October Newsletter 2013

Subscribe to this Early Learning NewsletterEarly Learning at ED; Working to improve outcomes for all children from birth through third grade October Newsletter Heading

Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


As I celebrate one month at the Department and I want to thank all of you for your warm wishes and support.  It’s wonderful to have such an outstanding community of advocates, providers, policy makers, and other great thought-partners to help us promote high-quality early learning for all our children from birth to third grade.


My whirlwind job started with the Secretary’s Strong Start, Bright Future back-to-school bus tour throughout the Southwest where I highlighted President Obama’s proposal  at a number of early learning events in the Phoenix, Arizona area.  I spoke with tribal leaders in Scottsdale, higher education instructors at Rio College in Tempe, and career and technical education (CTE) students at East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa.  I was vividly reminded of the challenges our field faces in building a well-qualified, well-compensated early childhood workforce.  We have to do a better job of seamlessly connecting our community colleges with our four-year universities and bringing innovative approaches to building our labor force through CTE, community college-university partnerships, apprenticeships, distance learning courses, alternative certification programs, and other creative means.


Improving the quality and effectiveness of the early learning workforce is one of the three early learning objectives in the Department’s Draft Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014-2018, for which ED is currently seeking comment by October 4th.  Our Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) program also includes a focus on the development of workforce knowledge and competency frameworks and progression of credentials.  As a reminder, applications for the FY13 RTT-ELC competition are due October 16th.


We know that the quality and success of an early learning program depends upon the skills and knowledge of the adults working with the children and families. Building those skills and recruiting and retaining a professional workforce attuned to our children’s culture and language has to be a priority, especially as we look toward providing early childhood educators for the President’s Preschool for All proposal. We have a big task ahead of us, but I know we are up to it!


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ACF Details Importance of President’s Early Learning Proposal

The beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in life. Research shows that brain development is most rapid in the first years of life. Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades.

raising smart, healthy kids

A Win-Win for Children: Raising Smart, Healthy Kids

Eight early childhood and public health organizations released Raising Smart, Healthy Kids In Every State, a report that details the early childhood and health benefits of President Obama's plan to expand early education through an increase in federal tobacco taxes. Enacting this early learning proposal with an increase in federal tobacco taxes would eventually provide two million children a year with access to high-quality preschool and prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming smokers. 


White House


White House Early Learning Summit a Success

On September 18, business and not-for-profit leaders, educators, and senior White House and Department officials met at Miami-Dade College at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ Early Learning Summit to discuss early learning within the Hispanic community.  Although Hispanic children represent the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s population under age 5, less than half are enrolled in an early learning program.  Among the discussion topics were the President’s Preschool for All initiative, encouraging both the private and philanthropic sectors to increase investments, complementing federal investments, and encouraging media to dedicate resources.  (Note: Don’t miss Professor James Heckman’s video message, as well as video [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] from the summit’s proceedings.)


Ready Nation



Business Leaders Support Early Learning

 On September 23, Secretary Duncan attended the 2013 National Business Leader Summit, hosted by ReadyNation-America’s Promise Alliance and the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), in Atlanta.  He discussed with business executives and public officials the importance of investment in early learning to strengthen the economy and America’s global competitiveness.  During the summit, executives affirmed their organizations’ commitment to early learning as a national economic priority.


Early Learning at ED

Early Learning on College Campuses

To support the participation of more low-income parents in higher education, the U.S. Department of Education today awarded nearly $9.2 million to 58 postsecondary institutions to establish or support campus-based child care services. Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services.


Children and Families

Administration for Children and Families launches new webpage on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact early childhood programs.  Beginning in 2014, 48 million uninsured Americans will have new opportunities for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace



The Food and Nutrition Service administers several programs that provide healthy food to children including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and the Special Milk Program. http://www.fns.usda.gov/child-nutrition-programs.  

Office of Child Care

The Office of Child Care (OCC) recently launched its Child Care Technical Assistance Network (CCTAN) Web site, now live at childcare.gov. The Web site is a one-stop shop for all materials from the CCTAN National Centers and features resources created by OCC’s technical assistance (TA) network on a variety of topics related to the administration of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program.

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The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) takes the research that shows which practices improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with, or at risk for, delays or disabilities and creates free products and resources to help caregivers and service providers apply these best practices in the work they do every day.  TACSEI also supports the implementation of the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children which is a tiered intervention framework of evidencebased interventions for promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children.  Resources and products from TACSEI can be found at:  http://www.challengingbehavior.org/





For information regarding Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge states and the FY11 Scopes of Work, please click here.



whats new

RTT-ELC Deadline Fast Approaching

 U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are holding a new competition and the applications are due October 16th.  Additional information can be found here.

$15 Million to Support KEAs

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded more than $15.1 million in Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAGs) to three state education agencies—North Carolina, Maryland and Texas—to develop or enhance their Kindergarten Entry Assessments.  Read the September 12th Press Release 

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W. Steven Barnett

Director of National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Principal Investigator for Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)

As a researcher your studies focus on early learning including the economic benefits of high-quality preschool. What evidence do we have about the benefits of high-quality preschool? 

We have over five decades worth of evidence that good early learning programs can substantially enhance children’s learning and development. The research base is deepest for disadvantaged children and this evidence shows that the benefits are greatest for disadvantaged children. As the broader population comes in, we have more evidence for the general population. This evidence indicates that all children can benefit from quality early learning environments. There is also an increase in evidence internationally supporting these benefits.

How do you think the President’s proposal to provide high-quality preschool for all four-year olds will help our economy?

The President’s proposal is a direct response to the problems evident in the early care and education field, which were exacerbated by the recession. There is a lack of access to quality early childhood programs, which is greatest for children from families above the poverty line. These families are above the poverty line but the cost of quality early learning programs is out of reach. The President’s proposal, focusing on the first five years, is a good started and important to the conversation regarding access to middle class families.

What do you see as the challenges to providing high-quality preschool for all?

The biggest challenge we face is building the public’s understanding of the needs for investment in early learning and development. The investment is long term and connected to bigger problems we face, which include competing in the global knowledge economy and holding down the rising cost of school failure, crime, and healthcare. We also need to build the ability of future generations to support a growing elderly population.

Closing thoughts:

I think that it’s important we make early childhood policy more evidence based. The Administration’s proposal is strongly evidence based, but there are many details of policy. It is difficult to make evidence based policy when there is not enough evidence. We need government support to build a knowledge base to integrate at all levels. Policymakers need the evidence based research in order to provide evidence based policy and continue the work towards quality early learning and development environments.  

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Massachusetts Map


Funding from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant has allowed Massachusetts an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate early childhood education so that the states’ children have access to high quality birth to grade three education and experiences that will put them on an early path to school success and productive citizenship. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the RTT-ELC lead agency, has prioritized its work into five strategic areas of Program Quality, Educator Quality, Screening and Assessments, Family and Community Engagement and Infrastructure. For more information, please see Massachusetts’s Annual Performance Review or the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

Ed Pubs logo

The ED Pubs web site is intended to help you identify and order U.S. Department of Education products. All publications are provided at no cost (including shipping) to the general public by the U.S. Department of Education.  A new publication, Strong Start, Bright Future: Helping Your Child Succeed in School, highlights early learning.  This bilingual Spanish/English publication for parents and families has been designed to provide parents with the latest research and practical information to help them support their children and ensure their children’s success in school and in life. Further, it builds upon the idea that all children benefit from quality early learning programs and effective preschool experiences


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 The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) has published a new resource Directory of State Early Learning Contacts for all the states and territories as a service to the field.


The What Works Clearing House (WWC) reviewed the effects of First Step to Success, a 3-month school- and home-based program intended to improve educational outcomes for students in grades 1-3 with moderate to severe behavior problems. Forty-eight elementary schools across five states participated in the study that measured 10 outcomes. The research evidence for three outcomes--academic engaged time, problem behavior, and academic competence--meets WWC evidence standards with reservations.

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CLASP released a report, Better for Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies, that presents data from a recent state survey of child care subsidy, licensing, and quality enhancement policies. It provides a national picture of infant-toddler child care.  

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