Gender, Sexuality, and the Family: Fall Trainings

A recent article in the New York Times discussed a gender expansive 5-year-old boy that illustrated some of the challenges that both families and educators can encounter when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality with young children. During the preschool years, children are beginning to develop their understandings of gender, sexuality, and family. The Institute is committed to providing educators and professionals with high-quality professional development on how to explore these concepts with young children in curriculum and pedagogy. We are also committed to supporting parents and family members to confidently address these topics with their children in empowering, accurate, and developmentally appropriate ways.

This fall, the Institute is offering another series of workshops on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Family” for early childhood educators. The workshops are designed to spark discussion, facilitate the creation of shared language, and provide educators with the resources needed to make their classrooms supportive spaces for the development and exploration of identity.

The set of workshops for early childhood educators and professionals will begin on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, October 17th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 1: Gender Development, Expression and Play 

  • Tuesday, November 28th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 2: Bodies, Curiosity and Touching

  • Tuesday, December 12th from 5:30pm-8:30pm

Session 3: Including All Families and Supporting All Children

Sessions can be attended as a series or individually. You can find more information about the workshops on our website and register for the sessions by clicking on the links above.

The Institute’s First Annual Report

The Institute has released our first-ever annual report! This report provides a snapshot of much of our work in 2016. The Institute works at several levels to improve the early childhood workforce and expand quality improvement across the state. We work with the entire range of providers and service delivery systems – from higher education to informal family child care, and everyone in between. We support child care, Head Start, Pre-K and primary education programs. We partner with public agencies and non-profit organizations. We build systems, conduct and support research, and work with policymakers to implement evidence-based change. We work with other states across the country to learn from others and share the progress we’ve generated. Our work positively impacts the care and education that thousands of young New Yorkers and their families receive every day.

We do this all with generous and wise funders, an incredible cadre of partners and stakeholders, and an extraordinary team of people across New York who serve as our staff. The City University of New York provides a home and a compliment of services that enables our response to be efficient, affordable, and of the highest quality.

We thank you for your continued support!

To read our annual report, click here.

Helga Yuan Larsen appointed new Director of QUALITYstarsNY



Contact: Sherry Cleary, Executive Director  

O: 718-254-7320

New York, NY August 7, 2017 – The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute of the Research Foundation of the CUNY is pleased to announce the appointment of Helga Yuan Larsen as the new Director of QUALITYstarsNY.

“After an expansive search, Helga stood out as the candidate who could best lead QUALITYstarsNY going forward during an exciting time of continued growth,” said Sherry M. Cleary, Executive Director of the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, which oversees and coordinates all aspects of QUALITYstarsNY. “We are impressed with Helga’s deep experience in and understanding of early childhood education and its stakeholders. I am confident in her ability to lead QUALITYstarsNY into the future.”

Ms. Larsen joined QUALITYstarsNY earlier this year as Assistant Director. With over 10 years of experience in the field — serving previously as Regional Early Childhood Manager at STG International — she has provided training and technical assistance to Early Head Start and Head Start programs with consultation, training, policy and procedure development to promote high quality services to children and families. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University.

About QUALITYstarsNY

QUALITYstarsNY is New York State’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) which supports all regulated early childhood programs serving children from birth to age five in child care centers, family homes and in primary schools with Pre-K. QUALITYstarsNY is committed to supporting child care programs with a variety of outstanding resources and supports, including individualized coaching and technical assistance; scholarships to help staff further their professional goals; and improvement funds to purchase materials, furnishings and supplies. QUALITYstarsNY participating programs now serve more than 44,000 children across the state. For more about QUALITYstarsNY, visit

About the Institute

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is a public-private partnership that brings together a range of city and state agencies, a consortium of private funders, and the nation's largest urban university to build a comprehensive system of professional development for individuals who work with young children in New York. Additional information is available at




The Aspire Registry Summer Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their Summer newsletter. Since 2015, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. The newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

The Aspire Registry is now releasing its newsletter seasonally! In the latest newsletter, the Aspire Registry Team encourages early childhood professionals to utilize the Core Body of Knowledge: New York State’s Core Competencies for Early Childhood Educators to seek out professional development areas to explore this summer. After identifying these areas, they can use the Aspire Statewide Training Calendar to search for relevant professional development. The Aspire Registry Team also discusses the Aspire Registry Attendance App. Trainers use the app to take attendance at professional development events by scanning the code on the back of Aspire membership cards or key tags. When trainers scan the card or key tag, participants will immediately get credit for attending the session on their Aspire profile. In addition, the newsletter features a spotlight on Julie Burt, the Director at United Educare Preschool. She shares her favorite part of working with young children for almost 20 years.

Read the newsletter here: The Aspire Registry Summer Newsletter 2017

NAEYC’s New Membership Feature

Are you a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)? If so, you can access their new membership feature- Hello! Hello is an accessible online space for engaging and dynamic discussion around specific topics in early childhood education. It is a unique platform for early childhood educators to share their diverse insights, opinions, and ideas about their profession. Topics currently trending on Hello include blocks in kindergarten, tips for a director starting in a new program, and music in classrooms.

Each day NAEYC members receive a digest email highlighting the conversations their colleagues are having in the open forum on Hello. In addition, the platform provides early childhood educators the opportunity for digital, year-round networking with experts and peers nationwide to have conversations and create connections around early learning issues. This modern platform allows all NAEYC members to participate in these valuable conversations. Hello is the perfect opportunity to strengthen your connection to your profession!

Only NAEYC members can contribute to the conversations; however, anyone is able to view the posts online here. Below we highlight a few posts from a conversation about preparing early childhood educators:

NAEYC member Tim from Texas began the discussion:

I agree with the philosophical discussion that early childhood teachers need to be better trained and if they are better trained and receive a degree they should be better compensated, however I have yet to see the mathematical formula that makes that possible in the early childhood field.  If someone has figured that out, I would be interested in hearing about it.

Another member of the Hello community, Robert from Virginia, replied:

I certainly agree with what others are saying. I believe a degree in Early Childhood Education makes a difference in the competency and confidence a teacher of young children has in designing and implementing a learning environment where young children enjoy learning, growing and developing together with their teacher and peers. I do think the quality of the degree program makes a difference and should integrate theory with practice. Connecting a practicum to a course seems to me to be beneficial as well as thinking about how to offer the courses where and as teachers work is important.

Community member, Nora from New Jersey, weighed in with her perspective:

Another issue is working conditions. I think with the low pay, in some cases hourly, and the long days that many early childhood educators endure also contribute to the turnover and loss of teachers to the public schools. The public schools are able to provide higher salaries, longer vacations, pensions, etc. This is a big draw. Many of the people who work in the community centers also have their own children to raise so, in some ways, it is unconscionable to have them working 8 to 10 hour days. Caring for and educating young children is a complex endeavor that takes a lot of reflection and critical thinking, requiring a great deal of knowledge about children's development and how they learn as well as subject matter knowledge. It is not enough to love children, although that is a baseline requirement. Those who care for and educate young children need to be prepared as teachers and knowledgeable about different theories of early childhood instruction.

To become a NAEYC member and join the conversation, click here

The Caring and Responsive Engagement Program (C.A.R.E.)

Childcare in an informal, unlicensed caregiver’s home is the most common non-parental childcare arrangement for infants and toddlers and children from low-income families. With generous support from the New York Community Trust, the Institute is proud to unveil an intensive professional learning and coaching program, models typically available to licensed and center-based early childhood programs, to informal providers in New York City. The Caring and Responsive Engagement Program (C.A.R.E.) serves home-based family childcare providers caring for children ages birth to five years old throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

On June 3, the first cohort of providers completed the program and received certificates and additional incentives during a recognition ceremony. The cohort included 8 informal childcare providers based in Brooklyn, most of whom live in the same communities as the children they care for, speak their same language, and offer flexible hours that accommodate parents’ work schedules. Participants completed a 10-week competency-based professional learning program, co-facilitated by skilled, master level early childhood educators. Session content included interactions with children, nurturing children’s development and self-care for the caregiver. In addition, participants received 10 individualized coaching visits in their homes to identify goals and areas for growth and collaborate with a coach in working toward these goals.

The Institute commends the 8 providers who completed the program and increased their knowledge about the elements of high quality childcare! Through the professional learning program and practice-based home coaching visits, the C.A.R.E. Program will ensure that children receive high quality care during crucial learning years to develop the skills and competencies necessary for success in school and life. 

For more information, please contact Angelica Velazquez at 718-254-7289.

Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate 2017 Graduation

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate is the most widely recognized national credential in early childhood education and an important stepping stone on the career pathway for many early childhood educators. In partnership with the Institute, the CDA Certificate is offered at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS). Graduates of the program receive 12 undergraduate college credits and preparation to attain the national CDA Credential. In addition, CUNY SPS has articulation agreements with several CUNY two-year colleges and universities to ensure that students easily transfer the maximum number of credits to these institutions. These colleges include Borough of Manhattan Community College, Hostos Community College, and Kingsborough Community College.

Last week 53 students graduated from the CUNY SPS CDA Certificate Program (CUNY SPS), their largest class to date! Eight of the graduating students are members of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Head Start Policy Council and we are thrilled to report that all eight parents received employment offers upon their completion of the program.

The Institute commends the forward thinking of ACS in supporting the growth of the early childhood workforce. Join us in congratulating the CDA Class of 2017, the Institute’s Director of Higher Education and Professional Development, Dana Benzo, and the CDA instructors at CUNY SPS for this accomplishment!

To check out the NY1's segment on the CDA parent cohort, click here.

Gender, Sexuality and the Family Workshop Series

During the preschool years, children are beginning to develop their understandings of gender, sexuality, and family. As children discover these concepts, there is little opportunity for early childhood educators and families to talk about the questions and behaviors that come up in their classrooms and homes. The Institute is committed to providing educators, professionals, parents, and family members with the opportunity to explore these questions, gain new resources, and collaboratively develop strategies for working with young children.

The Institute is offering another series of workshops on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Family” designed to spark discussion, facilitate the creation of shared language, and provide educators and families with the resources they need to make their classrooms and homes supportive spaces for the development and exploration of identity. The set of workshops for early childhood educators and professionals will begin on the following dates:

  • Monday, June 19th from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 22nd from 9:30 am-12:30 pm
  • Saturday, August 19th from 9:30-12:30 pm

The workshops can be attended as a series of three or individually. Learn more and RSVP here.

The Aspire Registry May Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their February newsletter. For more than a year now, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. Each month, the newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

In this month’s newsletter, the Aspire Registry Team discusses their annual focus group. The team is looking for teachers, directors, family childcare providers, and trainers who can share their experience with the Aspire system. Topics will include use of the New York Works for Children website, The Aspire Registry application process, and social media. This month the Aspire Registry Team also shares their successful completion of the Partnership Eligibility Review process! This means The Aspire Registry can participate in data-related projects at the national level, data from New York State will be used to inform policies that can make major changes to wages, work environment, and the overall view of early childhood in our country! In addition, the newsletter features a spotlight on Linda Beck, a Head Start Teacher at Samaritan/Rensselaer Children’s Center. She shares her favorite part of working with young children and offers advice to fellow early childhood educators.

To read the newsletter, click here.


Call for Proposals: The Foundation for Child Development’s 2018 Young Scholars Program

Each year the Foundation for Child Development provides research grants to eligible scholars through its Young Scholars Program (YSP). Currently, YSP supports policy and practice-relevant research that focuses on strengthening the early care and education (ECE) workforce to enhance the quality of early learning experiences for young children. All proposed research should focus on the ways in which the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the ECE workforce can support young children’s growth and development across the birth through age eight continuum. While all applications are welcome, YSP encourages scholars who are from historically disadvantaged or underrepresented groups themselves to apply, including those who are first-generation college graduates and those from low-income communities.

Holly Schindler is an Assistant Professor in the areas of Early Childhood and Family Studies and Educational Psychology at the University of Washington. She is also a member of the 2016 Young Scholars cohort and shares her experience as a scholar below:

The Foundation for Child Development Young Scholars Program is unique in its support of both applicants and scholars and evidences a commitment to “developing the next generation of researchers whose work has the potential to make an impact on the well-being of children and their families.”  At the application stage, I greatly appreciated how the webinars clearly outlined the application process and suggested helpful strategies for developing a strong application. Now, entering the second year of my funded project, “Filming Interactions to Nurture Development: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Strength-Based Video-Coaching Program for Mexican American Fathers”, I feel fortunate to be a part of a network of scholars focused on similar topics and questions. Through this support and the award, the Young Scholars Program has allowed me to launch into an area of study that I care deeply about and that has the potential to impact early care and education. 

Carola Oliva-Olson is an Assistant Professor in the area of Early Childhood Studies at California State University Channel Islands. She is another member of the 2016 Young Scholars cohort and shares her experience as a scholar below:

Receiving this award provided much more than sound research experience. It allowed me to collaborate in various national efforts with policymakers, seasoned researchers, advocates and practitioners in the field of early care and education to work on behalf of children who are dual language learners. Participating in these activities strengthened my research study with Migrant and Regional Head Start preschool dual language learners and supported the advancement of my academic career by promoting my scholarship work.

The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent is Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 3:00pm EST. To learn more about the Young Scholars Program and to apply, click here.

If you have any questions please contact Naomie Macena at .