Early Learning Newsletter | January 2020 | Happy New Year!


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

Happy New Year!

January 2020

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In This Issue:

From the Directors

Laurie VanderPloeg and Christopher Rinkus

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

Welcome to 2020! We hope your new year is off to a good start. At the U.S. Department of Education (ED), we are starting the new year with exciting news for young children and their families. In December 2019, Congress passed the fiscal year 2020 funding bill with more than a $1 billion increase for early care and education. This increase was for federal programs that serve children from birth through age 5, including Early Head Start/Head Start, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B preschool grants and Part C Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers, preschool development grants (PDG), and the Child Care and Development Block Grant. We look forward to working with you as you implement these programs and hope that you will continue to stay tuned for new resources in the upcoming months to use within these programs!

In this edition, Early Learning celebrates the National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Resources to help expectant parents and caregivers to prevent birth defects and promote children’s healthy development are highlighted. For our Voices From the Field blog, we interviewed Ginger Roberts-Scott, Maine’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) director. She talks about her work to promote healthy birth outcomes and health for women and children.

Enjoy reading the rest of the newsletter to find out about recent developments and resources to support our youngest learners, as well as 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

Ohio State University logo

Literacy Intervention for Young Students with Disabilities

The Helping Early Readers Obtain Excellence in Special Education (HEROES) project at Ohio State University (OSU) is focused on delivering an intervention to help struggling young readers with disabilities improve their literacy skills. HEROES was developed and validated through ED’s early-phase Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges and to support the expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. OSU was recently awarded a new EIR grant and is planning to serve 1,820 more 6- through 9-year-old students with disabilities, and provide professional intervention development training to 192 more teachers. To learn more about this project, please visit the project abstract page. The EIR program also funds other projects.



Early Learning Updates from ED

Cover of Strong Start - Increasing Preschool Quality and Access

Preschool Development Grant Final Summary Report

We’re excited to share with you Strong Start: Increasing Preschool Quality and Access, the final summary report for the PDG Program. The PDG Program focused on supporting the school readiness of 4-year-old children by expanding access to quality preschool programs for children from low- to moderate-income families who resided in state-designated “high-needs” communities. The reach of the 18 awarded states over the four-year period of the grant (2014–18) included supporting comprehensive services for families, creating or enhancing states’ preschool infrastructure, and building the capacity of states’ early education workforce. This report highlights grantees’ accomplishments, and the promising practices that emerged from their work. To learn more, click here.



Voices From the Field

Ginger Roberts-Scott

Promoting Healthy Birth and Development

We interviewed Ginger Roberts-Scott, Maine’s WIC director, about her work to promote healthy birth outcomes and health for expectant mothers, mothers, and children. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS Blog. 


Resources For You

This Month's Recommended Resources:

Best for You. Best for Baby

Best for You. Best for Baby

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that birth defects occur in about one in every 33 infants born in the U.S. each year. In conjunction with its partners, CDC has developed materials and resources to help state program staff and others to raise awareness of this issue. The theme for 2020 is “Best for You. Best for Baby.” This digital toolkit offers videos, infographics, tip sheets, and social media ideas to help parents and care or service providers promote birth defects prevention awareness. Many of these resources are also available in Spanish.

Cover of A Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills

A Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills

The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southeast is part of a network of 10 regional educational laboratories funded by ED’s Institute of Education Sciences. REL Southeast has developed a teacher’s guide to supplement the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide, Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade. A Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills complements and extends the practice guide by providing step-by-step guidance for teachers to support families in practicing foundational reading skills at home.

Cover from Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence

Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences: Leveraging the Best Available Evidence

CDC defines adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as “traumatic events that occur in childhood (0–17 years), such as experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect.” This report, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence, explains the prevalence of ACEs and provides a number of strategies to prevent children from experiencing them. This resource also can help states and communities leverage the best available evidence to stop ACEs from happening as well as lessen harms when ACEs do occur. It features six strategies drawn from the CDC Technical Packages to Prevent Violence.



Featured Webinar

Vermont and REL logos

Enrollment Trends in Universal Prekindergarten in Vermont

The Jan. 22 webinar, Informing Policy: Examining Enrollment Trends in Universal Prekindergarten in Vermont, presented findings from Enrollment Rates of Children in Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2016/17, a collaborative study from REL Northeast and Islands and the Vermont agencies of Education and Human Services.


New Award Announcement

Office of Child Care (OCC) logo

Preschool Development Grant: Birth through Five

We are excited to announce the new Preschool Development Grant: Birth through Five award grantees. Our partner agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded renewal grants to 20 states: Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Georgia, Minnesota, Illinois, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Alabama, Missouri, Colorado, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, Michigan, California, and New Jersey. These grants will support the implementation of activities identified by states in their birth-through-five needs assessments and strategic plans, developed with funds awarded through an initial grant.

Six states and territories (Wisconsin, Wyoming, Idaho, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands) received an initial grant to support the development of a birth-through-five statewide needs assessment and strategic plan. We look forward to the birth-through-five collaborations and partnerships that will help states leverage resources and better support children and families.


Funding Opportunity

IES logo

ED’s Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research program (ED/IES SBIR) has just released its fiscal year 2020 Phase I solicitation. ED/IES SBIR is accepting Phase I proposals for awards of up to $200,000 for the development of prototypes of education technology products to improve relevant child, teacher, or administrator outcomes in education and special education settings. Apply today. The application deadline is March 3, 2020, at 11 a.m. EST.


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.