September 2016
In The Spotlight

One-on-One with Valerie Burton of Happy Kids Child Care!
There are thousands of providers who participate in Maryland EXCELS to improve their businesses and policies and to make their child care programs the best they can be.  An underlying theme for each of these providers is an immense sense of pride in their business: a deep, resounding and emotional connection with the work they do and the business they run. 

Maryland EXCELS had the opportunity to sit down with Valerie Burton of Happy Kids Child Care in Baltimore County to see what motivates her and to get a few tips for providers who want to get the most out of Maryland EXCELS.

Ms. Burton has built her business, Happy Kids Child Care, to provide care for up to seven children.  The program has been open since 1993 and, currently, offers overnight child care for families.  In 12 months, Ms. Burton was able to move from a Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating of 1 to a Quality Rating of 5.

Over the years, Ms. Burton has learned a lot and, as a registered family child care provider, she says, “This is our business.  It’s how we live.  It’s how we eat.  It’s what we breathe.”  Ms. Burton and Happy Kids Child Care are nationally accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.

With a strong faith, Ms. Burton believes, “If you treat people right, God will treat you right.”  She is proud of how close her relationships are with the families that trust her with their children and she continually tries to give her parents resources to help them with their children.

She provides three tips that can help anyone in the child care business:

1) If you aren’t genuine, they (the children) will know;
2) Cater to the children in your program and make them feel at home, so they are comfortable asking for things; and
3) Treat the children like they are your own children.
To be successful, Ms. Burton advises, “Love what you do and educate yourself. Just because we had children doesn’t mean we know children. They are all different.”  She describes how she’s used professional development to improve her skill set, including trainings about communication and learning more about children with special needs.
When asked why she participates in Maryland EXCELS, Ms. Burton mentions the “support” and the “marketing opportunities” to highlight her business.  When asked if she has any advice for others not participating in Maryland EXCELS, she adds, “It’s not as hard as some people think. Other in-home providers can do it and the benefits are worth it.”

In The Community

The Baltimore County Agriculture Center and Farm Park is a public park open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. It has miles of trails that weave and wander through nearly 150 acres of some of the most beautiful farmland in the country. While folks don't have to wait for a program to come visit the farm, it does offer a variety of scheduled activities including the Farm Sprouts Preschool Program for young children. Children from birth to 5 years old are invited to the farm to join in one-hour workshops designed just for them. Workshops are held almost bi-monthly on Fridays at the Baltimore County Ag-Center in Cockeysville.

These workshops book quickly, so if you are interested, sign up early. Use this link for more information: 

The main website also includes additional resources for educators, children and families:

September Happenings

September 18-24 is Child Passenger Safety Week 

National Seat Check Saturday: September 24, 2016 

Are your children safe?

Every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in an automobile accident. Many times, deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts. The campaign objectives of Child Passenger Safety Week are to educate parents and caregivers about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) car seat recommendations for children from birth through age 12, as well as to encourage parents to seek more information on NHTSA’s car seat recommendations. Take that extra step to be sure children are safe when being transported in a motor vehicle during Child Passenger Safety Week, National Seat Check Saturday, and throughout the year.

Learn more about choosing the right car seat and get car seat installation tips by visiting

To find a location to have your car seat inspected for safety, visit the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator at or visit Maryland’s Kids in Safety Seats.


One Maryland EXCELS winner will be randomly selected every month from August, 2016 through October, 2016.

Maryland EXCELS is happy to announce a collaboration with Frog Street Inc. to provide the Frog Street Pre-K Curriculum and learning materials to winners.  To qualify, your program must be participating and have a current published rating at the time of the drawing.  Frog Street's Pre-K Curriculum is one of MSDE's recommended curricula. For more information, read our Frog Street Flyer.

Our August winner is: Deborah Lee from Baltimore City


Transition Plans:  ADM 15.3, ADM 15.4, and ADM 15.5
Transitions, movements from one place to the next, are part of every classroom.  And, for many providers and children, the month of September brings additional transitions such as a new schedule, a move to a new age group, or a change to a different program.

Do you have transition plans in place?  A transition plan is a written plan that includes processes and activities to facilitate transitions for children and families. Transition plans can be individualized to meet specific needs of children and families, including those children with special needs and disabilities.

Transitions occur as children move between home and the child care or public prekindergarten program, from one activity to another, from classroom to classroom or between school and a school-age program. High quality early childhood and school-age programs have plans in place to prepare children and families for transitions.  Examples include but are not limited to:

• Adding time in the daily schedule for transitions;
• Adding transition activities to the daily lesson plan;
• Creating adequate time and comfortable space for children to separate from parents;
• Communicating with programs which children transition to and from;
• Sharing developmental information with parent permission, when children transition to school; and
• Creating a personal transition plan for newly enrolled children.

In many cases, simple changes in your daily schedule can make a big difference in behavior, too.  For additional daily and individualized transition tips see Moving Right Along…Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior. (Click HERE)