Early Learning Newsletter | September 2019 | Early Childhood Resources for the New School Year!


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

Early Childhood Resources for the
New School Year!

September 2019

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In This Issue:

From the Directors

Laurie VanderPloeg and Christopher Rinkus

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

The transition from summer to fall comes with many changes. Trees are changing their colors every day and the air is getting cooler in the morning and evening hours. While people are getting excited about harvests, beautiful foliage, holidays and football season, it is also the time young children and their families are experiencing a new school, new teacher or a new class. It is an exciting time of the year, but this time also comes with challenges of adjusting to new routines and separation from familiar ones. Therefore, this edition of Early Learning highlights different resources that parents, providers, and educators can use to help ease these transitions.

In celebration of the new school year, we interviewed Katharine Hutchens, director of early childhood services at Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, North Carolina. She shares her passion for high-quality early childhood programs and talks about her work to ensure her program remains a model for them.

Enjoy reading the rest of the newsletter to find out about recent developments and resources to support our youngest learners, and their teachers, caregivers, and families.

Thank you, as always, for reading Early Learning!

Laurie VanderPloeg
Office of Special Education Programs

Christopher Rinkus
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
Discretionary Grants and Support Services
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


Project Spotlight

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) logo

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations

The U.S. Department of Education (ED)-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMIs) works to support the capacity of state systems and local programs to implement the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. This model strives to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children with, and at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays.

NCPMI’s website provides abundant resources for early childhood program administrators and practitioners, as well as families of young children, to promote children’s social and emotional development and address challenging behaviors. One of its featured resources is the “Help Us Have a Good Day! Positive Strategies for Families” infographic. (Also available in Spanish.) Check out NCPMI’s resource library to explore more family- and practitioner-friendly resources!

Early Learning Updates from ED

Cover: "Higher Education Articulation Agreements: A Study of State Policies Covering the Early Care and Education Workforce"

Early Childhood Education Workforce

ED released the results of an early childhood education (ECE) articulation study, Higher Education Articulation Agreements: A Study of State Policies Covering the Early Care and Education Workforce, that was funded in FY 2016 with Preschool Development Grants national activities funds. The goal of the study was to look at some of the challenges students and mid-level career professionals face in the ECE workforce.  The study highlights the articulation policies and practices being implemented in six states for students seeking a degree in ECE. It further reviews the necessary coordination and partnerships between the state and institutions of higher education (IHE) that contribute to good policies and the transfer and articulation process.  One strong finding of the study is “Most two-year IHEs offered separate ECE degree pathways for students who planned to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree versus students who planned to end their education with the associate degree.”

Cover: "Preschool Development Grants Progress Update"

Preschool Development Grants

The Preschool Development Grants (PDG) program supports states in building or enhancing their infrastructure to expand access to high-quality preschool programs to 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. With PDG funds, states continue to implement practices that align with early childhood and care standards, including full-day programs, evidence-based curricula and the inclusion of children with disabilities. The annual Preschool Development Grants Progress Update for the 2018–19 school year outlines some of the accomplishments grantees have had in providing high-quality preschool opportunities. Across the18 grantees, over 52,500 children benefited from access to high-quality preschool opportunities across 319 high needs communities. Click on the link to learn more about the PDG grantees!

Resources for You

This Month's Recommended Resources:

Screen capture of video: "Kindergarten: Where Play and Learning Can Meet"

Kindergarten: Where Play and Learning Can Meet

The Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Midwest is part of a network of 10 regional educational laboratories funded by ED’s Institute of Education Sciences. REL Midwest created a documentary for educators and parents to demonstrate play-based learning in early childhood education. The documentary explores the advantages associated with a play-based approach in kindergarten and features stories of how two Illinois school districts, Valley View School District 365U and Elgin Area School District U-46, made the transition to play-based learning. The documentary also includes scientific findings about the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of play. Watch the video to learn more about play-based learning.

Center for Parent Information & Resources (CPIR) logo

Need to Share Info on Early Childhood Development in Other Languages?

The ED-funded Center for Parent Information & Resources (CPIR) has a resource library with information that families and professional support providers can use, including webinars, articles, stand-alone pages, and publications. The center also provides extensive Spanish resources. If you want to stay informed about CPIR’s new resources and news, sign up for its bimonthly electronic newsletter here: Buzz from the Hub.

When Saying Goodbye is Hard

When Saying Goodbye is Hard

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a Facebook community dedicated to promoting developmental monitoring. The Milestones Matter Community contains tips and information about early childhood development, including free parent-friendly tools to monitor children’s development. Recently, the Milestones Matter Community shared an infographic, “When Saying Goodbye is Hard,” that provides 20 strategies to help ease the daytime separation during the back-to-school season.

Logo: Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System (ECTTAS)

New Toolkit on Out-of-School Time Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

Federal, state, and local education agencies are increasing investments and building capacity in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. Emergencies come in various forms, ranging from weather-related disasters to widespread food poisoning outbreaks. The new “Out-of-School Time Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (EPRR) Toolkit,” from HHS’ Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System, helps out-of-school time (OST) programs, staff, and volunteers to develop emergency preparedness plans that address the distinct needs of OST programs.


Featured Webinar

ECTA NCPMI combined logo

Indicators of High-Quality Inclusion: A Comprehensive Set of Tools

The ED-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Interventions (NCPMI) and Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) are hosting the webinar “Indicators of High-Quality Inclusion: A Comprehensive Set of Tools” on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. EDT. This webinar will provide an overview of the National Early Childhood Inclusion Indicators Initiative, including the suite of materials developed under this initiative for states, local programs, and child environments, which are intended to increase the implementation of high-quality, inclusive education practices. Specific attention will be paid to implementing the early childhood education environment inclusion indicators in a variety of early childhood programs. You can register for this webinar here.


New Funding Opportunities

cute children drawing on paper

Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five

HHS, jointly with ED, is soliciting applications from eligible states for the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5). The PDG B-5 Grant seeks to empower state governments to better leverage federal, state, and local early care and education investments and to help states coordinate their existing early childhood services and funding streams to improve services to children from birth through age 6 in a mixed delivery system.

  • Information on the PDG B-5 Initial Grant can be found here.
  • Information on the PDG B-5 Renewal Grant can be found here.

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 5, 2019.


Voices From the Field

Katherine Hutchens

Leading High-Quality Early Childhood Programs

Are you looking for ways to improve your early care and education practices or program? This month, we interviewed Katherine Hutchens, director of early childhood services at Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, North Carolina. In this interview, Katherine shares her passion for high-quality early childhood programs and talks about how she works to ensure that her program is a model in its use of effective 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!