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The Early Childhood Fellows program aims to educate and support legislators and staff with an interest in deepening their knowledge and understanding of policies and practices focused on the critical prenatal through prekindergarten period.

Program Elements

The Early Childhood Fellows program is on hiatus in 2023.

Selection Process

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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

  • "I 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." —Senator Deb Soholt (R-S.D.), participant in the second class
  • "It was truly wonderful to meet in person, people from around the country that have the same agenda…. supporting access to early childhood education." —Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Ohio), participant in the second class
    Sykes was in the House when he participated as an Early Learning Fellow.
  • "The fellows program has been a unique and rewarding experience in so many ways: learning from and networking with colleagues from other states, hearing about research and cutting-edge information on early learning, and (most of all) applying all of this to actual steps to take in our respective states. Great action-oriented program." —Senator Kate Sullivan (NP-Neb.), participant in the third class
  • "It has been an honor to be part of the fellows group. At our first face-to-face meeting in May 2014 in Denver, I found the information presented and site visit to the Educare program interesting and even inspiring. One of the most interactive webinars that I have ever participated in was the June 2014 Fellows webinar where Steve Barnett talked about pre-K. Being from Alabama I have a lot to add to a conversation about pre-K and felt as though I was able to do so on this webinar. I look forward to the remaining face-to-face meeting and final webinar as a fellow." —Representative Terri Collins (R-Ala.), participant in the third class
  • "As a brand new legislator, starting my first full session in 2016, I really enjoyed being an Early Learning Fellow. The fellows program was an extremely comprehensive program that looked at early learning issues and the importance of early learning in a young child’s life. Having an opportunity to explore solutions with legislators from other states was very beneficial. I highly encourage my fellow state legislators from around the country to also take advantage of this opportunity to help the children of their state." —Representative Mark Kinner (R-Wy.), participant in the fourth class
  • "Beginning with the first series of the fellows program, I have learned so much about cutting edge research into early childhood brain science, policy that pushes the envelope and from providers putting best practices to work. The Early Learning Fellows program was such a great experience and I am putting what I learned to good use during this 2016 session by working on a bill that limits preschool suspensions and expulsions. Thanks to the staff at NCSL for their support!" —Representative Susan Lontine (D-Colo.), participant in the fourth class
  • "Rarely does participation in a training program have a significantly profound impact on the work in which I am involved; however, my experiences with the Early Learning Fellowship Program did just that. The information presented positively affected the way in which I think about early learning for children from birth to school years. The program provided new tools and proven models of success which, when applied, will assist educators in my state build a positive foundation for children who need the most support. I highly recommend this program to other legislators who are looking for innovative and proven methods of success in learning." —Representative Donny C. Lambeth (R-N.C.), participant in the fifth class
  • "It was a rewarding and enlightening experience to take part in the NCSL Early Learning Fellows Program as a legislative staff. NCSL recognizes the value of bringing staff into the fold for these important presentations and conversations. The atmosphere of the program was inclusive, staff were given a seat at the table alongside legislators and were treated as colleagues. It was professionally fulfilling to use this expertise to enhance policy and legislation once I returned home. I highly recommend this program to fellow staff." —Bethany Anderson, research assistant in the Office of Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Wis.), participant in the fifth class
  • "I was indeed grateful to be selected to participate in the Early Learning Fellows Program last year. It was indeed rewarding to be in a room with many individuals with like minds on early childhood education even if we are not all able to fund it to the max. I enjoyed the session on the brain development and parent/child bonding which needs to be shown to every new parent, especially during this time of expanding technology. Thanks again for allowing me to gain more knowledge on where we in Louisiana should be heading regarding early childhood education." —Representative Patricia Haynes Smith (D-La.), participant in the fifth class
  • "It was an incredible experience as a 20-year public educator and a 10-year state legislator to take part in the 2017 Early Learning Fellows Program. Most of my experiences have been around middle and high school education so this program was very impactful for me to learn about the significance of early childhood education. It truly convinced me, that we could solve a lot of long-term problems, by investing in early childhood education." —Representative John "Bam" Carney (R-Ky.), participant in the sixth class
  • "The NCSL Early Learning Fellows Program taught me about the science behind early child development, quality metrics for programs, and financial models. Although my state has done a lot of work on early education, I found it extremely valuable to meet with other legislators and staff and problem-solve our similar challenges. The fellows program sparked new ideas, reinforced the critical need to invest in early education to improve our communities, and gave me a solid base to work on legislation back home." —Representative Christine Barber (D-Mass.), participant in the sixth class
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