Gerri's Gazette December 2023

Welcome december

December Infant and Toddler Gift Guide

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, especially for families with young children. Choosing the perfect gift for infants and toddlers can be a delightful experience but it’s important to consider the child’s developmental stage, and safety when selecting gifts. Whether you're a parent, grandparent, or friend, the following guidance will help you choose thoughtful and developmentally appropriate presents for the little ones in your life.

Consider Safety First

When selecting gifts for infants and toddlers, safety should be the top priority. Ensure that all toys and gifts are age-appropriate and free from small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Look for products that meet safety standards and are free from harmful materials. Be mindful of any potential risks, such as sharp edges, strings, and small detachable parts. Infants will explore by putting toys in their mouths and that is developmentally appropriate.

Promote Learning and Skill Development

Gifts that promote learning and skill development are excellent choices for young children. Look for toys that encourage cognitive development, fine and gross motor skills, and language acquisition. If infants, consider toys that help with sensory exploration, cause-and-effect relationships, and hand-eye coordination. Toddlers can benefit from toys that promote problem solving, creativity, and social skills.

Encourage Imaginative Play

Imaginative play is essential for young children’s social and emotional development. Choose gifts that inspire imaginative play such as dolls, stuffed animals, dress-up costumes, and playsets. These toys allow children to engage in pretend play, which helps them make sense of the world around them and develop important social and emotional skills.

Support Physical Activity

Toddlers are bundles of energy and gifts that encourage physical activity and movement are always appreciated by both children and parents. Consider gifts such as ride-on toys, balls, push and pull toys, and outdoor play equipment that promotes active play and helps toddlers develop their gross motor skills.

Think Beyond Toys

While toys are often the go to choice for holiday gifts, there are plenty of other thoughtful options to consider. Books, for example, make wonderful gifts for infants and toddlers, fostering a love of reading and language development from a young age. Personalized items, such as blankets, clothing, or keepsakes, can also make meaningful and cherished presents. It is common for young children to enjoy the empty boxes more than the toy itself, so allow time for exploration. Boxes of all sizes are usually a fun option for toddlers. Remember the play improves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children. Consider the gift of your time interacting with them is the best gift of all.

Check out the links below for some cost saving ideas for toys that will not break the budget.

Toys to Avoid (video):

Have a joyful holiday season and all the best for 2024.

Fiscal Updates

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, provided a unique opportunity for state and local governments to make strategic investments in long-lived assets using federal funds. The Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) used some ARPA funding for:

  • Temporary rate increase for service providers
  • Data System Security / Login enhancement
  • Purchase of new Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) / hearing screening equipment. These machines are available for loan to AzEIP’s service providing agencies throughout the state for their contracted region(s).
  • Reimburse for staff training to become certified to use the OAE equipment.

Additional updates:

  • Provider Rate increases were approved and implemented for services beginning October 1, 2023, bringing the rates to 100% of the 2019 market study benchmark rate.
  • Alternative / telehealth rates were also established for services provided in that method.
  • 2023 Rate Rebase Study is currently underway and expected completion in February 2024. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Stakeholder Forums for feedback to be scheduled mid to late January
  • We are currently working on Children’s Equity Project Analysis and Report
  • Development of new Personnel Training Modules for the Comprehensive System of Professional Development (CSPD)

Spotlight- Dynamite Therapy

Photos above - The Service Coordinators with Dynamite Therapy recently participated in Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) hearing screening certification training(s) with Sonia Samaniego with F.A.C.E.S of AZ. The training helped to enhance the services Dynamite Therapy is able to provide to families and increases access to hearing screenings for families involved in early intervention. These trainings took place in Yuma, Tucson, and Phoenix Valley locations.

Thank you, Lana Graber, CEO of Dynamite Therapy for your time, energy, and commitment to serving on the Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) for the past 5 years as the Chair and Vice Chair.

AHCCCS Receives Temporary Extension to Pay Parents as Caregivers of Their Minor Children

Note: The following is a press release from AHCCCS

PHOENIX - The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has received a temporary extension of federal approval to pay parents for providing direct care to their minor children enrolled in the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted the temporary extension of the State’s existing COVID-19 Appendix K authority to allow the State and CMS to continue negotiations over the demonstration amendment application submitted on September 27, 2023 that proposes to allow AHCCCS to continue the program permanently. The COVID-19 Appendix K authority will now expire March 29, 2024 or once the proposal is approved, whichever may come first.

The letter from CMS, and more information and documents, are posted on the Parents as Paid Caregivers web page.


Founded in 1982, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is Arizona's Medicaid agency that offers health care programs to serve Arizona residents. Built on a system of competition and choice, AHCCCS operates under an integrated managed care model, through a Research and Demonstration 1115 Waiver. Contracted health plans coordinate and pay for physical and behavioral health care services delivered by more than 115,000 health care providers to more than 2.3 million Arizonans.

Early Intervention Basics:

Tips for feeding toddlers

With the holidays upon us and food all around here are some tips for healthy eating. 9 tips for healthy toddler eating habits

Parenting Tips

PBS for Kids for parents

PBS Kids for Parents offers a variety of fun and educational activities for children 2-8 years old. The Learn & Grow tab offers a variety of milestone topics to support Emotional & Self-Awareness, Social Skills, Literacy, and Arts. Find Ways to Play / Activities To Do At Home with 2 Year Olds

Professional Development Opportunities

Be sure to mark your calendars for Strong Families AZ virtual Learning Festivals that take place on the first or second Fridays of the month. They are FREE to attend and links to register via Zoom will be sent out approximately 2 weeks before each session. They offer certificates of attendance for 1.5 professional development hours following completion of the evaluation for each session.

Please watch for our invitations to register by email.

Learning Festival for Home Visitors

December 1, 2023 (Virtual) | 10:00am – 11:30am (Phoenix Time)

  • Certificate of Attendance available – 1.5 Professional Development Hours
  • Free to attend via Zoom.
  • American Sign Language Interpretation will be available.

Topic: Layers of Technology to Mitigate Bad Things on the Internet for Young Kids

Doug Crawford from Protect Young Eyes will help us establish Layers of Technology to Mitigate Bad Things on the Internet for Young Kids.

Doug Crawford: Digital Safety Specialist and Chief Presentation Officer. Doug is a faithful husband to Rose, father to five, a new grandfather, and a friend to everyone he meets. With over 15 years of pastoral ministry and now over five years with Protect Young Eyes, he is driven by a desire to provide for, prepare, and protect families. Frequently interviewed by a variety of media outlets, including articles, podcasts, and local news stations, Doug absolutely loves teaching and seeks to serve each audience with compassion.

Protect Young Eyes: Internet Safety for Families, Schools, and Churches Register in advance for this meeting by clicking here:


AHCCCS Health Care Career Education 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.


Dear Early Childhood Professional,

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. and colleagues. Please take a few moments to complete the workforce survey and please forward to your staff. Thank you for your time!

Early Childhood Educator Recruitment and Retention Survey

CSPD Recruitment Event:

Wednesday, December 6, from 12 to 2pm

Ready to jump in? We are looking for professionals from Head Start, early intervention, early childhood special education, institutes of higher education, partnering state agencies involved in Arizona’s childcare systems, and parents of children with disabilities. Video call link: Or dial: ‪(US) +1 434-481-1259‬ PIN: ‪244 216 885‬#

For more information, contact





Tuba City Public Library

Events on Facebook

First Things First

News Round-Up


Do you have concerns about your child’s feeding? Early detection and treatment of feeding problems are critical to the long-term health and well-being of affected children. Talk to your service provider and take this survey.

Feeding Matters Infant and Child Feeding Questionnaire



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.

Links to Statewide Resources:

Holiday Events for Arizona families


Festival of Tales December 2 Event

Coconino Coalitions for Children and Youth Connections Newsletter - Regional Events

M.A.N.C.A.V.E Fatherhood Summit registration FREE In-Person or Virtual / Hybrid December 7 & 8, 2023 link (AzEIP will be there!)


Learn more about the ICC:

Find more information about the ICC here!


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.

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