Early Learning Newsletter | May 2020 | Promoting Children's Mental Health Awareness


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

Promoting Children's Mental Health Awareness

 May 2020

green ribbon

Forwarded this email? Click here to subscribe.

In This Issue:

From the Directors

Laurie VanderPloeg and Christopher Rinkus

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

May 7 was National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. To help promote children’s mental health awareness, in this edition of Early Learning, we highlighted many resources to foster children’s healthy social and emotional development. We recognize that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused strain in multiple aspects of family life and community services. Young children are attuned to the reactions of adults and caregivers to stressful situations. When parents and caregivers are knowledgeable about resources to help them cope with stress, they can better support their children’s healthy development. In addition to exploring the resources presented in this newsletter, please continue visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) COVID-19 Information and Resources page for COVID-19 related resources and updates.

This month, for our Voices From the Field  blog, we interviewed Drs. Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley at Erikson Institute in Chicago, Illinois. They talk about the importance of young children’s mental health and what they do to support professionals and caregivers in promoting young children’s mental health.

Thank you, as always, for reading Early Learning. We hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe!

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 Spotlights

icon: Hero Elementary

You Belong at Hero Elementary™!

ED’s Ready To Learn program funded “Hero Elementary,” an upcoming animated children’s television series focused on improving school readiness in science and literacy for children grades K–2 nationwide, with an emphasis on Latino communities, English language learners, children with disabilities, and children from low-income households. Hero Elementary is a school for budding superheroes, where kids learn to master their innate powers, like flying and teleportation, while exploring science along the way. The new series will give children ages 4 to 7 important tools to help them solve problems by encouraging them to think and act like scientists, igniting their natural curiosity. The show will premiere June 1 on PBS and PBS Kids.


Early Learning Updates from ED


Improving Access to Mental Health Services

SchoolSafety.gov was established by federal partners, including ED, to provide schools and districts with actionable recommendations to create a safe and supportive learning environment where children can thrive and grow. It has a dedicated mental health resources section that contains guidance, fact sheets and training opportunities to help schools support children with mental health challenges and improve children’s access to mental health services. Check out these free resources, including “Guidance To States And School Systems On Addressing Mental Health And Substance Use Issues In Schools”, and the “MentalHealth.gov Resources for Educators” page.


Voices From the Field

Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Promoting Children’s Mental Health Awareness!

We recently interviewed Drs. Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley at Erikson Institute in Chicago, Illinois. They talked about the importance of young children’s mental health and what they do to support professionals and caregivers in promoting young children’s mental health. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS Blog.


Resources For You

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) logo

Supporting Families in Helping Young Children During Stressful Situations

The ED-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovation (NCPMI)’s primary goal is to promote the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of children from birth through age five. NCPMI has many resources for families on helping young children cope with the challenges that might occur during stressful emergency or disaster situations. Check out its new infographics and tip-sheets for families, including “Helping Your Child During the Pandemic, Tips for Helping Your Child During the Pandemic,” and “Tips for Supporting Yourself During the Pandemic.” You can also find these resources in Spanish in NCPMI’s resource library.

Head Start logo

Helping Parents Manage Stress During COVID-19

Families who are sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic may be experiencing additional stress. It is important that early care and education providers continue supporting families to the extent possible. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a one-hour chat to share strategies for connecting with and supporting families. Discover ideas for conducting virtual well-being checks.

Young Child Expo Mini Conference: COVID-19 Response

Young Child Expo Mini Conference:
COVID-19 Response

View the archived proceedings of this free online conference to hear how early childhood educators, schools, and companies with ED-funded grants have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Conference panelists include pre-k–12 superintendents sharing their approach to remote instruction and enrichment for their early childhood education program, and developers highlighting free early childhood products and services to support remote instruction. A list of the free resources presented by the developers can be viewed and downloaded on the conference website.

ECTA logo

COVID-19 Resources for Birth to Five

The ED-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center has developed a COVID-19 webpage that houses resources for states and local programs serving young children with disabilities and their families. The webpage also contains a number of resources on tele-intervention and distance learning. Check out the new (Re)Opening page. These resources support the complex planning and preparation necessary as states consider re-opening schools, child care centers, and increasing in-home services following the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Featured Webinars

Go to the Center of Excellence for Infant & Early Childhood Infant Mental Health Consultation

Equity in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
Webinar Series

The HHS-funded Center of Excellence for Infant & Early Childhood Infant Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) presents a four-part webinar series to promote equity in early childhood settings.

The first webinar explored achieving equity through infant and early childhood mental health consultation by building awareness of the impact of institutional racism and other forms of bias on the experiences of children and families from marginalized communities, identifying policies that support more equitable systems, and strengthening culturally responsive IECMHC practices that reduce disparities and improve child outcomes.

The second webinar, Culture, Identity, and History as Sources of Strength and Resilience for Tribal Communities, examines issues of racialized inequities and bias on the early care and education experiences for tribal communities and identifies practices and policies to strengthen cultural responsiveness in IECMHC for these communities.

Register for webinars three and four, to be held in June and July, respectively, on the main webinar webpage.

Go the the Regional Educational Laboratory - Southwest

Supporting Families in Promoting Early Learning at Home

The ED-funded Regional Educational Laboratory - Southwest hosted a May 13 webinar, Supporting Families in Promoting Early Learning at Home. The webinar provides resources to support learning at home for prekindergarten- and kindergarten-age children that educators, state and district leaders and families can use during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Funding Opportunities

Institute of Education Sciences (IES) logo

New Funding Opportunities for Education Research and Special Education Research Grant Programs

ED’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year 2021 for the Education Research and Special Education Research Grant Programs. In awarding these grants, IES intends to provide national leadership in expanding knowledge and understanding of:

  • developmental and school readiness outcomes for infants and toddlers with or at risk for a disability,
  • education outcomes for all learners from early childhood education through postsecondary and adult education, and
  • employment and wage outcomes when relevant (such as for those engaged in career and technical, postsecondary, or adult education).

Applications are due Aug. 20, 2020.



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.