A National Challenge – Supporting the Development of Young Children Who are Affected by Maternal Substance Abuse


By Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development

This week, we are releasing a Policy Statement: “Supporting the Development of Young Children in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities Who are Affected by Alcohol and Substance Exposure”.   The policy is the result of over a year and a half conversation and intense look into what we know – and don’t know – about the babies born to mothers who use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.  The policy statement grew out of a visit by our Secretary to two Native American communities in 2015 and a request for help in supporting these babies who are enrolled in our Early Head Start and Child Care programs.  And, although the policy responds to the issue in our AIAN communities, it easily could apply to any state and many communities across America.  Many of our communities are experiencing marked increases in the use of opioids and a commensurate increase in the cases of babies experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

Of 28 states that examined trends in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), and maternal opioid use, the overall NAS incidence increased 300% between 1999 and 2013.   According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every 25 minutes.  Newborns that experience opiates in utero may experience NAS and depending on the severity of drug withdrawal, may suffer a number of symptoms as a result.  Generally speaking, the medical focus is short term and primarily focused on getting the infant through withdrawal, and helping the mother accept and follow through on substance misuse and treatment.  Not much attention has been paid to helping the mother understand and learn to care for her baby.  Almost no attention has been paid to other caregivers who may actually care for the babies for extended periods.  Whether they are parents, grandparents, child care providers or Early Head Start teachers they too will need to understand NAS and the accompanying symptoms.

Babies born with NAS are irritable, engage in excessive crying, have trouble with eating and digestion and frequently don’t like to be touched.  This may impact the mother and baby’s ability to bond during those critical first days and weeks.  Most symptoms will diminish as the child gets older, but some symptoms could last for months or longer.  While impacts on cognitive development are unclear, children born with NAS appear to be more likely to have behavioral problems such as poor attention span, hyperactivity and challenges with self-regulation.  They may be very sensitive to light and sound and require environmental modifications.

Findings from those studies that have been done indicate that long term effects are highly dependent on the quality of the caregiving environment, which suggests that the effects can be mitigated with access to appropriate supports.  Although there is more that we don’t know than what we do, one thing is certain, being aware of the problems and potential symptoms can help adults who work with either NAS or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) babies provide the best possible environments and care to help these children develop.

While I have focused here on the NAS challenges, the policy addresses children affected by any substance abuse during pregnancy including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD.)  According to the Institute of Medicine, “of all substances of abuse (including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana) alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral affects in the fetus”.   It should be clear that providing preventive, educational information and services to expectant mothers is a top priority.

I urge everyone, whether you work with AIAN families or not, to read this policy statement and share what you know about programs or training for adults who care for NAS/FASD affected children.  What works, what doesn’t?  Until we know more, we must learn from each other.   Finally, it is vitally important to raise awareness about the effects of substance abuse on both the mothers and their babies.

Look for the Policy Statement on the ACF’s website. It will be posted as soon as possible.

Source: Administration for Children and Families, Early Childhood Development

Webinar on Introducing the National Center on Tribal Early Childhood Development

We are pleased to invite you to participate in a webinar on Tuesday, December 20, from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time [ET]) to introduce the new National Center on Tribal Early Childhood Development (NCTECD). NCTECD is funded by the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide training and technical assistance (T/TA) to assist American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) grantees with the implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, including the promotion of early childhood (EC) program best practices and effective EC systems in AI/AN communities.

During this webinar, Melody Redbird-Post, the NCTECD Project Director, will provide an overview of NCTECD, its staff, and upcoming T/TA opportunities. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions and answers. If you would like to participate in the introductory webinar on December 20 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. (ET), please register via this Web link.

NCTECD will also host virtual listening sessions in January 2017. During the listening sessions, we hope to gather your input on T/TA priorities for AI/AN CCDF grantees. Please look for an e-mail invitation in the near future.

We hope that you can join the introductory webinar and upcoming listening sessions, and we look forward to working with all of you on behalf of children and families!


Check out May edition of Early Childhood Development Newsletter

Learn about:

  • Developmental Screening
  • Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: Why Do We Need Them?
  • Choctaw Nation Celebration
  • Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge
  • Preschool Development Grant Competition
  • Rebuilding after Super Storm Sandy
  • Pre-school Expulsion Research
  • Supporting Early Childhood

And more in the May Edition of the Early Childhood Development Newsletter.

Source: Administration for Children and Families

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/news/check

American Indian/Alaska Native Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants


Estimated Post Date: 5/20/14
Estimated Application Due Date: 8/4/14
Estimated Award Date: 11/4/14
Estimated Start Date: 12/1/14

Estimated Funding: $14,683,125
Estimated Number of Awards: 20
Estimated Award Ceiling: $14,683,125

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announces the availability of approximately $15 million to be competitively awarded for the purpose of expanding access to high-quality, comprehensive services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families through Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships, or through the expansion of Early Head Start services.  ACF solicits applications from public entities or private non-profit organizations, including community-based or faith-based organizations, or for-profit agencies that meet eligibility for applying as stated in section 645A of the Head Start Act.

For more information, interested applicants should visit http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/grants/ehs-ccp.

Please note that the funding opportunity number (FON) has changed to HHS-2015-ACF-OHS-HI-R11-0825.

Source: Administration of Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/index.cfm?switch=grant.view&gff_grants_forecastInfoID=70263

Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education Services for Children Who Live on Reservations with BIE Funded Programs: Q&A Guidance Document with sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Agreement


This document seeks to provide clarity and guidance related to provision of early intervention and special education services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers aged birth through 5 who reside on reservations in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is intended for Part C Lead Agencies (LAs), Early Intervention Service Providers (EISPs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), State Education Agencies (SEAs), Tribes, schools operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Family and Child Education (FACE) programs, Head Start Programs, and other agencies that work with this population of children.

This document is based on a similar document developed through the collaborative efforts of New Mexico Local Education Agencies, the Bureau of Indian Education (FACE Program), the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC). State or LEA specific information has been edited to ensure broader applicability. Additionally, information specific to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C services has been added. The document is the result of a combined effort of the Regional Resource Center Program (RRCP), the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The information presented in this document is for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon as, or substituted for, an informed opinion by an attorney based on a specific set of facts. This document does not offer formal policy guidance from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the United Stated Department of Education. OSEP endorsement is neither intended nor implied.

Source: Regional Resource Center Program (RRCP), the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)

Available at: http://www.rrcprogram.org/cms2/images/_rrcpdata/documents/EC_services_children_on_reservations_2-28-13-aml-v9.pdf

Tribal Consultation Meetings

Summary: Pursuant to the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Public Law 110-134, notice is hereby given of one-day Tribal Consultation Sessions to be held between the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start leadership and the leadership of Tribal Governments operating Head Start (including Early Head Start) programs. The purpose of these Consultation Sessions is to discuss ways to better meet the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families, taking into consideration funding allocations, distribution formulas, and other issues affecting the delivery of Head Start services in their geographic locations [42 U.S.C. 9835, Section 640(l)(4)].

Action Dates: March 22 and April 3, 2012

Addresses: 2012 Office of Head Start Tribal Consultation Sessions will be held at the following locations: Thursday, March 22, 2012—Phoenix, Arizona—Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 West Dunlap Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85021; Tuesday, April 3, 2012—Billings, Montana—Holiday Inn Grand Montana, 5500 Midland Road, Billings, MT 59101.

Contact: Camille Loya, Acting Regional Program Manager Region XI, email Camille.Loya@acf.hhs.gov or phone (202) 401-5964. Additional information and online meeting registration is available athttp://www.headstartresourcecenter.org.

Full Text: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-06/html/2012-5438.htm

New National Center, New AIAN & MSHS T/TA System

Regions 11 and 12 T/TA and Collaboration Center

The Office of Head Start announces the award of a contract to ICF International to operate a T/TA (Training and Technical Assistance) and Collaboration Center for Region XI, serving American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, and Region XII, serving Migrant and Seasonal Worker children and families.

Staffing for each Region includes a Collaboration Director, a T/TA Manager, Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialists, and Grantee Specialists. The ECE specialists will support local programs in work related to school readiness, including positive child outcomes; parent, family and community engagement; career development needs of staff; and, collaboration with others at the national, state and local levels. Grantee Specialists will support local programs in their efforts to develop the strong management and fiscal systems necessary to achieve positive outcomes for children and families.

National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations

The Office of Head Start (OHS) announces the award of the National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations to Education Development Center, Inc., (EDC) and their partners, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and The Finance Project. This powerful partnership will create a unique management and fiscal expertise that supports OHS’ vision and delivers quality, research-based training and technical assistance.The Center will disseminate a clear, consistent message about how to develop and implement sound management and financial systems at the agency level. The Center’s work will focus on leadership, risk management, internal controls, facilities, ongoing monitoring, human resources management, staff supervision, governance, data collection and analysis, budgeting and cost allocation.

The Center will work collaboratively with the five other National Centers, State T/TA Centers, Regional Offices and other early childhood entities. EDC, along with its partners, is committed to delivering effective, client-tailored, technology-based T/TA to programs with diverse needs. Contact information will be available soon on the ECLKC.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

National Center on Tribal Child Care Implementation and Innovation

One of the OCC’s priority goals is assisting States, Tribes, and Territories to design child care subsidy programs that are child focused, family friendly, and fair to providers. These child care subsidy programs reach all sectors of the early childhood and school age field, thus serving children birth through age twelve. The aim is to integrate child development goals and family self-sufficiency goals in order to promote increased stability and higher quality services that lead to improved child and family outcomes.

Efficient, well run programs enhance access to services for eligible families and children and create a key link in the education of young children and the self sufficiency of families. The National Center on Tribal Child Care Implementation and Innovation will support the work of Tribal grantees related to CCDF administration by: helping Tribes create continuous quality improvement efforts as they set quality goals; developing and coordinating peer-learning opportunities and leadership development; and supporting a biennial National Conference and other trainings for Tribal grantees.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=d5ba3970634bfea64897f5fa497b4e3b&tab=core&_cview=1

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe breaks ground on education center | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota


The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe broke ground Wednesday on a  building for its early education department.

The 47,600-square-foot building, which will be located adjacent to the District I Community Center in Onamia, will accommodate approximately 200 students ages newborn to 5 years old.

The new building reflects the growing demand for the Band’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which integrate Ojibwe language and cultural instruction into standard curriculum. The program currently serves 117 students in District I, with 70 children on the waiting list.

Source: BrainerdDispatch.com

Available at: http://brainerddispatch.com/news/2011-07-06/mille-lacs-band-ojibwe-breaks-ground-education-center#.Th-RjM2UyeY