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Closing the Gap Webinar Transcript


The following is a text transcript of the Closing the Gap Webinar on November 13, 2013 as presented by Desiree Soto of the Child Development Division of the California Department of Education.

This webinar reviewed the Desired Results System and the Curriculum-Assessment Cycle, with a focus on summarizing assessments, analyzing and reflecting on data, and the creation of an action plan to support learning and development.


Webinar starts.

Desiree Soto: Good morning, everyone across the state. Welcome to the Closing the Gap webinar presentation, and thank you for being with us here this morning. My name is Desi Soto, and I am the Northern Field Services Administrator here at the Child Development Division, and with me is my colleague Greg Hudson, who will be fielding and providing responses to any questions you may have.

If you look up at the top right-hand bar, you’ll see a Q and A, in case your Q and A happens to be minimized, if you click on that, you should get a box that opens up at the bottom on the bottom right, where if you have a particular question, you can e-mail or send it in, and you’ll receive either a response directly back to you, or if it’s something that generally will help everyone, Greg will reply to the entire group.

So, we’re going to get started. I wanted to say that this webinar will be posted for 90 days on the CDE Web site, and that link for where it will be posted will be sent out on our listserv in the next couple of days once we do have it posted. So we’re thinking that it will be good information for programs to have for future reference, and knowing again that it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, and teachers are in classrooms and people have busy schedules with their meetings scheduled and so forth, some may be wanting to access this information other than at this particular hour, so it’s being recorded.

The name of the webinar is Closing the Gap: Using DRDP results for Classroom and Program Planning. And I will say that recently I was at a conference, and provided these presentation slides, and had some wonderful interactions with the audience, and I realized that the timing is really perfect for providing this overview and some tips and hints and things that we’re seeing here at the department, and sharing that across the state.

This PowerPoint presentation was done recently in October, and I’m ready to share it with all of you; I hope you find it helpful.

The agenda today: first of all I’m going to give you the big overview of our Desired Results system, provide some context, some background. Sometimes folks are saying, “wow, there’s so much out there, and how does it all fit together?” So hopefully by the end of today, some of that will be clearer for you.

Then I want to focus on two particular pieces of that system. One is using the DRDP data at the classroom level, and this is where there can be significant gains for our children, right at the classroom level. And then the last half of the presentation is combining the data to create the big picture. So the target audience here is many of you out there in our programs: teachers, site supervisors, and program directors. And even if I am talking specifically to teachers, we know that it takes a team, so we need the site supervisor and program director to support teachers in their work, and when we’re talking about the big picture and program goals, it’s important that that information is also communicated to teachers. So it’s a group of you who are going to support making a difference with our children in terms of outcomes.

Here is a graphic that we’ve used for quite some time, and I find it helpful to start the presentation where we’re looking at our Desired Results System. Of course, starting at the very center, it’s all about our children. We ask contractors to look at individual child progress, and then of course groups of children. But it starts with the child, and that’s our DRDP assessment in terms of looking at their development and planning for gains in that way.

The next yellow circle says family goals, so it’s important in our system that we include families, and we do that by way of parent conferencing, and sharing with them what’s happening with their children in the classroom; it’s a two-way street, so they have an opportunity to share with our teachers what’s happening with the children in their home setting.

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At the program level, we have parent surveys that you’re looking at and asking families how we can better support your needs in our program, and they can plan based on that input.

The green circle is our classroom and family child care home environment, and that’s an important piece of the system that we’re looking at, and of course the environment rating scales is the assessment that’s used to look intentionally at the environment and make a plan for improvement.

The blue circle on the outside is the program, and it’s important at the program level that our contractors are looking at the successes that have occurred, what’s going on, what’s taking place in our programs, what are we doing well, and then where can we make better gains, and provide better services for our children and families.

So given that big picture, we’re going to step back now and start at the classroom level, and as you all know, the DRDPs are completed twice a year for each child at 60 days after enrollment and again after 6 months, and then there’s a summary of that classroom data where teachers are looking for trends, and what that tells them about the children’s development, and they’re making a plan to support their learning and development.

This graphic basically is the previous slide in a graphic form, and you’ll see something very similar in our curriculum frameworks in the upper right here we’re starting with observing our children and the environment and the interactions, and then over time gathering information about what that tells us about children’s development, what they’re showing us they know, and we’re completing assessments, the second box there on the right side, and then summarizing the assessments, analyzing and reflecting on that data, and planning and modifying the curriculum and environment. These are specially highlighted here because over time this is an area where we continue to notice that there is a gap, and that’s part of the reason this [presentation] is titled “Closing the Gap,” so that we’re highlighting this in this presentation so this gap is closed and that teachers and programs aren’t going directly from completing assessments to implementing a curriculum and environment without some thoughtful intentional planning based on what the assessments show us.

So these gray box areas are the ones that are identified as a gap and we would like to really call out in this presentation today. And then of course, up at the top left, implement the curriculum, the environment and changes, observe the children, and just continue the cycle of assess, summarize, analyze, and plan once again. So it is a cycle; it’s ongoing.

And then I wanted to also provide for you, when field services consultants are coming out to either provide technical assistance or monitor, the child development instrument that is used when we do site visits has the specific item, “Desired Results Profile and Data,” and it says this: “the program maintains the DRDP 2010 and used the information to plan and conduct age and developmentally appropriate activities.” And so again, this is the message we want to give today, that teachers are able to explain and show how they are using information to plan and conduct activities in the classroom; because there may be a conversation in a classroom with a teacher where we may look at an activity plan and say, “Ah, I see you’re doing this today – tell me how this relates to the DRDP data,” or “why is it that you’ve planned this particular activity today?”, and those kinds of questions. We would like that teachers are able to talk about that. I think it takes practice, and site supervisors and program directors can help teachers practice that conversation about how they’re using the information and how they’re intentionally planning activities for their children.

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The first gray box area we looked on the graphic was about summarizing DRDP data, and that can be done in a variety of ways, and so we’re not telling you that you have to do anything specific, although DRDP-Tech is out there. You can also see a web site address down below, where there are all kinds of resources, some of them being Excel files that data from the DRDPs can be put into those Excel files. Back in years past when I’ve been in the classroom, we actually hand-tallied the DRDPs, so that we can look at what the data tells us, and look for trends within the classroom.

I will say that it is the Child Development Division’s high priority to wherever we can find ways to help teachers and programs have time-savers, because we know that there is a heavy workload, and DRDP-Tech and some of the applications that are being developed and provided for contractors is just some of the work that we’re trying to do in order to support teachers in their work, and summarizing data and doing some analysis. So again, there’s a resource, a web site here and then at the end of the presentation on one of the slides there’s another web site for DRDP-Tech that you will want to explore.

Some screen shots of various reports that might come from DRDP-Tech; some of you have your own databases that provide summaries, but it’s important for a classroom teacher to look at group summary data, and make a plan based on what that’s telling her. For those of you who are data people, this is really fun, because you can pull the data apart in a lot of different ways, and look at it in multiple ways and make a plan for your classroom.

The next part of that graphic we wanted to really focus on is analyzing and reflecting on the data. The classroom teacher should be looking for trends. We have in the past on forms and so forth called them “key findings”, and we’ve heard that may be confusing for a teacher. What is a key finding? It also sounds kind of like a deficit approach, as if it’s not a good thing, to have a finding. But what we’re really saying with that phrase “key finding” is that we want you to look at the data at the classroom level, and look for some developmental trends at the domain level. So what am I seeing? What does it tell me about the children in my classroom today? … and then make a plan. So create a group summary is the key here, and identify a trend.

We did say on the previous slide by domain, and sometimes we have found that teachers and even at the program level, plans are being built around a specific measure. We know that children’s learning is integrated, so planning and focusing on a measure is simply too discrete to be effective; so what we’re asking is that teachers in classrooms and programs are looking at their data at the domain level, and then providing a plan based on what they are seeing.

We recognize that language and literacy is big, there are many measures within that particular domain, so there may be some measures within the domain that you’ve noticed could use more support or attention to help increase the gains overall in language in literacy. It may be that there are many action steps developed to support the domain of language and literacy, and it may be that vocabulary-building and some of the specific measures may be called out, but overall the developmental trend when you’re looking at group data should be identified at the domain level. We’ll get more into the action steps in a little bit.

To help teachers look at their data, summarize it, analyze it, and then put that information down on paper, we’ve provided this form, the 4001B. It’s not a requirement; there are programs across the state who have their own forms, and their own way of asking teachers to write down what they’re finding, and creating some steps, and who’s going to make sure in the upcoming months that the action steps are going to be implemented. So, although it’s not a requirement, this is a form that’s provided on the Desired Results Training and Technical Assistance Web site, as well as CDE’s Web site, for your use to help write things out. However, you can use whatever works well for you.

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Across the gray bar on the left hand side it currently says, “Key Findings from Developmental Profile”; we will probably be modifying or expanding that language so that it’s very clear to the classroom teacher what we mean by a key finding, and also there are accompanying instructions with this form, so that’s helpful as well. The action steps you can see do have specific prompts within that gray box to help the teacher think that through. And the other thing I wanted to call out for you is that this form is formatted very similarly to the form that is required in the program action plan, the PSE, and that form is the 4001A.

Last year, I think at this time, we had asked contractors to please send in a sampling of three picked classrooms, and send in a sampling of this form 4001B so that we have a pulse of what’s happening with the form, and what kinds of strategies are being used, and so forth. We found that there was confusion: there were program directors completing this 4001B rather than a classroom teacher; the action steps were more at the program level, for instance, “training will be provided on such-and-such”. So what we really want to emphasize is that this particular form is for the teacher to lay out what she’s found, and put some steps in place for what they’d like to do right within their classroom.

So here are some ideas about “big buckets” for thinking about action steps that they should include both indoor and outdoor planned learning opportunities, so based on your DRDP data, there are some specific things that a teacher may want to make sure are happening indoors and/or outdoors. The action steps could include interactions and strategies to support the development of the key findings, so it may be that if it’s vocabulary building, that there’s an intentional effort on the teacher’s part to have sustained conversations back and forth with young children, and that that becomes a focus and is noted in the action steps.

Of course, it’s important to look at environments and the materials that are provided so that when children are participating in open choice and choosing however they would like to engage in the materials there in the classroom and the family child care home environment, that it’s rich, and that it’s going to meet the developmental needs of the children in the program. It’s important to include families in this action step conversation where teachers can inform families about what’s going to happen in the classroom, and how you can help at home, and working on a partnership with them so that everybody’s on the same page and fully informed.

Action steps or further action steps really should identify new approaches and modifications or changes in the environment or program, and not just be more of the same, and reflect the teacher’s fear of influence. Sometimes we hear or read from teachers when we receive information here in the office is that it’s the same type of action step as last year, and probably the year before, it’s rather generic. So we’re asking that teachers are thinking about “what am I currently doing? Based on the DRDP data, it shows that I really need to be intentional, and focus on this particular domain … let’s say mathematics … what else can I do? I’m already doing x, y, and z; how can I build on that, extend it, do more of it, and/or something different that complements it, but it’s not just more of the same?”

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I had a conversation recently with a teacher who said, “but we have new children, and these children are coming in; so why wouldn’t it be the same action steps, because it’s mathematics, and we really want to focus on that domain, so why wouldn’t it be the same?” In response to that, I would say that it could be that last year for mathematics, part of the action steps were to develop a schedule to rotate your materials, and make sure that weekly someone will be in charge of making sure there are math activities and materials in all parts of the classroom environment, and that gets rotated.

That should become really part of your system, so after you’ve focused on that for a year you should have that in place and it should be automatic, so you should continue to do that. But what we’re saying is that after you’ve got that in place, now what else can you do? There’s always something ongoing improvement; there are always new things teachers are learning from their colleagues, the classroom teacher next door, from trainings, research, and so forth. That’s what we’re asking is that teachers are thoughtful about: building on past practice and not just do more of the same.

Certainly reflecting on teachers’ fear of influence is important, because we’re not asking for this piece of reflection and action-step development to be requesting from their program director training on something, or purchasing of something; it’s within my own sphere of influence here in the classroom. What can I do to affect change? I can get things out of the shed, I can rotate it in, look at our classroom schedule … there are a variety of things that this action plan should reflect that the teacher can actually implement, the teaching team, and parents.

So here’s basically a sample of a summary of findings at the classroom level. There’s a domain that’s identified with multiple action steps. One of the things we may also do is take out all these lines in here, just to make the form easier for you; but the point of the lines was to show that one key finding really needs many different types of action steps to support it so that there will be change in that particular area of learning. That was the point of all the lines, but they may go just to make the completion of the form actually easier.

This is actually a good time, when you’re thinking about your action steps to think: “where are my children going to be at the end of the year? What am I shooting for, what’s the trajectory?” So this may be a time when teachers are looking at the preschool and the infant/toddler learning and development foundations to say, “Where are my children going? It’s a roadmap for you.” So you have that good idea, then you’re looking at your framework, because in the framework are all kinds of ideas for how to enhance your environment, build on the children’s play, look at the materials, and think about teacher-guided learning activities. It’s rich with ideas and information, it’s a starting point for you to brainstorm, the framework has strategies that are developmentally appropriate, reflective of thoughtful observation and intentional planning, and that’s what we’re wanting teachers to do, the strategies are individually and culturally meaningful, and inclusive of children with disabilities and other special needs. So it’s a good resource for teachers when they’re thinking about what action steps to include in an action plan.

So now we’ve looked at the summarizing of assessments and the analyzing of the data, and we’re going to move on to planning and modifying the curriculum and the environment. Those action steps that were developed really help support the development of the activity plan. They’re meant to help teachers, because you’ve done the work of being creative and thinking about a variety of things you can do to support learning.

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So now it is a matter of taking that information that you’ve brainstormed, and over the coming months include that in your activity plans. This is where there is a really nice connection between what you are doing daily with children in the classroom and why you are doing it, and if you are going backwards you are looking at your action steps and the reason that you have this information here is because you have identified a key finding or a trend in your classroom that you really want to focus on. In addition to that, you are of course providing activities that support activities across all domains.

So this is more or less a summary slide of planning and modifying, so the first bullet shows that we have started with summarizing the data. They’ve analyzed and reflected on it, and they have thought about how to address individual small group and classroom level goals based on that data at the domain level, and then the action steps identify how the curriculum and environment will change. This is an ongoing process over the coming months, and as children grow and progress, there may be modifications to the activity plans and new ideas, but your structure of where you’re going with your curriculum and environment changes, etc., have already been drafted out in your action plan. Then after six months you’re completing the DRDPs again, and basically it is a time for celebration, so you’ve probably noted where children are and have changed based on what you’ve done, and you may look at your action steps and say, “next year I can do more here” or “next year I wouldn’t need to do that” or “I’ve changed or modified my action steps.” So it is a reflection and it is good learning for the classroom teachers as they think about moving on next year.

So now we are coming back to this overall system graphic once again, and we are going to take a look at the program level, the blue circle, and it is a very similar process in terms of looking at data and planning for children, but it is at the program level. And I will say that the Program Self Evaluation that is due June 1st to us really should include the parent survey data information that you have, and programs that are reflecting on that in making a plan as well as the environment rating scale. You are rolling up data and looking at that summary of findings, and making a plan as well. Even though that information does not come into the Department of Education, what does come in is the information about the DRDP and the action plan that you’ve created around that.

So once again here’s what’s in our instrument when our Field Services consultants are thinking about and referring to it as they do an on-site review. It says the program has developed and implemented an annual evaluation plan that addresses any areas identified during the self-evaluation as needing improvement. So there needs to be some analysis and thinking, and a plan that is made.

For the last couple of years in going forward for next year, the Program Self-Evaluation is intended to focus on the DRDP piece of the entire DR system. So really it’s looking at the children’s developmental profiles rolled up at the program level. So that is what we are going to focus on next, combining the data to create a big picture.

After the six-month assessment period, DRDP is rolled up to create a big picture of what can be done to support improvement in a particular domain or a particular area in the following upcoming year. So you are looking at trends in the DRDP data, big rollup data - it is not about specifics – it’s not about individual children or individual classrooms – it is that data that is rolled up and when programs are looked at, they are saying, “here’s an area that we would like to focus on” – at the domain again, not the measure level, it’s too discreet – and making an action plan based on what you are seeing.

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We have had contractors or program directors say “well gosh, year after year we have the same key findings – it continues to be Language and Literacy, so I am uncomfortable when I go to my board and present once again that this is our key finding.” So what I would say, and what others have said – this occurred in a presentation that was done recently, ”it is a time to celebrate what already has occurred, so we focused on language and literacy and here were some other things that we did: we made progress, and teachers learned this, and this is what occurred in our program going forward, here are some other ways that we are going to support this particular domain.”

We have heard also from directors that you can’t put everything that you may want into a one-year action plan, so since it may be ongoing, more than one year that you’re focusing on language and literacy, you may think about what is a three-year plan for this. “What am I going to do this year to affect change? What am I going to do next year?” And so it is okay, I guess, that you have the same key findings each year, because after all, the children coming into your program are basically from the same community, and so if your focus is about English-language learners and supporting that, it may continue each year to be your focus for a program action plan.

There are a variety of things that can be mapped out and identified in your action steps, so you can consider your pedagogical approaches, your professional development, and although you may have a completely separate or cohesive professional development plan that would include part of this, you will be thinking about how to support your teachers. You are going to want to look at curriculum and the materials that are required; you may look at your staff or your program schedules. “How are we running our programs, and are they most effectively run in this particular way?” Certainly child-staff interactions are key, and you do what you can do to support that. You may look at the use of space in your classrooms and do some kind of inventory or analysis of that as well as, of course, parent and family involvement and informing them and community outreach.

So there are a wide range of things that we want program administrators to think about as they are mapping out their actions steps: this is what is helpful for teachers. They need your support, and can’t do some things on their own. They are in their own classroom environment, and so this is the important part where program administrators are providing them with resources and training and analysis of what is happening in the program in order to affect change at the program level.

So this is the 4001A [form]. It is required at this time to be submitted in your Program Self-Evaluation, where we would like to see the DRDP, your Summary of Findings and what your action plan is. So this is the A form, not to be confused with the B, and is typically done at the program director level, but of course then shared with site supervisors, teachers, the board, and all stakeholders in your community. There is a finding and a goal – “what do I want to do to support children in terms of their education – what is the domain that I really would like to focus on - what are the action steps that I want to complete, and of course who is going to do it?” And I think this is really important: “who is going to actually be responsible, and approximately when will it be done?” We did have feedback that the completion date is something we may modify, because at the classroom level as well it may feel as if an action step is completed, then it’s crossed off, it’s over and done, as opposed to it being ongoing. So we want to make sure that something is implemented, and it is not a one-shot deal.

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Here are a whole bunch of different examples for Language and Literacy, for instance. It may be that you want to make sure that your teaching staff gets an introduction specifically to some of the foundations so that they have an understanding about children’s growth and development and where they are going, and the companion curriculum framework chapters. Some programs may specifically want to think about their English learners and how they are going to engage them in their learning experiences. And at the end of this long slide, I wrote specifics.

So these are kind of generic slides out here, and contractors will probably want to put in their own specifics when they are thinking about this. This might just be too generic. But certainly, whenever you are focusing, for instance even on mathematics, you want to have that lens of “okay, we do have English learners in our program, and how are we going to support their learning, in terms of mathematics?”, or whatever domain you have selected.

Teaching staff: you could select a specific strategy – this mentions dialogic reading – you may want to do training on something very specific so teachers have that across your district or across your program as a strategy. Of course, there is always the follow-up to facilitate, to make sure that the training actually is implemented so it is not a one-shot deal, that teachers go away and say that was really great, but then when program directors or site supervisors go into a classroom, the implementation is not there. We want to make sure that in an action plan, you think about how we are going to know if this works. What is the follow-on to this? That’s why this particular bullet is here.

Involving families and parent education in whatever the key finding is could be quarterly meetings and resources and so forth, and insuring that those children with disabilities and other special needs have adequate support to engage in language and literacy activities. There are certain lenses you want to have to make sure that all children in your program have access to the ongoing training and materials, etc.

Some more examples of what might be in an action plan would be a program-wide look at the classroom schedules, looking to make sure that there is really ample time for the children to explore their interest areas. So with this particular focus or key finding - it was language and literacy – making sure that there are not a lot of transitions in your schedule so children aren’t able to really get into the rich environment and materials that are provided for the children. Think about your outdoor time, look at the classroom schedules, and make sure that whatever your focus is, it is also included in your outdoor play time.

More examples: you can do an inventory. A classroom teacher could do this on her own so that she knows what she has available. In terms of a district purchase, district-wide or determining whether perhaps there are more resources at a particular site and fewer at another, and how to get those materials moved around in and out of sheds, etc. Looking at inventory is important for one strategy. What are your community resources, and how can they be pulled into your program to support the action plan? Remember that the action plan is a living document in which you’ve identified certain activities that you are going to be doing in the upcoming year and who is actually responsible for each of those, so you want to go back to them and check them off or make a note about how that was changed or modified, or “we didn’t get to this” or “we did this and it was better:” it is a living document. It is something that you should be looking at and planning from along with other things, of course.

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At the end of that action plan cycle that you are reflecting back on and what you did, you are looking at each action step that you said you were going to do – and what was the outcome: did it work? Didn’t it work? What did the teachers say about how something was implemented? What was the feedback from them? Were they successful, and how were they successful? If you do it again, how would you do it differently if there were modifications to the action step? … That kind of reflection.

We did add into the Program Self-Evaluation a reflections page this last year, the CD3900, which is just an open box where you can write a narrative about reflecting back on the action steps that were implemented the previous year. I know that the field services consultants and Greg and I have read all of these, and the reflections are just fabulous. I think that some of the most exciting reading that we’ve had here in the office coming in from the program directors and contractors have come in through these reflection pages. There is no right or wrong on this. A reflection is being thoughtful about what has occurred and just really documenting that – doing some critical thinking and putting that down on paper so that you can learn and grow based on what you did last year and where you are going to go next year. Some of them have flat out said, “oh my gosh, I put down so many action steps that I thought were going to be completed for December going forward, and it was just overload for the teaching staff. So we did two of them and we are now absorbing and implementing – and so what great learning!” That’s the exact kind of reflection that we want from contractors: thinking about how you’re planning, what you want to do, and how it went, and how you are going to do next year. Thank you for all your reflections on your program action plan.

A really nice little summary slide here: whether we’re talking to teachers at the classroom level, site supervisors at the program level, you are basically asking yourself three questions: where are you now – looking at DRDP assessment, that date is going to tell you “here is where I am”; where are you trying to go – I’m thinking the foundations – they are going to tell you for our young children where are they going, and that little road map on their development, their trajectories are in the foundations; and then how can I get there? The plan is how. What are my action steps? This is our frameworks saying here are some ideas, so for you to be thoughtful and intentional about how to get to where the goal is.

So here is a list of resources and websites that may be helpful to you that I’ve probably referenced throughout the webinar today, and some contact information. At the bottom are the field services consultants, if you don’t have your assignments listed at that link. I think that many of you have had back-and-forth conversations with your field services consultants over the last several months about your Program Self-Evaluations, so I think that some of this information that we’ve just gone through today is good foundational information that gives you kind of the big structure, and now you’re going to be able to continue with those individual conversations about your Program Self-Evaluations with your field services consultants.

So Greg has been madly typing. I’ve heard his little keyboard over here clicking away. Before we close, I’m going to ask Greg if you have any highlights, any questions that have been come in that you think need clarification.

Greg Hudson: A couple of people have asked where they can get copies of the slides. I’ve typed in that they will be available online. If you have any more information about that, that would be helpful.

Desiree Soto: Yes. We said in the very beginning that in the next couple of days, once we have this presentation posted on our website we will send out the link to where you can access that through our listserv. So the same way that you found about this webinar is the same place that will find out where it is posted. Anything else other than that?

Greg Hudson: No.

Desiree Soto: We really appreciate that you logged in today and listened, and hope that you found it helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact your field services consultant. Thank you very much.

Webinar ends.

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Questions:   Child Development Division | 916-322-6233
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