Heartfelt Thanks

Office of Early Learning December Newsletter 2016 

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Message from Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett

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I want to take this opportunity between the Thanksgiving and the New Year holidays -- and near the end of my term at ED -- to say THANKS. I myself am so thankful for each of you and the work you do every day to improve the lives of our nation’s youngest children and their families. Sometime this work is very rewarding. Funding falls in place and the implementors take off with few mistakes or problems. Other times this work can be frustrating: elected officials don’t see the value of programs for young children or refuse to find the funding in tight state or local budgets. Other times, those working to put programs in place hit one bump after another.  But each of you trudge on through the good and bad times because we all know that we must fight for every child. If we miss helping an infant, the next year she is a toddler, then a three year old, and soon enters kindergarten behind her peers. The first five years fly by quickly, and we know the loss of opportunity may be irreversible if we don’t act.

I want to thank the staff at ED and HHS for the amazing work they have done. We were fortunate to have had the best of circumstances: a President, two Secretaries of Education, and two Secretaries of Health and Human Services who value our work. We also have had a whole team of lawyers, researchers, budget and policy analysts, congressional affairs experts, and P-12 experts to back us up. But the day to day work was done by a small team from ED and HHS who helped us get the money out the door; provided technical assistance and savvy advice to states each day; and supported me, each other and you. I am thankful for each of them.

I also want to acknowledge our partners at Applied Engineering Management (AEM) and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), who make sure every state is respectfully asked what help they need and then provided that technical assistance (TA) in a creative and effective way. We were fortunate to get some of our country’s best experts to serve as your TA providers. I think the results speak for themselves. In fact the most recent example of the quality of their work was the wonderful grantee meeting that many of you attended.

And there are two people I owe a particular thank you to: Linda Smith and Steven Hicks. Linda as my counterpart at HHS has a hug portfolio overseeing all of child care and Head Start. She is a class act and one of the smartest people I know. While we didn’t always agree on everything, we always ended up on the same page, and I always felt I had her support. We were always able to come to agreement because we both valued the children more than the policy.

And as most of you know Steven Hicks has been my right and left hand for the past three and a half years. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to do this work if Steven hadn’t pushed my name forward. And I wouldn’t have been able to do the work if he hadn’t picked up the pieces I dropped along the way and suggested directions we needed to go. Steven is a multi-talented person who is always in a good mood and has a wicked sense of humor. So no matter the challenge we faced it with a laugh!

I hope each of you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends and come back refreshed and ready to face the challenges we have ahead. In my next and final letter in January, I will touch on those challenges and reflect on what we have accomplished together.

Voice From the Field

Susan Manning

Voice from the Field: Susan Perry-Manning

“I think some of the biggest challenges that remain for the next administration going forward is how are we going to – at scale – address affordability of high-quality early learning for all families.”

Interview with Susan Perry-Manning

Executive Director, Early Care and Education Consortium

by Senior Policy Advisor Steven Hicks

Susan Perry-Manning assumed the role of Executive Director for the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) in October 2016. ECEC is a national non-profit alliance of the leading site providers, key state child care associations, and educational services providers across the country advocating for strong federal and state policies that bring quality to scale and support families and children from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Prior to this role, Susan served as Executive Director for the state of Delaware Office of Early Learning – working with public and private partners across Delaware to create, fund, coordinate and implement the state’s early learning services and policies. Read more here.

Preschool Development Grants

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Spotlight on Connecticut Family Engagement Program

The Preschool Development Grant (PDG)programs in Connecticut benefit from a strong family engagement focus. A Family Engagement Project Manager works with subgrantees to design meaningful, culturally appropriate approaches and practices through 13 localized family engagement teams. Guiding principles that assure community-specific, strength-based and family-centered practices, linked to learning, form the foundation for teams’ efforts. Local teams, supported by the Project Manager, identify strategies and promising practices for and recruitment of eligible children, issues of inclusion for children with disabilities and supporting a seamless birth-to-third grade continuum to promote smooth transitions for children and families.

RTT-ELC:  Program Spotlight

Georgia hightlight

Georgia – Quality Rated Child Care

Finding the right child care or preschool is so important, and families want useful, reliable tools that help them make the best choices for their child. With that in mind, using their Early Learning Challenge funds, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) revamped the state’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System, Quality Rated, and improved the functionality of the online child care search tool.  DECAL launched a statewide public relations campaign to spread the word about Quality Rated and the way it supports children and families and strengthens the overall education pipeline for Georgia.

Technical Assistance


Watch for Preschool Development Grant’s December Newsletter

Inclusion is the focus of  PDG's December Newsletter. This quarterly issue features articles on the resources and strategies for including children with special needs in preschool classrooms. The newsletter highlights the work Illinois is doing to support children and families with special needs and summarizes Preschool Development Grant states’ efforts in this area.

Preschool Development Grant Community of Practice Webinars

Visit PDG’s Community of Practice webpages to watch the fall’s archived webinars. View: A Deeper Dive into the Dual Language Toolkit; and Supporting Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness, Part II to hear what experts have to share about these topics. 


2016 Annual Meeting of RTT-ELC Grantees

The 2016 Annual Grantee Meeting  of the RTT-ELC and Preschool Development Grantees was held on November 16-18, 2016, in Arlington, VA. The theme of the 2016 meeting was Leading Change for Equity and Excellence. Over 240 participants attended the meeting, which included representative teams from all eleven Phase 2 and Phase 3 RTT-ELC States, as well as representatives from six Phase 1 RTT-ELC States.


A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education. This resource summarizes what we know about racial and economic diversity in Head Start and state pre-K classrooms, discusses how diversity and quality are linked, and recommends steps policymakers can take to increase diversity in preschool classrooms. 

Developing a Comprehensive State Plan Pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Supplemental Tool for Structuring Your Plan for Preschool to Third Grade is intended to encourage states in moving beyond the traditional compliance-oriented approaches for responding to federal requirements. Rather, developing ESSA state plans can serve as an opportunity for chiefs to frame their work within an overall vision for education and demonstrate how different components in that system are part of a coherent approach toward achieving the overall goals of success in college, career, and life. Untangling the Terms and Skills Related to Executive Function and Self-Regulation in Early Childhood outlines key differences and similarities among various executive function and other regulation-related skills in research. The purpose of the framework is to help stakeholders in early learning and child development consider and articulate research, program, and policy recommendations regarding executive function and other regulation-related skills with more accuracy and transparency.

Early Learning at ED

IDEA logo

The Center on Technology and Disability funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), hosted the Technology Solutions for Early Childhood...The Future is NOW Symposium which brought together thought leaders, researchers and practitioners in early childhood development and assistive technology (AT). Participants learned about evidence-based practices, current research, and ways in which families are successfully using technology to support the developmental and learning needs of their children

ED Seal

ED and HHS Award $247.4M in Preschool Grants to 18 States

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. announced that 18 states will receive $247.4 million for their third year funding awards under the Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services jointly-administered Preschool Development Grant program to continue their work in expanding access to high-quality preschool. King visited an inclusive Preschool Development Grant program in Baltimore, Md., to see first hand how early education is preparing our most vulnerable children for success in school and beyond. King also announced that release of the Preschool Development Grants Annual Progress Report and 18 individual state reports, which detail how states are meeting the high-quality standards and improving access for our country's children from low- to moderate-income families.

Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report from ED and HHS

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) announced the release of a report that will help states refine their capacity to use existing administrative data from early childhood programs to improve services for young children and families. The report covers key considerations when states integrate data and highlights progress in eight states that are actively developing and using early childhood integrated data systems (ECIDS). The report discusses technical assistance and other resources available to states as they develop their ECIDS.

 The Integration of Early Childhood Data (PDF, 1.5MB)

IES Logo

IES Announces New Executive Function Research Paper

The Institute of Education Sciences released a paper, which provides a selective overview of recent research on executive function and explores its implications on education practice and research. This paper, entitled Executive Function: Implications for Education, was sponsored by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).

International News

The World Bank Logo

Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation, Early Childhood Development in the Middle East and North Africa

The report fills a critical research gap by providing the first comprehensive analysis of the state of early childhood development (ECD) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). 

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Working on early childhood development in Mali

An evaluation measuring the impact of daily micronutrient supplements combined with parent education on children’s development is underway. (Photo by:  Curt Carnemark / World Bank)

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Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Type of Care by Household Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Child Age

ECE programs, especially those that are high quality and center-based, have been shown to promote school readiness and early achievement for children in low-income families. Several studies have shown that low-income Hispanic parents, especially those who are foreign-born, are less likely than other parents to access some types of ECE services, particularly center-based arrangements.  Read more here.

Early Learning in the News

The World Bank

Washington, D.C.— At a groundbreaking summit at the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings, nine countries today pledged to make a range of major investments designed to dramatically reduce childhood stunting and equip tens of millions of young children with the abilities they need to succeed in a fast changing world. Today’s commitments are expected to help create future economic growth by preparing people – in the early years -- for the jobs of the future.  Read more here.

World Bank Pic


Less than half of Maryland kindergartners ready for school

Only 43 percent of Maryland’s youngest students were ready for kindergarten when they entered school this August, according to state test results.  The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, given this past year to a sample of children in most school districts, showed that 51 percent of Carroll County students demonstrated skills they needed, the highest performance in the Baltimore region.  Read more here.

Research, Studies and Reports

Health Medicine Network

Arts programming may help lower stress in economically disadvantaged preschoolers.

Previous research has determined that poverty can harm children’s educational, social-emotional, and physical health, in part by damaging the bodily systems that respond to the chronically high levels of stress that children in poverty are more likely to experience. A new study has found that intensive arts programs–music, dance, and visual arts–may address this phenomenon by lowering the stress levels of economically disadvantaged preschoolers, as measured through cortisol.  Read more here.

Education Commission

K-3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the early years count

The early elementary years are when children best acquire the academic and non-academic skills on which long-lasting educational success depends. As a result, experts argue that meaningful improvements in student academic outcomes depend on improving the kindergarten through third-grade (K-3) continuum.  This new special report from Education Commission of the States, K-3 Policymakers’ Guide to Action: Making the early years count, summarizes the top policy components 12 of the nation’s top content experts convened by Education Commission of the States prioritized for a high-quality K-3 system. 

New P-3 Resources from ECS

This 50-State Review explores the different methods that states use to fund both full-day and half-day kindergarten and examines the spectrum of full-day kindergarten program requirements across the country, and a 50 State comparison on quality can be found here.  This report highlights an increase in early learning programs for the fourth-straight year, and this report serves as a reference guide for policymakers, members of the media and others on the most commonly requested topics to Education Commission of the States Information Clearinghouse on early learning

Resources You Can Use

Center for American Progress

Taking Action on Early Learning: 17 Executives Actions for Governors

In this issue brief, the Center for American Progress outlines 17 nonlegislative actions that support early learning programs. While not every recommendation is appropriate or feasible in every state, all are intended to present options for state executives who are committed to taking action on this critical issue.  Read more here.

National Head Start Association Logo

In the Final Rule on Head Start, one of the significant and positive changes was the extended duration of services. Full-day programming prepares children for different types of school settings as they get older. Evidence shows that participants in full-day Head Start programs perform better in the areas of language, math, social-emotional development, and physical health when compared to their part-day peers. Additional evidence shows that nonwhite, Hispanic students in full-day kindergarten perform significantly better than their peers in a half-day program, as do full-day kindergartners who are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

New America

2017 May Be Indiana's Year for Pre-K

Abbie Lieberman and Aaron Loewenberg offer advice to help state lawmakers expand access to pre-K without sacrificing program quality.  Read more here.

Child Trends

It Matters – Early School Readiness

School readiness, a multi-dimensional concept, conveys important advantages. Children who enter school with early skills, such as a basic knowledge of math and reading, are more likely than their peers to experience later academic success, attain higher levels of education, and secure employment. Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road. Read More

Monthly Multimedia

The Center for Early Childhood Education is committed to sharing useful resources with early childhood teachers, administrators, researchers, trainers, and policymakers. The Center is developing a large archive of video footage young children, early childhood professionals engaged in teaching, and interviews with experts that can be used for specific research or training uses.  See videos here.

The Center for Early Childhood Education

Last Word

Corporal Punishment map

 Time to Retire Corporal Punishment