It's a Boy

Office of Early Learning August Newsletter 2015 

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Message from the Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett


It’s a Boy!

We added a fourth grandchild, to our family.  My main job was not to care for him who was very sleepy and always hungry for his mom, but to care for just-turning-five big sister. The gulf, or canyon, between their developments is dramatic.  She was literally bossing me around while we hunted for worms and painted pictures for baby brother.  He was just getting used to the light and living outside the womb.    You could almost see the neurons firing and connecting as each family member held him and looked into his eyes. With each baby I am reminded about the importance of the first five years of life.

Our family is lucky.  Our grandson and many other children from families with resources will get the family support and the early education foundation they need to be successful in school and throughout their lives. But sadly, despite our great wealth as a nation, not all children in America will have these opportunities. 

According to the newly released 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation, one in five children in the United States is living in poverty.   Children raised in low-income families have less access than their higher-income peers to quality early learning experiences all along the birth to five continuum. Nationally, 54% of three and four-year olds – 4.4 million children – are not attending preschool; for Latino children that number rises to 63%.

Four of our Congressional leaders – Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander, ranking Democrat Patty Murray, House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, and ranking Democrat Bobby Scott – have are now reconciling the House- and Senate-passed Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bills. While the Senate’s version is far from perfect, I'm pleased that it includes a provision to expand access to high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate income families. At the same time, Congress is also considering cutting funding for the Preschool Development Grant program next year, eliminating the early learning opportunities for tens of thousands of disadvantaged children.  I hope that our elected representatives, who are back in their districts for August recess, will be take some time to think about the importance of providing working families with the resources and supports they need for their children to thrive. 

My grandchildren will be fine, but I worry about the others.  They are not other people’s children.  As the President reminds us, “They are all our children.”

Voices From the Field


Interview with Katie Hamm

Director, Early Childhood Policy, Center for American Progress (CAP)

by Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks


Katie Hamm is the Director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, Katie worked as a program examiner at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, on federal child care and early education programs. She also worked on international issues in early childhood while on detail to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD. Read the full interview here.

Preschool Development Grants

Illinois flag

Through the opportunity of Illinois’ Preschool Development Grant, Illinois proposes to expand existing preschool opportunities through its new “More at Four” program, and expand access to high quality preschool to an additional 13,760 children through the end of 2018. In expanding current services, More at Four looks to partner with community supports as well as a state university to support alignment and integration of a pipeline of quality services from birth through early education. Read about Illinois and the other Preschool Development Grant states here.

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

new jersey map

New Jersey RTT-ELC Building Their Pathway to Support Their Birth to Age Eight Initiative

Through a series of RTT-ELC projects, NJ has focused state and local energies to build a system of services that supports their Birth to Age Eight efforts. Key initiatives include:

Aligning State Standards from Birth to Age Eight:  Developing uniform and equitable birth to grade three standards that are vertically and horizontally aligned and training staff throughout the State

Developing best practice guidelines for 1st through 3rd grade:  Developing guidelines that are aligned to State standards and are academically rigorous, age-appropriate, and inclusive of supports for teachers and administrators.

New Jersey KEA (NJKEA):   Focusing on teaching practices, leveraging the Kindergarten Seminar professional development structure to situate the KEA tool (TS GOLD) into the current structure of kindergarten classrooms and fusing academic rigor with developmentally appropriate practices. 

Technical Assistance


On July 15–17, early childhood stakeholders from around the country gathered in National Harbor, Maryland, for the 2015 QRIS National Meeting: Higher Ground - Taking Quality to Scale. ELC TA presented three breakout sessions at the conference:

·         Mindfulness in the Face of Complexity: Innovations to Strengthen and Simplify QRIS Monitoring (#158)

·         National Resources and State Examples to Support Early Learning Sustainability Planning (#240)

·         State-Funded Preschool Programs in QRIS – Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies (How to Train Your Dragon) (#188)


Approaches to State Pre-K Eligibility Policy: Considerations for Policymakers Webinar reviews key findings from a recent policy report by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes that provides information on state-funded pre-K program eligibility policies and considerations for policymakers as they review or revise eligibility to balance accountability and increase access for high needs children. 

·         The Common Thread: Crafting a Coherent Accountability System Focused on Great Teaching addresses key questions and shared innovations and key resources from states in a learning table focused on teacher quality.

 ·         Making Informed Decisions: An Administrator’s Guide to Understanding Early Education Research unpacks what research tells us around selected issues in early childhood education such as what makes an effective early learning program, essential elements of high quality pre-K, retention, teacher qualifications, and administrator qualifications. 

·         Making PreK-3rd Grade Assessments Matter was  presented at the National Association of Elementary School Principals Conference in Long Beach, CA on June 30th as part of a strand of sessions to highlight NAESP’s initiative to build the leadership capacity of their members in early childhood education, based on their recent publication Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice.

 ·         School-Community Partnerships for Early Learning Success chronicles the benefits and challenges of school-community partnerships, offers ingredients for success, and identifies responsibilities of principals and administrators. 

·         Using Technology in Early Childhood Classrooms provides resources and information about using technology in early education classrooms. It highlights issues to consider when introducing new tools, media, and devices, so that educators and policymakers can make informed decisions about using such resources, and preparing teachers and care providers to do so.

Early Learning at ED


Child Outcomes in Early Intervention

Recently, States received their Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C Determinations letters.  These letters, issued by the Department after careful review of States’ annual performance reports and other data, specify how well each State’s early intervention program meets the requirements and purposes of Part C of the IDEA.  For the first time, the Department’s IDEA Part C Determinations include consideration of each State’s Child Outcomes data, which measure how children who receive IDEA

Part C services are improving functioning in three outcome areas that are critical to school readiness:  Positive social-emotional skills; acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication); and use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.  This process of including child outcomes as a determination factor is part of the Office of Special Education Program’s Results Driven Accountability Framework.  This framework is designed to hold states accountable for compliance and child performance related to IDEA.  For more information about child outcomes, please visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center Website.

International News

bernard van leer

New Early Childhood Matters Publication -- A Good Start: Advances in Early Childhood Development

A special issue of Early Childhood Matters, A good start: advances in early childhood development, marks the 50th anniversary of the Bernard van Leer Foundation's first grant in early childhood. Guest-edited by Joan Lombardi, it includes contributions from experts on a range of subjects including brain science, nutrition, home visiting, parent support, pre-primary, fatherhood, emergency contexts, and children with disabilities, measurement and leadership.

Federal Agencies at Work


Reducing Suspension and Expulsion Practices in Early Childhood Settings

Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions regularly occur in preschool settings. This is a problematic issue given the well-established research indicating that these practices can influence a number of adverse outcomes across development, health, and education.  Read more here.

Where’s baby?  Look Before You Lock.

Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes.

That’s why the Administration for Children and Families has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.  Read more here.

baby in car seat


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.  Vacciniations according to the CDC's recommended immunization schedule are safe, proven disease proctection.  Find our more at

Research and Reports

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How to Elevate QRIS Communications

Thirty-nine states have adopted quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) to rate and support child care and education providers and centers serving children birth to age five. Communications plays a critical role in engaging providers, parents, partners, policymakers, and the public in QRIS. This new report provides examples of what some states are doing to market their QRIS, and recommendations for other states.

wildlife logo

The National Wildlife Federation, like many green school organizations, encourages outdoor learning via school gardens and habitat areas.  Between Eco Schools USA program and Schoolyard Habitats® they are active in 8,400 U.S. schools.  A literature survey  summarizes 48 studies of the various effects of school gardens on learning and other outcomes. 

In Pre-K and Charter Schools: Where State Policies Create Barriers to Collaboration, authors Sara Mead and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel examine thirty-six jurisdictions that have both charter schools and state-funded pre-K programs to determine where charters can provide state-funded pre-K.


Resources You Can Use


Family Engagement

Consistent with the belief that parents are children’s first and most important teachers, NBCDI relies on a definition of family engagement that views it as a “systemic and sustained commitment that occurs across time, spans many settings, and requires shared responsibility from all parties.” Read more about Family Engagement.

head start

In celebration of the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year and the 50th year of Head Start, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) is encouraging parents, teachers, directors, and members of Congress to celebrate Head Start’s First Day. As kids go back to school, Head Start programs across the country will be spreading awareness about the impact of Head Start by sharing first day activities on social media. NHSA encourages our partners in the early learning community to join us in kicking off the new school year by sharing how Head Start is preparing children for kindergarten.


Leadership in Early Education

NIEER is featuring a blog forum on Leadership in Early Education. Their first post was on Leadership in the Birth-3rd-grade Continuum, from The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub. Readers are invited to follow NIEER for the next few weeks, and weigh in with comments and opinions, as they explore this issue from a range of perspectives.

Monthly Multimedia


18 Month’s:  Age at Which Disparities in Vocabulary Begin to Appear

Early experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years can have lasting impact on later success in school and life.  Read more here.


The California Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Competencies describe the knowledge, skills and dispositions that early childhood educators need in order to provide high quality care and education to young children and their families. New videos accompanying the 12 Competencies can be found here.  Read more here.

Last Word


The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, in close partnership with Too Small to Fail, have created “Talk, Read, and Sing Together Every Day” tip sheets.  These resources can help enrich a child’s early language experiences by providing research-based tips for talking, reading, and singing with young children every day, beginning from birth.  All tip sheets are available in English and Spanish (blog post).

scholastic logo

Book lists are an excellent time-saving solution. This collection is designed to accommodate every grade level; the book lists are organized by specific topics, units, authors, and themes.  Read the list SCHOLASTIC has to offer.


Even our youngest early learners, enjoyed reading this summer.   The granddaughter of Preschool Development Grants team lead, Rebecca Merek has her own summer reading list.  She loves her books.