or set up for children, to keep them actively engaged or busy. • A practice is how the teacher will use the activity and/or environment to enhance the children’s comprehension or understanding of language, concepts, or skills. • A child outcome is what we get by providing rich environments/activities supported by sound teaching practices. To aid in understanding “Activities,” “Practices,” and “Outcomes,” below is a simple guide. ACTIVITY: Water Play PRACTICE: Teacher engages with the children during water play using new words, defining those words and illustrating the words with actions. OUTCOME: Children will have greater vocabulary. Children will understand concepts of volume.

For more resources on activities, environments, practices, and outcomes, programs may look to their selected curriculum, State Early Learning Standards, Head Start Early Outcomes Framework. As always, more information can be found on ECLKC and the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, Practice-Based Coaching materials. Do not forget to contact your Early Childhood Specialist in the Region VII TTA System; they can assist you as you work through your data to identify the practices you want to focus on in supporting your individualized teaching staff development plans.

Sosha and her beautiful family.

Parent Becomes Strong Voice for Head Start by Scott Hanson, Marketing Communications Specialist, The Family Conservancy


osha will tell you her story isn’t a tear jerker — that’s only half true. As you meet her and listen to her story, you’ll find you’re much more likely to shed tears of joy than pity or sorrow. Her story is an inspiring testament to the successes that are possible when you match a program like Head Start with a desire to succeed. As a single mother caring for three young children, one day Sosha realized an eerie feeling of familiarity of her own early years. She knew something had to change, “I didn’t want my beginning story to be my end story.”


Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017

Once you know Sosha’s “beginning story” you’ll understand why she wanted more for her children. Sosha grew up in less-than-ideal circumstances — to put it lightly — and she wants nothing more than to ensure her children don’t share her damaging experiences. Her childhood was marked by gun violence, abuse, and drug addiction. She entered the foster care system at an early age — and lived in four homes before age 18. In all four of those homes, she witnessed the damaging effects of poverty — depression, violence, crime, incarceration, addiction, and stress. However, this isn’t the tragic tear jerker you might expect. This is an uplifting story about how Head Start helped Sosha put her struggles in the rearview; this is about her “end story.”

Four years after her introduction to Head Start at Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City, Missouri, Sosha is a married mother of four with health insurance, two incomes, a positive outlook on life, and the support she needs to continue moving forward. She credits the program as the catalyst that started her progress, “You can see a difference between my oldest two and my youngest two [children]. My youngest are Head Start babies. They didn’t have a stressed out single mom, sleepless nights, disconnects (water, gas and electricity), little food and things of that nature.” She’s quick to note that while Head Start provides education and care for her children, it’s much more, “This program is more than early education, it helped me, the mom. I’m always going to have problems that come up, but now I know how to deal with them. I can handle a financial setback, I don’t have to snap on my kids, I can go in my room and recuperate. I was taught to advocate for myself, manage stress, and to promote education in my house. I feel like I broke the cycle, and the first step was going to Head Start.”

illustrated the success of Head Start’s holistic approach. She told her state representatives how she came to the program a single mother of three, overworked, stressed, and barely holding her life together. More importantly, she shared how she found stability and hope for her family’s future with the help of Head Start. Sosha had the will, but she’s quick to credit the program with providing her the means, “I changed my life and the future for my children and Head Start helped me.” Join Sosha as an advocate for high-quality early education programs like Head Start. Tell congress, and anyone who will listen, that ensuring high-quality early education is the best investment we can make for the future of our country.

Sosha’s story is a great example of the success of Head Start’s comprehensive family approach — addressing the needs of parents and children together, because we know the successes of young children are closely related to their family environment. This is why Head Start programs work with parents on a family needs assessment. The assessment helps families meet needs — whether they are immediate needs like housing and food or long-term goals like home ownership — and create a plan for families to achieve goals around financial security, health, education, and relationships. In April, Sosha traveled to Washington, D.C. with The Family Conservancy to share her Head Start story with congress, as part of Child Care Aware’s Policy Summit. Admittedly she was nervous, but when the time came she shared her story with passion and

Sosha in Washington D.C. at Senator Claire McCaskill’s office.

Sosha with Tara Zahner at the Child Care Aware Policy Summit. Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


For Such a Time as This Iwho has served children for over 40 years. recently spoke to my child’s pediatrician

She appeared heartbroken and defeated in the magnitude of challenges facing the children in her practice and community. I have talked with teachers, counselors, and police officers, and all would agree that we are facing a crisis of epic proportions among our youth. Too often, I hear parents say that their child is either being incorrigible and entitled, anxious and depressed, or some combination of thereof. To make matters worse, caregivers and teachers are often lacking resources to assist them. Treatment options are scarce and out of reach financially for most families. As our doctor told me, “it would seem a child’s only option for affordable rehabilitation is prison.”

by Susan Killeen, M.A., LPC, NCC, Associate Director of Wellness Promotion, JFCAC Head Start This crisis should move those of us in Head Start to war against those things that are fiercely coming against children in this generation: poverty, malnourishment, abuse, domestic violence, and worst of all – the apathy of the adults around them. We must recognize that many of our children are carrying trauma and loss. Our time with them is a crucial opportunity to minimize the damage of their storm. Success will require a strong desire and call to face the rain with unyielding courage, connection, and compassion. Our children are entrusted to us at such a critical time of development. What an opportunity we have to make a difference in the trajectory of their journey. In a sense, we are assisting in the building of their ‘inner working model’ or internal template for how they view themselves and the world. It is this template that will teach them how to negotiate relationships, to have empathy for others and compassion for themselves. In addition, I believe we are helping to build the neurochemistry of children which will set the stage for a healthy brain-body connection. In a sense, we have an opportunity to provide a path of preventative mental health and wellness. What a privilege and awesome responsibility! At JFCAC, we are striving to lay the foundations for healthy futures by promoting both physical and mental wellness. Our first step in helping a child build a strong inner-working model includes


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promoting neuro-integration. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, building strong neuro circuits promotes resilience and kindness. Much like a beautiful choir, an individual who is integrated is in harmony. One could conclude, a child that becomes in harmony with himself has the potential to live in harmony with the world. To begin, our teachers will be trained to be mindful of Siegel’s approach through the following:

Eye Contact • Facial Expression Tone of Voice • Posture • Gestures Timing • Intensity of Response In doing so, we are prioritizing the wellness of our children, families, and staff in a manner that impacts everything from classroom environments to family home visits to curriculum implementation. We are intentional about the intersubjective experience of a child and teacher and will place priority on “being vs. doing” for the first six weeks of school. It is both a challenging and exciting time but an opportunity we will not take lightly. We recognize that this generation, as well as future generations, is depending upon us!

"Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Special Blessing’s Child Care by Corinne Carr, Owner and Operator, Emporia, Kansas


n the life of a Family Child Care Provider, there is never a typical cookie cutter kind of day! At Special Blessing’s Child Care, we use a child-led approach. We follow the Kansas Early Learning Standards with our curriculum, while basing the standards on child-focused activities and hands-on, effective learning. Children learn through PLAY! Children are making choices and pursuing their own interests. The shelves are lined with baskets and wooden bowls (naturalistic approach) for the children to engage in educational early learning activities. All children have a deep innate curiosity that drives and pushes their own interest, increases their rich intensity of wonder, and supports their ability to gain knowledge to understand the world around them. This child-led approach values children’s individuality! Our program is embedded in nature-based learning. Our outdoor classroom was certified in 2012 through Nature Explore, and continues to be maintained. We have a North American Butterfly Association certified butterfly garden and certified habitat for wildlife. Soon we will be planting our garden plots in the “Outdoor Adventures” classroom — blooming with flowers throughout in addition to an herb garden, vegetable garden, and strawberry patch for tasting, touching, and smelling. We use some of the produce in the classroom and have a garden market where families can take home garden produce. Children gain learning opportunities on nutrition and healthy eating at home and child care. It is known that children who participate in the garden activities are more likely to try the produce. The children have water available for use with a pump w/ handle and metal buckets to water their plants daily. We recently received a garden grant which will help us purchase gardening items. Nothing is better than a day in the outdoors!

Children have multiple opportunities in defined spaces: multicultural housing, dirt digging, messy materials area, balance beam, climbing wall, music wall, mud kitchen, circulating water fall, and much more. We recently purchased a grinding table where children are able to grind wheat into flour, which will result in a hands-on educational process while making bread. This will give children the opportunity to explore natural materials and support their learning through identifying ways they can transform the materials. Being a Family Child Care Provider is more than a full-time profession and is not just about being a small business owner. It is not an hourly job. Being a Family Child Care Provider is a total commitment and dedication of ourselves and our families as we all fully immerse ourselves in our individualized communities. We advocate for early childhood and children, their silent voices need to be heard. I am personally involved at local, state, and national level on councils, regional positions, leadership, work groups, and teams involving family child care. Being an active early childhood in-home provider for 25 years, and a partner with ECKAN Early Head Start for 10 years, I have forever found my love for this occupation: our Future! Family Child Care Matters!

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Kansas Kids Show Off Their Smiles by Kathy Hunt, RDH ECPII, Program Director for Kansas Cavity Free Kids at the Kansas Head Start Association Kansas Head Start Dental Hygienist Liaison Region 7 Dental Hygienist Liaison


he Kansas Head Start Association (KHSA) is pleased to share the 2017 Kansas Head Start Smiles for Life report. The report presents the results of Kansas’ first ever Head Start Basic Screening Survey, a statewide, nationally-recognized oral health survey of children’s oral health. During the 2015-16 school year, KHSA worked closely with the Bureau of Oral Health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to collect clinical information on tooth decay among Head Start-enrolled children. A total of 1,443 children ages 3-5 years received a dental screening at 25 Head Start centers.

Examples of successes:

The Head Start Smiles for Life report provides oral health advocates and partners, government officials, researchers, and policy makers with important information regarding the state of early childhood oral health in Kansas. The report also contains information regarding the importance of good oral health, the need for dental care, use of dental services, dental insurance coverage, and oral health disparities present in this population.

• Hispanic children are more likely to have experienced tooth decay and are less likely to have dental insurance. • Rural children are more likely to have untreated tooth decay and are less likely to have had a dental visit in the last year.

In the past, the Bureau of Oral Health has implemented Basic Screening Surveys for 3rd grade children and seniors living in long term care facilities. This report adds more clarity to the overall picture of the oral health status of Kansans. Smiles for Life shows that Head Start programs have had great success in helping improve oral health of children enrolled in their programs but also indicates that some challenges remain. 22

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• For children enrolled in Head Start, Kansas has met the Healthy People 2020 objective for decay experience and exceeded the Healthy People 2020 objective for untreated decay. • Compared to similarly aged children throughout the United States, Head Start children in Kansas are less likely to have untreated tooth decay. Examples of challenges:

The infographic with highlights from the report is included in this issue. For more information, you can access the full report here: KHSA wishes to thank all the Head Start programs who participated is this survey. Your willingness to always go above and beyond helps Kansas children be cavity-free and ready to learn.

View the full Head Start Smiles for Life report at:

Although the prevalence of untreated decay is low, tooth decay is still a significant public health problem in Kansas. Almost 1 out of 3 Kansas Head Start children (31%) has experienced tooth decay. Kansas’ oral health programs are working. Compared to similarly aged children throughout the United States, Head Start children in Kansas are less likely to have untreated tooth decay.

There are geographic disparities among Head Start children in Kansas. Compared to children living in urban counties, rural children are more likely to have untreated tooth decay and are less likely to have had a dental visit in the last year.



Children with dental insurance are more likely to have an annual dental visit and are less likely to have untreated tooth decay. In Kansas, more than 9 out of 10 Head Start children (94%) have dental insurance.

Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Oral Health

There are racial and ethnic disparities among Head Start children in Kansas. Compared to non-Hispanic white children, Hispanic children are more likely to have experienced tooth decay and are less likely to have dental insurance.

Children with a dental visit in the past year are less likely to have untreated tooth decay. In Kansas, most Head Start children (88%) have been to the dentist in the past year.

During the Head Start survey, parents were asked if there was a time in the past year when their child needed dental care but could not get it; 11% said yes. The primary reason for not obtaining dental care by parents of Head Start enrolled children was financial (18%).

For children enrolled in Head Start, Kansas has met the Healthy People 2020 objective for decay experience and exceeded the Healthy People 2020 objective for untreated decay.

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Missouri State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO

Missouri Head Start Families: Leading and Learning Their Way to Advocacy Submitted by the Missouri Head Start Association


ach Spring in Jefferson City, MO, they can be seen: a group of Head Start and Early Head Start parents, grandparents, and staff taking a few days out of their busy schedules to come to the capital city to learn a bit of history and to expand their understanding of what advocacy can do. For over a decade, the Missouri Head Start Association has convened their annual Family Leadership Conference, to which programs from across Missouri come to Jefferson City for two days to learn strategies about advocacy, hear from experts in the fields of both grassroots and direct lobbying, and to learn from leaders from every branch of state government about opportunities to advocate from different vantage points. For many participants, this is their first trip to the State Capitol, Supreme Court, and Governor’s Mansion, and for some it is their first opportunity to speak with legislators, lobbyists, and supreme court personnel directly. 24

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“Our intent is to help family leaders to better understand the critical role that they play in advocating for their children and the tremendous honor and responsibility that advocacy really is,” says Tina Bernskoetter with MHSA who has served as the event organizer. “The reality is that advocacy happens every single day in the choices we make for our families. We try to offer an opportunity to also advocate more publicly and to practice those skills so that we feel more at ease, ready to respond, and ultimately more effective.” Because MHSA serves as a voice for Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Missouri, the Association puts a very intentional focus on helping family leaders to understand their critical role in the process. Parents are experts when it comes to their and their child’s needs, and no one can tell their situation and story like they can. The Association puts an emphasis on providing this opportunity for parents to come together and learn strategies to help advocate with greater impact, recognizing their individual

strengths and capabilities in this field. “The Head Start program has a long history of leading the field in engaging families and supporting families’ and children’s ongoing learning and development. The Missouri Head Start Association’s Family Leadership Conference supports programs’ efforts in achieving Family Engagement Outcomes. By providing this opportunity and working in partnership with local programs, MHSA has provided an avenue for families to have a quality, state-level activity that truly supports opportunities for decision making, leadership development, and enhancing their advocacy skills. By engaging in these opportunities families are supporting the well-being of their own children, but also all of Missouri’s young children,” explains Stacey Wright, Director of the MO Head Start-State Collaboration Office. As part of the two-day conference, participants not only hear from legislators and lobbyists about how to advocate more effectively, but they practice these skills in a mock hearing to provide testimony. Conferees take current filed legislation and consider all sides of the proposed bill. This exercise encourages individuals to think from the perspective of others as part of their ability to speak to a cause more effectively. From there, a committee is assigned along with proponents and opponents of the bill to provide testimony, research the cause and create talking points from various perspectives, and then the mock-hearing is held with discussion and voting by the committee. Participants sit in the chairs of the committee hearing room, turn on the microphones, and use the room as if it was an actual hearing. The Association’s intent is to create an atmosphere as

realistic to what it would be like if the Bill was actually being heard in that committee. If participants learn and practice this way, MHSA hopes parents will feel better equipped to respond and it will not feel so unfamiliar or intimidating. “It’s more than just getting together at the table – you get to walk away with knowledge of how state government works. If I was ever called to testify for a hearing at the Capitol, I would still be a bundle of nerves with Jell-O legs, but I would know what to expect,” says Rosi Buretz, a conference participant and Head Start parent from MO Valley Community Action Agency. Nicole Gilker, a Head Start parent from Douglass Community Services, shared that her most meaningful takeaway from the conference had to do with the amount of time it takes to pass legislation and how much consideration is taken into account. “How much they (legislators) care about other people’s opinions and how much our voice as parents/ guardians matter. How supporting each other to get one great outcome works.… I’d like others to know your voice matters but not just your voice, your presence matters! Changes can happen and people care about your opinion. No voice is not heard and how great of an opportunity it was to be able to be a part of it and be able to go.” The 2018 Family Leadership Conference will be held April 25-26 in Jefferson City and will feature more opportunities for historical perspective learning, discussion, and mock-testimony. Please contact Tina Bernskoetter at MHSA for more information at:

Missouri Head Start Association 2016 Family Leadership Conference Attendees. Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


Project Eagle Staff Members

Promoting Excellence through Training of Future Professionals by Jennifer Adhima, MSW, Associate Director, Project Eagle, University of Kansas Medical Center


n its almost twenty-eight year history, Project Eagle has educated countless students in the fields of medicine, social work, early childhood education, child and family studies, and nursing. Through internships, observations on home visits, or classroom experiences, students in these fields have an opportunity to understand the strengths and needs of children and families in the community and best practices in the field of early education. It is often work that is less recognized than the direct service programming that happens on a daily basis, but it is equally as important. One of Project Eagle’s three purposes as an organization is to promote excellence in the field of early childhood education. One strategy is preparing students in the fields of child and families studies, early childhood education, social work, nursing, and medicine to work with children and families. Ten years ago, Project Eagle was collaborating with two or three academic institutions for a total of five to ten student placements in a year. Since then, the number of partnerships and student placements has steadily increased, and now, in a 26

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typical year, almost sixty students from six to ten academic programs ranging from high school through medical residency, spend some portion of time involved in hands-on learning from the staff, children, and families of Project Eagle. In the 20162017 academic year, fifty-two students spent time at Project Eagle completing various student placements. Project Eagle is an Early Head Start grantee in Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas and offers Early Head Start Home Visiting and Early Head Start Center-Based Services through its Educare Kansas City School. Many people assume that early childhood programs would only be appropriate placements for students studying to be early childhood classroom teachers, but the longest-running program at Project Eagle is Early Head Start Home Visiting, which provides many unique learning opportunities for students. Seeing families and their children in their home environments is an experience unlike others, and Project Eagle staff work directly with students to support them in learning how to do this important work.

“Beginning social workers generally have some anxiety around to be invited into someone’s home, and interacting in a home visiting clients in their homes. Supported by Project Eagle staff, setting with a patient/family is really the most humbling and eye our students become relaxed and comfortable in home settings, opening experience students can have.” which is such an integral part of social work,” explains Cathy Accurso, Associate Director of Field Education, University of Project Eagle primarily functioned as a placement site for Kansas School of Social Welfare. Home visits provide students two-year colleges or universities until the summer of 2016, when a chance to see the strengths and challenges faced by families the Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) TEC with young children. Early Head program, a partnership between Start Home Visitors are not only KCKCC and the Kansas City, focused on early childhood education Kansas School District (USD500) during home visits, but are also disapproached Project Eagle about cussing parenting, school readiness, a potential partnership. The prohealth, and challenges related to posed partnership would allow high mental health and family self-suffischool students enrolled in the TEC ciency. Through a home visit, stuprogram to complete their students are able to see the family as a dent placements in Project Eagle’s system and learn how certain aspects Educare Kansas City classrooms for of families’ lives can affect other hands-on experience working with parts of their lives. Susan Wenner infants and toddlers. Project Eagle Lanyon, Coordinator of UEC/ECU saw this partnership as an opporField Experiences, University of tunity to educate students from an KU School of Nursing and Research Kansas, Early Childhood Unified even younger age about what quality College of Nursing BSN Students, Spring, 2017 Program says that, “Giving our Early early education looks like in pracChildhood students these practical, real-life experiences, helps tice. In the fall of 2016, the first TEC students completed their them better understand, become more sensitive, and responsive classroom placements in Project Eagle’s Educare Kansas City to the needs of the community, each family and the child. They program and the partnership was a success. “This is the first learn to recognize that each child and their family celebrates semester the KCKCC TEC program students have had the opsuccesses and challenges individually, and we as educators need portunity to work with the teachers and staff at Educare Kansas to be advocates and a resource for each family.” City. These students are just getting started on their education into the Early Childhood field, and I am so pleased that they are Home visiting also provides learning opportunities for stulearning what quality care is from the very start. It is invaluable dents in the fields of pediatric medicine, nursing, and associated for students on a career path to have hands-on experience in the health professions. Students in these fields often do not come field they are pursing, and Project Eagle’s Educare Kansas City to their respective programs with experience working directly in program gave us a place to observe, participate, and learn what the communities where they study or see families in their home being an early childhood professional is all about. The teachenvironment, as many of their learning experiences take place ers at Educare Kansas City are knowledgeable and provide the in clinical settings like hospitals model we look for when considering or office settings. Early childhood a location for practical experiences home visiting programs can increase in the field. We look forward to these students’ understanding of the providing Educare Kansas City social determinants of health as well with highly-qualified teachers in the as the needs of young children, and future as these KCKCC students their families. Nicole Kreimer, an complete their education and begin Instructor at Research College of their careers,” Kathleen McGowan, Nursing explains: “The students that Associate Professor of Early we send to Project Eagle are seniors, Childhood Education, Kansas City and up to this point, they have done Kansas Community College. the majority of their practical courses in a hospital setting. We often Student placements not only talk to them about the fact that they benefit students through handsneed to remember that nurses are as on learning experiences, they also Jasmine Lewis, K-State Family Studies concerned about the environment benefit programs. Students bring and Human Services Intern, Spring, 2017 that we are sending people home to additional knowledge, perspectives, as much as we are concerned about how they are doing in the and resources to programs that can complement the work a hospital. This is often a hard concept to grasp. If patients come staff member is doing with a child or family. Often students from different cultures or socioeconomic statuses than students have knowledge of the latest research or innovative approaches do, it is hard for the students to understand struggles the in their prospective fields that they are learning through their patient might face. It is a privilege even as a health care worker classroom coursework, and they share this information with Region VII Head Start Sand BoxTM | Summer 2017


staff members. Students also help programs build community partnerships because they are often moving on to other settings for employment after completion of their time at Project Eagle. Past students have assisted Project Eagle in forming relationships and partnerships with other community programs that benefit the children and families we serve. From a human resources perspective, student placements give programs the chance to meet potential future employees. Over the past ten years, Project Eagle has hired twelve staff members who completed their student placements at Project Eagle. Project Eagle’s Assistant Director of Health and Screening Services, Leslie Warlen, MPH, RN, is one of those individuals. “I remember the first time I interacted with Project Eagle. It was 17 years ago, and I was a graduate student completing my Masters in Public Health. During my short four-month internship, my understanding of people and the different paths we all travel in life were expanded far more than they could ever have been in a classroom. At the time, I felt a deep connection to the amazing work accomplished every day by the staff at Project Eagle and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to become a staff member myself. I have now worked for Project Eagle for over 16 years, and if it were not for the profound learning I experienced so many years ago as a Project Eagle student, it may have taken me much longer to realize where I wanted to direct my professional focus. One of my favorite aspects of Project Eagle is the program’s commitment to being a learning laboratory for students from a wide variety of career fields. Every day, Project Eagle has a positive impact on the lives of children and families in Wyandotte County, and through our work with students, we are able to expand our reach well beyond our program. I am thankful Project Eagle takes the opportunity to have a profound influence on the life of each student who enters our doors, and I know that in some way, which influence will positively affect everyone they interact with in their future careers.” Early education programs like Early Head Start and Head Start work tirelessly to educate the youngest members of our communities to ensure their success in school and life. Children and families in our communities deserve nothing more than to work with competent and caring professionals in a variety of settings. Project Eagle is committed to educating future professionals to influence their careers and ensure nothing but excellence for those they will serve.


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Vikteria Fletcher, former University of Kansas School of Education Intern and current Project Eagle Educare Kansas City Teacher

Caroline Klem, former K-State Family Studies and Human Services Intern and current Project Eagle Educare Kansas City Teacher

“CRANE: on earth, in sky” and “DINOSAUR ZOO” by Lois L. Butler, Head Start/Early Head Start Director Community Action Partnership of Mid Nebraska, Head Start (0 – 5) Kearney, Nebraska


n September 2016, Lois Butler, Head Start (0-5) Director, wrote a letter of support to Denise Christensen, Executive Director of the Merryman Performing Arts Center, that would bring two amazing opportunities to our families: “CRANE: on earth, in sky” performed on March 13, 2017 and DINOSAUR ZOO performed on April 11, 2017. The support letter expressed how the Head Start children would benefit in personal growth and discovery through these inspiring stories with puppets, live performers, indoor kites, aerial artistry, video projections, and music. Connie Weissert and Faith Maslow, HS Central Office staff, promoted and distributed tickets to Kearney, Ravenna, Gibbon, Minden, and Holdrege Head Start families. Through the support of various sponsors, these stories were brought to life, introducing our young audiences to live theater through the magic of puppetry.

Head Start parents and their children enjoyed the performances, reinforcing the important role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. Head Start appreciated “the window of opportunity” this initiative brought to our children and their families that have limited resources available to them. These productions had a positive impact on the parents and their children by engaging them in the Performing Arts. It is our hope that we will continue to keep this partnership alive and be able to allow more families to experience live theatre and puppetry. Performing Arts stimulates the imagination, creates memorable experiences, and promotes the love of art and theater. Parent, family and community engagement is the key to Head Start’s success.

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Pandora shares the story they wrote

Pandora’s Life and Family Strengthened through Community Action by Angela K. Antholz, SENCA Head Start and Deputy Director


elocating to a new community isn’t always an easy transition, especially for a young family in rural Southeast Nebraska who may be struggling to make ends meet. The year was 2000. Pandora’s husband had just obtained employment in a neighboring community while Pandora was working to complete the requirement for a degree in early childhood development. “The challenges to maintain stability and financial independence seemed insurmountable,” shares Pandora. Pandora and her husband enrolled their children in SENCA’s Head Start Preschool program that serves low-income children ages three-to-five and their families. Head Start yields a longterm return on investment from its educational, economic, and social impacts on vulnerable children and their families. Head Start children enter public school ready to be successful. Parents gain parenting skills and experiences that benefit their family, helping them be more productive citizens in their communities. “Knowing our children were in a safe place, along with the ongoing support of the competent local Family Service Advocate, I was encouraged to continue my goal of obtaining a degree in education.” Pandora continues, “It was during this time I became active with Head Start’s family governance process and was elected to be on the program’s Policy Council, in addition to participating in other program-related 30

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committees.” As a result, Pandora gained confidence in her abilities, finding a place and a voice within the community commenting, “I obtained my degree in education, and was fortunate enough to be hired as a teacher in one of the five SENCA Head Start locations.” Pandora’s determination to fulfill her personal goals remained constant over the course of the next 16 years. “I was promoted within the organization as a Center Manager and eventually as an Early Childhood Development Coordinator,” replies Pandora. “As I persist to advance in my career and personal goals, I will continue to advocate for SENCA programs and services, giving credit to this amazing organization for the part it has played in my personal journey.” Pandora has taken yet another step in fulfilling her career goals. She is now employed in a local public school system as one of their preschool teachers. In addition to the Head Start program, Pandora’s family benefitted from the SENCA Weatherization program. Their home was inspected by a trained technician and energy saving measures were installed that helped reduce their annual energy costs by an average of $413. This savings increased the family’s disposable income and helped them in working toward a goal of self-sufficiency. In summary, Pandora remarks, “We found quite a refuge in the programs and services provided through SENCA.”

CALENDAR OF EVENTS REGIONAL TRAINING Directors’ Caucus — Leadership & Reflective Practice (NCECHW/NCPMFO) October 23 – 25, 2017 • Stoney Creek Hotel and Event Center, Independence, MO

Practice-Based Coaching (NCECDTL) November 29 – December 1, 2017 • Location TBD

Planned Language Approach (NCECDTL) March 6 – 8, 2018 • Location TBD

Management Acceleration Program (NCPFCE) April 16 – 20, 2018 • Location TBD

Fiscal Institute (NCPMFO) May 8 – 10, 2018 • Regional Office, KCMO

STATE EVENTS IOWA IHSA Annual Meeting September 22 Iowa Early Care and Education Fall Institute September 22—23 KANSAS Parent Health Literacy Training August 25 KC Metro Parent Health Literacy Partners Networking August 25 KHSA APM Meeting October 5 TPOT Observation Tool Training Oct 11-12 MISSOURI Health, Mental Health & Disabilities Community of Practice Sept 8

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