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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

BUILD Initiative Blog

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Miriam Calderon
BUILD Initiative Special Projects Consultant

As advocates for young children, we must view immigration reform for what it is – an enormous opportunity to pass social policy that’s good for kids. Fully one-quarter of all young children in the United States have an immigrant parent. Many have at least one parent that is unauthorized. These children will become America’s future leaders in a world economy that demands that they fully develop their skills and talents.

Debi Mathias
Director, QRIS National Learning Network

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Science magazine article “Can Policy-Relevant Ratings of Pre-K Programs Predict Children's Learning?” This article provides a great opportunity to use our best thinking and create an informed debate around understanding research and the implications for improving protocols and interventions within the QRIS framework. My initial concern was that the article might be mistaken as a call to dismantle systems building efforts in the states, rather than a piece about how to focus interventions within a system to achieve stated goals and outcomes. I also think it is important for us to understand the limitations of the research and regard the conclusions in a context of “building a case,” rather than a final affirmation of how to proceed.

Linda K. Smith
Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development
ACF, HHS

Continuous quality improvement is about creating an environment in which management and workers strive to create constantly improving quality. It’s a process to ensure that programs are systematically and intentionally improving services and increasing positive outcomes for the children/families they serve. It’s a cyclical, data-driven process. It is with a continuous quality improvement lens that quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) began just over a decade ago. But QRIS is not a specific intervention – like a specific curriculum or program model. Instead, ... the QRIS is a framework or umbrella for multiple efforts to support quality in a systemic way. And it is going to need to be refined as we learn more – the goal of a continuous quality improvement process.

Gerrit Westervelt
BUILD Initiative Executive Director

As system builders, we have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to examine the role that structural and historical racial, cultural and linguistic bias plays in differential outcomes for young children. We have to take a hard look at the systems we are busy building and ask ourselves how well each step we’re taking serves all children or each and every child, not just those fortunate enough to have easy access to high quality services.

Susan Hibbard
BUILD Initiative Deputy Director

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, it is fitting that the federal government released the final guidelines for the third round of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC). Only when every state has the financial capacity, commitment, and sound plan to support each and every child to develop his/her potential will our dream of closing the achievement gap come true.

Theresa Hawley
Executive Director
Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development

Ever wonder what it takes to move a program from good to great? I wonder about this all the time, as do my colleagues in Illinois. We are convinced that the reason we are not seeing larger, more sustained benefits from the majority of early learning programs for at-risk children is that programs are not implementing the level of instructional excellence that a great program provides.

Sherri Killins, Ed.D.
BUILD Initiative Consultant

To what extent should program standards, known as QRIS, seek to define program quality by including health, safety and business practices of early childhood programs? Should program standards include hand-washing, CPR, first aide, safe sleeping and medication administration etc.? Should program standards include business practices like annual audits, calculation of depreciation, business plans, record keeping, budgeting etc.?