Early Learning Fellows Program

Early Learning Fellows Program

Early Learning Fellows logo


The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is pleased to announce a year-long Early Learning Fellows program for state legislators and staff. States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development. Scientific and evaluation research provide new insights into both child development and programs that are showing results.  Federal initiatives, such as the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, will boost early childhood and home visiting funds in the coming years. We are pleased to offer a legislative fellows program to legislators and legislative staff at no cost.  Expenses for the program are being paid through a grant from the Alliance for Early Success.


This new endeavor is designed to support legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues.  The program is geared toward those chairing or serving on human services or education committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country. Legislatures have been addressing program and policy issues such as child care, pre-k, and home visiting and system elements such as teacher training, assessment and accountability, data systems and governance and we expect to address a number of these topics as well as others identified by the class of fellows. Fellows will have the opportunity to be part of a peer learning community with other legislators and to engage with research and policy experts who are leaders in the field. Fellows will participate in a kick off and final meeting as well as two virtual seminars throughout the year. In addition, NCSL will be available to provide background research, testimony, bill drafting ideas or other research to support your efforts.

The program will:

  • Build knowledge among legislators about new research and policy
  • Promote exchange of ideas and solutions related to early learning, the early achievement gap, and many other issues
  • Introduce and connect legislators to other legislative leaders
  • Provide fellows with practical information they can use in their state
  • Facilitate access to leading researchers and policy experts

Fellows Highlight Section

Since the Fellows program began in 2011 NCSL has tried to capture quotes, ideas and plans that Fellows have related to the field of early care and education. This section is to highlight the great work that Fellows have done and are currently doing.

Additional quotes and stories coming soon. Have something to add email

  • A quote from Representative Mary Gile (D) New Hampshire participant in the first class
    Photo of Rep GileThe NCSL Early Learning Fellows Program provided opportunities to learn about cutting edge research and best practices in Early Childhood Education from experts in Academia and public school districts. Meetings and webinars offered stimulating, inspiring and affirming information from both theoretical and practical perspectives. I especially appreciated meeting and working with legislative colleagues from across the nation.

  • A quote from Senator Deb Soholt (R) South Dakota participant in the second class
    Photo of Sen. SoholtI have enjoyed the opportunity of being part of this group and working with political friends from around the country. The rich information learned at the May 2013 meeting was immediately put to use…and I truly appreciated the contact to NCSL and experts to deepen my knowledge of early care issues.

  • A quote from Representative Vernon Sykes (D) Ohio participant in the second class
    Photo of Rep. SykesIt was truly wonderful to meet in person, people from around the country that have the same agenda…. supporting access to early childhood education.

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