Early Learning Newsletter | April 2019 | Supporting Family Engagement and Announcing New Funding Opportunities!


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

Supporting Family Engagement and Announcing New Funding Opportunities!

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April 2019

In This Issue:

From the Directors

Directors Laurie VanderPloeg and Annie Hsiao

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

Families are critically important in the lives of young children and it is central for early childhood programs to have strong family engagement to promote young children’s development and learning.

So we are excited to share several resources with you that focus on families! These include the Hello Kindergarten! toolkit developed by Connecticut through Preschool Development Grant funds to help families create a smooth kindergarten transition. We are also highlighting an infographic on strategies for communicating with families of young children and emerging research findings related to family engagement.    

In addition, our Voices in the Field interview with Dawn Yazzie, highlights her important work with young Navajo children and their families and how she uses infant and early childhood mental health consultation to help early childhood educators and families support children’s healthy social-emotional development.

We are also excited to introduce you to the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center, which will focus on supporting the participation of young children with disabilities in STEM learning. 

Lastly, check out the recently released information on ED’s new grant opportunities and consider applying to be a peer reviewer for these competitions.

Enjoy reading the newsletter to learn about all the resources you can use to support all young children and their families!

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

Logos: Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Connecticut State Department of Education

Hello Kindergarten! Here We Come!

With the support of Preschool Development Grant funds, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Connecticut State Department of Education formed a partnership to develop tools for parents to use to prepare their children for kindergarten. The new online toolkit, Hello Kindergarten!, is designed to provide parents with information that will guide them through the processes to enroll their children in school and gain knowledge of school readiness expectations. The toolkit includes multiple topics on transitioning into kindergarten such as: 

  • what your child should know and be able to do before he/she goes off to kindergarten,
  • how to give your child a healthy start in kindergarten, and
  • how to register for kindergarten.

Visit Connecticut’s Hello Kindergarten! for resources that you can use with families in your programs.


Early Learning Updates from ED

IDEAs That Work logo

Announcing the Part C Child Find

The Child Find Self-Assessment (CFSA) is a tool that state Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C programs can use to enhance their child find efforts. Developed by the OSEP in partnership with the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, the CFSA can help states identify strategies to promote efficiency in their Part C child find systems, with the goal of ensuring infants and toddlers eligible for services are referred and enrolled. The CFSA is organized in four sections and includes information on IDEA requirements specific to child find, best practices in child find, technical assistance and resources, and OSEP policy letters and guidance related to child find.


Resources for You

This Month's Recommended Resources

Logo: ED’s Institute for Education Sciences-funded Early Learning Network

What We’re Learning About Family Engagement

The Early Learning Network (ELN), funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) Institute of Education Sciences, recently highlighted what they are learning about family engagement across their nationwide research studies. The studies show how family engagement connects to the ELN’s collective goal of advancing policies and practices that help narrow the achievement gap and maintain early learning success as children transition from prekindergarten to third grade.

Logo: National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations

Building Family Engagement through Communication Strategies

The ED-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations recently developed an infographic on Communicating with Families: Helpful Suggestions. It highlights communication strategies that early childhood programs can use to engage with families and invite families to share information about their child, themselves, and what they see as important.

Understanding Trends and Changes in ASD Prevalence

Autism Data Visualization Tool to Improve Access to Data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched an interactive, web-based Autism Data Visualization tool that gives users the opportunity to explore data on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the United States. The data presented through the online tool, which come from four different federal data sources, highlight changes over time in reported ASD prevalence estimates and in the characteristics of children identified with ASD. These data can be used to plan for services, guide research, and inform policies to help children with ASD. The federal data sources included in the data visualization tool are ED’s IDEA Section 618 data collection, the National Survey of Children’s Health, Medicaid, and CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.


Featured Webinars

Logo: STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center

Introducing STEMIE!  
The STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center

What do you do to support young children’s interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)? How do you ensure that young children with disabilities have opportunities to participate in STEM learning? The STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center is a new national center funded by ED to develop and enhance the field of early childhood education’s knowledge-base on effective practices and supports that increase the participation of young children with disabilities in STEM learning. Register to join the STEMIE team on May 6 from 2:30 to 3:30 EDT to learn more about the work of this center.

Logo: Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative

Click to Take a Coffee Break and Learn About Periodic Early Childhood Hearing Screening

As part of Better Speech and Hearing Month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-funded Early Childhood Hearing Outreach Initiative is hosting a coffee break webinar on May 7 at 3:00 p.m. EDT titled “Role of Periodic Early Childhood Hearing Screening" in screening and how to access free online resources for establishing evidence-based hearing screening practices in early childhood programs. The webinar can be accessed at this link.


New Funding Opportunities

ED has several new grant competitions for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Read below to learn more about competitions that are currently open or are planned for this FY.

Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP)

Teacher Quality Partnership Program

The Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program funds eligible partnerships to support high-quality teacher preparation and professional development for prospective teachers. Review the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) published in the Federal Register to learn more about the TQP program.

The deadline to apply is May 20.

Logo: Comprehensive Centers (CC) Network

Comprehensive Centers Program

The Comprehensive Centers (CC) program provides capacity-building services to state educational agencies, regional educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools that improve education outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, and improve the quality of instruction. Review the NIA and Notice of Final Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Performance Measures to learn more about the CC competition.

The deadline to apply is May 24.

School classroom chairs

Grants to Charter School Developers

The Grants to Charter School Developers support charter schools that serve early childhood, elementary school, or secondary school students by providing grant funds to eligible applicants for opening new charter schools and for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools. 

A Notice of Proposed Priorities is available for public comments and closes on May 6.

Child reading a book

Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants Program

The Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) program awards grants to advance literacy skills through the use of evidence-based practices, activities, and interventions, including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing, for children from birth through grade 12, with an emphasis on disadvantaged children. This includes children living in poverty, English learners, and children with disabilities. 

The NIA is expected to be published soon and will be posted on the CLSD grants program website.

Credit Enhancement For Charter School Facilities Program

Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities (Credit Enhancement)

The Credit Enhancement program awards grants to eligible entities that demonstrate innovative methods of helping charter schools address the cost of acquiring, constructing, and renovating facilities by enhancing the availability of loans and bond financing.

The NIA is expected to be published soon and will be posted on the Credit Enhancement program website.

State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grants

State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grants

This program provides competitive grants to help states establish and enhance or administer “per-pupil facilities aid” for charter schools. The federal funds are used to match programs funded with non-federal dollars that make payments, on a per-pupil basis, to provide charter schools with facilities financing.

The NIA is expected to be published soon and will be posted on the program’s website.

Peer Reviewers

Looking for Peer Reviewers! 

ED is currently recruiting peer reviewers for two grant competitions.

  • If interested in reviewing applications for the TQP program, please review the information about the review process and submit the requested information by May 1.
  • If interested in reviewing applications for the CC program, please send your resume (up to five pages), email, and phone number to compcenterspeerreview@ed.gov. The deadline to submit your resume and contact information is May 3.


Voices From the Field

Dawn A. Yazzie

Dawn A. Yazzie: A passion for supporting young children’s healthy social-emotional development

This month, we interviewed, Dawn Yazzie, an early childhood mental health consultant on the Navajo reservation in Arizona and a technical assistance specialist with the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. Yazzie discusses how infant and early childhood mental health consultation can be used to support young children’s healthy social-emotional development within tribes’ existing systems and cultural practices. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS Blog.



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. 

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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!