NCSL Early Care and Education Quarterly E-Update


in this issue


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.

Web Brief: 2015 ECE Enacted Legislation Report 
NCSL's Early Care and Education (ECE) project annually prepares and releases a legislative action report. During the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers introduced nearly 900 bills on the topic of early care and education. Of those, 124 bills have been signed into law in 39 states. Read the full report today.


It’s that time of year again when legislatures are in full swing and they have been busy. So far, more than 120 early care and education bills have been introduced by state legislators. Here are some recent highlights:

Indiana HB 1270: Expands the existing pre-K pilot program to 13 additional counties.

New Hampshire HB 1145: Establishes a committee to study suspensions and expulsions of children in licensed preschools and in kindergarten through grade 3.

New Jersey SB 973: Establishes the early childhood loan pilot program and study commission.

South Carolina HB 4792: Enacts the Virtual Early Learning Pilot Program act which would allow the Board of Education to contract with an educational technology provide to provide a home-based education technology pilot program for literacy and numeracy instruction and assessment for preschool children.

Tennessee HB 1485: Makes changes to the requirements for voluntary pre-K programs to ensure that the programs are high quality and coordinated with instruction beyond the pre-K level.

Utah SB 101: Requires the Department of Workforce Services to determine eligibility for an Intergenerational Poverty Scholarship, creates the Student Access to High Quality School Readiness Programs Grant Program to expand access to high quality school readiness programs for eligible students, creates the Intergenerational Poverty School Readiness Scholarship Program.

Virginia HB 46: Establishes a 21-member Early Education Workforce Committee with the key goal of ensuring an effective professional development and credentialing system for the early childhood education workforce.

Washington HB 2716: Requires that a child is eligible for working connections child care if the child has received child protective services child care or child welfare services child care within the prior six months and the response the Department of Social and Health Services initiated has concluded.

The Early Care and Education database tracks and updates early care and education legislation from the 2008-2016 legislative sessions for the 50 states and 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.

View the full 2016 legislative calendar for all states and the territories, including states that have year-round sessions and states in special sessions.


early learning fellows logo in blue background with capitol domeNCSL’s Early Care and Education project has already begun much of the planning for a fifth round of the Early Learning Fellows program. This program is designed to support legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues. The program is geared toward those chairing or serving on human services, education or appropriation committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country. 

Over the past four years a bi-partisan group of approximately 100 legislators and 13 legislative staff members from 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have participated in this premier program. The program has hosted a total of seven face-to-face meetings and 10 webinars on a myriad of hot and emerging topics related to early care and education. 

The program also fosters a peer-learning environment for participants to work with one another and put together an early learning plan (a road map which can guide them in their efforts back in their state). Some of examples of what the program offers: 

  • Learning through informative presentations about brain science from talented researchers.
  • Hearing about the economic case for investing in early childhood education.
  • Hosting timely webinars.
  • Participating in site visits to Educare facilities in Denver and Seattle and the Jeremiah Program in Minneapolis.
  • Networking with colleagues.

The selection process for the 2016 class of Early Learning Fellows is currently underway. Letters have been sent requesting nominations and applications will be due March 23, 2016 with final acceptance announcements and invitations being made on March 31. If you are interested in learning more about the steps to become a Fellow please be sure to visit NCSL’s website to learn more

Specific questions about the program, email or call 303-856-1473.


This past December at the NCSL Fall Forum in Washington, D.C., the Early Care and Education Project hosted a legislative focus group about the new Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization that passed last year. The law includes many new federal requirements intended to improve the health and safety of children in out-of-home care as well as improve quality of care, and increase family and provider access to information.  

Legislators and staff who attended the focus group engaged in a robust and informative conversation about the opportunities and challenges presented by the new law.  In general, the overall message from participants was positive: that many of the changes to the federal law “made sense” in terms of protecting children and providing nurturing environments for them. The biggest concern raised was the potential cost associated with making the required changes, a real concern for lawmakers who struggle to fund many competing priorities. Major provisions of the law fall into several broad categories: health and safety requirements, transparent consumer and provider education information, family-friendly eligibility policies and quality improvement activities. For a detailed list of provisions go the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care website. State plans are due to the federal government on March 1, 2016. You can contact your state child care administrator to find out more about what’s included in the state plan or to get involved in the planning process. 

Two important dates for states to pay attention to are Nov. 19, 2016 when states must have policies in place for enforcing licensing requirements; and Sept. 30, 2017 when state will be required to conduct criminal background checks on child care staff.  States must use seven percent of funds for a quality set-aside in fiscal year and increase to nine percent by 2020.  In addition to the quality set-aside states must also reserve an additional three percent for improving infant-toddler care starting in fiscal year 2017 (full list of implementation dates). Many states require legislative action to make changes to their child care program. State lawmakers have introduced a number child care bills, many addressing specific aspect of the new requirements.  

Check out our NCSL Early Care and Education Database for a full list of child care bills introduced and enacted during the 2016 session.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was released in December 2015 that includes a public comment period through Feb. 22, 2016. You can view the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) here. Joy Wilson, of NCSL’s federal staff in D.C., will comment to the rulemaking on behalf of NCSL and state legislatures.


Where do other states draw the distinction between exempt child care and licensing requirements? What threshold (either number of children or relationship among children in care) do states require a caregiver to hold a child care license? How do states advance quality, health, and safety for unlicensed or exempt child care settings? 

States have different thresholds for requiring family child care providers to become licensed. These license-exempt providers (sometimes referred to family, friend and neighbor care) are not subject to licensing requirements. Some states require family child care homes to become licensed when they serve two or more unrelated children, while other states allow family child care providers to care for up to five children before becoming licensed. States also exempt certain types of child care providers, such as school-age programs operated by a public school or programs operated by religious organizations. Most states allow license-exempt providers to receive child care subsidy payments. The new federal CCDBG reauthorization law requirements include health and safety training and inspections for license-exempt child care providers. Two recent reports provide more information on how states support and monitor license-exempt family child care providers.  

Some states are trying to answer the question of advancing quality in license-exempt care or family, friend and neighbor care. The Minnesota Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) Grant Program was established in 2007 by the Minnesota Legislature to promote early literacy, healthy development, and school readiness for children cared for by FFN providers, and to foster community partnerships to promote school readiness. An evaluation of six local models was implemented and a report presented to the legislature in 2010.

The National Women's Law Center recent report on family, friend and neighbor care (January 2016) and this report on state policies for supporting family, friend and neighbor care provide some state examples to consider.  


Child care in the United States is the focus of conversation from local and state levels to the national level. Each week, approximately 11 million children under the age of five spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care. Child care takes place in centers, such as Head Start, preschools, or child care centers, by grandparents or other family members and in a child’s home.

Research supports that quality child care can have a positive impact on children, promoting healthy child development and school readiness and setting the course for a child’s experience and success in education. Research shows that quality early care and education settings can provide long-term benefits such as increased high school graduation rates and college attendance. Investments in childcare can contribute to stronger families, greater economic development and more-livable communities. Efforts to improve child care and early education have included programs meeting base standards set by National Institute of Early Education and Research (NIEER) and the use of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) in states. View a map depicting the current status of QRIS in States

Child care can be expensive and quality care is not accessible to all families. According to Child Care Aware of America, it is estimated that only 10 percent of child care can be considered high quality and likely to have a positive impact on children’s outcomes. Affordable care should be around 10 percent of a family’s income, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. A 2015 Child Care Aware of America survey found that the average cost for infant child care in a center was anywhere from seven to just over 15 percent of median state income, depending on the state, for a married couple, and more than 24 percent of median income for a single parent.

The high cost of child care is not reflective of compensation for child care workers. Child care remains one of the lowest paying professions in the country. Despite the fact that 80 percent of child care expenses are related to employee pay, child care workers are among the lowest paid professionals in the country, leading to difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified staff. In 2014, the average hourly wage for a child care worker in the US was $10.39, nearly 40 percent below the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations. Nearly 15 percent of child care workers live below the poverty line and a third have incomes that are below twice the poverty line. 

States are taking a variety of approaches to address the need for affordable quality child care and to develop the means to increase compensation for child care professionals. Approaches include:

  • Supplementing child care salaries with stipends.
  • Establishing state tax credits.
  • Implementing a public-private business model.
  • Using K-12 salary scales for pre-K teachers.
  • Encouraging businesses to support family friendly policies and better child care for employees.
  • Using “pay for success” models to finance quality child care.

Child Care Aware America (2015). Parents and the High Cost of Child Care


young boy playing with lettered wooden blocksNCSL technical assistance (TA) is designed in consultation with legislators and staff. NCSL staff can assist you with identifying state innovations, in asking the right questions to understand what would work best in your state or learning about what other states are doing. We have 50-state charts and maps to show the different policies across the country. We publish issue briefs and legislative summaries.   

We can travel to your state to help you solve the most pressing issues in early care and education by testifying before a committee or convening a meeting of stakeholders. We also provide opportunities for you to meet the experts in the field as well as opportunities to talk with your peers from across the country on how they tackled today’s tough issues in their legislatures. We host meetings and workshops, and convene teams of state leaders to spend a day or two diving deep into specific policy issues. Here are a few common examples:

  • Presentations, informal briefings, and testimony before committees and hearings;
  • Written research and analyses;  
  • Assisting with drafting and reviewing legislation; or
  • Informal conference calls with legislators and legislative staff in other states to discuss their experiences with early childhood.

Be sure to call 303-364-7700 or email if you are interested in learning about how NCSL can help you and your state.

FEDERAL UPDATE: Every Student Succeeds Act

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This is the first reauthorization since 2002. As NCSL Senior Committee Director for the Education Committee, Lee Posey wrote in a recent blog, “The Every Student Succeeds act takes states out from under many of the most problematic requirements of No Child Left Behind.”

A comprehensive summary compiled by NCSL staff can be found online. And additional information and resources are available on the NCSL website

While the ESSA makes significant changes for state K-12 education what is less talked about is what the new law means for early education. Within the ESSA are many provisions that address children birth-5 years of age and early education. Below are some highlights:

Title I: The funds can be used for preschool program in schools serving a school certain low-income children and families, among other things.  

Title IIA: Allows for joint professional development activities that include early childhood teachers. 

Title IIB: Includes LEARN literacy grant for birth to age 5.

Title IX: This includes the Preschool Development grants, which are intended to improve collaboration between existing early education programs in a mixed delivery system, encourages partnerships among Head Start providers, state and local government, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, private entities, and Local Education Agencies (LEA) to improve coordination, program quality, and delivery of services, and lastly, to maximize parental choice among a mixed delivery system of providers. The program will be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services but would be jointly administered with the Department of Education. A full review of the bill is available online.


date of 2016 and an alarm clockLegislative Summit 
NCSL’s 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

Infants and Toddlers in the Policy Picture: A Self-Assessment Toolkit for States

Source: ZERO TO THREE—December 2015
The toolkit allows users to access information about states from national sources and compare their state’s infant and toddler policies to other states. It also provides states with tools to collect stakeholder input to inform their policies, including an interactive survey for stakeholders, such as state and local service administrators and direct care providers. View the toolkit.

50-State Policy Tracker

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)—December 2015
The NCCP 50-State Policy Tracker makes it easy for policymakers, journalists, social researchers, and advocates to quickly and accurately compare state policies and programs vital to the well-being of low-income families. Using state data for important social policies and programs including the Earned Income Tax Credit; family and medical leave; TANF; SNAP; and Medicaid, the tracker allows users to compare impacts in a single state, states in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West, or all 50 states and the District of Columbia. View the policy tracker.

Early Learning User’s Guide for Illinois School Boards

Source: The Ounce & Illinois Association of School Boards—November 2015
The goal of this guide is to help school board members understand why early learning is important, and how they can be an effective part of their local early learning community.  While some of the content is Illinois-specific, most of it is broadly applicable. Read the guide.

Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness

Source: American Journal of Public Health—July 2015
Study Finds Social Competency Skills Can Predict Future Outcomes. New findings from a 20-year study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, say a simple assessment of a child’s social competence can predict health and social outcomes well into adulthood. According to the research, kindergarten students with greater social and emotional skills—the ability to share, listen and solve problems—were more likely to obtain a higher education and hold full-time jobs, nearly two decades later. Students who lacked these skills were more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and spend time in jail. Overall, research findings show that teacher-rated social competence in kindergarten was a consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative future outcomes across all major domains: education, employment, criminal justice, substance use and mental health. Read the executive summary and full article

Additional resources

State pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year: National trends in state preschool funding

Source: Education Commission of the States (ECS)—January 2016
Read the report.

Strategies for Supporting Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care Providers

Source: National Women’s Law Center—January 2016
Read the issue brief

Using Coordinated Data Systems to Guide Early Childhood Education Policies

Source: The Early Childhood Data Collaborative—January 2016
View the issue brief.

The State of the Early Childhood Workforce

Source: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment—January 2016
View the new webpage and interactive map.

Universal pre-K: What does it mean and who provides it?

Source: Preschool Matters Blog—January 2016
Read the full blog post.

State Early Care and Education Update 2015

Source: National Women’s Law Center—December 2015
Read the full update.

Two Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes: Summary and Next Steps from the April 2015 Roundtable

Source: CLASP—December 2015
Read the brief

Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream

Source: AEI & Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity—December 2015
Read the report.

The Benefits and Costs of Investing in Early Childhood Education

Source: Washington Center for Equitable Growth—December 2015
Read the report

Young Children in Deep Poverty

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty—November 2015
Read the fact sheet.

From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth–3rd Grade Policies That Support Strong Readers

Source: New America—November 2015
Read the policy paper.

Ramey, Ramey and Pianta: Innovation in pre-K classrooms

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch—November 2015
Read the article.

Sharpening the Focus: State Policy to Promote Effective Teaching that Improves Learning

Source: BUILD Initiative & Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes—November 2015
Read the paper.

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