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







View previous editions of this publication


NCSL Legislative Summit logoThis summer, the nation’s legislators and legislative staff will gather in Chicago August 6 – 9 at the NCSL Legislative Summit.  Designed for legislators and legislative staff, the Summit gives you the best value – speakers, training, resources, experts, events, and more – you’ll find anywhere.  The meeting is your opportunity to meet colleagues from across the country, share ideas, talk with experts, learn from nationally renowned speakers, discover policy solutions and develop a states’ agenda for NCSL to take to Washington, D.C.  The meeting provides valuable professional development opportunities and the chance to network and learn from legislative colleagues from across the nation facing similar challenges and working to accomplish common goals.  Participants can choose from hundreds of different policy sessions on critical issues facing legislatures today.

Two particularly exciting early care and education Legislative Summit sessions include a site visit to Educare Chicago, a nationally-recognized early childhood education program that takes place on Wednesday, August 8 from 8:45am – 10:30am. The site visit is free.  However, advanced RSVP is required as space is limited. Transportation will be provided between McCormick Place Convention Center and Educare Chicago, returning in time for the 11:00am Issue Forums. To sign up for the tour and receive more information, please contact Phuonglan Nguyen at 303-856-1582 or phuonglan.nguyen@ncsl.org.

The other timely early care and education session is Home Visiting:  Models and Policy Options for Creating the Best Programs, which takes place on Tuesday, August 7 from 3pm – 4pm.  This session will discuss effective home visiting models, state policy options and how best to integrate a home visiting program into the comprehensive early childhood care and education system.  Discuss the challenges, and hear about federal grants available to states.


Forty-nine states (including the territories and District of Columbia) introduced 836 bills during the 2012 legislative session on early childhood education and child care issues.
As of June 2012, governors in 31 states have signed 69 bills into law on early childhood education and care.  A small number of bills have been vetoed by governors (11 bills in seven states) while another 19 bills in nine states are still awaiting their signatures to be signed into law.  A large number of bills (366) are still in pending status in 18 states as of June 2012, many of which will likely carry over to the new session.
State Budgets and Funding for Early Care and Education:  Although overall state budgets and revenues have been improving and stabilizing, lawmakers seeking to increase funding or expand early childhood programs were more likely to tap into tobacco settlements, lottery and gaming funds, and tax contributions to maintain programs and services rather than general funds. Mississippi and New Mexico are among the few states that proposed new statewide initiatives to fund early childhood programs.

Child Care: Legislation on child care licensing, quality, background checks, registration and facilities continues to make up the bulk of introduced legislation in 2012 (394 bills in 42 states).  Legislatures in 27 states also introduced bills addressing provider reimbursement rates, child care assistance subsidies and eligibility, and child care administration. States introducing legislation to link child care provider quality rating to reimbursement rates include Indiana, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia. Enacted bills of note include Colorado SB 22 (Session Law Chapter 106), which allows working parents with small income increases to transition to higher copays instead of losing child care assistance eligibility altogether. Washington HB 2262 (Chapter 217) establishes mechanisms to better forecast child care and public assistance caseloads in order to effectively determine future costs and appropriations.

Pre-Kindergarten and School Readiness: Forty-two states introduced 244 bills aimed at increasing pre-K quality and setting standards for school readiness. Introduced legislation includes early literacy development and promotion (Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Colorado) and early learning standards or guidelines (Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and Washington).  Other legislative efforts include alignment of school readiness indicators through kindergarten assessments and standards for professional development and teacher/provider training. Notable pre-K quality improvement enacted bills include Washington’s statewide kindergarten assessment implementation HB 2586 (Chapter No. 51),Kentucky HB 69 (Act No. 45) and Wisconsin SB 461 (Act 166).

Governance: Integration, coordination and collaboration continued to be prominent themes for legislatures in 31 states seeking to modify or streamline early childhood cabinets, councils, and state departments serving young children. Legislative efforts to reorganize and consolidate state departments yielded lively debates in legislatures in Oregon, Michigan, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Dakota and Minnesota. Enacted bills of note include Indiana SB 268 (Public Law No. 64), Louisiana SB 581 (Public Act 3), Oregon HB 4165 and New Mexico SB 187 (Act 14).

Infants and Toddlers: Improving developmental and health outcomes for preschool-age children with disabilities and special needs was a priority for many legislators. Twenty-seven states introduced legislation to expand services to high-risk infants and toddlers with special needs and disabilities. Proposed expansion of services include developmental and health screenings (Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York), parent support services (Illinois, California and New York), as well as services for homeless children and children from military families (Minnesota and Pennsylvania). A number of states have also proposed legislation to add services to state health insurance programs or as part of school-based health programs (Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Puerto Rico).

Home Visiting: Evidence-based voluntary early childhood home visitation continued to be a popular policy choice for legislators looking to incorporate prevention services into the state's menu of early childhood services.  In some states, lawmakers advocated for service expansion while lawmakers in states with existing programs sought to increase quality and accountability of state programs and funds via increased standards. Enacted home visiting legislation include Maryland SB 566 and HB 699 (Chapter No. 79 and 80, respectively). Similar legislation is pending in Michigan and South Carolina.

Data: Lawmakers in California, Utah and Florida proposed legislative options to increase the use of data and data systems to better track student outcomes, including electronic assessment tool for children in special needs programs (California SB 683), adoption of unique student identifiers (Utah HB 515), and data sharing among state agencies (Washington HB 2645 and SB 5426). Florida SB 7080 would have allowed the Office of Early Learning to conduct pre-post child assessments and match family data across the state’s various school readiness programs. Data and measurement is also a critical provision in Michigan’s state education appropriations bill, which allows the state to purchase an online assessment tool and system through which teachers enter child assessment data (Michigan HB 4445, Public Act No. 29).

Workforce Development: Twenty-six states introduced 57 bills to address provider quality and professional development for the early childhood workforce. Among enacted bills include Washington SB 5715 (Chapter No. 149) requiring early childhood and care providers and teachers to meet core competencies established by the Department of Early Learning by December 2012, including standards for social-emotional and cognitive development and toddlers and infants care. Connecticut SB 39 (Chapter 12-50) ties higher education credentials to program quality improvement outcomes.

For an up-to-date and complete database of early childhood care and education in 2012 (searchable by state, topic, bill status, sponsor and keyword), visit the NCSL Early Care and Education Legislation Database.  A complete analysis report of 2012 enacted state legislation will also be available later in 2012.    


 Sources:  U.S. Department of Education website / Education Week – April 2012 

On Monday, April 9, the U.S. Department of Education announced that five states that narrowly missed the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund will be able to compete for $133 million.  The five states include:  Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin.  Each state will be eligible to compete for up to 50 percent of the award they were eligible for in 2011.  These states would join the nine winners, which include:  California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.  Visit Education Week’s Blog, by clicking HERE to learn more. 


NCSL Early Learning Fellows logo Late in 2011 NCSL announced a year-long Early Learning Fellows program.  This new endeavor was designed to support legislators and legislative staff who were experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues.  The Fellows program successfully created 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.  

The inaugural Fellows class included 30 legislators and six legislative staff representing 20 states.  Additionally, seven faculty members were named to the Fellows program.  Faculty members include legislators, researchers and policy experts in the field of early childhood and early learning issues. 

Selected Early Learning Fellow applicants were invited to attend a kick off meeting in December 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  The kick off meeting Next Steps for States in Early Learning:  Policy, Research and Innovation set the stage for the year to come.  Webinars have, and continue to be, held on a quarterly basis. Webinar I, Best Practices in Early Learning from Other States, included presentations from three states that have worked to improve early learning or kindergarten readiness results and that received Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants.  Webinar II, Expanding on the Science:  Foundations of Early Childhood Development, discussed the research and scientific evidence showing that positive and negative early influences are critical to the development of children’s brains and can have an impact on learning and school success, behavior and even lifelong health.  Webinar III, Revolutionizing Early Childhood Teaching, highlighted policy trends in early childhood professional development and teacher training.  The webinar examined what it takes to be a good teacher, specifically examining the interaction between young learners and their teacher.   A final webinar will take place in August 2012.  Along with meetings, webinars and networking opportunities; Fellows receive a monthly Electronic Newsletter

For more information about the Fellows program visit www.ncsl.org/fellows.  If you are a legislator or legislative staff interested in participating in the 2012-13 Early Learning Fellows program please anticipate a nomination by leadership process to start this fall.  The program will again include legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact Julie Poppe (julie.poppe@ncsl.org or 303-856-1497).    


The NCSL Home Visiting Advisory Group will hold a meeting on June 28-29 in Hartford, Connecticut. This year’s meeting will include advisory group legislators and staff from nine states as well as guest legislators from several other states who have been actively engaged in home visiting issues.

During the one and a half day meeting, participants will hear from Child FIRST, a research-based intensive home visiting program (one of the nine models approved for the federal MIECHV program).  The Connecticut-based program works with pregnant mothers and children identified with severe risk factors such as substance abuse, domestic violence, child maltreatment and emotional disturbance.

Legislators will also hear from home visiting leaders and experts about state implementation lessons and challenges, legislative options, mechanism to leverage Medicaid to maximize federal MIECHV grant funding, an update on the federal budget, and status of the Affordable Care Act as it relates to state home visiting.

For more information about the home visiting work in the states, the federal MIECHV grant program, or the NCSL Home Visiting Advisory Group, please contact Phuonglan Nguyen (phuonglan.nguyen@ncsl.org or 303-856-1582).  


Source:  NIEER – April 2012

The National Institute for Early Education and Research (NIEER) has completed and released their annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten.  The 2011 State Preschool Yearbook as well as eight years of previous reports can be viewed HERE.  The yearbook shows that 28% of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2010-2011 school year. 

The report is organized into three main sections, including:  summary of the data, profiles outlining each state, and appendices.  The main goal of the 2011 Yearbook is to serve as a resource for policymakers, advocates, and researches to make more informed decisions as state-funded preschool education moves forward to another decade of progress.


Source:  CLASP – February 2012

This policy brief, Putting Children and Families First:  Head Start Programs in 2012, from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) analyzes data to describe the state of the federal Head Start program, including changes and trends since CLASP last published analysis of Head Start data in 2006. This is the 10th brief in a series of CLASP analyses of Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data.  State factsheets presenting PIR data are available HERE.  


Source:  Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation – Retrieved May 30, 2012

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) recently published a brief entitled Identifying Profiles of Quality in Home-Based Child Care (2012). The brief highlights the need to improve the quality of home-based child care settings and recommends making the current professional development system more accessible to home-based providers, with more content that is targeted to the specific needs of home-based providers. 


Source:  QRIS National Learning Network - April 2012

Financial Incentives in Quality Rating and Improvement (April 2012) - Provides information on the financial incentives states use under their quality rating and improvement systems and the impact of those incentives.  


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 May for more information, (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 alison.may@ncsl.org.