Early Learning Newsletter | February 2019 | Supporting Educators to Pursue Graduate School • Understanding Early Childhood Homelessness • Promoting Early Literacy


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

Supporting Educators to Pursue Graduate School • Understanding Early Childhood Homelessness • Promoting Early Literacy

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February 2019

In This Issue:

From the Directors

Directors Laurie VanderPloeg and Annie Hsiao

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

Thank you for taking the time to read this month's Early Learning newsletter. Our "Project Spotlight" features a unique project at the University of Miami that supports educators, who thought graduate school wasn’t an option to earn their master’s degree in early childhood special education.

New from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is an updated Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles 2018. This report pulls together data from several federal agencies and provides a snapshot nationally and by state on children under the age of 6 experiencing homelessness.

Finally, for those of you interested in supporting early literacy, be sure to check out a new resource from the ED-funded National Center on Improving Literacy on phonological awareness. This resource provides useful information and strategies for families and programs. More on these resources and others can be found below.


Laurie VanderPloeg
Director, Office of Special Education Programs

Annie Hsiao
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


Project Spotlight

University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development logo

Opening Doors for Leaders in Early Childhood Special Education

Opening Doors for Leaders in Early Childhood Special Education is an OSEP-funded personnel development grant offered by the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development, Department of Teaching and Learning. The project supports a diverse group of 27 teachers from local school districts pursuing their master’s degree in early childhood special education and is designed to open doors to individuals who may not typically pursue a master’s degree because of economic barriers or lack of confidence. The scholars include personnel from Head Start, a former marine, pre-K and middle school teachers, and personnel employed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C early intervention programs. The Opening Doors project provides intensive individualized support to enhance scholars’ skills for graduate-level academic writing to achieve appropriate mastery for the master’s degree. Additionally, all scholars complete a capstone project centering on community outreach in Miami’s diverse, high-need schools or family service agencies with the goal of increasing awareness of and services for families of young children with disabilities.


Early Learning Updates from ED

Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles 2018 cover

Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles 2018

ED recently published Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles 2018. This report updates the annual Early Childhood Homelessness State Profiles and provides a snapshot of early childhood data available for young, homeless children in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It includes publicly available data for 2015–2016 from ED, the U.S. Census Bureau (Census), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. National findings outlined in the report include the following:

  • 1,260,254 (1 in 19) children under 6 years old experienced homelessness in 2015–2016.
  • Approximately 9 percent of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness (108,677 children) were enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start, or programs funded with McKinney‐Vento subgrants. This rate does not include state and locally funded early childhood programs.
  • Thirty-two percent of families with children under 18 had a high housing cost burden (defined as spending 30 percent or more of monthly income on housing expenses).
  • Twenty-six percent of low‐income working families had children under age 6, defined as families in which at least one parent worked 50 weeks or more in the prior year and family income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.


Resources for You

IDEAs That Work logo

Early Childhood IDEA Centers: 2019 New State Technical Assistance Opportunities

The OSEP-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance (TA) Centers recently released information on a variety of new opportunities to increase individual and state capacity around the implementation of IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education. States can use this information to consider which TA opportunities best fit their individual needs and priorities in the foreseeable future. Please check out the websites (listed in the document) for each center to learn more!

National Center on Improving Literacy logo

New Resource on Phonological Awareness for Families and Programs

The ED-funded National Center on Improving Literacy recently released a new resource Ask & Answer: Phonological Awareness. What is phonological awareness? Why is it important? How should it be taught? How can families support phonological awareness development? Families and educators can learn the answer to these and other questions about phonological awareness in this multi-media eLearning resource. Please check it out today and share with others!

Child Welfare Information Gateway

New Report on Addressing the Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare

The Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has issued a bulletin entitled Addressing the Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare: Part C Early Intervention Services.

This bulletin was developed for professionals working in the child welfare system and describes the intersection of child welfare and IDEA Part C early intervention, provides an overview of the Part C process, and outlines strategies to develop partnerships between child welfare and Part C systems to expand supports for young children and their caregivers in order to improve well-being and outcomes.

Popular Data Governance Toolkit Available in PDF Form

The OSEP-funded DaSy Center has made its popular Data Governance and Management Toolkit available in PDF form! Now you can share individual sections of the full toolkit with colleagues in hard copy form, as well as online. Simply look for the green PDF links at the top right of each section of the toolkit. This DaSy toolkit contains information, guidance, and templates to assist program staff with creating or enhancing their data governance policies and procedures.


Featured Webinar

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations logo

Making Coaching Come Alive ― Webinar in March

The OSEP-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations will host a webinar Making Coaching Come Alive: Creating Action Plans to Promote Practitioner Buy-in on March 20 at 3:00 p.m. EST. This webinar will unpack the action-planning component of the practice-based coaching cycle. Presenters will discuss identifying an action plan goal, the components of an effective action plan, and the coach practitioner collaborative relationship during the action-planning process. The webinar will end with presenters answering questions from participants.


New Forecasted Funding Opportunity

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation logos

Child Care Policy Research Partnership Grants

The Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation in HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is considering funding Child Care Policy Research Partnership grants in fiscal year 2019. These projects are intended to add to our knowledge about the efficacy of child care subsidy policies and quality improvement initiatives. The initiatives support employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for parents, increase low-income families’ access to high-quality child care programs, and promote positive learning and school readiness outcomes for children. Please visit grants.gov for the forecast to view the estimated application due date, subscribe to email notifications regarding this grant opportunity, and see links to other information. Also check out ACF’s grants home page for the latest published funding opportunity announcement(s).


Voices From the Field

Deborah Lowe Vandall above Early Learning Network logo

Researcher Spotlight: Deborah Lowe Vandell, University of California, Irvine

This month we are sharing an interview with Deborah Lowe Vandell, a researcher from ED’s Institute for Education Sciences-funded Early Learning Network. This network is comprised of researchers from multiple institutions across the country who are examining why many children — especially those from low-income households or other disadvantaged backgrounds — experience academic and social difficulties as they transition from preschool to elementary school. In this interview the University of California, Irvine Vandell shares her perspective on the Early Learning Network’s efforts to develop and implement the Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students Observation System in pre-K through third-grade classrooms. This technology-based observation tool is used by teachers in real-time settings to assess various factors that predict later learning and school achievement, including classroom instruction, teacher-child interactions, and the classroom learning environment.



Connect With Us Online!

Check out ED's Early Learning website for updates on all of ED's early learning activities, and to view the Early Learning newsletter archive. 

Twitter Logo Blue

OSERS is on Twitter with the latest tweets from special education and early intervention advocates, educators, families, and students. Be sure to follow @Ed_Sped_Rehab and tell your friends. OSERS Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett has joined the conversation, too! Follow him today @JCollettOSERS. We'll see you in the Twittersphere!