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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

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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.

Marsha Basloe

Senior Advisor for Early Childhood, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development
ACF, HHS

Living in Massachusetts and New York, I am no stranger to cold weather in the winter. I fortunately ... did not weather the frigid cold unprepared! I wish that were true for everyone, especially families with young children. Recent temperatures in the Washington, D.C./Virginia area dipped to single digit numbers, and shelters were full to capacity.

Susan Hibbard
BUILD Initiative Deputy Director

BUILD's deputy director, who also co-directs the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, writes about the opportunities provided by the ELC-RTT. She also cites the many ways that the Early Learning Challenge has been a jumping-off point for important work by states in early childhood systems building in the last two years.

Charles Bruner
Research and Evaluation Partner

The first two years of life ultimately are the most important ones to ensuring an individual’s health. During this time, the primary health care practitioner is the professional most likely to see and assess the child and in the position to identify and serve as first responder to conditions which jeopardize healthy development. Therefore, the primary health practitioner needs to be the observing eyes and ears for identifying conditions in the child, the family, and the family's environment that impact healthy development.

BUILD Initiative

The latest edition of Early Learning Left Out (ELLO), produced by the BUILD Initiative, analyzes the most recent available federal, state, and school district budget information to determine how much is invested today in young children and whether that is sufficient to meet the 1989 First National Education Goal that “all children start school ready to learn.” The data make abundantly clear that America is falling short.