NCSL Early Care and Education Quarterly E-Update


in this issue

Recent NCSL Early Care and Education Publications

NCSL’s Early Care and Education project periodically hosts webinars, creates new reports, new web pages and pens articles. Here are some of the most recent projects that might be helpful and relevant to the work you do.

In the October/November 2015 State Legislatures magazine, Early Care and Education staff authored the cover story about preschool in the states. Funding is up, as is enrollment, as states continue to invest in high-quality early childhood education to help kids succeed. Read the full article Preschool is for Real.  

NCSL hosted a webinar on Sept. 17, Integrating Early Childhood Data: What Legislators Need to Know. The webinar focused on how integrated early care and education data systems can inform policymakers and help answer questions about young children, families, programs, and services in their states. The webinar is now available in our archives. 

NCSL hosted a second webinar on Nov. 19, Supporting Children’s Social and Emotional Needs and Reducing Early Childhood Expulsions. The webinar focused on how state legislatures can approach the current concerns with young children’s challenging behavior and recent expulsion data in early childhood settings. The webinar is now available in our archives

2015 Early Learning Fellows Convene for a Second Meeting 

Early Learning Fellows in a blue ribbon with a capitol dome The fourth class of NCSL Early Learning Fellows convened in Denver on Oct. 8-9 for the second of two face-to-face meetings; the first was in Seattle during the Legislative Summit. 

During the Oct. meeting, 15 legislators and three legislative staff representing 12 states gathered and were provided with issue content information in a peer learning community with additional facilitated small group time.

These sessions were among the many highlights of the meeting:

  • 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.” State 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.

All meeting materials, including the agenda and PowerPoint Presentations, are available on our website. A blog post providing a more comprehensive summary of the meeting is also available. 

Recap of the Inaugural Human Services Chairs Meeting, Oct. 1-2 in New Orleans

New Orleans street viewNCSL’s Children and Families Program held its inaugural Human Services Chairs meeting in New Orleans on Oct. 1-2. The meeting brought together 22 chairs of human services committees from 17 states. 

Legislators had an opportunity to learn from their peers who are working on similar issues including innovations in human services policy and financing, strategies to address poverty and to improve outcomes for children and families.

Committee chairs shared their state’s greatest challenges and innovations in human services policy, learned how to incorporate employment and training into their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and leverage opportunities to connect to other state workforce development opportunities. Other topics included human services budgets and financing and the implications of changing demographics across the country.

During the second day of the meeting human service committee chairs joined the neighboring meeting of education committee chairs and heard from Representative Toni Walker (D-Conn.) and Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Utah) discuss what their states are doing to address intergenerational poverty through innovative multi-generational strategies. 

For more information, be sure to visit the Human Services Chairs Meeting page to view the full agenda and PowerPoint Presentations or read the blog post which summarizes the meeting.

What a Legislator Need to Know: Social Impact Bonds (SIB)

Last year in the spring edition of our e-update we included a piece about Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), otherwise known as Pay for Success (PFS) financing, which you can read here. Since then interest has increased in the issue by policymakers as an innovative way to finance successful, evidence-informed social programs. Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of states introduce or enact legislative proposals involving PFS financing with a target for improving education outcomes for children. Utah was the first state to launch a PFS project aimed at funding and expanding a high-quality preschool program. NCSL has started tracking this legislative trend and the impact on early care and education financing. Take a look at the map to see what states are up to.

Pay for Success Map

  • Colorado (2015) passed a bill that authorizes the state to enter into Pay for Success contracts for the provision of social services that will reduce the need for the state to provide other social services in the future.
  • Hawaii (2013) passed a bill conduct a study on the feasibility of using social impact bonds to fund early learning programs and services.
  • Idaho (2015) passed a bill allowing the state Department of Education to enter into Pay for Success contracts for approved services designed to enhance student academic achievement. 
  • Maine (2015) enacted a bill that would require a study to look at the use of social impact bonds to fund prekindergarten programs.
  • Arizona (2015), Maryland (2013), New Hampshire (2015), South Carolina ( 2013) and Washington (2014)  are states that introduced a bills over the last couple of years that addressed PFS/Social Impact Bonds and a focus on improving outcomes for children through investment in early childhood development and education.

Tennessee Prekindergarten Study and a Tennessee Legislator Response

In September 2015, Vanderbilt University released its study findings of the Tennessee public prekindergarten for four-year-olds. The researchers conducting the evaluation examined three questions: 

  • Does participation improve school readiness at kindergarten entry for economically disadvantaged children served?
  • Are there differential effects for different subgroups of children?
  • Are the effects of participation sustained through the kindergarten and beyond kindergarten through third grade?

The researchers found that participation in Tennessee’s program did improve school readiness and there were positive effects for different subgroups, including English language learners. But by both kindergarten and in first grade “the control children had caught up to the children in the program and there were no longer significant differences between them on any achievement measures.” In second grade, the children who attended preschool scored lower on some achievement measures than children in the control group.

Head shot of Rep. Dunn (R-Tenn.)State Representative Bill Dunn (R-Tenn.) thinks taking a step back and re-evaluating the program should be a top priority over the next coming months. But he's more of a mind to roll pre-K back than scale it up. Representative Dunn adds, “Spending millions of tax dollars to get worse results is not good government.” The 2016 legislature will be closely examining, and possibly debating, program aspects and funding for the Tennessee prekindergarten program.

A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children’s Skills and Behaviors through Third Grade
Source: Peabody Research Institute / Vanderbilt Peabody College—Sept. 2015
Read the report

Expectations of sustained effects from scaled up pre-K: Challenges from the Tennessee study
Source: The Bookings Institution—Oct. 2015
Read the paper.

Federal Update & Resources

Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization Resources
President Obama signed legislation in 2014 reauthorizing the child care program for the first time since 1996. The new law makes significant advancements by defining health and safety requirements for child care providers, outlining family-friendly eligibility policies and ensuring parents and the general public have transparent information about the child care choices available to them. The Office of Child Care has posted several key resources related to the CCDF reauthorization law on its web page including an overview of the new law, responses to frequently asked questions, and technical assistance resources. 

U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education policy statement
Recently, HHS and ED issued a joint letter and policy on expulsion and suspension policies in early childhood settings. Read the letter, policy statement and view some webinars on the topic by visiting the website

Preschool Development Grants
Early in October 2015 the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced that 18 states will receive a total of $237,000,000 in second year awards for the Preschool Development Grant program.

Child Care/Head Start
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded $500 million for 275 new grants nationwide—with at least one being awarded in every state—for the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships and Expansion in early 2015. The grants allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family child care providers serving infants and toddlers to expand high-quality early learning opportunities. The partnerships will support working families by providing a full-day, full-year program so that low-income children have the healthy and enriching early experiences necessary to realize their full potential. 

Compendium of Evidenced-Based Parenting Interventions
Resources for states, schools, and early childhood programs that make it easier to find and implement parenting interventions that have a research base and are responsive to families’ and communities’ needs. Compendium of Parenting Interventions: The Compendium profiles parenting interventions for families of children birth to age five that are research-based. It includes information on the cost, training requirements, duration, and intended outcomes of each intervention. The document also reviews the research base for each intervention. Implementing Parenting Interventions in Early Care and Education Settings: A Guidebook for Implementation: The Guidebook outlines the steps to successfully implement a parenting intervention in an early childhood program, including how to assess an organization’s readiness, assess families’ needs, choose the appropriate intervention, carry out an intervention, and evaluate progress.

Mark Your Calendar

NCSL Capitol Forum 
NCSL Capitol Forum with capitol dome and pillar NCSL will hold its annual NCSL Capitol Forum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8-11. The Capitol Forum features sessions on important state-federal issues, special tours and briefings for legislative staff, and opportunities to connect with legislative colleagues from across the nation. 

As part of the programming, NCSL’s Early Care and Education project  will convene a focus group about child care, reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, funding, and challenges and opportunities for implementing. Participants will discuss child care and its role supporting working parents and providing a quality learning environment for children. NCSL gratefully acknowledges the Alliance for Early Success for sponsoring this focus group. 

For more information or to RSVP for this focus group please contact or by calling 303-856-1473. 

NCSL Legislative Summit
Legislative Summit is the meeting where legislators and legislative staff come together to work on the nation's pressing issues, share experiences and influence federal policy. The 2016 Legislative Summit will be held Aug. 8-11 in Chicago. 

resources of interest

Building Blocks: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2015

Source: National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)—Oct. 2015
This annual update finds that families in 32 states were better off under one or more of the key policies covered in the report—had greater access to child care assistance and/or received greater benefits from assistance—in February 2015 than in February 2014. Families in 16 states were worse off under one of more of these policies in February 2015 than in February 2014. This is the third year in a row in which the situation for families improved in more states than it worsened. Read the full report.

CCDBG Fact Sheets

Source: CLASP—Sept. 2015
CLASP has released new fact sheets with participation information on children and families using federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to help policymakers, administrators, advocates and others understand the impact and reach of the program.

Bullies in the Block Area: The Early Childhood Origins of “Mean” Behavior 

Source: Child Trends—Aug. 2015 This report looks at the early roots of mean behavior in young children and what can be done to address this issue. Read the report or a blog post on the topic authored by Child Trends and NAYEC.

Additional resources

Renewing Childhood’s Promise: The History and Future of Federal Early Care and Education Policy

Source: American Enterprise Institute—Nov. 2015
Read the report.

Poverty’s Effect on Infants and Toddlers

Source: ZERO TO THREE—Nov. 2015
View the infographics

Windows of Opportunity: Their Seductive Appeal

Source: The Brookings Institution—Oct. 2015
Read the paper

Using Data to Measure Performance of Home Visiting: A New Framework for Assessing Effectiveness

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts—Oct. 2015
Read the report

High Quality Child Care is Out of Reach for Working Families

Source: Economic Policy Institute—Oct. 2015
Read the report.

Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?

Source: The New York Times Op-Ed—Oct. 2015
Read the article.

TANF and the First Year of Life: Making a Difference at a Pivotal Moment

Source: CLASP—Oct. 2015
Read the report.

A Healthy Bottom Line: Strengthening Business through Effective Investments in Children & Youth

Source: ReadyNation—Sept. 2015
Read the report

Why Boosting Poor Children’s Vocabulary is Important for Public Health

Source: The Atlantic—Sept. 2015
Read the article

Young Minds Matter: Supporting Children’s Mental Health Through Policy Change

Source: Colorado Children’s Campaign—Aug. 2015
Read the report

Discussion Guide: State Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education Systems

Source: Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)—May 2015
Read the guide.

Click to View the Fall 2015 e-update as a PDF