Early Learning Newsletter | July 2022 | Welcome Summer


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

Welcome Summer

July 2022

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In This Issue:

From the Directors

Valerie Williams and Jamila Smith

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

We hope that you are enjoying your summer and making the most of longer days and warmer weather. It is important for families, children, and early childhood professionals to take some time to care for their physical and mental well-being. In this edition of Early Learning, we have included resources to support the mental health of children and families. For those who are awaiting a new educational year, we hope that the resources provided will encourage continued growth throughout the summer. We also have provided updated information on recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged six months to four years of age. We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.

For our Voices From the Field interview, we have included a link to an interview from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) highlighting Dr. Jason Chow and his experiences in education research.

Thank you for reading “Early Learning”!

Valerie C. Williams
Director, Office of Special Education Programs
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

Swati Adarkar

Welcome Swati Adarkar!

Swati Adarkar has joined the U.S. Department of Education (Department or ED) as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before joining the Department, she served as the national policy director for Start Early. Prior to this, Swati was the co-founder, president, and CEO of the Children’s Institute in Oregon, an early childhood policy and advocacy organization, for 15 years. Swati served on statewide advisory committees on early childhood for three Oregon governors. She provided the vision and leadership to launch and sustain the Early Works initiative, which aligns birth to five services and supports with elementary school. For more than thirty years, she has been a strong advocate for meeting the comprehensive needs of low-income children and families in Oregon and California and has a passion for ensuring the health and early school success of young children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UCLA and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.


Early Learning Updates

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Social-Emotional Development and Mental Health of Young Children

The Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a Dear Colleague letter with recommendations to support the social-emotional development and mental health of young children. HHS will host a series of videos throughout the summer that support young children’s mental health and well-being.

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National Parents and Families Engagement Council

The Department launched the National Parents and Families Engagement Council (the Council) in June to facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families, and caregivers. The Council consists of parent, family, and caregiver representatives from national organizations that will work with the Department to identify constructive ways to help families engage at the local level.


Recommended Resources

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Recommendation for Young Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Parents with questions are encouraged to talk to their child’s health care provider or local pharmacist to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of keeping children up-to-date with all recommended vaccinations. Resources have been updated to reflect the new recommendations.

Young girls playing with science equipment.

STEM for Young Children

The ED-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) team has developed a series of video demonstrations and a resource on how STEM, specifically foundational computational thinking, can be integrated into children’s daily routines and activities. The resources provide examples of adaptations for young children with disabilities.

Father and mother playing with toddler in field.

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

The ED-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) has a new topic page on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) and a briefing paper, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Early Intervention (Part C),that details policies and practices for supporting the social and emotional development and mental health of infants and toddlers in the context of parent-child relationships. The briefing paper, which was developed in collaboration with a number of national partner organizations, is available to read online and download.

Early Childhood Video Library

The ED-funded Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC) assists States with developing, implementing, and evaluating an integrated and comprehensive system of personnel development for the early childhood workforce so that young children with disabilities and their families receive effective early childhood intervention. ECPC has developed a curated video library that may be used in early childhood intervention preservice courses or in-service training. Topics include Assessment, Development, Families, Interactions, Interventions, and Instruction, Professionalism, Teaming.

Expectant mother cradling abdomen

Maternal Mental Health

HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has launched the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline. Available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline provides free, confidential support, resources, and referrals from professional counselors to pregnant and postpartum individuals facing mental health challenges. Counselors offer support in English and Spanish and interpreter services are available in 60 additional languages.


Voices From the Field

David Chow

Experiences in Education Research

For our Voices From the Field interview, we have included a link to an interview from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) highlighting Dr. Jason Chow and his experiences in education research.


Featured Webinars

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Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Early Intervention

The ECTA Center is hosting a two-session webinar series that will address potential infant and early childhood mental health policies and practices to promote the social-emotional development and mental health of infants and toddlers in the context of relationships: Screening, Assessment, and Eligibility on July 13 at 3:30 p.m. and Services and Practices on July 27 at 3 p.m.

Young student playing with abacus.

Comprehensive Systems Building

HHS’ Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) National Center for Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five (PDG B–5 TA Center), is hosting a webinar, Including PreK in Comprehensive Systems-Building Activities, on July 14 at 3 p.m. Participants will learn about the importance of cross-system planning and will hear how states have implemented financing mechanisms, workforce supports, inclusive practices, and data systems. 

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC)

Preparing for Emergencies with Mental Health in Mind

Children, families, and providers are impacted by violence, natural disasters, and other emergencies. HHS’ Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center is holding a webinar for participants to learn about concrete strategies to use when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies with a mental health perspective on July 14 at 1 p.m.


Funding Opportunities

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

Child Care Development Capacity

ACF’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) is accepting applications to fund a Center to Support Research and Evaluation Capacity of Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies. The Center will build research and evaluation capacity in the child care subsidy policy field by facilitating information sharing, learning, and collaboration across research partnerships funded by OPRE. Applications are due July 26.

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National Early Care and Education Workforce Center

ACF plans to solicit applications for a new National Early Care and Education Workforce Center. This cooperative agreement will provide $30 million in funding, over a five-year period, for a joint-research and technical assistance center with the goal of increasing recruitment and retainment of a diverse, qualified, and effective workforce across early care and education settings and programs. Please visit the National Early Care and Education Workforce Center grant opportunity forecast to view the details and to subscribe to email notifications regarding this funding opportunity (grants.gov).

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Act Early Ambassadors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) announced a funding opportunity for Act Early Ambassadors to work with CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” (LTSAE) program to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities. This funding opportunity will support a new, two-year cohort of up to 60 Act Early Ambassadors. Individuals from all states and territories are eligible to apply. Applications are due July 29.


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