NCSL Early Care and Education Update


In This Issue

Image of the coronavirus with the word resources in a box

COVID-19 Roundup

  • Podcast | COVID-19: State and Federal Responses to Education and Child Care. NCSL's podcast series, "Our American States," recently explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted schools and child care and how state and federal governments are responding. Listen as NCSL’s Jennifer Palmer explains how this crisis has exacerbated challenges present in the child care system before the pandemic and what states are doing to shore up an already strained system.
  • Archived Webinar | COVID-19: Education, Child Care and Nutrition. Most states have closed K-12 schools, and colleges and universities have shifted to online classes, sending students home in many cases. Guidance and directives to child care programs have been mixed, forcing providers to choose between risking their own health if they remain open or going without income if they close. These decisions can adversely affect parents who take off work to care for their child, as well as young children and students who rely on child care providers and schools for meals. As a result, state and school officials are grappling with how to ensure young children and students of all ages are safe, fed and learning. Watch the archived webinar as NCSL experts explore public policies in these critical areas.
  • Human  Services: Updated COVID-19 Resources. During this unprecedented national crisis, policymakers are paying close attention to the well-being of children, youth, young adults and families. NCSL is responding with new informational resources addressing five broad human services policy areas: Child Support and Family Law, Child Welfare, Early Care and Education, Economic Security, and Housing and Homelessness. Click through the topics for issue summaries, state responses, federal actions and topical resources.
  • Beyond Human Services: NCSL's COVID-19 Resources for States. NCSL is developing informational resources and delivering educational programming addressing today’s COVID-19 crisis. This resource hub is updated daily and covers all major policy areas, including human services, education and health. If you don’t see what you are looking for, contact with your request for research or technical assistance.
  • New Events Added to NCSL's Programming Calendar. Check out NCSL’s schedule of open meetings and register for a webinar or virtual meeting addressing the COVID-19 crisis, elections, redistricting and more. 

NCSL Launches Alumni Program for Early Learning Fellows

early learning fellows logo including capitol domeWe heard you, and we are responding. In 2019 NCSL conducted an independent evaluation of its Early Learn Fellows program, and one of the most telling findings was your desire for: more learning opportunities, continued connections with your peers and access to leading experts. In response, NCSL is developing a new annual series of advanced learning opportunities available exclusively to alumni of the fellows program.  

In 2020, we will tackle four complex issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. In the spirit of finding opportunities to improve the well-being of young children and their families in this crisis, we will explore the latest research in early brain development and trauma, financing strategies during an economic downturn, child care and the early care and education workforce and infant and early childhood mental health. The series is expected to launch in July, and alumni can look forward to receiving enrollment information in June.

If you have questions about the fellows program, please contact Alison May at or (303) 856-1473.

Recent NCSL Early Care and Education Products

Young girl reading with teacher

NCSL’s Early Care and Education staff, along with our colleagues in education and health, host webinars and podcasts, produce reports, create webpages and write articles to support your work. Here are our recent products.

  • Blogs | Infants and Toddlers Discussed: In two recent blog posts NCSL staff discuss the importance of the early years. Prenatal-to-Three Goes Mainstream, Legislators Go to Work highlights 2019 legislative activity related to early care and education and maternal and child health. Read what NCSL’s Jennifer Palmer wrote about states’ work to support access to mental health services for pregnant and postpartum moms, legislative activity related to evidence-based home visiting services, and infant and toddler child care. Early Childhood Mental Health: Reasons for Concern and Ways to Help discusses the roles of parents, caregivers and policymakers in supporting healthy social and emotional development in young children. Learn more from Shannon Saul about how children grow and how well-trained early care and education professionals play a crucial role in supporting social and emotional development. 
  • Prenatal-to-Three Legislative Action: In 2019, NCSL tracked 129 prenatal-to-three bills enacted in 34 states and the District of Columbia. This report summarizes significant 2019 legislative enactments in the following categories: breastfeeding, home visiting and parent education, maternal mental health, infant and maternal mortality, neonatal abstinence syndrome and newborn screenings.
  • State Legislatures Magazine | Do Preschool Expulsions Need a Timeout? Recent data on how often young children in child care and preschool classrooms are suspended or expelled has sounded alarm bells for policymakers across the country. In this State Legislatures magazine article learn about the topic and what two Colorado legislators are doing to address the situation. 
  • LegisBrief | Governing Early Childhood Education: As the demand for high-quality child care and early education grows, policymakers are rethinking the way these programs are structured. By consolidating, creating or coordinating oversight bodies, they seek to improve the quality and efficacy of services, address infrastructure needs and improve program reach. Read the LegisBrief.

New Addition to Early Care and Education Team

Head shot of Melissa Mincic with books as the backgroundMelissa Mincic joined NCSL’s early care and education team as a senior policy specialist in March. Mincic has a background in designing and implementing applied research and translating research to practice for varied audiences. She earned a doctor of philosophy degree in applied developmental psychology from George Mason University and studied as a fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Connect with her at or 303-856-1404.

Federal Update

Image of the US Capitol in DCNCSL’s Washington, D.C., staff ensure that state legislatures have a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system. Stay up to date with NCSL’s Health and Human Services State-Federal Newsletter for health and human services committee members. You can also monitor daily COVID-19 announcements from federal agencies here



Featured Resources

The State of Preschool 2019

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research | April 2020

Forty-four states, DC, and Guam provide publicly funded preschool to more than 1.6 million children. State spending per child enrolled in pre-K was flat since last year. Four states met all 10 quality standards benchmarks; 10 states met fewer than half.
Access the report

Nationwide Survey: Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus

Source: Bipartisan Policy Center | April 2020

A new survey conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult finds that child care in the United States is still necessary for parents to work, even amidst changing work environments. But child care is difficult to find and in many circumstances, closed indefinitely. Access the full survey and results

Resources From the Field

The Health and Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Interventions

Source: Rand Corporation | May 2020
Access the tool.

Navigating New and Flexible Funding Streams for Kids During COVID-19

Source: Children's Funding Project | April 2020
Read the report.

Investing in High-Quality Early Programs Today Builds the Workforce of Tomorrow

Source: Council for a Strong America | April 2020
Read the blog.

The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Healthy Eating Research | April 2020
Read the report.

Being Healthy and Ready to Learn is Linked with Family and Neighborhood Characteristics for Preschoolers

Source: Child Trends | April 2020
Read the brief.

Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund

Source: Bellwether Education Partners | April 2020
Read the brief.

COVID-19 and State Child Care Assistance Programs: Immediate Considerations for State CCDF Lead Agencies

Source: CLASP | April 2020
Read the fact sheet.

Thinking About Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts Through a Science-Informed, Early Childhood Lens

Source: Center on the Developing Child | April 2020
Read the report.

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Lead to Permanent Loss of Nearly 4.5 Million Child Care Slots

Source: Center for American Progress | April 2020
Read the brief.

Strengthening the Early Childhood Education Workforce

Source: Education Commission of the States | April 2020
Read the report.

Ensuring Home-Based Child Care Providers Can Access New and Expanded Federal Benefits

Source: National Women's Law Center | April 2020
Read the fact sheet.

Making Connections. There's No Such Thing as Online Preschool

Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) | March 2020
Read the article.

Workforce of Tomorrow: How early child care shapes adult employment

Source: American Enterprise Institute | March 2020
Listen to the podcast.

View the spring 2020 ECE Update as a PDF.