The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network

The arrival of Spring signals change. We change the time on our clocks, the air changes from cold to warm, and bare trees all over Virginia become green once again. Spring has also brought about change to ChildSavers. We are honored to announce that as of April, ChildSavers is the Central Region Office for The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network (VA ITSN).

VA ITSN improves the quality of care and education for infants and toddlers by increasing the knowledge level of teachers/caregivers and directors and by promoting resources in the community that support health, safety, and nurturing care for infants and toddlers. This work directly relates to our vision here at ChildSavers. ChildSavers believes that all children can be safe, happy, healthy, and ready to learn.

VA ITSN offers services to programs across the commonwealth that serve infants and toddlers. Infant & Toddler Specialist (ITS) provide services to teachers/caregivers and directors in a leveled approach to strengthen the quality of care that they provide to the infants and toddlers. The three levels of service include:

  • Level 1- Quality Improvement: ITS provide on-site consultation services that include mentorship and goal setting through the use of quality improvement plans.
  • Level 2 – Quality Enhancement: ITS provide training and technical assistance to groups of early care professionals such as teachers/caregivers and directors.
  • Level 3 – Quality Assurance: ITS provide ongoing connections to resources, support, and professional development opportunities to the programs that they serve.

Positive Changes at ChildSavers

My name is Christina Murcin and I am honored to serve as the Interim Supervisor for the Central Region Infant & Toddler Specialist Network Office. I am equally honored to work alongside the team of amazing specialists that have been tirelessly working in our region to promote quality care for infants and toddlers. Kellie Alarcon and Terry Tusing have joined us here in the Central Region office and we are excited to have them as part of the team.

If you are interested in finding out more about the services that are offered by The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network, please visit the website va-itsnetwork.org. If you serve infants and toddlers and are interested in receiving services from the VA ITSN, you can request on-site services by emailing Christina Murcin at cmurcin@childsavers.org. The VA ITS Network is a program of Child Development Resources, and is supported by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) Grant #93.575, with funds made available to Virginia from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How Parents can Engage their Infants and Toddlers at Home

There are many connections between what teachers in high quality childcare settings do every day and activities that you can also do at home with your child. Here are some ways to engage with your infant and toddler.

  • Use Your Face: Infants are intrigued by your face, so find as many opportunities as you can to spend time face-to-face with your infant. Move your mouth, blink your eyes, and make various facial expressions. Use your face to visually engage with your infant.
  • Use Your Voice: The very sounds that you make can engage your infant. Talk to your infant often. Vary your inflection and intonation while talking. Engage in back and forth communication with your infant and have fun with the sounds that they enjoy making. This is the beginning of their understanding of language.
  • Use Pictures: Place pictures in places where you perform routine care; like on a mobile near where you change your infant or toddler. Talk about the pictures and change them often to give your infant something interesting to look at during these tasks.
  • Use Signs: Use gestures and simple signs with words when talking to your infant and toddler. Adding sign language to verbal communication stimulates language development and strengthens your bond with the infant or toddler.

Each one of these little moments can lead to language and social development in infants and toddlers, so take the time to engage every opportunity that you have.

 

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