The resources, policies, and processes it takes to ensure equitable access to high quality programs for all children, birth to third grade.
Comprehensive early childhood systems have the potential to integrate resources to promote the success of all young children. States vary in their ability to ensure all young children have access to high quality programs. Research indicates that good data, clear communication, and effective management systems are critical to the sustainability of effective early childhood systems. Technical expertise can build the capacity of SEA staff to work side-by-side with state partners to strengthen the early childhood system and achieve school readiness and school success goals for children.
Selected Resources and Websites
New! Quality Rating and Improvement Systems for Early Care and Education Programs: Making the Second Generation Better assesses what the early childhood field has learned about QRISs as they have been widely adopted and matured, and how the field can strategically move this first generation of QRISs into a second generation.
50-State Comparison: K-3 Quality and Companion Report provides information on K-3 policies in states, including basic requirements, school readiness and transitions, assessment and retention, family engagement, and instructional quality (state by state information).
Access to Early Childhood Programs for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Survey Report . This brief presented the results of a national survey focused on understanding the barriers and facilitators of access to early childhood services among young children and families experiencing homelessness, as well as identifying strategies for addressing barriers and increasing access. Notably, transportation and variants of cross-systems collaboration were cited as the most successful strategies for increasing access to early childhood services. (author abstract)
Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder’s Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five centers around the following questions: What does the research tell us about the importance of early childhood development? What do we know about what works? What outcomes matter most for very young children, and to what extent are children in low-income families reaching these outcomes today? What are the immediate barriers to achieving better outcomes for low-income children? What are the most effective investments philanthropy can make to create meaningful impact for individual children and to achieve step-change improvements in the quality of the systems that surround them in their earliest years?
Blending and Braiding Early Childhood Program Funding Streams Toolkit The toolkit is designed to provide state advocates and policymakers with strategies, tools, resources and options to make policy choices that facilitate the blending and braiding of funding streams to improve access to and length of children’s participation in full-workday, full-year, high-quality early learning programs that benefit vulnerable young children and working families.
A Blueprint for Early Care and Education Quality Improvement Initiatives: Final Report. As Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) continue to launch and mature across states, questions emerge from stakeholders about how to design and implement effective quality improvement (QI) initiatives that accompany a QRIS. The purpose of this report is to address questions about effective QI initiatives by proposing a blueprint of quality improvement practices and design considerations.
The BUILD Initiative The BUILD Initiative works with selected states to build a coordinated system of programs, policies, and services that are responsive to the needs of families. Resources include system definitions, theories of change and approaches to evaluation of system initiatives.
Building our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives shares findings and themes from a meeting hosted by Child Trends, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, that brought together practitioners, policymakers, business leaders, researchers, and philanthropists to figure out what makes for a successful community-based early childhood initiative aimed at improving that well-being. It highlights lessons learned from three community-based initiatives.
CCDBG Reauthorization Resource Page. This page from the Office of Child Care provides information and key resources on the CCDF reauthorization.
Child Care Decision Making: Understanding Priorities and Processes Used by Low-Income Families in Minnesota. This study examined how 260 low-income parents in Minnesota made decisions about childcare options, important information for policymakers developing QRIS systems, and anyone educating parents about high quality care. The researchers found distinct differences between two groups of parents in terms of time spent choosing, number of options considered, and sources of information.
Child Care and Early Education Research Connections Research Connections provides easy access to research and data on topics related to high quality early care and education. Key Topic Resource Lists identify relevant resources on the coordination and integration of early childhood services.
Child Care and Early Education Legislation Database. This database tracks the most recent early childhood legislation. By choosing certain topics and certain states, you can narrow your search terms to find legislation in certain topics in early education.
Confidentiality Issues: Addressing Question about Sharing Data. The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program’s Community of Practice on Developmental Screening hosted this webinar in which experts discussed confidentiality issues surrounding sharing developmental screening data and/or putting these data or other sensitive child level data into a statewide databases. There is a Recorded Presentation, Presentation Slides, a PTAC Toolkit, and a link to the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Webpage.
Creating Local Early Education Systems that Support Healthy Child Development and Thriving Communities describes the work the National League of Cities supports to align efforts on behalf of young children from birth to age eight that go well beyond the classroom to include strengthening connections within their communities and linking families to a broad range of supports and opportunities that help them thrive. This issue brief highlights the work done in six cities: Austin and Fort Worth, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; Longmont, Colo.; Richmond, Va.; and Rochester, N.Y.
Do Parents Know “High Quality” Preschool When They See It? is a working paper from the University of Virginia that examines whether parents’ evaluation of their child’s program is explained by an extensive set of quality measures. It finds that parents’ evaluations of their program were not systematically related with any of the measures of quality, corroborating this key assumption of QRIS, and suggests that there may be a role for informational interventions in ECE markets.
Early Care and Education Quality Improvement: A Typology of Intervention Approaches. This OPRE Research brief describes four types of Quality Improvement efforts. “The brief offers a framework for continuous quality improvement for ECE. Moreover, it encourages the ECE community to build its evidence base through data collection, research, and testing of innovating interventions and strategies.”
Early Childhood Educator and Administrator Surveys. These surveys allow users to collect consistent data on the use of child assessments and learning standards in early childhood learning settings. Each survey includes modules on educator/administrator background information, assessment use, and learning standards implementation. The surveys and modules can be used either together or individually, and are part of a research agenda to improve early childhood programming and child outcomes through research- and evidence-based practices.
Early Childhood State Advisory Councils – Final Report. This report from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families highlights general themes across the states and presents each state’s accomplishments in meeting the grant requirements. It also suggests implications for future Council work.
Early Childhood State Policy Profiles. The National Center for Children in Poverty has updated its Early Childhood State Policy Profiles, which provide information on state policies in the areas of health, early care and education, and parenting and economic supports that affect the health and well-being of young children in low-income families.
The Early Childhood Systems Workgroup The Early Childhood Systems Workgroup, an informal network of public and private technical assistance consultants, developed graphics and tools to support state early childhood system development.
Early English Language (E-ELD) and Early Spanish Language (E-SLD) Development Standards. The purpose of the E-ELD standards is to provide a developmentally sound framework for supporting, instructing, and assessing dual language learners (DLLs), ages 2.5-5.5 years.
Early Learning Left Out: Building an Early-Learning System to Secure America’s Future. This report draws upon the most recent federal, state, and public school budget information – and what we know about effective investments in young children. It offers valuable information for those seeking to build early learning systems, based upon fiscal analysis and the latest research and evidence of the need for and value of additional investments in early childhood services.
Early Learning in Promise Neighborhoods is a resource by The Center for the Study of Social Policy that highlighting strategies that the first cohort (FY 11) of federal Promise Neighborhood implementation grantees are using to ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school. It describes how three Promise Neighborhoods are promoting early learning in their communities, how they are measuring progress and tracking results, the challenges they have faced, and three common “neighborhood success factors” that have contributed to their success.
Envisioning a Digital Age Architecture for Early Education This brief by Lisa Guernsey lays out the beginnings of a new architecture for 21st-century policymaking. It is intended to spark dialogue across the field about what it will take to remodel early education for the digital age: aiming high, boosting the workforce, tapping forgotten assets, connecting people to each other and to information, and investigating what works.
Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education outlines five steps that, coupled with high-quality K-12 education, will contribute to strengthening student outcomes through college and careers.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Early Childhood Requirements and Opportunities is a review of sections of the new ESSA law from an early learning perspective, bringing together in one place the sections of the law that explicitly reference early learning along with provisions in the law that, while not explicitly addressing early learning, may have implications and/or provide opportunities for furthering access to high quality early childhood experiences. [author abstract]
Expanding Access to Quality Pre-K is Sound Public Policy. This paper by NIEER addresses what evidence says about effective preschool education and long-term cognitive benefits, estimated effects of state and local pre-K programs in more recent years, evidence regarding Head Start’s effectiveness, whether government can improve the quality of public preschool education, and what would happen to state education budgets once federal money was not available (if states expanded pre-K with temporary federal matching funds to state education budgets).
Federal Education Budget Project The New America Foundation updated its Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) with pre-K enrollment data from the 2011-2012 year. In addition to utilizing NIEER’s data on state-funded enrollment, FEBP explores district- and state-level enrollment and spending in pre-K, special education, and K-12.
Federal Expenditures on Children: What Budget Policy Means for Children’s Policy features articles written by several experts that focus on federal budget policy and its implication on children’s policy. The articles are part of an issue of the Social Policy Report.
Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: A Look at Utilization Patterns of Chicago’s Publicly Funded Programs examines the rates of participation in center and home-based ECE for low-income Hispanic and non-Hispanic 3- and 4-year-olds in Chicago. It also examines how ECE participation differs within the linguistically and culturally diverse group of low-income Hispanic families in the study sample. [author abstract]
How Cities Embrace Their Infants and Toddlers “provides information on how cities around the country are addressing the early learning needs of their babies and toddlers.”
The “I” in QRIS Survey: Collecting Data on Quality Improvement Activities for Early Childhood Education Programs is intended for state education agencies that want to collect data on the quality improvement activities and strategies used by early childhood education programs that are participating in a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The data obtained from this tool can be used to document activities and strategies for improving quality and to identify barriers to improvement efforts. [author abstract]
IDEA and FERPA Confidentiality Provisions. This resource is a crosswalk of IDEA and FERPA Confidentiality Provisions. It was created by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) and provides a side-by-side comparison of the primary legal provisions and definitions in IDEA Part B, IDEA Part C, and FERPA that relate to the requirement to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information of students and children served under the IDEA.
IDEA Part C and Part B 619 State Data Systems: Current Status and Future Priorities The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) has released a report on Part C and Part B 619 data systems. The report includes collected information from the Part C and 619 coordinators and their data managers about the current status of their state data systems, priorities for improvement, and areas where the states would like technical assistance. The report presents a comprehensive look at the status of the data systems, including what data states are collecting, what data have been linked, how states are using data, and priorities for the coming years with regard to data systems development and enhancement.
Illinois Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge 2016 Evaluation Report describes the implementation of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant in Illinois, along with lessons learned and implications for policy. (Executive Summary)
The Impact of Discrimination on the Early Schooling Experience of Children from Immigrant Families. This resource maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences of discrimination for children, their families, and schools. It begins by describing how discrimination in the early years can affect a child’s development, academic performance, and later mobility. The report then outlines types of discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school. The report concludes with recommendations that focus on training teachers, building relationships between schools and immigrant communities, and encouraging more varied, culturally sensitive learning experiences
Implementing the CCDBG Reauthorization: State-by-State Fact Sheets. To accompany the implementation guide for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization, CLASP and NWLC have created a series of fact sheets that summarize state-specific information related to the new law’s requirements in each state. Using this interactive map, visitors can access and download their state’s fact sheet.
Inclusion Resources from ELC TA includes examples of how States are ensuring that programs and services that serve young children with disabilities are high-quality by including them in their States’ QRIS system. It also includes examples of how States are building Professional Development initiatives to prepare all providers to serve all the children in their programs including children with disabilities.
Infants And Toddlers In The Policy Picture: A Self-Assessment Toolkit For States draws on research on effective policies and best practices to help states evaluate progress toward building an effective early childhood system and set priorities for improvement. The toolkit guides the reader through a series of questions that prompt data collection on how infants and toddlers are doing in a state and to analyze existing state policies and funding choices. In each section, ZERO TO THREE has provided national comparison data as well as suggested sources to find information for your state. Each topical section also includes optional stakeholder surveys that can be used to gather input on how existing services are meeting families’ needs.
Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement “analyzes the impact of early learning and family engagement programs around the country. In conjunction with the release of this brief, the Integrating Technology in Early Literacy (InTEL) map, available through New America’s Atlas tool, has been updated to show where innovative programs are located, how the programs are designed, and what “evidence of impact” they are able to share.” An interactive map with gives users the ability to search and browse for programs that are experimenting with new tools (such as text messaging, apps, remote chat, and video recordings) to augment existing initiatives or catalyze new ones is available here.
Lessons from New York City’s Universal Pre-K Expansion: How a Focus on Diversity Could Make It Even Better. This study from the Century Foundation is a two-part study, including “background on how universal pre-K programs fit into the national landscape of early childhood policy, outlines the main features of New York City’s current UPK expansion efforts, and draws lessons for other cities and states interested in expanding their programs,” and “an in-depth look at the issue of preschool classroom diversity in UPK, highlighting the opportunities and obstacles for integration embedded in current policies and recommending policy changes to address this issue in New York City and beyond.”
Linking Head Start Data with State Early Care and Education Coordinated Data Systems. CEELO’s Tom Schultz co-authored this The Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) policy brief with Elizabeth Jordan and Carlise King. The ECDC contacted and interviewed a sample of Head start and state early childhood leaders in a dozen states to understand challenges, successes, and strategies in linking and/or sharing data between Head Start and other state systems.
Making the Hours Count: Exposing Disparities in Early Education by Retiring Half-Day vs. Full-Day Labels. A new report from the New America Foundation discusses the history of “full-day” and half-day” pre-K and kindergarten and argues for a new model focused specifically on hours of learning time.
Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools, A Case Study A case study by The Finance Project, in partnership with Children’s Aid Society, highlighting the benefits of community schools from an economic vantage point. Using the concept of a social return on investment (SROI), the report demonstrates a compelling way to measure and communicate the impact of community schools that provide social, health and education services to children and families. This case study highlights two community schools in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City that produced positive gains in academics, attendance, and an increased level of family engagement. With tight budgets and a heavy emphasis on outcomes, community schools can be worth pursuing.
Monitoring in Early Care and Education provides an overview of monitoring and the major early care and education monitoring systems. It offers possible goals for a coordinated monitoring system and describes some approaches to addressing those goals. It also describes 11 dimensions that are important to consider in planning monitoring coordination efforts and highlights the efforts of two states, Ohio and Rhode Island, that are working to coordinate their early care and education systems.[author abstract]
A New Vision for Professional Learning: A Toolkit to Help States Use ESSA to Advance Learning and Improvement Systems provides a summary brief of why professional learning matters to equity and excellence and a strategy guide on opportunities that exist in ESSA for professional learning.
Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Settings: A Program Leader’s Guide to Supporting All Children’s Needs offers “resources on supporting social-emotional development, reducing challenging behavior, recognizing the role of cultural differences and implicit biases, and more.”
Puzzling it Out: The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects: A Consensus Statement lists six consensus statements on what we know about the effects of pre-k and highlights the importance of gathering further evidence to answer three important questions: What features of pre-k programs, specifically, put children on a positive developmental trajectory? What’s the best way to scale up small pre-k programs to a school-district or state-wide level? How can we use evaluations of an earlier generation of programs to guide the development of today’s pre-k programs? The consensus statement is part of a broader report titled The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects.
The Primary Years Agenda: Strategies to Guide District Action. This resource outlines some strategies for schools and districts building high quality early education systems from birth through 3rd grade.
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Stakeholder Theories of Change and Models of Practice begins with a research study to clarify the different state QRIS models—what they look like, how the states describe their purposes, how they differ in inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes. It then provides insights and reflections from a BUILD Think Tank—QRIS 3.0—where nearly two dozen national, state and local leaders, providers and researchers came together to hear the results of the research and to discuss critical questions and next steps in QRIS development. It concludes with eight recommendations for next step activities.
QRIS 3.0 Tools and Resources is a suite of 5 resources that cover (1) Tool for a Cross-Sector QRIS; (2) Finance and QRIS; (3) Communications Strategies for Expanding Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS); (4) Toward Coherence: State Approaches to Integrating Pre-K in QRIS; and (5) Quality Rating and Improvement Systems.
QRIS Issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly. A theme issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly co-edited by Steve Barnett at the National Institute for Early Education Research, Mathematica senior fellow Kimberly Boller, and Stacie Goffin (Goffin Strategy Group) looks at the range of purposes in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and effectiveness as a change agent.
QRIS Searchable Compendium. The BUILD Initiative recently launched a new searchable, web-based QRIS Compendium , which provides answers to common questions about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS); compiles the latest details on QRIS in every state, territory and region/locality in the U.S.; and allows users to compare data for the QRIS in different states or localities, examine data for specific categories, create reports, and download datasets.
Parenting Matters is a report from the Institute of Medicine that “identifies parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices associated with positive developmental outcomes in children ages 0-8; universal/preventive and targeted strategies used in a variety of settings that have been effective with parents of young children and that support the identified knowledge, attitudes, and practices; and barriers to and facilitators for parents’ use of practices that lead to healthy child outcomes as well as their participation in effective programs and services.”
Preschool Development Grants: Year 2015 Progress presents details on Preschool Development Grants (PDG) programs as reported in Annual Performance Reports for 2015.
The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Year Two Progress Report. This page contains a report on Phase 1 and Phase 2 States during 2013, which highlights some of the work done. Also on the page are state by state reports.
Reaching and Engaging with Hispanic Communities: A Research-Informed Communication Guide for Nonprofits, Policymakers, and Funders is designed to help service providers and educators build communication strategies to better serve Latino children and their families. [author abstract]
Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families is an e-book that shares learning from the initial implementation of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, highlighting experience, trends and reflections stemming from the significant contribution from the federal investment in this strategic work. By documenting the experience of the states—as captured through interviews with state leaders—Rising to the Challenge provides a source of learning for all fifty states and territories and puts into practice our leadership commitment to continuous learning in the best interest of the children and families to whom we are all dedicated.
The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States describes and analyzes how four states—Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina—have built high-quality early education systems.
School Improvement Grants: Guidance and Tools for the 2015 Amended regulations: Maximizing the Optional Planning/Pre-Implementation Year. This tool from the Center on School Turnaround provides information and support for states, districts, and schools who are preparing applications for the 2015-2016 School Improvement Grants (SIGs) on how to best use the “planning year.” The new Early Learning model is discussed in the tool. (We suggest also checking out the recent CEELO|Center on School Turnaround Webinar Planning for the New Early Learning Model: The Next School Improvement Grant (SIG) Model).
Social and Emotional Skills for Life and Career: Policy Levers that Focus on the Whole Child. This resource from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders highlights what research says about social and emotional learning and then describes effective policies to integrate social and emotional learning practice.
State Early Learning and Development Standards/Guidelines, Policies & Related Practices: How Responsive are they to the Needs of Young Dual Language Learners? examines the extent to which states’ Early Learning and Development Standards reflect the current research and address the learning needs of dual language learnings. It also provides discussion on steps states can take to better meet the needs of DLLs.
State-Funded PreK Policies on External Classroom Observations: Issues and Status. In this new Policy Information Report, Debra Ackerman examines the variety of state pre-K classroom observation policies on program decisions that are informed by observation score data, the protocols being used, and how often such data are collected from classrooms.
State(s) of Head Start is the first report to describe and analyze in detail Head Start enrollment, funding, quality, and duration, state-by-state. This report from NIEER focuses on the 2014-2015 program year but also provides longitudinal data beginning with the 2006-2007 program year.
State Policies and Practices Supporting Child Care for Infants and Toddlers presents findings that highlight the relative importance of policies, practices, and regulations that state Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) administrators use in their efforts to increase the supply and quality of early care and education for children from birth through age three, with an emphasis on children from low-income families.
State Pre-K Funding 2016-17 Fiscal Year: Trends and Opportunities is a 50-state review of state investments in pre-K funding by program for the 2016-17 fiscal year (FY). It finds that 2016-17 state pre-K funding increased $480 million or 6.8% over 2015-16. The review highlights a number of state examples and describes early learning opportunities for states under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
State/Territory Infant/Toddler and Preschool Credentials. The Office of Child Care recently released four new resources designed to inform the development or enhancement of State and Territory professional development (PD) systems. The four documents listed provide a snapshot of credentialing and PD efforts across the Nation by capturing information available on line about the various approaches used by States and Territories. States and Territories could use the documents to assess the accuracy of their Web site information, identify strengths and gaps, get a glimpse of other State and Territory efforts, and consider articulation or portability beyond the State or Territory.
Summary of Resources on Sustaining Early Care and Education Financing. This annotated list from the Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance program includes resources on a variety of topics, including blending and braiding funding; state-specific funding scans; strategies specific to sustaining pre-k and other programs; tax credits; public-private partnerships; and social impact bonds/pay for success.
Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness: A Child Care Development Fund State Guide assist states in utilizing their Child Care and Development Fund state plan (“CCDF Plan”) as a vehicle for improving access to high-quality early care and education for children who experience homelessness. The guide provides background information on common barriers and challenges; best practices for serving homeless families; a summary of requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-186) (“CCDBG Act”) related to homelessness; and a summary of some of the opportunities available through the state CCDF Plan to improve access.
Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children’s Learning Implications for Early Care and Education Policy. This brief highlights research that can inform policies to expand the capacity of early care and education programs to promote parent engagement in linguistically diverse families with young children.
System Framework for Part C & Section 619. This framework was development by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center) answers the question “What does a state need to put into place in order to encourage/support/require local implementation of evidence-based practices that result in positive outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families?”
Top Ten for 2Gen: Policy Ideas & Principles to Advance Two-Generation Efforts. Federal and state policymakers can pursue ten effective policies immediately to help parents and children break out of the cycle of poverty. Top Ten for 2-Gen outlines six principles and ten specific policies to guide the design and use of two-generation approaches. [author abstract]
US ED and HHS Guidance on Including Children with Disabilities in High-Quality Early Childhood Programs sets a vision for action that recommends states, districts, schools and public and private early childhood programs prioritize and implement policies that support inclusion, improve their infrastructure and offer professional development to strengthen and increase the number of inclusive high-quality early childhood programs nationwide. The Departments crafted the guidance with the input of early learning professionals, families and early learning stakeholders. The policy statement also includes free resources for states, local districts, early childhood personnel and families.
Validation of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS): Examples from Four States. This brief provides detailed examples and findings from QRIS validation activities in four states: Indiana, Maine, Minnesota and Virginia. The brief demonstrates how different states have approached QRIS validation, compares findings, and highlights challenges in designing and conducting QRIS validation studies.
Valuing the Early Years in State Accountability Systems Under the Every Student Succeeds Act raises “the possibility of including preschool in school accountability systems, and suggest some questions for states to consider in deciding whether that makes sense in their context.”
Washington State Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge 2015 Evaluation Report. EDC and the BUILD Initiative released a report documenting stakeholders’ perceptions of the early impact of the RTT-ELC on Washington State. An Executive Summary is also available.