BUILD Initiative Blog | Early Childhood
Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

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A partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the BUILD Initiative worked to strengthen collaboration among leaders in museums, libraries, and early childhood systems to increase opportunities for young children and families often identified as high need, particularly those without access to museums and libraries and lacking sufficient early learning and development opportunities.

By Anne Mitchell

President of Early Childhood Research and Co-Founder of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance

The BUILD Initiative paper, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Stakeholder Theories of Change and Models of Practice, by Diane Schilder and Iheoma Iruka with Harriet Dichter and Debi Mathias captures the changing context and the factors influencing QRIS. The recommendations it offers are beyond reproach, with each one providing a concept worthy of its own focus.

By Harriet Dichter
In this blog post, Dichter writes about the latest addition to BUILD’s e-book on the Early Learning Challenge, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. The prologue, entitled Coming of Age: A Review of Federal Early Childhood Policy 2000-2015, is written by Joan Lombardi, an energizing and intrepid force in our country’s early childhood movement, with co-authors and newly-minted policy researchers Jessica F. Harding, Maia C. Connors and Allison H. Friedman-Krauss.

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, 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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.