Early Learning Newsletter | June 2021 | Promoting Father Engagement


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

Promoting Father Engagement

June 2021

Father reading to baby

Forwarded this email? Click here to subscribe.

In This Issue:

From the Directors

David Cantrell and Jamila Smith

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

In June, we celebrate fathers and all that they do to support the learning and development of children. Whether you are a father, grandfather, uncle, godfather, or male role model, your presence in the lives of young children is an important part of their growth and development. Talking, playing, and showing affection are just some of the ways that fathers support learning throughout the day. Providing opportunities and spaces for fathers, and all of the important men in a child’s life, to be engaged in their development is important for children and families. Take some time this month to encourage, thank, and appreciate fathers and father-figures for all of the amazing things they do.

In this edition of “Early Learning,” you will find information to support father engagement, as well as resources that help enhance and support the lives of children and families. Also, we excitedly welcome Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for early learning. Please read her introduction below.

For our Voices from the Field blog, we interviewed Randy Johnson and Rich La Belle, both proud fathers and grandfathers. They share their "experiences" and what motivates them to remain actively involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren.'

Thank you for reading "Early Learning"!

David Cantrell, Ph.D.
Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Jamila Smith
Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


New to the Department

Miriam Calderon

Welcome Miriam Calderon!

Miriam Calderon joins the U.S. Department of Education (Department) as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for early learning. In this capacity, she will advise on department-wide policies that advance the Biden administration’s early learning priorities and collaborate on inter-governmental efforts for young children and families.

Before coming to the Department, Calderon served as the early learning system director for the state of Oregon, overseeing an agency that was responsible for the birth-to-five programs, early educator workforce investments, and implementation of a cross-sector strategic plan working with the state’s Early Learning Council. She has held a variety of policy and programmatic roles in the field, including as an advisor to the Bainum Family Foundation, a senior fellow with the BUILD Initiative, director of Early Childhood Education at D.C. Public Schools, and associate director of education policy at the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS).

She is returning to federal service after previously serving as a political appointee in the Obama administration, advising on early learning policy at the Domestic Policy Council at the White House and at the Department of Health and Human Services. Calderon began her career in early childhood working as a mental health consultant in Head Start programs in Portland, Oregon.


Project Spotlight

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

Why Inclusion Video Series

The Department-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) promotes STEM learning for young children with disabilities. The STEMIE team recently released a series of three videos on why inclusion is important. Closed captioning is currently available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. (Vietnamese captions and sign language translation were produced in collaboration with UNICEF Vietnam.)


Early Learning Updates


ED Games Expo 2021

The ED Games Expo (Expo) showcases game-changing innovations in education technology (EdTech) that were developed through programs at the Department and across government. During the Expo and throughout the month of June, educators and students can demo more than 150 education learning games or technologies at no cost. This year, the Expo also will present 35 online events, including an Early Childhood and Special Education joint showcase on June 2 from 1 to 4:15 ET. Each event is designed for specific audiences that use or are interested in EdTech, including educators, students, parents and caregivers, developers, researchers, and other stakeholders.

To learn more about the full event, please visit ED Games Expo 2021.


Voices From the Field

Randy Johnson and grandson, and Rich La Belle

Promoting Father Engagement!

We recently interviewed Randy Johnson and Rich La Belle, who share their experiences with their children and grandchildren. We invite you to read the full interviews on the OSERS blog.


This Month’s Recommended Resources

Father and daughter

Engaging Fathers

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has many investments that support family engagement:

Head Start icon

Head Start Forward Campaign

The Office of Head Start has launched its Head Start Forward Campaign. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Start programs have faced and overcome unprecedented challenges. This initiative will bring grantees together and provide information and resources needed to prepare for upcoming program year 2021–22. Head Start Forward’s goal is to support grantees in reaching more children and families and moving toward fully in-person comprehensive services, as local health conditions allow. 

Critical Considerations for the Return to School for Young Children

Critical Considerations for the Return to School for Young Children

The Department-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations hosted a webinar that discussed what practices should be implemented to support children as they return to the classroom. The presenters identified the priority social-emotional teaching practices for the preschool classroom, the use of Pyramid Model practices to support children entering kindergarten, and partnerships with families.

Mother and son looking at a notebook computer

Children’s Digital Media Use

The Department-funded Early Learning Network has information about the link between digital media use and reading and writing skills. The blog post discusses the quality and context of digital media and how digital media can be used at home to support learning and development.


Featured Webinar

logo - Administration for Children & Families (ACF)

Early Childhood Development: Latest Updates

Please join the ACF's Office of Early Childhood Development for a monthly webinar series on the latest updates on American Rescue Plan Act guidance and implementation. Speakers, including parents and providers in the field, will share innovative strategies, resources, and technical assistance.


Funding Opportunities

ED Seal

Model Demonstration Projects

The Department published a Notice Inviting Applications for its FY 21 Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Model Demonstration Projects to Improve Services and Results for Infants, Toddlers, and Children with Disabilities grant competition. The purpose of the grant is to establish and operate evidence-based model demonstration projects that focus on the implementation of identification, screening, referral, and tracking systems across health, early care and education, and social service systems that serve and support infants and toddlers and their families within a local community. 

The application deadline is July 20, 2021.

HHS’s Office for Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE)

African American Child and Family Research Center

OPRE, within ACF,  is soliciting applications for an African American Child and Family Research Center to lead and support research on the needs of African American populations served by ACF and promising approaches to promote social and economic well-being among low-income African American populations. The center will focus broadly on childcare and early education, employment, economic mobility, wealth, and children's healthy development and learning. 

The application deadline is July 12, 2021.

Head Start icon

Head Start University Partnerships

The Office of Head Start is soliciting applications for Head Start University Partnerships: Building the Evidence Base for ECE Workforce Well-Being grants. The goal of these Head Start Partnership grants is to develop the knowledge base regarding factors associated with Head Start (HS)/Early Head Start (EHS) workforce well-being and to complete rigorous evaluations of approaches expected to improve HS and/or EHS workforce well-being.

The application deadline is July 6, 2021.


Connect With Us Online!

Check out the Early Learning newsletter archive.

Twitter Logo Blue

Be sure to follow us on Twitter — @Ed_Sped_Rehab — and tell your friends.


OSERS Blog icon 96x96

Check out more early learning stories, including "Voices From the Field" posts, on OSERS Blog.