The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

It’s likely that you have already heard of NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows.

The Fellows class in ChicagoFor those less familiar, the Early Learning Fellows program is offered annually, through an application and selection process, to legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning policy.

Earlier this month the fifth cohort of Early Learning Fellows convened in Chicago for their second of two face-to-face meetings of the program.

Twenty-four legislators and five legislative staff representing 18 states and the District of Columbia shared a day and a half peer learning experience at the Chicago Convention Center hearing from experts and researchers in the field of early care and learning as well as potential policy options. The program provided ample opportunity for networking with one another and with NCSL staff.

Some session highlights include:

  • Deb Leong, Tools of the Mind, as she presented about executive function and self-regulation and how these important skills can be learned successfully through make-believe play in high-quality early learning environments.
  • Geoff Nagle, Erickson Institute, as he discussed the priorities and emerging topics in early childhood development such as transforming the early childhood workforce.
  • Steve Tozer, University of Illinois, as he shared information about integrating early learning when developing school leadership and the recent research showing impacts in Illinois.

The program also offered sessions on financing, dual language learners, home visiting, data and provided participants the opportunity to continue working on their Early Learning Plan. Early Learning Plans are individualized roadmaps used to identify priorities and goals, and establish steps and timelines for achievement in each person’s state.

The Alliance for Early Success along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation and Mattel Inc. provided funding for a successful meeting. The Ounce of Prevention Fund provided key contributions and content knowledge to the meeting.

Interested in learning more about these and all the sessions offered at this Early Learning Fellows meeting? Please visit our website and view the full agenda and PowerPoint Presentations.

Prior to this cohort moving into the alumni category of the program they will have an opportunity to participate in a second of two webinars. "The Costly Consequences of Not Being Socially and Behaviorally Ready by Kindergarten" will take place Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. ET and will feature Deborah Gross and Aimee Bentencourt, both from Johns Hopkins University.

Finally, the Early Learning Fellows program will again be offered in 2017 so keep your eyes and ears alert to details on how to become a fellow.

Alison May is a staff coordinator in NCSL’s Children and Families program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.