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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

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Advocates striving to ensure that all families—especially low-income families—have access to high-quality child care for their infants and toddlers should focus on strengthening their state’s core child care assistance system. It is a key determinant of both the quality of care that low-income children receive and their families’ economic stability. States now have a tremendous opportunity to improve their child care assistance policies and make them work better for infants and toddlers and their families, thanks to the historic increase in funding for the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) starting in FY 2018.

In 2009, a large-scale study of the quality of child care in Georgia found that the quality of state’s infant and toddler classrooms was the lowest quality in the state’s child care programs. Pre-K long has been a wise investment in Georgia, but the agency has had to work hard to extend what is known about the importance of high-quality care for infants and toddlers. Our Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) has never wavered in its belief that improving outcomes for our youngest citizens begins by focusing on infants and toddlers and, further, that this means investing in the teachers who work with them. We’ve leveraged our child care assistance, quality improvement, and workforce initiatives to push this work forward. I’m excited to share seven key elements in our approach to assure high quality for infants and toddlers in our state.

With the historic allocation of $2.4 billion in new federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, we have the opportunity to improve child care and early education policies for infants and toddlers, and their parents and caregivers. The new dollars came at a time when we know more than ever about what supports the healthy development of infants and toddlers and what families need for economic stability. We also know the clear racial and ethnic disparities in who receives child care assistance and how child care workers of color fare in state child care assistance programs. The increase in funding gives states the chance to make progress on these fronts.

Federal technical assistance (TA)[1] centers, research institutions, national organizations, and philanthropic funders offer a range of TA opportunities. Technical assistance has the potential to facilitate and support the movement of states,[2] regions, programs, grantees, and even individuals toward their vision and goals, but information on where, when, and how to apply for these wide-ranging opportunities with experts is not always clear. Further, many more questions arise for states as they begin to negotiate the TA terrain, e.g., how should the learning from the TA be incorporated into practice within the state; how should TA align with already established visions and priorities; and how do states ensure staff doesn’t end up overworked, over-deployed, or as merely superficial participants in these opportunities? This summary aims to address these and other issues by offering “10 Tips” – gleaned from interviews with state leaders and TA providers in 2017.

Check out the latest on immigration, health equity, suspension and expulsion, and early learning.

BUILD Initiative and CEELO recently released A Learning Table to Improve State Early Childhood Teaching and Learning Policy: Reflections and Recommendations After Three Years of Implementation, sharing lessons learned on/recommendations for providing technical assistance to state early education practices.

Find out what we're reading in immigration, racial equity, and early learning news.

We're using your feedback to help us exceed last year's success. At the San Diego meeting, we want to forge new relationships and fortify old ones. We want to strengthen our resolves and celebrate our victories. We want to educate and learn, enlighten and inspire. We want to spark solutions and share systems strategies. Naturally, after reading your comments, I wondered what you will say about this year’s meeting. What sessions, what speakers, what conversations will transform you?

Catch up on your equity, mental health, suspension/expulsion, and early learning reading.

Read the latest on racial equity, systems building, early learning, and more.

As Executive Director of the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, my role is to ensure that children and their families are surrounded and served by high-quality early learning services. To do this, we focus on a system that provides quality programming to reach all children, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Catch up on your reading this week! BUILD Initiative shares the latest on racial equity, health equity, suspension and expulsion, immigration, and early learning.

Darlington County, South Carolina. These are the basics about the county: Nearly 42 percent Black or African-American. 56 percent White. Less than two percent Latino. Median income of $34,773. Seventeen percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree. Thirteen percent of residents don’t have health insurance. Twenty-one percent of residents are living in poverty.

In Lamar, South Carolina, Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN) fellow Darnell Byrd-McPherson was elected as the first African-American woman mayor. In an age where public discourse and identity politics would have us believe that we are at odds with our neighbors, Darnell’s running platform was simple: she wants to unify the community.

Catch up on early learning, health and racial equity reading.

Catch up on your reading this week! BUILD Initiative shares the latest on equity, racial equity, and early learning.

Catch up on your reading this week! BUILD Initiative shares the latest on equity, early learning, organizational capacity building, and special needs and early intervention.

Catch up on your reading this week! BUILD Initiative shares the latest on equity, early learning, suspension and expulsion, and the implications of current tax proposals on children.

As 2017 is coming to a close, the BUILD Initiative decided to check in to see how it is going. In states with well-organized advocates and leaders who are building strong coalitions and developing a focused agenda, some focus on early learning is seen. Let’s take a closer look at Connecticut and New Jersey.