Early Childhood is a Focus of the President's State of the Union Address
"In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children...studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let's do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind."
President Barack Obama
State of the Union, February 12, 2013
While specific measures proposed by the Administration are not yet known, early childhood proposals can be reviewed in a brief called Investing in Our Children: A Plan to Expand Access to Preschool and Child Care, published by the Center for American Progress. What an exciting time for us all to be working to enhance and sustain a strong early childhood system in Delaware!
Taking Advocacy to the Next Level
A diverse group of Delaware's early childhood leaders (photo below) recently gathered for a day-long training on "Taking Advocacy to the Next Level: Building a Framework for Early Learning." A team from ChildCare Aware shared information about a broad range of topics including the federal Child Care
Development Brlock Grant, parent engagement and how to engage parents and families using social media. Participants were highly motivated and reported they were excited to learn new strategies to help them engage their communities in advocacy for early learning in Delaware. The event was hosted by teh Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children (DAYED) and the Office of Early Learning. All appreciated the training site provided by the Newark Day Nursery and Children's Center.
Note to Delaware Early Childhood supporters and advocates: It is the season for our participating state agency's legislative budget hearings. Delaware was fortunate to have a significant funding increase in its early childhood system last year. A note of thanks to elected officials is a great way to show them you acknowledge and appreciate the investment the State of Delaware is making in our early childhood system!
Stars Outreach to Families
As part of a outreach strategy designed to engage parents and families with young children, a new Stars parent brochure has been developed. It is is currently in production and will be available soon for use by Stars programs and partners to promote Stars to parents and families as quality early childhood programs. The Office of Early Learning is grateful to the parents who provided feedback on written communication materials and to the many organizations who participated in the development process, including Children & Families First, Delaware Family Voices, Inc., Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood, the Latin American Community Center, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, Newark Day Nursery & Children's Center, St. Michael's Day Nursery as well as the Children's Department and the Departments of Education and Health and Social Services.
In addition, as part of a statewide parent and family engagement strategy, Dr. Devona Williams (photo right) will soon begin leading the Delaware effort to educate families about the positive impact of early learning on their children and the use of Stars as a quality indicator. Outreach to families with young children will be conducted in collaboration with employers, through professionals who provide services to families and through community-based organizations supporting families and include county-based events designed to promote Stars to parents and families, events oriented to businesses, community events and health fairs, and events designed to interest employees of businesses to select Stars high quality providers for their child's early education and development program.
Delaware Stars for Early Success Request for Proposals
The Office of Early Learning is pleased to share this Delaware Stars Evaluation RFP. Through this RFP, the State of Delaware seeks proposals for an independent evaluator to conduct a multi-year evaluation of Delaware Stars, which is the state's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) focusing on the extent to which Stars levels relate to increasing quality of early childhood programs and to which the quality of Delaware Stars programs relate to child outcomes. The RFP is available at: http://bids.delaware.gov/bids_detail.asp?i=1693&DOT=N.
Delaware Readiness Teams Sending in Applications Now
Delaware is launching a community-based program designed to promote early learning and K-3 linkages as a way to better prepare children and their parents and schools. The Delaware Readiness Teams will include school staff, community leaders, early childhood providers and families. Applications are now being received through April 8, 2013. Up to 20 teams will be selected, with decisions expected by late April. For more information, contact Sherlynn Aurelio at the Delaware Early Childhood Center, email@example.com, or online at www.decc.delaware.gov; click on "Delaware Readiness Teams."
NOTE: Past editions of the Office of Early Learning e-news, a monthly Delaware early childhood update, as well as this current edition may be viewed at www.DECC.delaware.gov, look for the Early Learning Challenge grant section. We appreciate the Delaware Early Childhood Council posting the e-news and other Office of Early Learning documents to the website and encourage readers to check out the site for Council information as well as to view Office of Early Learning documents posted there which may be of interest.
The Second Annual "Making A Difference" Conference for Early Childhood Professionals
This conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 26 & 27 at Delaware Technical & Community College, Terry Campus, Dover. The Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children and the Delaware Head Start Association are offering a total of 11 quality assured professional development hours for participants who attend both days. Keynote Speakers are Lilian Katz and Lisa Murphy, who are joined by local and regional presenters offering 86 workshops. The conference provides an opportunity to network with colleagues, explore vendors and gain new knowledge and skills. For more information, visit www.dieec.udel.edu or call 302-831-3239.
Annual Inclusion Conference Set for Mid-March, 2013
The 19th Annual Inclusion Conference will be held Thursday March 14th. The Inclusion Conference is designed to address the needs of educators, parents, policymakers, service providers and child care providers involved with or interested in promoting inclusion for ALL from birth to 21. Dr. Laura Riffel, the keynote speaker, will address the importance of creating foundation of behavior support for all, share recommendations for motivating staff to promote positive behavior and offer strategies for building relationships in order for interventions to be effective. The early childhood track is titled, "Do You Speak My Language? Recommended Practices with Young Dual Language Learners from Birth to Five," and will include information about bilingual development, second language acquisition, effective teaching strategies with dual language learners and culturally responsive practices with families. Registration fills quickly. Individuals can register for the conference here
. Participants in the early childhood workshops must register with Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood in addition to conference registration in order to receive professional development credit for Level 2 training.
For more information, go to http://gacec.delaware.gov/DHA.shtml, then click on the special notice on the left side of the page.
Sleeping Bag Campaign
The statewide Sleeping Bag Campaign to benefit Delaware foster children continues through February 28, 2013, sponsored by Newark High School's Jefferson Awards' Students in Action team in partnership with the Governor's Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC). Wendy Strauss, Director of the Governor's Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, notes "It is so heartwarming that so many individuals and organizations in the communities are participating in and giving."
Upcoming Market Rate Survey and Information Sessions
Every two years, each state receiving federal funding for childcare services must conduct a
Market Rate Survey. In Delaware, the 2013 Market Rate Survey will be carried out during the months of March, April and May by Workplace Solutions. The Survey is designed to determine the prices that providers charge for their private-paying clients, information which is then used to determine the 75th percentile market rate prices. The market rate is used as the standard for state purchase of care subsidy reimbursement-rate policies. The survey addresses prices charged to private-paying families state wide, for both full-time and school-age care. A representative sample of providers in each county in Delaware will be contacted to complete the Market Rate Survey which is conducted via telephone interviews. The interview has been designed to be brief and easy for the providers.
If you would like more information about the 2013 Market Rate Survey, please attend one of the information sessions (just below) or you may contactBarbara McCaffery, Purchase of Care, Division of Social Services at 302-255-9611.
Kent County - Monday, March 4, 2013 from 6:00 P.M-7:30 PM at the Delaware Dept. of Transportation, Farmington Room, 800 Bay Rd., Dover, DE 19903, 302-760-2000.
New Castle County - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 from 6:00 PM-7:30 PM at the Canby Park Shopping Center, DSS Offices, 1920 Maryland Ave., Wilmington, DE 19805, 302-498-5500.
Sussex County Health Promotion Coalition Hosts Family Fun Nights
The Sussex County Health Promotion Coalition presents Family Fun Nights on
Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club, 310 Virginia Avenue, Seaford, Delaware. Admission is FREE and there are many free activities, including Pool Beach Ball Mania, Hearts Alive Obstacle Course, Arts & Crafts, Rice Krispee Decorating, Love to Read Club and many more. Bring a swim suit!
Upcoming dates are: March 15th (Explorers Family Night), April 5th (Spring into Health), April 19th (April Showers bring May Flowers), May 3rd (Camp is a Carnival), May 17th (Local Hero Night), June 7th (Hawaiian Luau) and June 21st (The Great Outdoors).
What a great way for families and young children to have fun!
Celebrating Innovative Use of Financial Incentives in an Early Childhood Program
Kathy Moore, Administrator of Parents and Teachers Together, recently made two key investments using funds received through the program's Delaware Stars quality rating. With the Star 4 financial award, she reports that she will pay for all of her early childhood educators to participate in the "Making A Difference" Conference in April, 2013, helping staff fulfill part of their respective professional development plans. With the increased financial support received through the state's Tiered Reimbursement financial incentive program, the Parents as Teachers Together will eliminate Purchase of Care Plus parent fees.
Spotlight on Local Success
Stars - A Path to Success for Family Child Care Providers
Join us in celebrating the success of Thelma Jamison of Our Future Child Care and Grace Sudler, a family child care provider who both moved up to Star 3 and are now working toward a Star 4 quality rating. Both Thelma and Grace particpated in a peer support group which received technical assistance from the Delaware Stars program. They report that, over the course of a year, their quality journey has been filed with many rewarding experiences, both professionally and personally. They improved the quality of their home-based early childhood programs with assistance available through Delaware Stars such as grants and professional development opportunities.
While family child care is home-based, the peer support network enables family child care professionals to support each other and to learn and celebrate their successes together during monthly "Community of Practice" meetings. There they address common challenges, share ideas with one another, and explore and use resources that help make their early learning program and business stronger and healthier. The community of practice method yields great results, for instance when the importance of intentional teaching was discussed, one family child care professional noted, "My child's teacher has mentioned how hard it is for him to solve problems and come up with solutions on his own. As I was helping one of the toddlers the other day work on a puzzle, I realized how important this skill is at an early age. If he can build that skill now through play activities, it may be easier for him later in school...I get it now!" Marvana Comeger recently attended an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting for a child enrolled in her program for the first time. She has now created activities and daily lesson plans that reinforce the skill-building that is part of the child's IEP. She has already seen gains in the child's progress in key developmental areas. Deborah Omowunmi began conducting parent-teacher conferences. She found that not only were parents eager to attend, but that parents have begun to regard her more as the professional she is.
In January 2013, six additional family child care professionals joined the peer support network and several have already achieved a Star 2 quality rating. They bring new energy and are excited about joining professionals already in the group who now serve as mentors and leaders.
Delaware Stars provides technical assistance to the family child care peer groups. Family child care professionals who would ike more information may contact Delaware Stars at 302-831-3239 to learn more, including how to join.
Policy and Trends
Parent, Family and Community Engagement
New early childhood resource launched by the Harvard Family Research Project: This new early childhood
section of the website is devoted to parent, family, and community engagement (PFCE) in early childhood education. Resources in each group below highlight strategies for promoting poitive outcomes for children and families and are organized by the following categories:
- Areas of Practice (program environment, transitions, engaging families as teachers, home visiting, educator-family relationships, community partnerships)
- Program Foundations (professional development, program leadership, evaluation and continuous improvement)
- Building Capacity for Quality Programs (improving outreach and communication,informing policy and grantmaking)
Aligning Early Childhood and K-12
PreK-3rd grade reforms are multi-faceted, involving diverse issues such as teacher and leader quality; standards, curriculum, and assessments; data; and family engagement. Evaluating these efforts could be challenging. A new evaluation framework helps states and districts think through issues like the purpose for evaluation, what data to collect, and evaluation methods and strategies, depending on where they are in the 4 stages of PreK-3 reform: developing a reform approach, examining implementation results, establishing child-level success, or scaling up.
A recent paper from the National Association for the Education of Young Children discusses potential tensions between implementing Common Core State Standards and best practices in early learning, including early elementary grades. The publication voices concerns about the possibility that an intense focus on math and English language arts may mean less time and attention to other critical domains of development, such as social-emotional development and approaches to learning. It also stresses the importance of implementing the Common Core in developmentally-appropriate ways especially in the early grades, both in terms of assessment and instruction. This paper can prompt K-12 leaders in states to work more closely with the early childhood community to develop policies and strategies that help early elementary students reach the Common Core while promoting their growth in other developmental areas that are also important predictors of academic success.
The BUILD initiative will also be hosting a webinar on February 20th to both share updates on states' development and implementation of KEAs and to discuss a potential federal funding opportunity from the Department of Education under the Enhanced Assessments Instruments Grant program.
For over a year, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in California have been studying the issue of early math development and what can be done in the early years to increase children's readiness for more sophisticated math skills when they enter kindergarten. A recent report based on this work summarizes the major challenges and recommendations related to ECE teacher preparation, professional development, curriculum materials, and aligning relevant ECE and K-12 policies, such as standards and assessments. While the report focuses on California, their findings can be relevant to other states. (Other materials from this statewide effort can be found on the earlymath.org website.)
A recent report from the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University features state and local efforts to better support children's learning and developing by increasing coordination and collaboration between early learning and K-12 stakeholders. Case studies from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada illustrate how a cross-sector approach to state governance, professional development, data collection and use, and delivery of social services can improve how ECE programs and schools serve children and families.
The George W. Bush Institute today released the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership's Principal Policy State Report, Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership. The Executive Summary and the Full Report can be found at: www.bushcenter.org/education-policy. The recording of the panel can be found here.
Ready for Success: Creating Collaborative and Thoughtful Transitions into Kindergarten
This brief from the Harvard Family Research Project provides case studies of six states - California, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia - to examine best practices for successful kindergarten transitions and make policy recommendations. Click
Even though states typically have limited roles in Head Start programs, they can take steps to incorporate data about these programs' children and teachers into their longitudinal education data systems. Doing so helps states track a significant portion of young children's progress as they transition to the public school system, and it also gives states a more complete picture about young children's strengths and challenges. A recent brief from the National Center for Education Statistics describes examples of what states have done to start a data integration process, including defining a vision and engaging stakeholders.
The National Center for Education Statistics has released the latest version of its
Common Education Data Standards
, including new data elements about early learning
organizations, staff and child assessments. States developing ECE data systems may be interested in reviewing these data definitions to see how they can incorporate them into their work.
Dual Language Learners
The Alliance for a Better Community, in collaboration with the National Council of La Raza, developed professional competencies
for early childhood teachers who work with dual language learners, focusing on language and literacy and socio-emotional development. (Later releases will address skills related to assessment and family engagement.) For each area, the document describes skills and indicators of competence for beginning, developing, and advanced early childhood educators. It also distinguishes between monolingual, bilingual, and biliterate professionals who may come from either monocultural or bicultural backgrounds. Even though the competencies were developed with the California context in mind, they can help other states develop early childhood workforce policies that are more supportive of dual language learners.
A number of states have published "risk-and-reach" reports that combine the prevalence of targeted risk factors among young children and their families with this population's participation rates in key early childhood programs. Such analysis, like the recent report from Louisiana's Early Childhood Advisory Council, provides information about the extent to which state programs are reaching the communities with the highest needs and how state resources can be used more strategically for maximum impact.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway recently published a bulletin that addresses the scope of the problem of child neglect as well as its consequences " Acts of Omission: An Overview of Child Neglect" reviews definitions and strategies for assessing neglect, presents lessons learned about prevention and intervention, and suggests sources of training and informational support. Strategies for addressing neglect, beginning with prevention, are included.
Extensive research shows that evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs improve child and family outcomes, and save money for states and taxpayers. Now, the next generation of research is deepening understanding of those program elements that are essential to success, ways to improve existing models, and factors to consider in tailoring home visiting to local contexts and particular target populations. A series of Pew Home Visiting Campaign-supported studies detail:
- The benefits and limitations of home visiting for children, families, and taxpayers
- The value of expanding home visiting to more families
- The important program characteristics that predict better outcomes
- The advances in measuring program quality in home visiting
- The advantages of understanding and encouraging greater program participation
- The new approaches being added to existing strategies.
PolicyLab at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute announces the release of our latest Evidence to Action brief, Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons from Pennsylvania.
This Evidence to Action brief, part of PolicyLab's ongoing work in maternal and child home visitation program evaluation, draws on lessons learned through PolicyLab's evaluation of the Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). Within the context of the scale-up of maternal and child home visitation programs under the Affordable Care Act, the importance of evaluation to demonstrate program effectiveness has grown.
The brief provides four "key concepts" for program evaluators:
1) Real-world evaluation results will reflect implementation environments with fewer supports, resources, and
standardization in comparison to randomized trial environments.
2) Program performance is altered by the local context of the implementing site and the community it serves.
3) Program effectiveness increases over time following wide-scale implementation.
4) Engaging stakeholders enriches program evaluation.
To read the brief, click here.
Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Teens: Voices from the Field. Current estimates of teen pregnancy indicate that one out of every ten young women in the United States gives birth before they reach the age of 20. To better serve the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contracted with Child Trends to produce a report, Promising Strategies and Existing Gaps in Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Teens. This report outlines existing challenges and promising practices in supporting pregnant and parenting teens and summarizes the discussions and suggestions of national experts in the field. Pregnant and parenting teens are not a "one-size-fits-all" population, but by highlighting practical approaches to serving pregnant and parenting teens that are relevant to practitioners, researchers and evaluators, providers, and policy-makers, alike, this report serves as an important resource for all stakeholders in the field of teen pregnancy and teen pregnancy prevention.
Early Language Development
Scientists discovered that two parts of the brain not usually associated with language development can predict a child's linguistic skills by her or his first birthday. The study released by the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) found that children with greater concentration of white and gray matter in the hippocampus and cerebellum by the time they were a year old showed higher language ability. The breakthrough eventually could help identify developmental delays early in a child's life.Read more
Many quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) provide coaching to help ECE programs improve their quality rating. Research conducted by Child Trends uncovered five key characteristics of coaching that are associated with improved teaching practices and/or child outcomes: clearly defined goals, deliberate selection and preparation of coaches, ongoing support and monitoring for coaches, strong linkage between coaching and professional development experiences (e.g., coursework), and appropriate duration and intensity. However, more research needs to be done about what specific coaching strategies and activities lead to quality improvement. The authors found even less research on coaching that goes beyond classroom instruction to improve other aspects of quality that are part of a QRIS. In particularly, they stress the importance of developing common, evidence-based standards of practice to guide the work of these QRIS coaches.
Young Dual Language Learners
Gathering Background Information - In order to support learning and development for children who are Dual Language Learners (DLLs), it's important to understand children's backgrounds and experiences with more than one language. This concise list identifies questions to guide conversations with parents and family members about the language practices and history of a particular young child.
Check out the list here.
This Child Trends brief looks at current research on the quality improvement (QI) practice of coaching and finds it to be a positive tool to improve quality of child care programs and child outcomes. However, there are gaps in research about the specific features and processes of coaching techniques that are most effective. Coaching, defined as "someone with specific expertise working with an early educator on implementing specific practices," is a common practice for trying to improve the quality of early childhood programs.
State Approaches to Integrating Strengthening Families into Quality Rating and Improvement -Stengthening Families identifies what early care and education programs can do to help parents support their children's development and to build strong relationships between family members and staff. At its core, Strengthening Families is about parent and family engagement. This issue brief demonstrates the advantages of using Strengthening Families, describes implementation tools, and highlights state approaches to integrating Strengthening Families into QRIS.
Effective Early Interventions
- A new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts/Amherstcalls early education "an essential component of economic development" that provides "a long-run foundation" for economic development and "an immediate boost" to the economy.
- Ten to 15 years after leaving neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, children of the Moving to Opportunity program are in most ways no better off than their peers who stayed put. But new findings from the ongoing study of their urban communities suggest more comprehensive school-neighborhood improvement initiatives stand a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty. Read more here.
- Enrolling children in quality preschool, engaging them in interactive reading, and supplementing children's diets with fish oil, all turn out to be effective ways to raise a young child's intelligence, according to a new report published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Enrolling an economically disadvantaged child into an early education intervention was found to raise his or her IQ by more than four points; interventions that specifically included a center-based education component raised a child's IQ by more than seven points. Read more here.
- A new report
from the State of Washington on the skills of incoming kindergarteners in Washington state found
more than two-thirds were at expected levels for physical abilities, but many fell short on math. It also showed opportunity gaps between different races and genders when children start school. Overall, nearly 80 percent of kindergarten students showed typical physical development skills, such how to hold a pencil and throw a ball. In math, only 52 percent of new kindergarten students were at expected levels. The new report also highlighted opportunity gaps between racial and gender groups. Read more
The National Council on Teacher Quality released the "2012 State Teacher
Policy Yearbook" which focuses on state policies impacting upon teacher preparation
Health and Early Development
The Institute of Medicine released an analysis of how the American health care system stacks up against other industrialized countries. While the United States spends more on health care, patient outcomes lag behind peer nations, especially with regards to infant mortality. Read more here.
Aligning Early Childhood and K-12 This brief from the Harvard Family Research Project provides case studies of six states - California, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota, and Virginia - to examine best practices for successful kindergarten transitions and make policy recommendations.
States developing kindergarten entry assessments (KEA) may be interested in a recent brief
from the BUILD Initiative that highlights trends and promising practices from states' Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge applications. The brief provides information about state plans to develop KEAs, train teachers, use KEA data, engage families, and work with special needs children. It also includes key considerations that states should keep in mind as they implement KEAs.
Learning around the house.
Every room in the house has wonderful learning opportunities that adults and children can do together. Here are few to try.
Bedrooms are great locations for teaching children about independence and making choices. Adults and children can talk together about the clothes for the next day, picking them out together, and then laying them out so they'll be ready to put on when they awake. Matching clothing items can also be part of the experience as children look for similar or "go-together" colors for pants and shirts - and socks. (This activity also helps with the last-minute morning rush, too!)
Early Learning Foundations:
Infants and Toddlers: Social and Emotional - Self Awareness; Discoveries - Curiosity and Problem Solving
Preschoolers: Approaches to Learning - Reasoning and Problem Solving; My Family, My Community, My World - Past, Present and Future History
In the Kitchen, those plastic storage containers are great entertainment and learning tools for children while adults are making dinner. Bring out containers of different sizes for infants and toddlers to put them inside each other or stack them. When you add cheerios to a small one with a lid, it becomes a great noisemaker for shaking. Older children can sort the same plastic containers by size or color, line them up by size or shape for sequencing or practice taking the lids on and off. Another fun idea is to estimate how many cheerios are in a container and then count them out to see how close the estimate was.
Early Learning Foundations:
Infants and Toddlers: Discoveries - Spatial Awareness, Attention and Persistence, or Play
Preschoolers: Mathematics - Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterns, Measurement or Data Analysis
Bathroom mirrors can be great for learning! Infants and toddlers can learn about body parts when they look into the mirror with an adult who names and points to that body part in the child's reflection. Young children learn self-awareness too when they begin to recognize they are the ones who are staring back!
Older children can play a game of feelings recognition or identification. Adults can smile or frown and encourage the child to make the same face while looking into the mirror. Adults can name the emotion that goes along with the feeling face or ask the child to name the feeling. You can also play, "show me how you look when you feel happy" or "show me how you look when you are wearing your favorite shirt."
Early Learning Foundations:
Infants and Toddlers: Social and Emotional - Self Awareness: Language and Literacy - Receptive or
Preschoolers: Social and Emotional - Self Regulation; Language and Literacy - Receptive or Expressive