March Newsletter

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                    News & Resources from the Office of Early Learning
                                                 March 2014 Issue


Message From Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

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I want to thank all of you for such great support during my first six months in this job in the Office of Early Learning. There is no place I would rather be.  Earlier in the month, the President released the FY 2015 Budget request and made good on his promise to continue to hold quality early learning a high-priority of this administration.  The new budget request includes increases for Head Start, Child Care, and programs for young children with disabilities.  And there is a renewed commitment to the proposed state-federal partnership to ensure that all four-year olds have access to high-quality preschool. 

Secretary Duncan also continues the drum beat for early learning and Preschool for All.  Friday, he spoke at Montessori and Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) programs to highlight the Department’s commitment to get this done. And over a week ago he spoke to the National Governor’s Association telling them the Top Ten List for Why the Expansion of High-Quality Early Learning is Inevitable.  It is inevitable because of your work!

The FY 2015 Budget  asks for $75 billion in a state-federal partnership to fund voluntary, high-quality preschool for all four-year olds from low- to moderate-income families - with incentives to extend opportunities for all families - over ten years. Under Preschool for All, ED would allocate dollars to all states that want to participate, based on their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families. Funds would be distributed to local school districts and other community-based providers in partnership with school districts to implement preschool services that meet high-quality benchmarks.  The new budget also asks for a doubling of the FY 2014 funding level for Preschool Development Grants to $500 million.  Eligible grantees again will include States, but also districts and local government entities.

Even while focusing on the bigger initiatives, both ED and HHS are making sure we reach as many children as we can with the current resources.  While HHS is busy developing the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships program, we have been working together to read through your 480 comments from our first Preschool Development Grants Homeroom Blog. Our second posting on a dedicated website included some targeted questions for which we also received comments. And we got some good input at a public meeting to get even more great ideas. Once the initial input from the field is collected and reviewed, we will draft an executive summary and post it for additional feedback.  These comments will, in turn, inform the final Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), which we hope to have “on the street” by late summer.

My good friend, Linda K. Smith at the Administration for Children and Families (HHS) and I continue working together to provide support to states and local communities in ensuring more high-quality early learning opportunities for all our children.  Thank you for joining us in that effort.


PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL

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The President's Budget:  Early Learning.   Fifty adults including the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Representative Jim Moran (D-Va.) visited the newest preschool among the Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC) to observe a quality bilingual program in action and to discuss President Obama’s newly released budget request for Fiscal Year 2015.


For information regarding Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge states and the FY 11 Scopes of Work, please click here. 


RTT-ELC PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT

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llinois RTT-ELC Office of Early Childhood Development 

To support strong coordination activities at the community level, the State of Illinois has engaged with and funded the development of a strong network of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) whose work is coordinated through the Illinois Network of Child Care and Resource Referral Agencies (INCCRRA). The CCR&Rs serve as regional hubs through which families are connected to high quality child care resources, and practitioners receive training, technical assistance and other resources focused on program quality enhancements and core competencies.

As a part of their goal to promote access to high quality Early Learning and Development programs for children with high needs, the Illinois grantee team, through their Office of Early Childhood Development (OECD) , has worked closely with the CCR&Rs INCCRRA to strengthen an array of resources and supports for early learning programs. Some of those resources include: Gateway to Opportunities Professional Registry,which now totals 60,000 registrants; Quality Specialists that offer coaching and guidance to program leaders in developing and implementing continuous quality improvement plans, Technical Assistance Specialists in the areas of Mental Health Consultants, Infant-Toddler Consultants, and Nurse Consultants; Gateways to Opportunities Scholarships covering tuition and fees for practitioners to take advantage of professional development opportunities; Accreditation Support; and the development of a “toolkit” of strategies for programs seeking to engage multi-need families.

Illinois has also partnered with the Ounce of Prevention Fund to create the Illinois Birth To Three Institute that provides training for home visiting practitioners, and The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning The Center:  Resources for Teaching and Learning  to provide training to Preschool for All programs. All of these training and TA providers work closely with OECD and the state agencies to jointly plan and coordinate services to maximize supports to providers in the field.


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Framework for Comprehensive Assessment Systems:  Where is Your State on the Path to Developing a Comprehensive Assessment System?

The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program hosted a webinar on February 25, 2014.  This was the first webinar in a series scheduled to occur on a bimonthly basis schedule through August 2014.  This presentation provided a broad-based overview of comprehensive assessment systems.  Two grantee states, Ohio and California, participated in the webinar and provided information on the assessment framework of their respective systems.  Ohio focused on their work with Maryland and the joint development of an early childhood assessment tool.  California focused on the implementation of the state developed assessment tool – Desired Results.  Each state also included information on the professional development strategies they are using to support practitioners.  A recording of the presentation is available.  If you have questions, please contact Kenley Branscome at ken.branscome@elcta.org.


EARLY LEARNING AT ED

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Coordinated  by South Bay Community Services, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood (CVPromise) brings together a collaboration of partners focused on family, education, health and community to inspire all children in the Castle Park neighborhood to achieve academic excellence and aspire to a college and career track.  What is Promise Neighborhood?


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FY 2014 Budget includes Significant Funding for Early Childhood.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, passed by Congress and signed by the President on January 17th, provides significant funding for early childhood programs.   $1.025 billion to increase Head Start, $154 million to increase Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and $250 million in new funding through the Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTT).


PARTNER AGENCY WORK

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Building the Legacy for Our Youngest Children with Disabilities

Two new modules have been released for the training curriculum on IDEA Part C. Building the Legacy for Our Youngest Children is designed to help all those involved with infants and toddlers with disabilities understand and implement Part C of IDEA 2004 and the final regulations published in 2011. The curriculum is arranged around seven themes central to IDEA Part C, with training modules beneath each theme. The seven themes are: Welcome to Early Intervention; Public Awareness Program and Child Find System; Evaluating Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities; The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP); Transition from Part C to Part B; Procedural Safeguards; and Use of Funds. 

Module 1.  Basic Steps in Early Intervention, was introduced in 2012. The two new modules are Module 8, Transition Process and Lead Agency Notification to the LEA and SEA, and Module 9, Development of the Transition Plan. These modules provide information on the transition that occurs when toddlers leave early intervention services before their third birthday and move on to other programs, settings, or services. The modules are designed to be used primarily by trainers to train others about early intervention under IDEA Part C.  Each module has a slideshow, trainers guide and handouts and activity sheets for participants. 


VOICES FROM THE FIELD

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Voices from the Field by Steven Hicks

M.A. Lucas, Executive Director, Early Care and Education Consortium

Q: How Did You Begin Your Career in Early Learning?

A: As a graduate student, I became one of the initial Head Start Trainers and worked with the Migrant Day Care program as it was called in those days. I soon became the spouse of a naval officer. This meant that we moved frequently, and I would have to be creative in establishing and sustaining my links to the early childhood field. Little did I know what exciting and varied experiences lay ahead!  Over the years, I converted an orphanage to a United Way Child Care Center for at risk children, opened three collage early learning lab schools, and then became the first early childhood professional hired to revamp Military Child Care, an hourly care program run by spouse volunteers.  What an exciting, but daunting opportunity this was to help change what was then known as the “ghetto of child care” to a nationally acknowledged “model” for the nation.  I reluctantly retired as Director of the U.S. Army, Youth and School Services System when my DC area office moved to Texas, but not for long! I am now fortunate to be serving as the Executive Director of the Early Care and Education Consortium. Our members operate more than 8200 centers serving more than 1 million children each day in all 50 states and DC.

Q: Why is early learning important for our communities and nation?

A: High-quality early learning programs with strong leaders support the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow.  On one hand, employers need child care to reduce lost workforce productivity, for example when parents have to take time away from the job due to a lack of access to affordable, quality child care. On the other hand, quality early learning opportunities help prepare our future workforce to be highly productive adults and citizens. Quality early learning opportunities for all children is a key factor underlying positive outcomes for school readiness, family support, workforce development and productivity, and national security.  Last November, the ECE Consortium and Exchange Magazine jointly conducted a national poll of the field regarding the President’s Early Learning Initiative.  More than 3500 early childhood practitioners responded that improving quality should be the priority of the federal early learning initiative. 

Q: How do you see private providers playing a role in the President’s proposal for early education?

A: My immediate short answer is through “mixed delivery”… that is the provision of early care and education services by both community providers and schools.  High quality private providers will play a critical role since they have the available capacity to immediately serve more children, and in many cases they already operate in neighborhoods where children of all social -economic backgrounds live.  I like to say our private providers are “kid ready”!  These licensed programs offer full-day, full-year services, covering the workday to help enable economic self-sufficiency for many families. High-quality community providers help ensure continuity and stability of care for children who will  benefit from these new services, while remaining in their neighborhood programs without costly transportation interruptions throughout the day. 

Q: How do you see the ECE Consortium as part of the national movement regarding early learning?

A: The ECE Consortium is working to bring “quality to scale” in an industry that generates nearly $580 billion in labor income, $69 billion in tax revenue, and provides more than 15 million jobs. We believe quality will improve when parents can make choices between public and private programs that are both required to meet high quality standards.  A “‘one-size fits all’ approach to early education fails to recognize that each child develops differently and each family has different circumstances.   ECE Consortium members serve both families who pay fees for care and those who receive child care subsidy support. New research from the Institute of Education Sciences and Frank Porter Graham show that children who participate in settings with groupings of children that are not set apart by income levels or disabilities are more successful in meeting the demands of being school ready.  Including diverse learners in the mixed delivery model could be a significant step toward closing our national achievement gap and equalizing opportunity for all children.  The ECE Consortium is proud of our leadership role in the national early learning movement. 


LINKS AND RESOURCES

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The Moment You've Been Waiting For: The President and Vice President Show Us Their Moves.   On February 27th, the First Lady kicked off the celebration of the fourth anniversary of Let's Move! To demonstrate the national scope of all the great work happening around the country, the First Lady encouraged people of all ages to show her how they move through eating more fruits and vegetables, getting physically active, or making healthy changes like planting a community garden. She asked you to Facebook it, Tweet it, and Instagram it using #LetsMove, and she told viewers that if enough people participated, the President and the Vice President would show us how they move.   From kids and families, to schools, organizations, celebrities, athletes, businesses, and other leaders,  we've seen such an incredible response to this call to actionWe are truly inspired by everyone, and thanks to all of you, we are moving our country to a healthier, new norm.


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The period of time during which individuals who are eligible to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan can enroll in a plan in the Marketplace. For coverage starting in 2014, the Open Enrollment Period is October 1, 2013–March 31, 2014. For coverage starting in 2015, the Open Enrollment Period is November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015. For more information on Heathcare.gov


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Fast Fact: Information and Resources on Developing State Policy on Kindergarten Entry Assessment

This Fast Fact provides an overview of information on Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) as well as best practices in developing them. The resource was also highlighted in a recent blog from Strategies for Children.


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Visit whatworks.ed.gov. today and download the newest version of the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0. This comprehensive guide contains detailed information about the systematic review process and the standards by which the WWC reviews studies. Previously available as a draft, this version has been finalized and includes:  Information on WWC practice guides, single study reviews, and quick reviews; reorganized, rewritten, and expanded text to reflect the decision points of the systematic review process; and  more detail on several statistical and analysis considerations reviewed by the WWC.  Download the handbook now and stay tuned for new report releases throughout the year.


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The Two Bite Club

This educational storybook introduces MyPlate to young children. Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try food from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story. The back of the book contains a MyPlate coloring page, a black certificate for the Two Bite Club, fun activity pages for kids, and Tips for Growing Healthy Eaters. Printed copies are available in English and Spanish


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 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.


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Tool Kit On Teaching and Assessing Students With Disabilities [Revised]  Provides a collection of resources, including assessment, instructional practices, behavior, and accommodations for children with disabilities. This CD-ROM includes documents written specifically for parents that include information they need