Early Care and Education E-Update, February 2012Child Care and Early Education Network Banner







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Early Learning Fellows BannerLate in 2011 NCSL announced a year-long Early Learning Fellows program for state legislators and staff.  The new endeavor is designed to support legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues.  The Fellows program creates an opportunity for legislators and legislative staff to be part of a peer learning community and to engage with research and policy experts who are leaders in the field. 
Once applications were received and reviewed the inaugural Fellows class was selected by NCSL staff.  The inaugural class of Early Learning Fellows includes 30 legislators and six legislative staff representing a total of 21 states.  On the heels of NCSL’s Fall Forum a kick off meeting entitled  Next Steps for States in Early Learning:  Policy, Research and Innovation was held in Tampa, Florida from December 2nd – December 3rd, 2011.  The meeting was a productive and positive way to get the year off to a great start.  During the day and a half meeting Fellows had the opportunity to meet one another, share ideas, and learn about topics ranging from emerging ideas in early learning through Louisiana’s approach to financing early childhood programs.  The Fellows program also offers four webinars, hosted every other month, which include presentations by leading scientists and policy makers in the field of early learning.  Topics for the webinar series include:  Best Practices in Early Learning from Other States, Expanding the Science:  Foundations of Early Childhood Development, and Revolutionizing Early Childhood Teaching. 

By going to the NCSL website you can find even more information about the program by visiting www.ncsl.org/fellows.   At the Fellows site you can meet the participants and stellar faculty members by reading the biographies book, and view presentations from the kick off meeting and past webinars.  With the success the Early Learning Fellows program is currently experiencing it is likely that this program will continue on into the future.  If you are interested in learning more about the Early Learning Fellows program please email alison.may@ncsl.org


NCSL tracks introduced and enacted early care and education legislation from the 50 states and the territories through the Early Care and Education database, click here for the full database.  Issues include child care and child care financing, early childhood services, prekindergarten, professional development, home visiting, infants and toddlers, and financing early education. Search legislation by state, topic, status, primary sponsor, bill number or keyword. The database is updated biweekly, and periodically showcases exciting legislation in a spotlighted section.
In January 2012, Legislators in 31 states  introduced more than 150 bills relating to early care and education.   Bills focusing on child care issues such as licensing, facilities, subsidies and quality make up the bulk of new legislation introduced, followed by bills pertaining to preschool quality and access.  Legislation addressing the cost of financing early childhood care and education, including proposals to implement tax credits or incentives, have also been introduced.  Other topics covered in new 2012 legislation include early childhood services and governance, workforce,  and services for infants and toddlers such as home visitation.

Search over four years of early childhood education and care legislation by word, topic, state and year by visiting our database here.  For questions regarding the database or bill tracking, please contact Phuonglan Nguyen or call 303-856-1582.   


As you all know, the White House announced in mid December the nine states—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington—receiving grant dollars from the $500 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge fund. 

The grant competition, jointly administered by HHS and the DOE, focuses on improving early learning and development.  Specifically in the areas of:  raising academic standards, building robust data systems to improve instruction, supporting great teachers and leaders, and improving outcomes for young children.  These nine awarded states have been determined to be leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive early learning  reform.  For anyone interested you can read the complete and submitted applications from all 37 states by visiting this section of the U.S. Department of Education website. 

Source:  U.S. Department of Education website. 


In tough economic times, state legislators are looking to data to guide them in maximizing resources for early childhood programs. In March 2012, the LegisBrief  “How Data Play a Role in Early Childhood  Education” will be published.  The LegisBrief provides examples of how states are utilizing resources and opportunities to build effective data systems that inform program and policy decisions to ensure young children are prepared for school readiness and success.  The LegisBrief will be available in March through the  NCSL Publications area of the website.   


Many exciting things are happening with NCSL’s Home Visiting Advisory Group.  Formed in 2011 the Home Visiting Advisory Group is currently composed of 12 legislators and 3 legislative staff members from a total of 11 states.  The advisory group had a first convening in Denver, CO from July 7-8, 2011, with support from the Pew Center on the States, to guide NCSL’s home visiting research and technical assistance strategies and provide a venue for sharing information and experiences among state legislative leaders.  

Between the time of the first convening through present the advisory group along with staff from NCSL and The Pew Center on the States have been busy creating a Legislator’s Guide to Home Visiting.  This publication is in the final stage of edits and once complete will be available for download through the NCSL website.  The publication will be informative for legislators and give them an overview of home visiting, it will highlight federal resources and opportunities as well as how to advance state policies.  NCL’s Home Visiting Advisory Group plans to host a webinar this spring and will reconvene a meeting in early summer 2012. 

In other Home Visiting news the National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting took place on February 15-16, 2012 in Washington, DC.  The Summit brought together hundreds of people from a variety of disciplines and interests to share the latest in research, policy and practice in home visiting.  To view meeting materials, please visit:  http://www.homevisitingsummit.org/.


Source: Educational Testing Service - February 14, 2012

On February 14, 2012, the Educational Testing Service released a new report that looks at current approaches states are using to assess children enrolled in Pre-K programs, some of the challenges of assessing young children's learning, and suggested sound practices for states to consider implementing. State Pre-K Assessment Policies: Issues and Status (2012), by Debra Ackerman and Richard Coley, includes a summary chart of assessment practices used by the states on page 14. It is meant to help early childhood educators who wish to incorporate assessments into their programs as the need to document effectiveness increases.


Source: CLASP and National Women’s Law Center - February 23, 2012

CLASP and the National Women’s Law Center are pleased to announce the release of our collaborative report: A Count for Quality: Child Care Center Directors on Rating and Improvement Systems, based on interviews with a diverse group of child care center directors participating in QRIS in several states.  More than ever, states are working to improve child care quality. One strategy being used by more states in recent years are Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), which are designed to give providers incentives and supports to improve quality and to give parents information about child care quality.  With the growth in QRIS, CLASP, together with the National Women’s Law Center, has taken an inside look at how these systems are working from the perspective of child care providers participating in QRIS.

The insights offered by child care directors are particularly valuable as states adopt QRIS. These systems hold great promise for boosting the quality of care and lifting up the child care profession and child care system, but only if they include strong supports for providers to achieve higher quality. We hope that the lessons and findings from A Count for Quality will help states build QRIS that can fulfill their promise.  


Source: CLASP - February 15, 2012

CLASP has released a new resource that highlights research supporting the importance of early and regular health, mental health, and developmental screening for infants and toddlers. It includes policy recommendations to help states improve their screening rates. Promote Access to Early, Regular and Comprehensive Screenings (February 2012) is part of the "Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care" project at CLASP.  


Outside links are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by NCSL.

This e-update is made possible by the generous support of the Birth to Five Policy Alliance. This e-update is an informational service for state legislators and legislative staff who are part of NCSL's Child Care and Early Education Legislative Network. Contact
Alison Mayfor more information, (303) 856-1473 or to offer information from your state.  You may also request to subscribe or unsubscribe by emailing alison.may@ncsl.org.