Early Care and Education E-Update, October 2011

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NCSL is pleased to announce a year-long Early Learning Fellows program for state legislators and legislative staff.  This new endeavor 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 or education committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country.   Fellows will have the opportunity to be part of a peer learning community with other legislators and to engage with research and policy experts who are leaders in the field.  Fellows will participate in a kick off meeting in Tampa, Florida on December 2 and 3, 2011, as well as four seminars (by webinar) throughout 2012.  Leadership has been asked to nominate legislators to participate in this fellows program.  Legislators who would like to apply that have not yet been nominated must gain clearance with leadership in their state before submitting an application.  Legislative staff may apply with permission from their staff director.  Applications are due October 17, 2011 – extensions will be granted by request.  For more information or to get a copy of the application, please contact Julie Poppe at julie.poppe@ncsl.org or (303) 856-1497 or Alison May at alison.may@ncsl.org.



In late August, the Obama Administration released the final application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.  Similar to the first round of Race to the Top funding, the Early Learning Challenge is a competitive grant opportunity and this one is specifically focused on early learning.  The selection process will focus on the following criteria:

  • Successful state systems
  • High-quality, accountable programs
  • Promoting early learning and development outcomes for children
  • A great early childhood education workforce
  • Measuring Outcomes and Progress
Awards will be based on state populations and will range from $50 to 100 million.  Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted by October 19, 2011.  The Obama Administration will designate grantees before December 31, 2011.

Many states have already determined to apply for the federal funds, while others are hosting community forums to receive commentary on their application.    The Missouri Senate introduced a resolution (SR 44) demanding that Missouri not apply for the Early Learning Challenge based on continuing opposition by the legislature to quality rating systems, a key component of the federal grant.  The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) has been in the news, here are some noteworthy articles to read.
  • Tulsa World: Oklahoma announced they will apply for federal funds.
  • The Virginian-Pilot: Virginia is still considering whether to pursue the grant money.
  • The Providence Journal: Rhode Island is hosting a number of community education forums to solicit commentary on their application.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Missouri State Board of Education voted to move forward on an application, despite the strong opposition of some in the legislature.
  • The Boston Globe: Connecticut plans to apply despite being disappointed with their RTT endeavor last year.
  • The Capital-Journal:Kansas confirmed its intention of applying, with the Kansas State Department of Education taking the lead on the application.

For states planning to apply the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative (ELCC) is a partnership between BUILD and the First Five Years Fund that offers assistance and many user friendly resources on their site.  


Maternal, Infant and Early Child Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHVP) – Federal Initiative Update

On September 22, 2011, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced $244 million in grant funding for the federal Maternal Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHVP) for FY 2011. Click here to view the press release from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Forty-nine states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia received a total of $124 million in formula funding for FY 2011.  States with the largest formula awards include California ($11.5 million), Texas ($10.4 million), New York ($5.6 million) and Florida ($4.9 million).  Most grantees received between $2 and $4 million while 15 states received the $1 million base allocation.

Lead agencies representing nine states were awarded the competitive expansion grant for FYs 2011-14 for a total of $66.3 million.  Expansion grants help states with robust existing efforts to further increase the scale and scope of home visiting programs and services as well as improve those programs and services1.  Arizona, California and Oklahoma each received the maximum award of $9.4 million.  Indiana received $9.1 million while the remaining five states received between $2.7 and $7.5 million.

Thirteen states received the competitive development grants totaling $34.3 million to further develop existing home visiting programs and services.  Awards range from $1.1 million to $3.3 million and will be used for FYs 2011-12. Grantees with the largest maximum grants ($3.4 million) include Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.

State Implementation and Challenges – Pew Center on the States Report

In August 2011, the Pew Center on the States Home Visiting Campaign released a report outlining states’ preliminary progress with home visiting programs and services.  Findings from the States and the New Federal Home Visiting Initiative: An Assessment from the Starting Line indicate mixed results on states’ implementation2.

Key findings from the report for FY 2010 include:

  • States lack rigor in tracking and reporting of federal funding.  About 40% of the total $1.4 billion provided to states could not be accounted for, according to the report.  States using categorical funding for home visiting were more able to track expenditure at the state level than states using broad-based funding.
  • Funding from states to local communities to implement programs and services lacked specific guidance, requirements, and oversight to ensure the use of evidence-based, proven home visiting models. Additionally, many states were not able to collect data and track performance, and child and family outcomes for overall quality and effectiveness;
  • States are not reaching as many high-risk children and families as it should.  Mechanisms are not in place to link eligibility and need across state agencies to identify, focus and provide services to the highest-risk populations.
In addition to outlining states’ challenges at the starting line, the report also provides examples of states that have successfully addressed some of these issues such as California and Kansas (fund tracking and accountability), Ohio, South Carolina and Pennsylvania (quality assurances and monitoring), Oklahoma (cross-agency coordinating), and Louisiana (scaling up services).

1  https://grants.hrsa.gov/webExternal/FundingOppDetails.asp?FundingCycleId=75773544-C311-43E1-8668-7DAD95696629&ViewMode=EU&GoBack=&PrintMode=&OnlineAvailabilityFlag=&pageNumber=&version=&NC=&Popup=

2 http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Home_Visiting/Home_Visiting_August_2011_Report.pdf



NCSL’s Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2011 final report is based on data compiled from an annual survey of state fiscal decisions in early care and education policy and programs, including child care, prekindergarten, home visiting and other related early childhood programs.  The report tracks and analyzes trends in state decisions, particularly aiming to capture state funding choices in these areas.  According to survey findings in the report, funding for early care and education across the four areas surveyed remained stable, and prekindergarten and home visiting programs received increases nationwide.  Child care funding, however, was a challenge for states. Almost half made cuts totaling $244 million   In addition, 50-state profiles of data from FY 2008 to FY 2011 and specific state and category information are available online.  


Pre-K Now released its final report, “Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future.”  The publication makes the case for a Pre-K-12 public education system that begins with pre-k and embeds early learning research and best practices in its improvement efforts.   This report is informed by interviews with about 30 policy makers, early childhood advocates, researchers, elected officials and education reformers from around the country.  The report discusses specific reforms that re-imagine public education as a system that begins, not with kindergarten, but with quality pre-k and builds on that foundation to raise performance in later grades. For example:

  • Revise or expand learning standards that govern public education systems to include pre-k and a more comprehensive set of skills, including social-emotional and executive function.
  • Develop rigorous teacher effectiveness assessments not only in grades with standardized tests, but also in the Pre-K-3 grades, using best practices and research from early learning as guiding principles.
  • Revamp elementary teacher and administrator preparation programs by placing a greater emphasis on child development and early learning research and practices.
  • Re-imagine state agencies and governance and federal policies so that states more able to create a coherent early learning system, provide a more robust role in Head Start, and support alignment between pre-k and later grades.


A new National Women’s Law Center state-by-state report, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2011: Reduced Support for Families in Challenging Times, shows that families are not only worse off in 2011 than they were in 2010, but are also worse off than a decade ago. The report examines child care policies in all 50 states and DC, compares data for February 2011 to data for February 2010 and 2001. The report shows the impact of five key factors that determine the affordability, accessibility, and quality of assistance in each state, including:

  • income eligibility,
  • waiting lists for assistance,
  • copayments required of parents receiving assistance,
  • reimbursement rates for child care providers, and
  • eligibility for parents searching for a job.


Legislative Summit Banner 2011





NCSL Legislative Summit 2011 took place from August 8-11 in San Antonio, Texas.  Learn more about the NCSL Human Services and Welfare Committee Sessions by clicking here.  NCSL Legislative Summit 2012 will take place from August 6-9 in Chicago, Illinois.  


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 or unsubscribe by emailing alison.may@ncsl.org.