By Alison May
Earlier this month the fourth class of NCSL Early Learning Fellows attended a two-day meeting in Denver.
This was the second face-to-face meeting offered to this cadre of selected legislators and staff, representing a total of 12 states, who first met in August in Seattle. Offering this followup meeting allowed for stronger networking connections to blossom and gave NCSL staff the ability to create an agenda building on a knowledge base already set.
The highlights of the meeting were plentiful, but response from participants indicated, that the following presentations were truly of note:
- The Power of Play and Helping Young Children Develop SR/EF
Deb Leong, director at Tools of the Mind, presented an in-depth look at self-regulation/executive function (SR/EF) and the link between those skills and later school achievement. She discussed how high-quality early learning environments can promote the development of these skills in children, and how make-believe play can help young children develop SR/EF.
- Pay for Success: Innovative Financing to Support Early Childhood Programs
This session offered attendees information about performance-based investing, a financing strategy gaining popularity known as social impact bonds, or “pay for success,” Senator Thomas Alexander (R-S.C.) addressed the fellows about South Carolina’s efforts to adapt this model to finance home visiting in his state.
- Brain Science: Interventions and Policy Implications
Sarah Watamura, professor at the University of Denver, presented and highlighted the latest research, promising interventions and policy considerations for mitigating the effects of toxic stress in young children and their families.
- Show Me the Evidence: Key Questions for Legislators When Examining the Research
The meeting also included a dynamic and robust discussion about the differences between evaluation and research led by Courtney Harrison, CLH Strategies and Solutions, and Sarah Daily, Child Trends.
In addition to the content presentations, the meeting allowed for participants to spend time working with their legislative colleagues, NCSL staff and experts in the field as they created their own Early Learning action plan to use when they return home.
View all meeting information—made possible by the generous support of the Bezos Family Foundation, Mattel Inc., and the Alliance for Early Success—on the Web today.
A final webinar will wrap up the fourth year of the successful fellows program on Nov. 19. The webinar will look at the range of social and emotional needs of young children and addressing expulsion rates in preschool.
For those less familiar with this premier program, the Early Learning Fellows is designed to support legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues. The program is specifically designed to:
• Build knowledge among legislators and staff 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 a practical early learning plan they can use in their state.
• Facilitate access to leading researchers and policy experts.
Alison May is a staff coordinator in NCSL’s Children and Families program.