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

Create a Culture of Acceptance and Kindness in a Challenging World: It all Starts in Your Early Childhood Program

2 – 3:30pm ET

Presenter: Jacky Howell

In a time where there seems to be many negative messages in the media and beyond, we in early childhood programs experience the effects on young children.  This webinar will share a variety of ideas and strategies to use in your programs that embrace a culture of acceptance and kindness.


  • Description and examples will be given defining a classroom that embraces a culture of acceptance and kindness.
  • Concrete strategies and ideas will be shared that participants can bring back to use in their settings.
  • Opportunity will be provided for question/answer.

Source: Early Childhood Webinars

Register at: http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/presentations/create-culture-acceptance-kindness-challenging-world-starts-early-childhood-program-jacky-howell/


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!


CLASP Brief Examines Latino Families’ Access to Child Care Subsidies


CLASP has released a new brief titled A Closer Look at Latino Access to Child Care Subsidies. A companion piece to our original report Disparate Access: Head Start and CCDBG Data by Race and Ethnicity, this brief elaborates on the low level of access Latino children and their parents have to child care assistance through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). CCDBG helps parents afford the high costs of child care and supports quality improvements in child care.

CLASP’s analysis found that access to child care subsidies is sharply limited for all eligible children, but even more so eligible Latino children. While 13 percent of all eligible children receive child care assistance through CCDBG, only 8 percent of eligible Latino children nationally get help. Access is even lower in 29 states. This brief takes a closer look at the data on Latino children’s access across the states and offers policy solutions to improve access to child care assistance. 

Read A Closer Look At Latino Access To Child Care Subsidies >>

Register for CLASP and diversitydatakids.org’s joint webinar, Place and Race Matter: Head Start and CCDBG Access by Race, Ethnicity, and Location >> 

Source: CLASP

Webinar: Boosting Your Program’s Bottom Line: Ideas for Differentiation and New Revenue Streams

January 24, 2017
2:00 – 3:30pm ET

Let’s face it: Quality early childhood programs are expensive to operate, and the competition for enrollment can be fierce. We’re always looking for new ideas to boost our program’s revenue and make our program stand out from the crowd. Child care marketing genius, Kris Murray, will join us to help you learn the ingenuity you need to earn additional revenue and differentiate your program with solutions families will crave.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to define your program’s “key value differentiators” to attract more families to your program;
  • How to identify additional products and services that will bring in more revenue than tuition and other funding without “fundraising”,
  • Strategies for launching your new products and services;
  • How to locate resources to support your new revenue boosting campaigns.

All sessions are 1.5 hours long, and include a brief announcement from our sponsor.

Can’t participate in our webinars at the appointed time? Never fear! All of the webinars are recorded. To view the recording, simply register now and you will receive an email with a link to the recording when it is ready to be viewed. You can still download the certificate by watching the recording to the end when the certificate link is announced and displayed on the screen.

Only 1,000 people at one time can attend our webinars, but registration often tops 4,000. Only the first 1,000 people to click the link to attend the webinar will be able to get in. We start the webinars 30 minutes in advance of the start time. Arrive early to make sure you get in.

Please be advised that you will only be eligible for the great door prizes if you participate in the live session.

You can earn .2 CEUs for each webinar. The cost is $15 paid to University of Oklahoma online when you apply. Learn more here: Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from University of Oklahoma

A Webinar for Child Care Health Consultants The Shifting Landscape for Health and Safety in Child Care

Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016
1–2 p.m. EST

Register Online Now!

The National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (NCECHW) invites Child Care Health Consultants (CCHCs) to register for the second in a series of ongoing webinars to support child care health consultation in all early childhood education (ECE) settings. Join us to explore new developments in early childhood health and safety. Find out how to strengthen programs’ health and safety practices.

Topics for the webinar include:

  • Identifying the new state requirements for health and safety training
  • Understanding key data that programs can use to promote effective health and safety practices
  • Recognizing how to find information about your state’s approach to health and safety

Who Should Attend?

This webinar will benefit child care health and nurse consultants; health educators and advocates; Head Start health services staff; and school nurses working with pre-K programs.

Select the link to register: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/phta48t05aaa&eom


Contact NCECHW at health@ecetta.info or call (toll-free) 1-888-227-5125.

Understanding Subsidy Eligibility Policies in the New CCDF Final Rule, Thursday, December 15, at 3:00 p.m.

Please join the Office of Child Care on Thursday, December 15, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time for our second webinar in this series. The webinar will focus on implementing new Child Care and Development Fund subsidy policies, including continuity of care and graduated phase-out.

Participants can register for the webinar via this Web link.

Please note: The date for the third webinar in the series has been changed to January 12, 2017; the timeframe will still be 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and the topic of that webinar will be Consumer Education and Parental Choice.

From November 4 e-mail: CCDF Topical Webinar Series Begins November 17.

As a part of our ongoing effort to support Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program grantees with the work of implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 and the new CCDF program regulations, the Office of Child Care is launching a new webinar series that will feature monthly webinars focusing on specific CCDF policy topics. The multifaceted discussion on each webinar will include a presentation on the policy and requirements around a particular topic; a conversation focused on State, Territory, or Tribal experiences; and suggested resources and next steps that CCDF administrators and partners can take as they move toward full implementation of the new policies.

Webinars will be held on the third Thursday of every month from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). They will also be recorded and posted on line for those who are unable to join the live presentation. The first three dates for the webinars are as follows:

  • November 17 at 3 p.m. ET—Health and Safety Standards and Training Requirements
  • December 15 at 3 p.m. ET—12-Month Eligibility and Graduated Phase-Out
  • January 12 at 3 p.m. ET—Consumer Education and Parental Choice (Originally scheduled for January 19).

 The registration link for the third webinar will be forthcoming.

Webinar: Place and Race Matter: Head Start and CCDBG Access by Race, Ethnicity, and Location


Time: 1 – 2pm EST

Join the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and diversitydatakids.org for a webinar discussing racial, ethnic, and native disparities in Head Start and child care access at the state and neighborhood levels. Featuring original analyses from CLASP and diversitydatakids.org, the webinar will highlight key data and provide a range of policy recommendations to ensure equitable access to federal early childhood programs. High-quality child care and early education can build a strong foundation for young children’s healthy development; however, many low-income children, cannot access to early childhood opportunities. While these gaps in access to child care and early education are widely recognized, less is understood the role of race and ethnicity. This webinar will present CLASP’s analysis of Head Start, Early Head Start (EHS), and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) administrative data, as well as a diversitydatakids.org neighborhood-level analysis of Head Start, showing how access differs based on race, ethnicity, and nativity. Presenters will include: -Stephanie Schmit, Senior Policy Analyst, CLASP -Dr. Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Project Director, and Erin Hardy, Research Director, diversitydatakids.org -Additional speakers to be announced.

Source: CLASP and diversitydatakids.org

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/534786341756134657 

Supporting Parents in Job Training and Education Programs with Child Care Assistance


This Information Memorandum provides guidance to Lead Agencies implementing provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, to increase access to child care assistance and information so that low-income parents may further their education and training as a pathway to better wages and economic stability.

Source: Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/im-2016-04


The National Research Conference on Early Childhood (formerly known as Head Start’s National Research Conference on Early Childhood) Save the Dates!

July 11–13, 2016
Washington, DC

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), in conjunction with the Office of Head Start (OHS), is pleased to announce the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) National Research Conference on Early Childhood. This announcement includes details about the conference, and a call for presentations.

This conference was formerly known as the Head Start National Research Conference. Since 1991, Head Start’s National Research Conference on Early Childhood has highlighted cutting edge research on low-income families with young children. In order to welcome participation from researchers, practitioners, and policymakers across early childhood fields, the conference is now called the Administration for Children and Families’ National Research Conference on Early Childhood.

About the Conference

Head Start is the nation’s leader in early childhood care and education and a center of innovation. OHS sponsors this conference to identify and disseminate research relevant to young children birth to age 8 and their families. There is particular focus on research that considers low-income families with young children. The conference encourages collaboration across the early childhood research field in order to build upon the evidence base for policy and practice.

This year’s theme is increasing access to high-quality early care and education experiences for low-income children from birth through early elementary school. Over the past decade, there has been substantial public investment at the national, state, and local levels. This support is aimed at improving the quality of early care and education. There also has been an effort to expand these services, including in Head Start, child care, home visiting, and pre-kindergarten.

It is clear that quality in early childhood has many components. It involves workforce training, practice improvement, and curriculum development. It requires accountability, measurement development and progress monitoring. Quality also includes parenting supports and parent engagement. The development of an evidence base to feed into continuous quality improvement is critical to the success of children, families, and programs.

Call for Presentations: Due Dec. 18 (extended from Dec. 9th)

The Conference Program Committee invites proposals for posters, symposia, and poster symposia. Presentations may discuss recent research (published or unpublished) or synthesized findings. The online submission system opens the week of Nov. 16, 2015. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.

Research presented at the 2016 Conference will address knowledge gaps across service delivery systems. Sessions will be consistent with the theme. They will focus on improving understanding of the quality factors that impact programs and families and the evaluation of approaches for improving quality. The sessions also will address obstacles and solutions regarding families’ access to high-quality care and education. Methods and measurement development for examining quality and family decision-making regarding early childhood education also will be in line with this theme.

See the Call For Presentations for more details about the theme and guidance for submitting a proposal. Learn more about the conference and what is required to submit a proposal online at www.rcec2016.net.

For general submission questions or details on how to submit a paper application, contact Jennifer Pinder at 1-800-503-8442, ext. 7054, or by email at rcec2016@impaqint.com.

For More Information

Select the link to review materials from previous conferences: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/events/head-start-national-research-conferences

Check back often for more details about this event and the call for presentations. We look forward to seeing you in July!