News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning
February 2014 Issue
I was on the edge of my seat hoping to hear the President of these United States discuss, for the second time, the importance of early learning in his State of the Union Address. And he didn’t disappoint. I’m sure you felt the electricity that I did when President Obama challenged our country to “make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old.”
The President is not alone in encouraging legislators to do more for our youngest children. Governors Patrick (MA), Snyder (MI), Bentley (IN), Abercrombie (HI), and others have called for preschool expansion in their State of the State addresses. Lawmakers in California have proposed to expand the state’s current “Transitional Kindergarten” program to all four-year-olds, which would make it the largest voluntary, universal preschool program in the country. And local leaders are not waiting for Congress or their State leaders to act: Mayors and Council Leaders in Seattle, San Antonio, Chicago, and New York are pushing to expand preschool in their communities.
The public momentum is growing too. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that “63 percent of Americans say ensuring all children have access to preschool education should be a priority this year.” And initiatives - such as the recently announced partnership between Univision Communications Inc. and Too Small to Fail, the 140 community-strong Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Network, or the launch of Preschool Nation- are snowballing across the country. And speaking of snow, even Sochi Olympic athletes like six-time U.S. champion and freestyle skier Emily Cook are speaking up for preschool.
The omnibus spending bill that President Obama signed on January 17th clearly demonstrates that the members of Congress recognize the importance of early learning. Funding to address the severe sequestration cuts to IDEA Part C for infants, toddlers and their families, Head Start and Child Care was restored. Congress also provided $500 million for new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and $250 million to help States develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families, for which we are seeking comment on our Homeroom Blog.
Thanks to the 1200 plus people who joined us on a call where Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius expressed their appreciation for all you have done to secure these early learning funding increases and support the introduction of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act by Senator Harkin and Representatives Miller and Hanna. To date, your hard work has resulted in 98 cosponsors (96D, 2R) in the House and 27 (26D, 1I) in the Senate. And the hearings last week with both the Senate and House committees continued the momentum we see at the local, state and national levels. This is a great start and I know we will do even better so that all our children have a just and equitable start in life.
“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue every child deserves Pre-K Congress, we’re counting
--Helen Blank, Director of Child Care and Early Learning, National
Women's Law Center (NWLC)
NWLC is urging Congress to find it in their hearts
this Valentine month to provide additional early learning opportunities for our
youngest and most vulnerable Americans. NWLC points out that only about half of
all three- and four-year olds in the U.S. are enrolled in public or private
preschool programs. Children from low- to moderate-income families are less
likely to be enrolled in high-quality programs than children from higher-income
families. The Strong Start for America's Children Act creates new partnerships between states and the federal government to improve and expand high-quality preschool and other early education programs.
Supporting Infants and Toddlers through
From the Washington State Department of
2014 is shaping up to be a great year for
young children in Washington.The Legislature is
pursuing improvements to our early learning system and signaling its support
for creating a high-quality early learning system that supports all children,
prioritizing our most vulnerable children. Currently, bills are under
consideration that would expand instructional time in the Early Childhood Education and
Assistance Program (ECEAP), and better integrate ECEAP and the Working Connections Child
Care subsidy program under Early Achievers Early Achievers as the quality framework.
With all the focus on preschool-aged
children in early learning, Washington leaders have been wise to continue
ensuring infants and toddler are well-served. After all, those first three
years of life are an unparalleled time of brain growth.
The quality of
care in the infant and toddler classrooms is often the lowest, and we want to
better support these classrooms through Early Achievers. Ensuring a strong
alignment with the consultation work that’s been build through the
infant/toddler initiative will help promote quality improvements for infant and
toddler classrooms across Washington.
information regarding Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge states and the FY11 Scopes of Work, please click here.
4, 2014, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland
to announce major progress on the ConnectED initiative,
designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED
empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of
it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital
content. In 2012, NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning published
statement on technology and interactive media
use in early childhood programs.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 passed
by Congress and signed by President Obama had a 4.5% increase for the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C
infants and toddlers with disabilities
program. The $18.845 million dollar increase brings the total funding for
IDEA, Part C to $438,498 million. The IDEA, Part C program provides
formula grants to States to implement a comprehensive, coordinated, statewide
system that provides early intervention services to children with disabilities
or at risk for disabilities from birth through age 2 and their families.
State Advisory Councils Sneak Peak
ACF is in the process of
writing up a final report to describe SAC planning grant accomplishments and
deliverables to be published later in 2014. See the SAC
Progress Report ACF published earlier this year.
A new graphic
highlights a few examples of State Advisory Councils’ efforts to advance early
childhood systems beyond the legislative mandates.
Some of the highlights reported
by 49 Councils in A Snapshot of State Advisory Councils questionnaire
67% SACs that changed CCDF
priorities or indicate a potential change as a result of Needs Assessment.
80% SACs in states where
child care and Early Head Start partnerships already exist.
90% SACs with Home Visiting
or MIECHV program engagement.
41% SACs that influenced
state legislative changes.
62% SACs that completed a
workforce study or survey.
71% SACs with governor’s
office represented at SAC meetings.
Interview with Director of Child Care and
Early Learning Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center
By Steven Hicks
Q: How long have you worked on early
A: Well, I’ve worked over 30
years for families and children, beginning with anti-hunger campaigns with the National
Child Nutrition Project. After a stint working on child welfare
legislation at the Child Welfare League, I started at the Children’s Defense
Fund in 1978 where I began working on early childhood issues. I have used
multiple strategies to ensure that low-income children and their parents have
access to child care and early learning opportunities that meet their
needs. Given the growth in the low-wage workforce that faces more and
more unpredictable and non-traditional hour schedules, this is a complex task.
Q: What is pushing this momentum
A: One of the drivers is children and
moms. The intent of early learning programs is to provide a strong start for
children. I fully support pre-k as an essential building block to school
success along with high-quality early learning opportunities for infants and
toddlers. Another driver is the importance of a strong start for
children to our current and future economy. The President’s given us an
outstanding charge and is asking us to deliver. Access to high-quality
preschool benefits children and parents. It is important to ensure that
children especially low-income children have a high-quality early learning
experience and to provide their families with the supports they need to work. A
full school day for pre-k can help to do this.
Q: Do you think Congress will pass
the Strong Start Act?
A: Strong Start will
pass. It took over a three-year effort to enact federal child care
legislation in 1990. This is even a more challenging time. RTT-ELC
helped, but Strong Start changed the conversation. The President ignited the
debate. There were polls, news articles, and a social media explosion after he
talked about his pre-k proposal in his 2013 SOTU – much of it in support of
pre-k. Both coasts are activated and in the middle of the country too.
The President’s proposal is the subject of conversation everywhere. Advocates
have really come together. The current hearings are part of going through the
process –we’ll see more clearly what the challenges are. The research is
solidly behind this.
Q: The Obama administration has
proposed a tobacco tax to fund Preschool for All. Is that the right-?
A: Yes. I’m unabashedly for it,
our report showed that an increase in federal tobacco taxes would provide
millions of children with high-quality early education, and discourage over a
million young children today from becoming adult smokers. It would also create
a disincentive for their parents to smoke. . It’s a two-fer. Cigarette taxes
have been successful in California, Arizona, and other places around the
country as a funding mechanism for early childhood.
Q: What’s happening outside of
A: Pre-k has gone viral in local
communities. San Antonio has extended its investment in preschool. Seattle is
considering a new ballot initiative. The mayor of New York is committed to
universal pre-k for all four-year olds and the Governor has increased his
proposal to expand prekindergarten. In Boston, they’re maximizing their use of
Title I funds for pre-k. But for all our children to have a strong start, it
will involve a state-federal partnership. States can’t do it alone,
either to reach all the children who need it or guarantee the highest quality.
The federal government can help provide equity in access to high-quality pre-k.
Many states have had longstanding investments in pre-k, and a few have
universally available programs. Now the federal government needs to
jumpstart efforts to strengthen the quality of pre-k and expand access to pre-k
in all states. Over time, more states may include the financing as a part
of their school funding formula, with mixed delivery systems that allow
programs to be offered in schools as well as in child care centers and other
Q: What’s the right approach?
A: Everybody should have
preschool to make it most successful. Middle-income families have a hard
time. They often cannot afford high-quality child care and early learning
programs without help. Pre-k offers an opportunity to reach these children. We
should focus on serving poor kids first, but we should ultimately work toward
enabling all families to have access. We need to develop broad, long-term
support for preschool, and give all our children the opportunity to succeed.
Have you visited CEELO's website www.ceelo.org recently? There you will find new resources
posted weekly under
Selected Resources Selected Resources. Also, check
Ceelo Products regularly. Newly posted there, under the Policy
Briefs tab is the Executive Summary Executive
Summary of Building Capacity
Through an Early Education Leadership Academy (Full
Report) by Stacie G. Goffin,
EdD. Beneath the Fast Facts tab
you will find recent short information briefs, including: Information and
Resources on Developing State Policy on
Entry Assessment (KEA) --This Fast Fact provides information about KEA
measures used by other states, the processes states have used to develop their
KEA state policy, and how states are supporting the training and professional
development of practitioners and administrators in various settings.
New America Foundation-Subprime
Education: Early Education in
American since the Great Recession
compares indicators from birth to eight-years old since 2009 to provide an idea
of where the US education system currently is today. The study found that as a
result of the financial crash of 2009, many children experienced subprime
learning. Former top Education Department officials Jacqueline Jones and Joan
Lombardi say much progress has been made, but challenges lie ahead. The two
former Obama administration officials respond to New America's Subprime Learning report
with their thoughts on the state of early education.
The Foundation for Early
Learning is a
non-profit organization that supports the learning of children, birth through age five. The
states that one of every three children entering kindergarten is not prepared
Early Childhood Centers
LISC Community Investment Collaborative for Kids created this guide
in an attempt to spread green design to early childhood classrooms and inform
teachers of how they can bring environmentally friendly practices into their
classrooms while complying with state safety codes.
Although federal and state agencies fund an array of early care and
education (ECE) services and collect data documenting those services, a report released today found that most states
could do much more to link this data to guide decision-making for programs
serving young children.
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.
Early Beginnings: Early Literacy Knowledge and
This guide provides information
to help early childhood teachers, administrators, supervisors, and professional
development providers with the support and training needed to increase their
knowledge base and refine current literacy practice.