Gerri's Gazette October 2023

Welcome October!

October has many awareness celebrations including ADHD Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, Depression Awareness, LGBTQ+ History month, and National Book Month. We can celebrate National Homemade Cookie Day and International Music day on October 1, National Fried Scallops Day and International Day of Non-Violence on October 2nd, World Architecture Day on October 3, National Taco Day and World Animal Day on October 4th, National Do Something Nice Day and Hoshana Rabbah October 5th.

Southwest Human Development is hosting the Birth To Five Helpline Awareness week October 9 to 15.

You get the idea, there are lots of reasons to celebrate this month, including cooler weather in Arizona.

Our nation observes Columbus Day on October 9th, 2023 which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. And for many candy lovers and kids at heart, Halloween is celebrated all month long. Halloween is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31, the eve of the All Saints Day. The tradition originates in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would like bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In Arizona is a great time to see yards full of decorations welcoming or scaring trick or treaters. However you observe the holidays. Stay safe.

For a full list visit October Holidays and Observances in 2023

Service Providing agency Spotlight:

Erika Sanchez

Erika Sanchez was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has always had a heart of compassion within her family and her community. As a child, Erika’s family learned about the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) when her younger brother was born with Cerebral Palsy. She recalls the physical therapist coming into their home to provide support to her brother. “I wanted to go to school to be a physical therapist, but I could not afford it at the time.” said Erika.

Because of her brother’s experience, she saw the need for supportive caregivers and worked with individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages as a program coordinator for a home and community based service agency.

Erika was responsible for hiring staff to meet the family’s needs before she was asked to be an AzEIP service coordinator for Northland-Rural Therapy Associates (NRTA), a contracted AzEIP service providing agency in Coconino county.

Erika had a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Sciences when she began her career path in early intervention and developed an education plan to meet the requirements to be a Developmental Special Instructionist (DSI). While continuing to work, she completed an online program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University specifically for an Early Intervention degree. “It took me 16 months to finish my Master’s degree in an accelerated program intended to be completed in two years, but I was able to double up a couple of semesters because my employers were supportive [and] flexible with work [schedules].”

Erika Sanchez is an alumni of the Class of 2023, a Developmental Special Instructionist (DSI), Service Coordinator, and Lead Program Coordinator for NRTA. Her favorite thing about working in early intervention is helping bilingual families understand early intervention and taking her role deeper to care for the families and “just trying to figure how to help.”

"There are so many things I love about my job:
  1. I work with infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Anytime I say it out loud, I am reminded of why I do what I do. My brother was in the program, and I know how challenging but incredibly rewarding my life has been with him.
  2. Children grow and change so fast! While we work with those who may present with delays or are at risk, I am always amazed at the progress I see in every one of them.
  3. Building relationships. I love having that time to listen to families and, together, find ways to help their children reach their highest potential.
“It feels really good to have a master’s degree and inspiring others. It’s great being able to motivate others.”

Parenting Tips

Watch video: How Play Help Kid's Brain Grow


Watch video: How to use stacking cups for speech development

Scholarship Opportunities

AHCCCS, in collaboration with Maricopa Community Colleges and the Managed Care Organization’s (MCOs) Workforce Development Administrators, has launched two AHCCCS Health Care Career Education Scholarship opportunities.

AHCCCS is working with other colleges around the state to make these scholarships available throughout Arizona. Updates will be posted on the AHCCCS webpage.

The purpose of the scholarships is to provide a resource for furthering education, improve the competency of direct care providers, and enhance members' experiences. This transformative award program covers student tuition, books, course fees, health and safety requirements, and other needed resources for students pursuing a career in:

  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Career Education and Training
  • Behavioral Health

The Complete List of Eligible Programs, Degrees, Certificates, and Courses, includes:

  • Advanced Caregiver
  • Direct Care Worker
  • Disabilities Specialist
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Speech Language Pathologist Assistant

This is an excellent professional development opportunity. The Division encourages all Qualified Vendors to share this resource with their workforce and support direct service providers to apply for a scholarship.

For further information and to apply for a scholarship in participating community colleges, please visit the AHCCCS webpage.

Are you going to school and need help with childcare?

See below screen for more information

To: Early Childhood Professionals

The Arizona Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) Recruitment and Retention workgroup has launched its annual workforce survey to hear the voices of early childhood professionals from across Arizona. We are looking for professionals to complete this survey so that we can collect data on recruitment and retention of the Early Intervention (EI), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), and Early Childhood Education (ECE) fields and create products to support programs with retention of early childhood staff. We thank you in advance for taking the time to answer these questions. The survey on average takes 5-15 minutes. If you're a supervisor, it would be helpful to have information regarding staff vacancies nearby.

Early Childhood Educator Recruitment and Retention Survey



The Birth to Five Helpline is a free service open to all Arizona families with young children looking for the latest child development information from experts in the field. Early childhood professionals may also take advantage of this service.

Call the Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our bilingual (English/Spanish) early childhood specialists, on duty Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. You can also leave a voicemail, complete our online contact form, or text the Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Topics addressed include, but are not limited to: sleep, health and nutrition, safety, challenging behaviors, feeding and eating, general child development, potty training, fussiness/colic, and parenting.

Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth Newsletter

September issue

Professional Development

Join the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (AzAEYC) for the 2023 Annual Professional Development & Breakfast!

Saturday, October 14, 2023 | 9am to noon

In-person at Rio Salado College Conference Center (2323 W. 14th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281) or virtual (link will be sent ahead of the event).

Enjoy breakfast with colleagues. Hear from special guest presenters on early childhood social-emotional development and well-being. Build relationships and network. We will also have a special celebration of the 2023 awardees for the "Honor the Past and Reimagine the Future" early childhood college scholarship.

Breakfast and coffee is included. All participants will receive a certificate of 3 hours of professional development.

Current AzAEYC/NAEYC members: no-cost registration (in-person and virtual). Non-members: $15 (in-person)/$7.50 (virtual). Email info@azaeyc.org for info on sponsorships to cover the registration fee if cost is a barrier.

Registration closes Wednesday, October 11 for in-person and Friday, October 13 for virtual.

Register now at azaeyc2023breakfast.eventbrite.com.

How Children Move Matters:

Promoting Healthy Relationships During Placement Transitions in Child Welfare

Presented by Monica T. McDonough, LMSW, IMH-E® and Lorna Sedillos, LCSW, IMH-E®

Friday, October 13, 2023

Valley of the Sun United Way | 3200 East Camelback Road, Suite 375, Phoenix

Each time a child moves, whether it be a removal from an unsafe situation or a move from one place to another, it has an impact on the child's sense of belonging, sense of self and can be a source of trauma. No matter the age or developmental stage of the child, the move is experienced as a separation or loss. In this presentation we will learn how to incorporate the child's perspective, including cultural influences, when there is a move. We will discuss options for planned and emergency transitions as well as the importance of post placement connections.

This training is FREE and will be a hybrid training with the in-person portion being located at Valley of the Sun United Way, 3200 East Camelback Road, Suite 375, Phoenix, and the online portion being done through Zoom.

In-person space is limited! Register here to attend in-person. Register here to attend virtually.

While you're at the 2023 Dine Summit Early Childhood Summit, Jerrilene Antone Morton, AzEIP tribal liaison.



Raising Special Kids has a number of community events throughout the month of October. Here is a full listing of RSK events.


Be sure to stop by the AzEIP table at the Creighton Family Resource Center Fall Fair and say "hello" to Lisa Vallee, AzEIP Community Engagement Manager.

The Birth to Five Helpline is a free resource for any caregiver, childcare provider or professional in Arizona with questions or concerns about a young child (pregnancy to 5 years of age). No problem is too big or too small for the Helpline early childhood specialists answering the calls. Call for yourself or together with a family you support to get the personalized recommendations our Helpline specialists can provide callers when dialing (877)-705-KIDS (5437). Bilingual, knowledgeable, and compassionate specialists are available Monday through Friday, from 8am to 8pm, for support, information, and resources. We also invite you to download the free app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play so you have the option of texting or emailing your questions as well.

Stop by the AzEIP information table and say "hello" to Lisa Vallee, AzEIP Community Engagement Manager, at the WIC Spooktacular Fall Festival.

Important Disclaimer: The foregoing is publicly available information about upcoming events, resources, and reminders from third-party organizations. In some cases, AzEIP has included links to other websites that are not owned or controlled in any way by AzEIP, but that contain additional information about the events, resources or reminders. By clicking on any of the links above, you agree to be directed to the external website and you acknowledge and agree that AzEIP shall not be held responsible or accountable for any information contained on such site. Please note that AzEIP does not monitor any of the websites linked herein and does not endorse or approve any information posted on any such sites.

If you’ve received this newsletter from a friend and would like to be included on our distribution list, we welcome you!

Please email your request to: azeip@azdes.gov