NCSL Early Care and Education Quarterly E-Update


in this issue

NEW NCSL ECE Web Documents

Young Girl Smelling a FlowerNCSL launched a new website in October 2013 intended to make information clearer and easier to find. Have you used the new website? How do you like it? Much of the feedback that we have received over the last year points to the fact that users enjoy it.

Recently the Early Care and Education project staff have been busy updating the new website. Please draw your attention to a handful of new, updated and helpful web documents.

  • Early Care & Education State Budget Report FY 2014
    NCSL surveyed 20 state legislative fiscal offices in May 2014 on their FY 2014 and FY 2015 state appropriations for various early care and education programs—child care, prekindergarten, home visiting and other related programs. States were selected based on geographic representation, legislative partisan composition, participation in previous surveys and state legislatures' level of legislative involvement in setting the early care and education funding landscape.

    Overall, state appropriations to early care and education increased by 3.8 percent ($368.8 million). Appropriations increased across all four categories, with prekindergarten appropriations seeing the largest increase between FY 2014 and FY 2015.
  • State Approaches to School Readiness Assessment 2014 Update
    Since 2010, at least 14 states have passed new legislation to establish or amend school readiness assessments of young children. Currently, at least 34 states and the District of Columbia have some form of a school readiness assessment statute or regulation. Typically, states assess children at the beginning of the kindergarten year through use of a state approved assessment. This report is an update to NCSL's 2010 Technical Report: State Approaches to School Readiness Assessment.
  • Early Education and Child Care Bill Tracking Database 
    The Early Care and Education database tracks and updates early care and education legislation from the 2008-2014 legislative sessions for 50 states and the territories. Issues include child care and child care financing, early childhood services, prekindergarten, professional development, home visiting, infants and toddlers, and financing early education. Legislation can be searched by state, topic, status, primary sponsor, bill number or keyword. This database, which is updated biweekly, is made possible by the generous support of the Alliance for Early Success.

Early Learning Fellows Update

Logo with Early Learning Fellows and a series of colorful handprintsThe 2014 class of NCSL Early Learning Fellows has officially ended the program year which included two in-person meetings, two webinars and a newsletter. But not to fear, all who have participated as an Early Learning Fellow are now part of an alumni network and will continue to remain plugged in to NCSL, your colleagues around the country, and the latest in early care and education policy and research.

As a way to keep all Fellows connected with one another and to highlight the terrific work being done in the states NCSL staff put together the Early Learning Fellows Legislative Corner. The October 2014 edition highlights state examples from Nebraska and Washington state.

Tamara Halle, a researcher from Child Trends, presented a webinar on Sept. 30 to NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows answering the question Who are the children who are dual language learners (DLLs)?

Dual language learners are children who are acquiring two or more languages simultaneously, and learn a second language while continuing to develop their first language. During Halle’s invitation only webinar, she provided participants with a better understanding of who and what dual language learners are, what the social and emotional needs look like, as well as some policy and practice implications. Halle commented enthusiastically that “DLLs function as well as if not better than English-speaking monolinguals in the social-emotional domain." She added that “DLLs tend to be judged as having better self control, better interpersonal skills and fewer behavior problems then their monolingual peers.”

The webinar concluded with a question-and-answer period during which the conversation shifted and highlighted the important policy levers for legislators to consider. It is important to highlight that cultural relevance, the needs of the families being served and teacher trainings should be considered in early learning standards and guidelines, assessments, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) and research-based curriculum.

If you are interested in learning more about this emerging topic please view the full webinar or simply look through Halle’s  PowerPoint slides. For additional information on the emerging DLL topic please visit the Early Care and Education 101 webpage.

Spotlight: The Intersection of Health and Early Learning

The Ounce of Prevention Fund released a report earlier this year summarizing research on early life experiences that have been found to impact health over the course of a lifetime. According to the Ounce report, children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are five times more likely to experience an increase in overall health problems than their same age peers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. This health gap has the potential to impact the 11.5 million children ages six and younger currently living in poverty. Children living in poverty have an increase in chronic disease and childhood injury, and an increase in behavioral and cognitive challenges. 

The Ounce Report provides a look at the research findings linking health to early care and learning, suggesting that quality early care and education can lead to improved outcomes in perinatal health, childhood health and adult health. In addition, the research linked quality early care and education with improved social-emotional, behavioral and mental health, and increased engagement in health-promoting behaviors in both children and adults. While the research supports the benefits of quality early care and education programs, the Ounce Report suggests that more needs to be done to increase program quality. Lastly, the report offers recommendation in five areas for early education and health care practice. Recommendations include:

  • Providing direct health resources to the youngest and most vulnerable beginning during pregnancy up to age five.
  • Implementing evidence-based practices to meet the comprehensive needs of young children in health care and early education settings.
  • Investing in systems that can support high quality and effective services in early education and health care settings.
  • Increasing collaboration between systems serving young children and families.
  • Engaging in research and evaluation specifically targeting the link between early learning and health.

State lawmakers are recognizing the importance of early care and education, the NCSL Early Care and Education 2014 Budget Survey found increases in funding for pre-K as well as home visiting programs.  The research findings and recommendations in the Ounce Report can be used to help inform states as they continue to address the needs of children and families. Read the full report: Start Early to Build a Healthy Future.

Reference: Fisher, B., Hanson, A., & Raden, T. (2014). Start Early to Build a Healthy Future: The Research Linking Early Learning and Health. 

Forum 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Capitol Building with the number and word 2014 Forum notedCome to the NCSL Forum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9-12, to help craft the States’ Agenda and learn the latest on important state-federal issues. Listen to NCSL president Senator Debbie Smith discuss the many opportunities for legislators and staff at the Forum.

The online agenda is available and will continue to update. After the meeting we will create a resource page where you can find all meeting materials. We hope to see you in D.C.!

Federal Update: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization

Congress passed the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, on November 17, 2014, which reauthorized the child care program through 2019, the first time since 1996. The CCDBG is a formula grant program for states to provide child care subsidies for low-income families. The law makes important statutory changes that better balance the dual purposes of the program-to promote families’ economic self-sufficiency by making child care more affordable and allowing parents to work, and fostering healthy child development and school readiness by improving the overall quality of early learning and afterschool programs. The law also includes changes to basic health and safety provisions, background checks and entry level training for the workforce, and a more transparent system of quality information for parents. Visit the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 and to read a summary of the statutory changes.

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has created a chart that compares the details of the previous CCDBG law to the reauthorization.  

resources of interest

Making the Hours Count: Exposing Disparities in Early Education by Retiring Half-Day vs. Full-Day Labels

Source: New America Foundation—September 2014
This new report highlights the differences in how time is measured and the lack of data available to accurately determine the length of the school day across states and districts. The report offers: a brief history of "time" in school, research base on the effects of instructional time in prekindergarten and kindergarten and recommendations to ensure opportunities to learn across the Pre-K-3 continuum. Read the report.

Data Finder

Source: CLASP—September 2014
The CLASP Data Finder is a custom, easy-to-use tool developed to provide select demographic information as well as administrative data on programs that affect low-income people and families. Use the data finder.

State Policies through a Two-Generation Lens

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)—September 2014
This new brief provides information about how state policies can strengthen two-generation supports for families with young children and promote the well-being and life opportunities of both parents and children. Read the brief.

America’s Hispanic Children: Gaining Ground, Looking Forward

Source: Child Trends—September 2014
This report presents a rich and nuanced statistical portrait of American’s Latino children, drawn from the latest nationally-representative data. Read the report. You may view a vibrant slideshow that tells the story of U.S. Hispanic children through numbers. These slides are the basis for the full report.

Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce: Shared and Divergent Challenges in Early Care and Education and in Grades K-12

Source: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment Institute for Research on Labor and Employment—September 2014
This paper prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation discusses the public perception of early childhood teaching, the history and purpose of education for children of different ages, and describes key features of the personnel systems that have emerged from these varied roots, comparing them along several dimensions, and offers several suggestions for promoting a skilled and stable early care and education workforce for the 21st. Read the paper.

Tomorrow’s Skilled Workforce Requires Investing in Young Children Today: The Importance of Early Childhood Development

Source: Brookings Institute—September 2014
Early Childhood Development (ECD) spans from the moment of conception until the beginning of primary school, and includes physical well-being, and cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development. Investing in ECD leads to happier children, more equal societies, and prevents higher costs further down the road. In this short three minute video learn more about the importance of early childhood development. Watch the video.

Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade: A Policymaker’s Guide

Source: Education Commission of the States (ECS)—October  2014
A new early learning primer from the ECS addresses effective strategies to support children on their path to third-grade academic success and details the foundations of effective P-3 approaches. Read the primer.

Turning the Corner: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2014

Source: National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)—October 2014
This report shows that 33 states were better off—having greater access to assistance and/or receiving greater benefits from assistance—in February 2014 than in February 2013 under one or more child care assistance policies covered in this report. This is the second year in a row in which the situation for families improved in more states than it worsened. Yet, there are still enormous gaps in families’ access to assistance and the level of assistance available. Provider reimbursement rates, in particular, are far from sufficient in most states. Read the report

Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice

Source: National Association of Elementary School Principals—October 2014
This is an updated principal competency guide aimed toward principals, but can be a resource for anyone who cares about supporting quality teaching and learning for Pre-K-3 learners. The publication sets forth a strategy to help principals develop and expand their instructional leadership with a child-centered focus and acquire the practical skills necessary to address the academic, social, emotional and physical development needs of all young children. Read the guide.

The Evidence on Universal Preschool: Are Benefits Worth the Cost?

Source: Cato Institute—October 2014
This report reviews the major evaluations of preschool programs, including both traditional programs such as Head Start and those designated as “high quality.” These evaluations do not paint a generally positive picture. The most methodologically rigorous evaluations find that the academic benefits of preschool programs are quite modest and these gains fade after children enter elementary school. Read the report.

Unlocking Young Children’s Potential: Governors’ Role in Strengthening Early Mathematics Learning

Source: NGA Center for Best Practices—October 2014
This recent issue brief highlights research showing that early math ability is a strong predictor of later success. A child’s math ability when he or she enters school has proved a better predictor of academic achievement, high school graduation and college attendance than any other early childhood skill. Early mathematics competency even predicts later reading achievement better than early literacy skills. High-quality early mathematics instruction also supports later learning of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills U.S. employers require. Read the issue brief.


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