NCSL Early Care and Education Quarterly E-Update



UPDATED Early Care and Education 101

 dad and babyMost likely you have, at one point or another heard a colleague mention prekindergarten (pre-K), child care or even brain development as it relates to children. These are all important topics along with a handful of others that relate to babies, children and youth ranging in age from prenatal through the early school years.

Maybe you are steeped in this arena or new to it. Or perhaps you want a quick scan of the hot topics related to early learning. Whichever category applies, taking a few moments out of your day and visiting the recently updated Early Childhood 101  complied by NCSL Children and Families staff promises to be worthwhile. Did you know that emerging science shows how critical the early years are for brain development and with children’s future success? Did you know that 41 states and the District of Columbia currently provide a total of $5.3 billion in state funding for prekindergarten programs? How about the Two-Generation approach? Have you heard that this approach includes components of early childhood education, job training/post secondary education, and wrap-around family support services?  

State lawmakers are at the forefront of expanding investments in prekindergarten programs, supporting state child care quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), strengthening the effectiveness and accountability of home visiting programs as well as developing governance structures to better coordinate programs that serve young children. State innovation and funding has boosted high-quality early childhood education and the federal government, including the president, has recognized the importance and provided recent investment supports too. Take a few moments and brush up on these hot and emerging topics

Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2014

In May 2014, NCSL surveyed 20 state legislative fiscal offices on their FY 2014-15 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 the level of legislative involvement in setting the early care and education funding landscape in states.

Overall, state appropriations to early care and education programs increased by 3.8 percent ($368.8 million). State funding increased across all four categories (see table), with prekindergarten appropriations seeing the largest increase between FY 2014 and FY 2015. Preliminary findings from the survey are as follows:

  • Prekindergarten state appropriations increased by nearly $275 million (10.3 percent) for the 13 out of 20 states that responded to the survey. Four states reported level funding between FY 2014 and FY 2015 while only two states reported minor reductions in their state prekindergarten appropriations.
  • Appropriations for other state early care and education initiatives such as early intervention, parent support and early literacy increased overall by 4.1 percent between FY 2014 and FY 2015. Only three states reported minor decreases in overall funding in this category. 
  • Child care state appropriations remained stable between FY 2014 and FY 2015 for the combined 20 states. Two states reported stable appropriations, 11 states reported appropriation increases and seven states reported decreases.
  • Home visiting state appropriations rose slightly by 2 percent (approximately $6.5 million) across the 20 states. Appropriations remained stable in five states, increased in nine states and decreased in six states between FY 2014 and FY 2015.

FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2014-15 change

Child Care










Home Visiting















Source: NCSL Early Care and Education State Budget Survey, August 2014.

The full report, will be available in early Fall 2014. You may view previous years’ state survey results.  For more information about states’ budget and appropriations in early education, please contact

Child Care and Early Education 2014 Legislative Action

As of July 15, 2014

During the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico introduced nearly 1,000 bills on the topic of early care and education. Of those, at least, 116 bills have been signed into law in 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Legislators in 20 states and the District of Columbia enacted at least 30 bills to promote school readiness for three- and four-year-olds, including measures that expand funding and access to prekindergarten. Bills addressing state governance and comprehensive systems of care and education for young children continued to play a key role with 30 enacted bills in 15 states and Puerto Rico. Lawmakers in 19 states addressed child care quality through 25 enacted bills, and expanding access to affordable child care was the focus of lawmakers who passed 11 bills in seven states. Lawmakers in nine states and the District of Columbia also enacted 13 bills to improve the quality of the early childhood workforce. In addition, state lawmakers addressed the early care and education needs of children through state appropriations and financing legislation (12 bills in eight states), legislation related to birth-to-three services (six bills in six states) and comprehensive legislation addressing multiple topics of early care and education.

Total Enacted Legislation on Early Care and Education – 2014 Session



Prekindergarten and School Readiness

20, D.C.

Early Childhood Governance

15, P.R.

Child Care Quality


Early Childhood Workforce

9, D.C.

Child Care Assistance & Subsidies


Appropriations and Financing


Birth-to-3 Services


TOTAL Enacted Legislative Bill

34, D.C. and P.R.

Sources: NCSL and State Net, 2014. Reports on legislative actions for previous years are available.

Total number of bills may not add up to the number of bills that address more than one topic.  Executive Orders are also included in the total for Montana, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico.

NEW NCSL Home Visiting Resource

Early childhood home visiting programs have been around for some time, with state legislatures and local communities funding these important programs that assist at-risk pregnant or parenting families. But, with the passage of the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant program, home visiting has gained national attention as an effective strategy to strengthen high-risk families and save states money over the long run. The MIECHV grant program provides federal funds to states to support home visiting programs while states and communities develop policies and implement the programs. Since its inception in 2010, this federal initiative has provided states with $1.5 billion over five years (FYs 2010-2014). Lawmakers have also begun to pass state specific legislation as well as invest state funds to support these programs. The MIECHV was set to expire in September 2014; however, in March 2014 Congress extended funding at current levels through March 2015. View the Aug. 4, 2014 federal Health and Human Services press release.

To those new to the home visiting arena you may be asking yourself, what is home visiting? It’s a voluntary, home-based prevention strategy used to support pregnant mothers and new parents to promote infant and child health, foster healthy child development, prevent child abuse and neglect, and improve school readiness and family self-sufficiency. Services are most often delivered by trained nurses, social worker or child development specialists. Evaluation findings of home visiting programs that are considered evidence-based show positive outcomes for children and families while creating long-term savings in reduced costs associated with pre-term birth, poor infant health, child abuse and neglect and academic failure. For every dollar spent on these programs can provide a return on investment up to $5.70 per taxpayer dollar invested.

The NCSL Early Care and Education program has revamped its home visiting web page where you will find the latest information about state activities, state legislative actions and the latest on the MIECHV program. You can also find a new policy brief on home visiting

NEW NCSL Child Care Policy Brief

Child care has increasingly become a necessary part of life for millions of working American families. But while the demand for and cost to obtain child care has increased, the overall quality of child care has not kept pace. State lawmakers are increasing their knowledge about the importance of the first three years of young children’s development and the role of positive early relationships in defining life-long trajectories. For many state lawmakers, curbing the cost of child care – which in some cases costs as much as one-third of a family's income – is just as important as raising the bar on child care quality.

Read more in the NCSL policy brief, Improving Child Care Quality and Promoting Family Work Support – A State Legislative Perspective, and learn more  about the role of state legislatures in establishing child care policy and approaches that address child care cost and quality in ways that meet the needs of young children, working parents and states' economic and workforce goals.

NCSL's Early Learning Fellows Talk pre-K and Travel to Minn. for Final Meeting

Senator Tanya Cook (NP-Neb.) speaks to colleagues at the Fellows meeting in Minneapolis.NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows class of 2014 is comprised of 20 legislators and three legislative staff representing 14 states. On Tuesday, June 24 the Fellows were treated to an intimate webinar entitled State Prekindergarten Programs: A Decade of Progress. During the 60-minute webinar Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, highlighted key findings from the annual State Preschool Yearbook. An archived version of the webinar is currently available to view. A final webinar, Dual Language Learners: The Latest Social & Emotional Research, will take place for Fellows at the end of September. As part of the Fellows program the group came together for a second face-to-face meeting Aug. 18-19, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minn. This meeting took place at the Minneapolis Convention Center as a pre-conference to the NCSL annual Legislative Summit. After a warm Minnesota Nice welcome to the city and state by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, Senator Dave Senjem and Representative Joe Mullery the meeting opened with an exciting presentation about the economic case for investing financial resources in early childhood programs. Co-directors of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota, Art Rolnick and Arthur Reynolds, gave reasons why an economic investment in early childhood is a strong and smart investment with positive public outcomes. Rolnick argued that investments made in early childhood should use an economic argument. Simply stated, Rolnick said, “As a society, we are under-investing in early childhood.” Reynolds then discussed the research and outcomes he has found in his Chicago Public Schools study, outcomes that all indicate sustained gains due to program quality and dosage, family support and involvement, school quality and support, breadth and magnitude of skill enhancements and continuing or follow-on services.Representative Maureen Walsh (R-Wash.) speaks to colleagues at the Fellows meeting in Minneapolis.

Other highlights of the meeting included a tour and site visit at the Jeremiah Program, which provides single mothers and their children with a safe and affordable place to live, quality early childhood education, empowerment and life skills training, and support for career-track education. Additionally, hearing from researcher Doug Clements about the importance of mathematics in the early years was an informative presentation.  Clements, from the University of Denver, highlighted recent research and development work on the importance of early math skills in supporting school readiness as well as drew implications for policy. Learn more about these sessions presented at the second face-to-face Fellows meeting, as well as other sessions on public and private partnerships and opportunities for states to promote quality child care services, and view handouts and power point presentations.

Legislative Summit 2014 Recap

 2014 Legislative Summit LogoNearly 5,000 state legislators, legislative staff, and general attendees from across the country and world descended upon Minneapolis, Minn. from Aug. 19-22 for NCSL’s 40th annual Legislative Summit. During the four-day Legislative Summit attendees were able to participate in more than 100 sessions; sessions including such speakers as  cellist Yo Yo Ma, former prosecutor and Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel to name a few.

Among the over 20 Issue Forums throughout the four-day Legislative Summit there were two particularly exciting Issue Forums:

  • Keeping the American Dream Alive
    A lot has changed since President Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, with many Americans now viewing government programs as the problem, not the solution. During this session panelists Gregory Acs from the Urban Institute and Aparna Mathur from the American Enterprise Institute discussed how states are using new research that quantifies the effects of poverty on brain development to find new ways to tackle this complex problem.  You may view a seven-minute Q & A with Gregory and Aparna on NCSL’s YouTube Channel
  • Reading by Third Grade: It’s Critical
    Kids who are behind in their reading skills in third grade often never catch up and eventually drop out of school. During this session moderator Stephen Saland, past NCSL president, had Cari Miller from the Foundation for Excellence in Education, General Mark Musick, a retired Air Force Major General and Ralph Smith from the Annie E. Casey Foundation explore policy strategies to ensure every child can read by the end of third grade, including holding back kids for a second year of third grade. You may view an archived version of this session. 

Learn more about the meeting by visiting the 2014 Legislative Summit online resources. Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2105 Legislative Summit in Seattle, Wash. Aug. 3-6. 

resources of interest

Research Connections Website

Source: Research Connections—Ongoing
Research Connections provides a continually updated, free and easily searchable collection of research on child care and early education for researchers and policymakers. The website provides access to more than 25,000 resources, including original scholarly research, government reports, fact sheets and briefs, datasets, and instruments.

A Framework for Rethinking State Education Accountability and Support from Birth Through High School

Source: Ounce of Prevention Fund—June 2014
This paper seeks to analyze and synthesize existing trends in early learning and K-12 accountability, and proposes a single framework that is intended to work for both. Read the paper.

Early Childhood Profiles & Young Child Risk Calculator

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)—June 2014

  • Annual update of NCCP’s comprehensive view of state policies in the areas of health, early care and education, parenting and economic supports, that affects the health and well-being of young children in low-income families. View state profiles.  
  • Annual update of NCCP’s interactive online tool that show users how many children under age nine in each state are experiencing serious risks to their development. The tool allows users to select from five age groups: 0-3, 3-5, 6-8, 0-6, and 0-9, as well as three economic and seven other risk factors known to affect children’s development. View the risk calculator.

Medical Compliance Starts at Birth

Source: James Heckman Equation—June 2014
This video by Professor James Heckman discusses new research by Heckman and colleagues at the University of Chicago, University College London, and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina showing that quality early childhood programs that incorporate health and nutrition help prevent chronic disease. Findings reveal substantially better health in the mid-30s with a lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, such as stroke and diabetes. Watch the video. Read the full research paper Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health or the two-page summary.

Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture and Systems Knowledge

Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) —June 2014
This report identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents in terms of meeting the expectations for parent skills, engagement and leadership sought by early childhood education and care programs, and outlines strategies to address these needs. Read the report.

Mother’s Education and Children’s Outcomes: How Dual-Generation Programs Offer Increased Opportunities for America’s Children

Source: Foundation for Child Development—June 2014
This report offers the first-ever analysis of economic, education, and health indicators for children whose mothers have not graduated from high school, compared to children whose mothers have higher levels of education. Read the report.

Adverse Childhood Experiences:  National and State-Level Prevalence

Source: Child Trends—July 2014
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are experiences ranging from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or the incarceration of a parent or guardian. Such events can potentially have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being of children. Read the research brief.

Building Brain Architecture Module: The Foundation of Lifelong Learning, Heath and Achievement 

Source: Washington State Department of Early Learning—Summer 2014
From lawmakers to early learning professionals, this module provides a basic level of information to everyone who makes decisions about, or works with, young children and families about how young brains are built. The creation of this training module was a true partnership between many entities including: Frontiers of Innovation, numerous foundations and a host of different departments and agencies within the state of Washington. View the training module.  


Click to view the Summer 2014 E-update as a PDF

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 Alliance for Early Success. 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 May for more information at 303-856-1473 or to offer information from your state. You may also request to subscribe, if you are a legislator or legislative staff, or unsubscribe by emailing