The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

DID YOU KNOW? Do you know how many infants are born in your state or community each year? Find that information and much more at the National Collaborative for Infant and Toddlers (NCIT) Online Solution Center. This new website showcases infant and toddler policies and practices working in states and communities around the country, as well as research and tools to help you craft data-informed policies and opportunities to connect with early childhood leaders nationwide.

Child eating watermelonNCSL’s Children and Families Program covers many human services issues, including child support and family law, child welfare, early care and education, welfare and poverty, housing and homelessness. For more about our program and contact information for issue specialists, see our program profile.


Podcast: Brain Development and Childhood Adversity

Increase your understanding of adverse childhood experiences and the importance of positive brain development by listening to a recent "Our American States" podcast. Learn from Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and chief executive officer for the Center of Youth Wellness and the first surgeon general for the state of California, and Ross Thompson, a distinguished professor in the department of psychology at the University of California.

This podcast was made possible with funding from ZERO TO THREE as part of Think Babies, which was developed to make the potential of every baby a national priority. Funding partners for Think Babies include the Perigee Fund, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports the public education aspects of Think Babies.

Child Welfare Fellows

NCSL’s first cohort of child welfare fellows has completed two face-to-face meetings and two webinars. Fellows are now implementing their action plans with technical assistance available from NCSL. Meeting materials and presentations are available online. The year-long program is designed to support experienced legislators and legislative staff or emerging leaders in child welfare policy. NCSL is seeking funding to continue this program.

Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018

Family First will dramatically change the way federal Title IV-E foster care funds can be spent by states, territories and tribes. States previously could only use Title IV-E for children after they entered foster care. As of Oct. 1, 2019, states will be able to use the funds to pay for approved services that prevent children’s entry into care.

Additionally, congregate care or residential group homes will be required to be qualified residential treatment programs that must be licensed and accredited, use a trauma-informed treatment model, have registered or licensed nursing staff, engage families in the treatment process and provide support after discharge.

Regular assessment of children will be key. Legislators in some states are assessing the foster care prevention services in their states, identifying which children in congregate care can be placed safely in family-based care and considering how to increase the number of available foster families. To learn more about the law, see NCSL’s Summary of Family First.

Building a Qualified and Supported Early Care and Education Workforce

An estimated 10 million children from birth to age 5 spend time in center- or home-based early care and education settings each day.

Because children learn and grow wherever they are, and every interaction with a caregiver affects their development, a well-qualified and supported workforce is essential to ensure early learners are set up for success in school and later life. Learn about the ECE workforce preparation standards, compensation issues and what states are doing to address both in NCSL’s new report, Building a Qualified and Supported Early Care and Education Workforce.

Early Learning Fellows 2011-2018 Alumni Report

NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows program is designed for legislators and legislative staff who want to deepen their knowledge and understanding of early learning policy options. Check out our first Early Learning Fellows Alumni Report and learn more about the seven cohorts who have completed or are currently in the program. The report highlights the legislative role related to early learning in the states and recaps actions taken by participants.


Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis

The Bipartisan Policy Center compiled information about states’ approaches to organizing, administering and coordinating early care and education programs and developed a scoring system for state-to-state comparisons.

The detailed state-by-state review suggests that while many states have taken important steps, both to improve coordination and consolidate the administration of ECE programs and to introduce quality measures and enhance data collection, there is room for further improvement. Read the report including state data and access a recent webinar highlight its findings.

Father Engagement

A new report from the Fatherhood Research & Practice Network, State Approaches to Including Fathers in Program and Policies Dealing with Children and Families, looks at federally financed and supported programs and state initiatives to encourage father engagement.

The report examines statewide fatherhood commissions in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois and Ohio, as well as state human services agencies that have embedded fatherhood into practice in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas. Programs in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina and Texas are housed within their child support programs and offer workforce and employment services to fathers.

Alison May is a research analyst with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She covers early care and education issues.

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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.