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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

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BUILD Initiative
BUILD Initiative
BUILD Initiative's Blog

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.

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.