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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

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By Susan G. Hibbard
Executive Director, BUILD Initiative

BUILD turned to Dr. Linda Espinosa and Miriam Calderon to find out the extent to which states’ ELDS reflect the current research and address the learning needs of young dual language learners. They examined 23 states’ ELDS for pre-k-aged children to determine the most common approaches for representing dual language learners across a broad set of criteria. Their report, “State Early Learning and Development Standards/Guidelines, Policies & Related Practices: How responsive are they to the needs of young dual language learners?" includes an individual state profile that summarizes how each state is addressing the needs of young dual language leaners, and concludes with recommendations for how states can be more responsive to the needs of dual language learners in their ELDS and other components of their early childhood system.

By Ruth Trombka
Editor and Writer, BUILD Initiative

In December, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute published “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream,” a plan to ameliorate one of our country’s most deeply-rooted problems. The plan is distinctive in that it addresses poverty by simultaneously focusing on issues related to family, work, and education. In this blog post Editor and Writer Ruth Trombka examines what this means for early childhood advocates.

By Dana Friedman
Implementing state pre-k policy is extremely challenging for several reasons.  In many communities where the demographics are changing, underlying racism and xenophobia can turn away non-native English speaking parents seeking to register their children for pre-k because they have not brought with them documentation proving residency. I witnessed this firsthand at a Long Island school in one of the eleven underserved districts where The Early Years Institute works to improve school readiness.  

Joan Lombardi
Director of Early Opportunities LLC

Lombardi explores chapter 8 of Rising to the Challenge. In this chapter, Debi Mathias chronicles the history, trends and innovations that have come to characterize this unique way of thinking about quality. In many ways, QRIS was the heart of the Early Learning Challenge as it was one way to assess a primary goal of a program: to increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged young children enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.  This made the validity of the standards particularly important.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we all look forward to extra days off and the lavish meal that the holiday brings. We also do our best to remind ourselves that we have so much more than time off and a great meal to be thankful for  - including everything from warm winter coats to the comfort of our loved ones. At BUILD, we believe that standing out among our riches are the people and efforts serving young children and families. As they take our field in bold directions, often despite daunting challenges, many inspire us on a personal level. We want to recognize them by sharing them with you here.

By Stacie G. Goffin, Rhian Evans Allvin, Deb Fils, and Albert Wat

During a plenary session of the 2015 QRIS National Learning Network’s national meeting, panelists explored questions critical to advancing early childhood education (ECE), in particular the fragmentation of the field and the variability in the quality of children’s formal early learning experiences. Moving beyond attempts to only solve existing problems, in this guest blog post Stacie G. Goffin, Rhian Evans Allvin, Deb Flis, and Albert Wat answer and pose challenging questions on how to develop the future of the ECE as a professional field of practice.

Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

It seems like just a few years ago that information about young children, families and the people who care for them was confined to writing on index cards or sporadic surveys and always had missing data elements. This hit or miss data collection, while changing, often still leaves policymakers and practitioners without adequate information to make informed decisions.

Charlie Bruner, PhD
Research and Evaluation Partner, BUILD Initiative 
Executive Director, Child and Family Policy Center

The Child and Family Policy Center (CFPC) and Every Child Matters (ECM) just released poll results showing how Iowa voters rank issues by importance for the next presidential candidate to address – and how they view children and their needs.

Debi Mathias
Director, QRIS National Learning Network, BUILD Initiative

You probably have visited an early childhood classroom that has “it” – that energy you feel when you walk in the door, a tangible feeling of excitement. Children are playing, laughing, testing out new ideas, problem solving, all engrossed in an inquiry approach to learning.

Sherri Killins, Ed.D
Director of Systems Alignment and Integration, BUILD Initiative

Released this week, Catherine Scott-Little and Kelly Maxwell’s chapter, Improving Systems of Learning Through the Use of Child Standards and Assessments, focuses on the practices of eight Early Learning Challenge states as part of BUILD’s E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families.

Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

The importance of assuring linkages between early childhood programs and the early grades of school is a concept that has grown over the years.

Ruth Trombka
Editor and Writer, BUILD Initiative

Reflections on Father’s Day

Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

Science tells us that the adults in children lives, and the relationships the adults form with children, are the cornerstone of healthy and successful child development. While everyone talks about this science, reality does not fit the rhetoric: teachers are underpaid, parents can’t afford child care, and quality suffers.

Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

Last week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Head Start Program. Leading up to that launch in 1965, a panel of experts, chaired by Dr. Robert Cooke of Johns Hopkins University, set forth recommendations for the establishment of the program. Reading through those recommendations five decades later, the wisdom of those early pioneers continues to shine – the founders called for comprehensive services that address the health, education, and family support needs of young children in poverty. 

Susan Hibbard 
Executive Director, BUILD Initiative

BUILD Initiative Saddened by Further Delay of Immigration Executive Actions

Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

Heading into the 2008 election, I remember a small group meeting of advocates talking about what really needed to happen next in early childhood policy. While there were a lot of different strategies mentioned, one goal stood out and seemed to bring everyone together: 

To assure that more young children from low income families have access to higher quality services. 

Miriam Elena Calderon
Special Projects

Young Dual Language Learners (DLLs) are getting more attention than ever before. The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge required states to be explicit about their efforts to ensure that more DLLs were served in high-quality programs. The prevalence of the use of term dual language learner connotes a greater awareness of the fact that these children are not just learning English they are doing so while also trying to maintain and develop their home language.

Susan Hibbard
BUILD Deputy Director

Ruth Trombka
Program Manager

More than a handful of times in the last few weeks, BUILD has received emails or calls that begin with “Maybe I’m missing something, but why are you talking about state-level systems when the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) initiative is a federal to local funding opportunity?” We have rarely had a response more readily available: Because states have an obligation to our youngest children.

Andrew Brodsky, Principal

Brodsky Research and Consulting

An extensive body of research demonstrates that early childhood interventions are among the most cost-effective public investments we can make. The evidence in favor of high-quality early childhood programming is clear. But converting solid research into policy change can be challenging. Skeptical, recession-weary audiences may be averse to new funding initiatives. Additionally, overly academic discussions of social program details may alienate those who are not experts in the field.

Gerry Cobb
BUILD Initiative State Services Director

Through the Early Learning Challenge and subsequently through an Enhanced Assessment Grant (EAG) opportunity, federal leaders created incentives for states to develop and implement kindergarten entry assessments. The attractiveness of the EAG approach was that it encouraged states to band together and think collectively. In their Early Learning Challenge application, North Carolina leaders have taken a visionary approach to meeting the Kindergarten Entry Assessment component.