Bring an Umbrella

Office of Early Learning July Newsletter 2015 

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Guest Message from Special Assistant Steven Hicks

Steven Hicks

Bring an Umbrella

Derechos, which occur primarily during summer, are fast-moving thunderstorms that have the potential to be destructive and cause costly damage.  Right now, a derecho is sweeping through Washington, DC.  It’s not meteorological, but the impact could be just as devastating, and its damage will be measured in more than dollars.  Despite the surge of evidence demonstrating the benefits of investing in high-quality early learning and the huge unmet need, Congress is cutting funding for early education in next year’s budget.


This fall, in 18 states, 33,000 additional children from low- and moderate-income families will start school for the first time in high-quality early learning programs through the Preschool Development Grants, which were funded in the last Congress. However, the current budget bills proposed in the House and the Senate would eliminate the program even before any of these 4-year-olds sing at circle time, and jeopardizing opportunities for more than 100,000 children in the future.  As a former kindergarten teacher, I know how important access to high-quality preschool is to developing happy, healthy, and successful children who are ready to learn. 


Meanwhile, the clouds are gathering this week for the next storm as Congress debates the fate of our national education law: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. With this debate comes the opportunity to ensure that quality educational opportunities in this country begin before age five.    Parents, educators, business leaders, law enforcement officers, retired generals, researchers, and economists all call for greater – not fewer – investments in early learning.  Not everyone in Washington has stood up for children though, and many have remained silently complacent. For our children’s sake and the future of our country, I hope that early learning holds a prominent place in both the budget and our education law.

Voices From the Field

Celia Ayala

“I think that we as a country need to care about all of our children, not only our own children.”

Interview with Celia Ayala

Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP)

by Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks


Steven: Can you talk a little bit about how you began your career in early learning?

Celia: I grew up with lots of children around me, but I think I can recall making a difference when I was a teacher assistant at 32nd Street Elementary.  I was assisting in first and second grade classrooms, and I saw how one student did not know his ABCs. He was so limited in his language skills. His social skills were not well developed either.  I remember spending so much time working with him, and just getting him to speak and getting him to ultimately feel comfortable with who he was. I didn’t realize that I could make a difference in a child’s life.  Read the full interview here

Preschool Development Grants

Hawaiian State Flag

Hawaii’s Preschool Development Grant gives the State an opportunity to create 18 new preschool classrooms in public charter schools across the state after charter schools were left out of recent public preschool legislation. While all of Hawaii’s charter schools have a Hawaiian culture component, many are specifically focused on native Hawaiian culture or language, helping with the State’s commitment to preservation of indigenous Hawaiian culture. Helping to further ensure quality, the University of Hawaii will partner with sub-grantee schools to assist in the provision of assessment and professional development services. Read about Hawaii and the other Preschool Development Grant states here.

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

Maryland highlighted on the map


Maryland’s 24 local Early Childhood Advisory Councils are a mix of public private partners coming together to promote school readiness.  Local businesses are supporting the local councils’ efforts by funding the printing of literature, distributing literature for various family events, and to promote Pre-k enrollment.  For example, a locally owned restaurant printed a placemat with the art of a local kindergarten student to promote early literacy activities.  The placemats were given to all customers.   Read about Maryland’s RTT-ELC progress here.

Technical Assistance


National Working Meeting on Early Learning Assessment

The National Working Meeting on Early Learning Assessment was held June 6 in New Orleans. This one-day meeting provided representatives from 30 States with opportunities to discuss strategies, innovations, and challenges related to the implementation of comprehensive early learning assessment systems. It was co-hosted by ELC TA, Preschool Development Grant Technical Assistance (PDG TA), the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Governors Association (NGA). View session materials and resources.


What do we need to know about financing early childhood programs? What can we learn from what other states have done?

The Discussion Guide: State Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education Systems is intended to help state policymakers make decisions about which financing strategies are needed to support early care and education (ECE) programs in their state.  Financing Early Care and Education Annotated Bibliography of Resources identifies selected resources on financing early care and education.
Resources Developed by States and Selected Cities to Support Financing Preschool Programs identifies the tools, reports, and guidance developed by 32 states and 4 cities (Denver, San Antonio, Seattle, and New York City) to support financing of high quality preschool programs in local communities and districts.

Validating eligibility for state early childhood programs

The CEELO FastFact Examples of State Guidance to Determine and Verify Income Eligibility for Prekindergarten Programs provides examples and descriptions of how the policy works in different states. The report Approaches to State Pre-K Eligibility Policy: Considerations for Policy Makers in Revising Policy to Increase Access for High Needs Children by Megan Carolan and Lori Connors-Tadros, provides policy makers with information on state-funded pre-K programs’ eligibility policies and the common risk factors used to prioritize enrollment.

Early Learning at ED


Child Outcomes Summary Process Module

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center) are pleased to release the first three sessions of our Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process Module. This free online learning module draws from the work of the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center and is designed to help early intervention and preschool special education staff understands the Child Outcomes Summary process.

Systems Framework Self-Assessment Tool

ECTA and DaSy have released a Systems Framework Self-Assessment as a companion tool to the System Framework. Developed by DaSy and ECTA, the self-assessment is an Excel-based tool that provides a structure for state Part C and Section 619/Preschool programs to record the current status of their state system and set priorities for improvement. You can access the Self Assessment Tool on the DaSy website or on the ECTA Center website. Be sure to download both the Guidance document and the Excel tool.

New Data Privacy Web Site

The U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) has developed a new webpage that offers selected resources about privacy and data sharing with Early Childhood programs in mind.  You can access PTAC's Early Childhood Data Privacy page on their website.

International News

Association for Childhood Education International

"Love Me, Teach Me" from the Association for Childhood Education International, promotes the needs and rights of children everywhere. Four cornerstones of the effort contribute to the well-being of children and related intimately to children’s needs and rights: See Me, Hear Me, Love Me, and Teach Me, and they apply to all children, worldwide. Read more here

Federal Agencies at Work

Michael Robinson

Head Start Helps Launch Michael Robinson on Path to Ivy League

Michael Robinson, of Silver Spring, Md., is on the verge of graduating from Yale University. However, grew up in a home where his mother struggled at times to provide for him and his four siblings. Read Michael Success story jump start from Head Start to the Ivy League.


Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Obesity Facts. For example, obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity: Physical Activity and the Health of Young People

According to the CDC, schools can promote physical activity through comprehensive school physical activity programs, including recess, classroom-based physical activity, intramural physical activity clubs, interscholastic sports, and physical education. Learn more about Physical Activity Facts.

HHS Logo

Protect Your Baby with Immunization

Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their infants from 14 serious childhood diseases before age 2.  Learn more here.

Research and Reports

Center for American Progress

How the Child and Adult Care Food Program Improves Early Childhood Education

For many American families, finding high-quality, affordable child care is an impossible task. One of the many tools the nation has to support low-income families and their young children is the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP.

Baby and bottom

Emerging State and Community Strategies to Improve Infant and Toddler Services

Decades of research on brain development and outcomes from early learning interventions have clearly demonstrated that children thrive when they have consistent access to high-quality early childhood programs starting at birth or even before and continuing until they enter kindergarten.  Download the report here.

National Women's Law Center

Yes, Child Care Needs Reform — And Funding

On June 19, 2015, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education marked up a bill that would include major cuts to programs that are critical to women and their families. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) escaped without being cut—but it already falls short of meeting families’ needs.  Read more here.

Resources You Can Use

Child Mind Institute

Summer and Sensory Processing Issues: How to help kids stay comfortable in what can be over-stimulating outdoor activities

For many kids, summer vacation holds the promise of months of school-free fun. But for children with sensory processing issues, summer can be a challenging time.  Click to here find out more. 


A new sense of urgency for preschool

Steve Barnett wrote a commentary for PNC recently, outlining why preschool is a good investment, and how we can being to help states move forward with making access to high quality pre-K for all children a real opportunity.

Child Trends Logo

California’s Infants and Toddlers: Future Promise, or Missed Opportunities?

In 2050, the generation who are now California’s babies and toddlers will be leading the Golden State. This demographic profile of Californians ages zero through two highlights child care enrollment and subsidies.  Read more here.

Early Care and Education Consortium

Exemplary Public-Private Community Preschool Partnership

The Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) and the U.S. Department of Education are collaborating to highlight a series of 10 exemplary public-private community preschool partnerships in states and communities around the country. Visit ECEC’s website to learn more about New York City’s FirstStepNYC, a collocated school and community pre-K program and demonstration site for leadership in early childhood education.

national association of early childhood specialist in state department of education

The National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) held their annual meeting last month in collaboration with the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) Roundtable. Focusing on leadership, this year’s meeting theme was “Leading for Excellence: Building Key Competencies to Lead High Performing Early Learning Initiative”. The event brought together over 140 members, researchers and early childhood leaders and advocates from all over the country to discuss the latest topics, issues, and best practices that are leading the way in creating aligned birth to third grade systems in states.   Read more here.

Chelsey Clinton

CGI America: LAUP Forms New Partnership to Increase Literacy

At the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, which was held in Denver from June 8-10, LAUP presented the progress of its Take Time. Talk! Campaign, a CGI America Commitment to Action which aims to close the 30-million word gap that exists between young children of low- and high-income households.  Read more here.

Zero To Three

ZERO TO THREE has released the Infant and Toddler Messaging Guide, which shares the results of a national scan of message trends in infant and toddler advocacy.  It provides examples of messages used across the country to describe a wide range of infant and toddler issues and makes suggestions for improvement.   Read more here.

Council for Professional Recognition

The Council for Professional Recognition has recently released the latest in a series of white papers that examine key issues in the early care and education field.  Click here to read “CDA and Career and Technical High Schools as an Effective Entry into Early Care and Education.”

Too Small To Fail

Last month, Too Small to Fail hosted a webinar focused on partnering with the faith-based community to promote early literacy and learning. If you missed the webinar or would like to share it with partners, you can access a recording on our website, along with other materials. Below please find links to the following resources:

·         Recording of the “Engaging with the Faith Community” Webinar

·         Tulsa Faith Community Orientation Handbook

·         1-page Summary of GKFF’s work with churches in Tulsa

New America

In June, New America’s Early Education Initiative released, The Power of a Good Idea: How the San Francisco School District is Building a PreK-3rd Grade Bridge. This brief explores how San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is using a PreK-3rd grade approach to shrink the district’s stubborn achievement gap. Read the brief to discover how SFUSD has dealt with these challenges.

National Head Start Association

On June 16th, Head Start alumna and HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell visited a Head Start site in Chicago to announce the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the revised Head Start Program Performance Standards. One of the proposed changesis a requirement for all center-based services for 3 and 4-year-olds to provide at least 6 hours a day. NHSA's June Research Blast outlines some of the research and sparks conversations about the implementation of full-day programming.

Build Initiative

BUILD has released the fifth chapter of the E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families.  This chapter P-3 Reform in Vision and in Practice explores the growing momentum behind the emerging P-3 movement which builds and extends earlier pioneering efforts to promote continuity across the early years (0-8). The author Dr. Kate Tarrant documents some of the groundbreaking state innovations launched with Early Learning Challenge grants to build connections between early childhood and early elementary school. 

Monthly Multimedia


In Their Own Voices: The Hopes and Struggles of Responsible Fatherhood Program Participants in the Parents and Children Together Evaluation

Using information from in-depth interviews conducted as part of the Parents and Children Together Evaluation, this report describes themes and findings related to fathers’ perceptions of their roles as parents, partners, and providers.  Listen.

Last Word

Arne and student

Community Center Provides Critical Lifeline in Baltimore

Secretary Duncan joined U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith in Baltimore Monday for a series of events focused on engaging the community. Their visit comes on the heels of recent unrest in the city and focused on ways communities can keep children safe, healthy and involved in continuous learning during the summer.  Read more here.