Family Engagement in Early Learning!

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter

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March 2017: In this Issue

From Acting Assistant Secretaries Monique M. Chism, Ph.D. and Ruth Ryder

Elementary and Secondary Education | Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Hello Early Learning Leaders!

This month we're excited to discuss an incredibly important topic: family engagement! In this newsletter, we will highlight the Department's commitment to families and share a number of early learning resources designed specifically for them. 

As was affirmed in the early learning "Policy Statement on Family Engagement," strong family engagement is essential. It is central to promoting children's healthy development and wellness, including social-emotional and behavioral development; preparing them for school; seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and supporting their academic achievements in elementary school and beyond.

You will find this statement, resources outlining family engagement strategies, and early learning resources specifically designed for families, all on the Department's early learning family page. In this month's newsletter, you will also find fantastic resources developed by the Department's grantees. 

Finally, be sure to check out our interview with Kelly Bentley, a project manager for the Early Learning Challenge grant in Michigan, a state that is implementing some very innovative strategies to support family engagement in early learning. 

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to email us your feedback and ideas for our Early Learning newsletter at!

Grantee Spotlight: Center for Parent Information and Resources

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Families can learn more about how to support their young children’s education and engage with the systems that serve them by visiting the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) website. While CPIR specifically focuses on supporting families of children with disabilities, it provides a wealth of resources and links to support all families. Families can find information about their state’s parent training and information centers that can help them navigate early intervention and special education, even if they only suspect that their child may have developmental delays or disabilities. In addition, families of children receiving early intervention services and providers in early intervention systems can find specific information that supports family engagement in early intervention.  

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Early Learning Updates From ED!

National Center on Improving Literacy

We're excited to share that the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) launched its website early in February. NCIL is a partnership between literacy experts, university researchers, and technical assistance providers at the University of Oregon, Florida State University, and RMC Research Corporation. It is jointly administered by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

NCIL will provide technical assistance services to families to improve literacy outcomes for children and youths in pre-K through grade 12 with, or at risk for, literacy-related disabilities, including dyslexia. Family-focused activities will include a repository of evidence-based products and assessments; the online Kids Zone, which facilitates effective child-adult interactions for literacy development; the Ask-an-Expert tool; and NCIL's text messaging plug-in to receive text messages alerting users to new resources, events, or literacy tips. 

Stay tuned as resources for states, schools, families, and communities are rolled out in the next few months! Also be sure to follow NCIL’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, and click here to subscribe to the NCIL newsletter.

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Resources for You

Some of this month's most recommended resources!

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  • The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) has released a set of family practice guides, which are organized by several of the topics found in DEC Recommended Practices. These guides are available in print, mobile, and video formats. 

  • In February the Institute of Education Sciences' Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory Program (REL) released the four-part Report Series on Implementing Effective Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs, which (1) summarizes what is currently known about SEL for students ages 3 through 8, and (2) identifies effective SEL program characteristics. The reports contain information about federal, state, and district policies that support the implementation of SEL programs, teacher and classroom strategies that contribute to SEL, and how SEL outcomes can vary by student population.

Office of Head Start logo small
  •  The Office of Head Start has released the Best Practices in Family and Community Engagement Video Series, designed to support Head Start programs’ efforts toward systemic and integrated engagement. The seven videos in the series highlight examples of innovative approaches to engagement that foster strong relationships with families and lead to positive outcomes for children and their families.

ECTA and DaSy Center logos side-by-side

Webinar of the Month!  Join ECTA and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) on March 29, from 34 p.m. ET, for the first edition of their Engaging Families Webinar Series, "Getting to the Bottom Line of Family Engagement." Visit the webinar page for more information and registration details. 

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Recommended Research

ED's Institute of Education Sciences Shares "What Works"

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Visit the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) website, an excellent resource from the Department's Institute of Education Sciences. The site makes it easier for researchers to access information on what works in education, and expands and reorganizes the resources available to support rigorous research. On March 15, the WWC hosted a webinar to present the exciting new features of the recently redesigned site, including (1) how to search for interventions that improve a specific outcome for students in particular grades and subjects; (2) how to see the findings from the individual studies that are summarized in a WWC intervention report; and (3) how to export data from WWC reviews for your own analyses. View the webinar here.

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Voices From the Field

Kelly Bentley

Kelly Bentley, a project director for the Early Learning Challenge grant in Michigan, leads cross-agency efforts to provide high-quality early learning and development opportunities for children from birth through age 5. Bentley shares with us, in an interview available on the OSERS Blog, that family engagement is a key part of the early learning culture at Michigan's education department. Bentley commends her state's commitment to promoting meaningful and intentional family engagement in both early learning programs and the state's work in this area. 

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