Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.
In fact, for the first time in many years, the early childhood education field knows what the next federal fiscal year holds before it’s well-underway, unlike years past when we were retroactively scrambling to determine funding levels as the fiscal year progressed. On September 28th, President Trump signed legislation from Congress to fund the critically important programs housed in the Labor, Health & Human Services (DHHS), and Education (ED) departments before the federal fiscal year begins on October 1st. The FY19 “minibus” appropriations package, which includes funding for other parts of the federal government through Dec. 7, 2018, importantly funds these education programs for FY19:
We will continue to unpack these appropriations to find the opportunities for improving quality and achieving our shared mission of ensuring every child has access to warm, responsive, organized classrooms with emotionally, socially, and cognitively supportive teachers who fuel children’s natural curiosity and love of learning. To read more about ways in which this Congress can fund programs serving young children and their families, see NAEYC’s federal early childhood education policy agenda.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.
Decades of evidence indicate that high-quality early childhood education positively affects children. Yet studies reveal that too few programs implement high-quality programming. To date, improvement efforts have primarily focused on what occurs within the classroom. The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce), in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium), strives to broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to organizational conditions that support teachers and the relationships among staff, children, and families.
If you’ve been following the news lately, a lot is going on in North Carolina for young children and families! Leaders across the state—from businesses to state government to county municipalities—are leveraging partnerships that use research-based assessment and professional development models (like CLASS) to guarantee more of the state’s youngest residents have access to the high quality care they need and deserve.