Monthly News and Updates from IdahoSTARS


Versión en Español

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Alexandria Lotstein B.S., EP (Region 2 Health Consultant)

It is that time of year again! Research suggests young children will experience 8 to 10 colds each year before the age of 2. Children are not alone in contracting illnesses: Infectious diseases are the most common health and safety risk for child care professionals.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the most common reported infectious diseases in child care include respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin infections. Scabies, head lice, meningitis, cytomegalovirus, chickenpox, conjunctivitis, rubella, Giardia, tuberculosis, and hepatitis A and B are also on the list. In fact, 14% of all reported cases of hepatitis A in the United States were linked to child care facilities, mostly acquired from improper diapering and poor hand hygiene. Fortunately, incorporating certain practices into daily routines can reduce exposure to germs and illnesses.

How Illnesses Spread

Organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses can exist inside our bodies. Generally, the microorganisms that reside in our bodies are harmless or beneficial – for example, some aid in digestion.

But under certain circumstances, microorganisms or pathogenic microorganisms can cause illness. Illnesses spread when a new individual is exposed to infectious particles shed by an infected person. This can occur in a myriad of ways, including direct contact with contaminated surfaces or people, or through blood, saliva, urine or infectious airborne particles.

Children in diapers easily spread illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract by contaminating surfaces with microscopic molecules produced in fecal matter.  In an early learning and care environment, floors, tables, fabric objects, toys, diapering surfaces, bathrooms and sinks can serve as a vector for pathogenic microorganism causing illness. A vector is any agent that carries and transmits infection into another living organism.


The most important measure in preventing illness is following proper hand washing procedures, according to AAP. This includes proper hand hygiene and washing hands throughout the day when recommended. Hand sanitizer or other alcohol-based hand rubs are not a substitute for handing washing in group care settings and may be harmful to children.

Proper routine cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting can reduce the spread of germs by reducing vectors that carry pathogens. Caring for Our Children, which details national health and safety guidelines, defines cleaning as removing dirt or debris by washing with a detergent solution and rising with water; sanitizing as reducing the number of germs on inanimate surfaces to a level that public health codes determine safe; and disinfecting as inactivating most microorganisms on any inanimate object. Daily health checks are also recommended to reduce illness and the spread of germs.

Caring for Our Children standards recommend daily health checks upon the child’s arrival. They include a direct observation of the child and communicating with parents/guardians about the health of the child or any changes in behavior. Health checks function to reduce the transmission of illnesses in child care setting by recognizing children who should to excluded due to illness.

Teacher Health

Teacher and caregiver health are often overlooked when discussing reducing the spread of germs and illness. Teacher health is an important factor in fostering a healthy environment and running a successful program. Regular health check-ups with a clinician will best guide teachers to address specific health needs. The health check-ups should focus on occupational health concerns, including maintaining up-to-date immunizations for individuals who are in contact with young children recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Do not forget about yearly flu shots, too!

If you have any questions or would like direct support in saying goodbye to germs, please reach out to your regional IdahoSTARS office and speak with your Child Care Health Consultant.

And make sure to take the ICCP annual health and safety training “Germs Are Everywhere,” which explores practices for a safe and healthy environment that reduces the spread of infectious disease and foodborne illnesses. Log into your RISE account, then click "ICCP Annual Training" on your dashboard. Or select "Go to Training," then search for the training by name.

Find more health and safety resources


IMPORTANT UPDATE: We hope you enjoyed our free Brown Bag Track Training Day on Saturday, December 7! If you attended the training, make sure you take the MANDATORY evaluation in RISE before January 6 to receive training hours! 

Click here for more information about finding and taking evaluations


We look forward to offering more free track trainings, look for our next Saturday training day in February.

We’re offering a Brown Bag Track Training Day at 10 locations on Saturday, December 7! It’s a chance to receive 5 training hours by attending these sessions: 

Session 1: Developmental Monitoring in Child Care

3 training hours, 8 to 11 a.m. PT / 9 a.m. to noon MT

This training will introduce participants to the key differences between developmental monitoring and screening, and the importance of both for ensuring young children’s development is on track.

Session 2: Hope Conquers Aces

2 training hours, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PT / 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. MT

Positive experiences have lasting impact on human development and functioning. In this session, we'll explore the science behind H.O.P.E. (Health Outcomes of Positive Experiences) and H.O.P.E.'s role in building resiliency and strengthening families.

The training sessions are offered in the following locations:

  • Boise 
  • Caldwell
  • Hayden
  • Idaho Falls
  • Lewiston
  • Meridian
  • Moscow
  • Pocatello
  • Sandpoint
  • Twin Falls

Sign up today in RISE and select the location that's best for you! If you plan to attend both sessions, you must register for them separately.

Register now!

Not sure how to find and register for training in RISE? You can watch a video tutorial here


Kathy Gates, RN (Health Consultant, Region 5 and 6)

Today's children can be healthier than ever, thanks to vaccines. Following the CDC-recommended immunization schedule will protect a child from 14 infectious diseases in the first two years of life.

Are you aware that as a child care professional, you can be a great promoter of immunizations? You are a trusted source parents rely on for information regarding the care of their children. This information can and should include CDC-recommended guidelines for immunizations.

One immunization that is often overlooked in discussions between parents and staff is the influenza vaccine. Now is the time to have that discussion! Flu season is here, and our goal is to keep our child care facilities as free of flu as possible. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. Good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can also help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like influenza.

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or even death. The influenza vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and flu-related death in children. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the influenza vaccine every season with only rare exceptions. Talk with your health care provider if you have concerns or questions.

Children younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated and at greater risk of developing serious flu-related complications. It’s important for child care professionals to help protect the fragile infants in their care. Directors should lead by example and get an influenza vaccine, then spread the word among staff and parents about the benefits of receiving the vaccine in a timely manner. We want to prevent influenza cases in our facilities across the state.

The CDC website provides excellent information for child care providers. There are many downloadable resources, including posters that can be displayed around your facility. These resources are available in English and Spanish.

Remember to contact your regional IdahoSTARS Child Care Health Consultant if you would like assistance with preventing influenza and the spread of influenza in your facility. You can contact your regional Child Care Resource Center by calling the Idaho CareLine at 211.

FREE CDC Flu Resources

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Why do I have to complete an evaluation? 

  • Evaluations are required by the entities that fund our training. Without their resources and support, we would not be able to provide training and training scholarships. Data from the evaluations is valuable in measuring the success of our programs.
  • Your input is needed as we plan future training opportunities. The trainers and training topics that receive high marks are likely to be offered again.

When is the evaluation available?

The evaluation is available the day of the training. Go to your RISE dashboard and click the “My Registrations & Evaluations” button right above the training calendar. You will see evaluations listed there. We recommend taking the evaluation as soon as the training is over. The training will appear on your Professional Development Record after you submit your evaluation and the trainer has verified your attendance.

Why do evaluations expire in 30 days? 

  • Our evaluations have a time limit because data becomes less relevant the longer someone waits to provide feedback. Previously, people would sometimes wait up to a year to fill out an evaluation.
  • Additionally, we want your training hours to appear on your Professional Development Record as quickly as possible.

How does IdahoSTARS notify people about evaluations?

We don’t typically send out emails about outstanding evaluations. It’s not part of our process. We’ve found that emails that do get through to providers only have about a 30% open rate, and sometimes they end up in spam folders. Because of this, we’ve looked at other methods to educate people on our evaluation process. On occasion, as a courtesy, a staff member may notice that someone’s evaluation is going to expire and reach out to them. It’s not our normal practice. 

  • In the RISE training portal, the description for every live training begins with the following message: “TO RECEIVE TRAINING HOURS FOR THIS TRAINING, YOU MUST COMPLETE THE EVALUATION WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE COMPLETION OF THE TRAINING. After the training has ended, the evaluation can be found under My Registrations & Evaluations on the RISE dashboard.”
  • In each of our live trainings, our trainers will explain the evaluation process.
  • If you have not completed your evaluation 15 days after your training, you will receive a RISE alert as a reminder. The alert will be repeated 7 days from expiration and 1 day from expiration. You can find alerts in the upper righthand corner of your RISE dashboard.

We closely monitor response rates to see if people understand the process. We are happy to see that most of our evaluations are completed successfully. Since July 1, training evaluations have been completed 87% of the time.

What if my evaluation expired?

If your evaluation has expired, you can retake the training. Look on the training calendar or in the course catalog in RISE or reach out to the trainer to see when the course might be offered again.

Unfortunately, you cannot receive a training scholarship for the same training a second time. Any fees associated with the course cannot be paid by IdahoSTARS.

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Jill Hobbs, BS, RDN, LD, Child Care Health Consultant (Region 7)

I feel confident in saying no caregiver ever wants an accident to happen. Below are some tips to help avoid some of the most common and critical injuries that can happen in an early care and education setting.

Abuse prevention

Active supervision is key to preventing abuse among children. It is important to identify blind spots in outdoor play areas and ensure that at least one adult is always present in all child care environments.

Unfortunately, children are sometimes abused by adults in early care and education settings. The 2019 Prevention Resources Guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified common risk factors for abuse (focusing primarily on parent-child relationships, though they apply to any caregiver). The risk factors include lack of experience, unrealistic expectations, stress, substance use, intergenerational trauma and isolation.

See a sample abuse prevention policy

Find more abuse prevention tips

Outdoor play injury prevention

Common injuries in outdoor play areas include broken bones, cuts and scrapes, entrapment, strangulation, head injuries and drowning.

Significant injuries can be prevented by :

  • Providing adequate surface fill under and around any toy with a height of 1 foot or more 
  • Ensuring there are no gaps along fence lines and that fences are securely closed
  • Having children remove loose strings, purses, necklaces, etc. that can get caught on equipment
  • Checking outdoor play areas daily for water accumulation
  • Making sure children wear secure helmets when using riding toys
  • Actively supervising at all times

For more tips, contact a Certified Outdoor Play Inspector or become certified through a nationally recognized program.

Choking prevention

Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death as recorded by the National Safety Council. You can prevent choking by:

  • Cutting food into ¼-inch pieces for toddlers and ½-inch pieces for preschool-aged children
  • Actively sitting with children and encouraging choking prevention behaviors, such as waiting to talk until food has been swallowed and taking appropriate-sized bites
  • Urging children to stay seated while eating

Poisoning Prevention

Three in five accidental medicine poisonings involving young children happen because the medication was not in its usual storage location and instead accessible to children.

Important ways to prevent poisoning are: 

  • Keeping hazardous chemicals and medications out of the reach of children
  • Never describing medications as candy

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All children learn and grow at a different rate. Some may need more time for exploratory play, guidance or repetition of certain skills in order to master them. Research-based developmental monitoring and screening tools can offer families and early childhood professionals reassurance that a child’s development is on track – or, more critically, help signal that a child might need additional evaluation and support.

What is developmental monitoring?

Developmental monitoring is observing how a child grows and whether the child meets typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving and moving. Monitoring by parents and early childhood professionals is a great way to ensure that all children get access to support as soon as possible. Consistent developmental monitoring can reveal when a child is not reaching milestones or reaching them much later than children the same age. This can be the earliest indication that a child may have a developmental delay.

Why use developmental monitoring?

  • To help you celebrate children's development
  • To help facilitate conversations about a child's progress
  • To help you learn what to expect next and identify concerns early on

Dual language learners

Children who are dual language learners may initially learn a concept – “over” and “under,” for example – in one of their languages but not yet know the words for it in the other language. Varying levels of exposure to their two languages can play a role – for example, the child may make big advancements in one language when a family member comes to visit, then see a sharp decrease in progress when they leave.

For children whose primary language is not English or Spanish, it is nearly impossible to find valid and reliable screening tools. Programs need to develop alternative plans for screening children who speak other languages. This includes working with interpreters, communicating with families, and reflecting on screening results with caution.

Download the developmental milestone chart


What are head lice?

Head lice are tiny wingless insects that live on the head and scalp of people, especially children. They are 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length, which is about the size of a sesame seed, and vary in color from tan to gray/white.

What are nits?

Nits are lice eggs that are very tiny and difficult to see. They vary in color from yellowish-brown to pearly white and are teardrop shaped.

When are head lice a problem?

Head lice don’t carry disease, but they are bothersome. Head lice cause itching and irritation of the scalp. It takes time and patience for parents to treat and remove lice and nits from their child’s hair. Treatment can be an added expense, and it is extra work to wash clothing and bedding. Head lice are spread easily among children and can continue to spread until the live lice are gone.

Key Points:

  • Anyone can get head lice, regardless of personal hygiene or environment.
  • Lice require blood to live. Off the scalp, head lice rarely survive beyond two days.
  • Pets cannot get or spread human head lice.
  • Lice are not able to fly or hop, but they can crawl from head to head when children are in close contact.

Limit the Spread

  • Avoid head-to-head contact during an infestation.
  • Avoid sharing combs, brushes, hair-ties, ear buds or headphones, bed sheets, blankets, hats, dress-up clothes, and costumes.
  • Learn to recognize nits and other signs of head lice. Regularly check children’s hair when there’s a known case of head lice in your program.
  • Children with an active infestation need treatment. Treating all infested children at the same time will prevent further spread and re-infestation.

Monitoring and Management

  • Talk to parents about how important it is to follow through with treatment at home.
  • Household members and other close contacts of children with head lice should be checked and treated if necessary.
  • Refer parents to their child’s primary care provider for advice about head lice treatment and nit removal.
  • Wash clothes (including hats and scarves) and bedding in very hot water. Soak combs and hair brushes in hot (149°F) water for at least an hour. Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture in rooms used by anyone with head lice.
  • Communicate closely with families in your program.

For more information and support, please contact your local IdahoSTARS Child Care Health Consultant.


From birth, children begin to explore their new world by touching, smelling, tasting, listening, observing and playing. Through this constant exploration, they are rapidly developing the "domains" of their physical and mental abilities. Parents and early childhood professionals play a critical role in this development. The simplest of activities can promote stimulation and growth in these five domains:

Approaches to Learning are how children acquire knowledge, develop new skills, and set and achieve goals. This includes a child’s creativity, curiosity, desire to learn, ability to begin and finish activities, and engagement in group activities. 

Offer children a variety of opportunities to explore new materials, foods or environments. Offer child-directed, free-choice activities and rotate new materials to investigate. Support risk-taking and new challenges.

Social and Emotional Development encompasses children’s ability to understand feelings of self and others, control their own behaviors, get along with others and form relationships with adults. As children observe and interact with familiar adults, they begin to learn how to express and interpret a broad range of emotions. Positive social and emotional development in the early years provides a critical foundation for lifelong learning.  

Having children interact with other children and adults as much as possible from an early age is the best way to help them develop socially. Playing games, having conversations at the dinner table, and getting together with friends and family are all invaluable ways to foster social development.

Language and Literacy development begins the day children are born. As children grow, their speech and language skills become more complex, and they understand and use language to express ideas, thoughts and feelings. A child’s language ability affects learning and development in all areas, especially emerging literacy. Children develop emergent literacy skills by rhyming, enjoying stories and books, recognizing symbols, scribbling and learning to write letters or words.  

Reading, talking, and singing to children from birth, and providing books and language videos or DVDs for them when they are older will help children develop important language skills. 

Cognition refers to a child's mental capacity for problem-solving, learning about objects, and understanding cause and effect. These skills help children understand and organize their world, enabling them to process sensory information, make comparisons, analyze information, evaluate and remember.  

Help children develop cognitive skills from an early age by providing puzzles, blocks, peg games, card games, patterns, and cause and effect activities. 

Perceptual Motor and Physical Development addresses a child's developing ability to interact with an environment using both the senses and motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination. Children's physical well-being depends on many factors, including their knowledge and use of safe, healthy behaviors and routines.

Have children practice:

  • Walking on their toes or heels
  • Walking with toes pointed in or out
  • Walking or moving like a certain animal (crab, worm, bear, bunny, frog, elephant, gorilla, kangaroo, etc.)
  • Playing kickball, tetherball, volleyball, basketball, or skating
  • Swinging, sliding, climbing on monkey bars, or playing on a tire swing
  • Balancing while walking along a curb
  • Walking forward, backward, sideways, and heel-to-toe
  • Walking while balancing a book on their head
  • Jumping, hopping, crawling, rolling, doing jumping jacks, and jumping over obstacles.

Participating in sports groups helps children develop gross motor skills as well as cognition, as many sports require thinking and planning where and what their body needs to do next. 


Recently, we’ve been contacted by program administrators who want to manage staff member's RISE accounts and professional activity. This has resulted in our customers being surprised by training registration, scholarship status and evaluation protocols. To protect each person’s information and to empower all people in their professional practice, we ask for administrator's support in helping staff manage their own RISE accounts. Although any RISE user can give away their user login and password, we strongly advise against sharing that sensitive information. 


Here’s why:


1. Giving away a log-in and password allows another person to:

  • change personal information such as address, phone number and name
  • apply scholarships and awards
  • see all information on the Professional Development Record

2. Information in RISE is specific to each customer’s identity. It includes birthdate, contact information, wage data, W-9 data and employment history.


3. Successfully learning to use RISE empowers professionals to learn other technical skills, giving them confidence and knowledge to meet other challenges.


4. Many child care professionals will change employment over the course of their career. It’s important that they not become dependent on a supervisor who may not always be there as a resource. 


5. It’s important for child care professionals to know how to navigate the RISE training portal so they can complete training for licensing, ICCP, PDS and quality improvement on their own. 


6. Online evaluations are required to receive hours for completed training. A child care professional must know how to navigate RISE to do this successfully. Evaluations must be completed by the person who took the course, not someone else.


On rare occasions, we realize that a child care provider may want an interpreter, family member or supervisor to have access to their RISE account. Any request to include others should come directly from the child care professional. We will still be directing all communication to the child care professional.


We strive to make it easy for everyone to use RISE. A child care professional can reach out to us for help by calling 211 Monday to Friday during normal business hours. We can be reached via email at even on evenings and weekends.

Preschool teacher and student high-fiving over building with blocks.

"After several years as a preschool teacher, I became tired of saying no: 'No, you can’t put the blocks in the sandbox,' 'No, you can’t have another snack now,' 'No, you can’t use your elbow as a paintbrush.' I started to wonder: Why not? Why not learn about constructing on sand? Why not have another snack—isn’t that better than trying to learn while hungry? Why not add big elbow dots to a painting? So I decided to create a Yes! environment."

Continue reading the full article from NAEYC.