Alliance for Early Success: Policy Framework and Guidelines 


The Alliance developed and published an initial Framework in 2013 with input from more than 150 experts representing early childhood and K-12 advocates and leaders, researchers, communication professionals, policymakers, and foundation leaders. The 2015 revision reflects input from a high level Advisory Group as well as additional experts in health and family support. Policy options are updated to reflect the latest research and best practice evidence. The most significant change is the inclusion of cross-cutting policy choices that address multiple issues.

The Framework has four policy pillars.

  • HEALTH:  Children are born healthy, stay healthy, and are surrounded by healthy adults
  • FAMILY SUPPORT:  Families help their children explore, learn, and grow in safe and nurturing places.
  • LEARNING:  Children arrive at Kindergarten with the skills and abilities to meet developmental milestones, read on grade level, and reach achievement goals.
  • CROSS-CUTTING POLICIES: Children thrive in families and communities that support their healthy development.

Source: Alliance for Early Success

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Statement on Continuing Resolution for FY2016


Continuing Resolution Passes Congress, Critical Funding Needs Remain Unresolved

Tomorrow marks the start of federal Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), as Congress passed a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) for the first 10 weeks of the fiscal year, acting at the last possible minute to keep the government running until mid-December. Yet this short-term action can’t be counted as an accomplishment because the CR fails fundamentally to meet the resource needs of programs that support low-income families, as it temporarily continues last year’s inadequate funding levels—the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation—for all annually appropriated federal programs.

This marks an ominous start to the fiscal year for crucial services, such as child care, education, job training, and health care, that can help hard-working poor and low-income people lift themselves and their families to economic security. And while this short-term fix averts the disruption and severe consequences of an immediate government shutdown this week, it merely postpones the crucial decisions on funding for key priorities—setting the stage for yet another shutdown stand-off when the CR expires on December 11, 2015.

The consequences are grim if Congress fails over the coming weeks to sharply raise funding levels as it deliberates over the FY 2016 budget. For example:

  • Holding child care funding at its current levels means that fewer children will receive the stable and healthy child care they need to thrive and their parents need to succeed on the job. Recent data show that participation in child care funded through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has fallen to a 16-year low, with just 1.4 million children being served in 2014, and spending at an 11-year low as of 2013.
  • Fewer workers will receive the skills training and postsecondary credentials they need to move toward better jobs, as the current funding levels for key adult and youth employment and training and adult education  programs are almost 6 percent lower than the amounts authorized in last year’s bipartisan reauthorization of the federal workforce development law. This continues a decline in funding for these programs of more than 30 percent in real terms over the past 15 years.
  • Communities of color have been hit especially hard by federal disinvestment in key programs such as child care, workforce training, and Head Start. Youth of color, particularly out of school youth, simply don’t have the resources they need to succeed, and young children cannot get the start they need and deserve without help. With children of color soon to be half of all children—and already half of children under five—their success matters deeply to America’s future.

To avoid devastating impacts on families and on America’s future, Congress must fully fund effective investments in education, employment, young children, and anti-poverty strategies like those just described, which in turn means putting an end to the arbitrary, devastating budget caps that go back into effect this fiscal year. These budget caps, established by the “sequestration” provision of the 2011 budget law, are steering Congress toward misguided disinvestment in essential priorities. In Fiscal Year 2016, these caps squeeze total domestic funding to just below last year’s levels—and far below both historical levels and what is needed.

And when total funding is insufficient, the budgets for key programs for low-income individuals and families will likely be harmed even more—as illustrated  by the proposals of the majority in Congress to make still deeper cuts for key child, youth, education, and anti-poverty priorities, as they strive to maintain overall flat funding levels for domestic appropriations under the caps. Last summer, for example, the House and Senate committees passed Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation bills for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments that cut more than $3.6 billion from Fiscal Year 2015 levels that were already too low. While these bills have not passed—and President Obama has pledged to veto them—the proposed cuts show what’s in store if the caps are not lifted.

These budget choices are particularly misguided given the reality of recently released Census Bureau numbers on poverty showing persistently high rates of poverty, particularly for America’s next generation of workers and citizens, including children (under 18) and young adults (ages 18 to 24). One in five children and young adults, and nearly one in four young children under age 5, was poor in 2014. A national response to poverty and economic insecurity among America’s next generation, and to the sharp racial disparities and inequality that undercut our future, is within our reach. We can drive down the damaging prevalence of poverty and economic insecurity if we make a national commitment to this goal. Such a commitment should start this fall, with the enactment of a federal budget that expands and invests in the crucial education, child care, safety net, and workforce development programs that stabilize families and promote success. Such a truly national commitment must also focus resources and attention on those who face the most barriers—children, youth, and families of color, immigrant families, and those whose opportunities are limited by pervasive poverty in their neighborhoods and communities.

Congress should act immediately to avoid another shutdown threat later this year, by negotiating a comprehensive budget deal that lifts the budget caps for annual appropriations in FY 2016 and future years, protects key mandatory safety net programs including Medicaid and SNAP, and fully funds priorities for the most vulnerable Americans.

Source: CLASP

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Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships Baseline Assessment Tools


The purpose of the baseline is to understand the grantees and partners’ current capacity. Baseline information will be used to identify technical assistance needs or other supports. This includes additional start-up funding that may be needed to ensure grantees and partners are on track to meet Early Head Start requirements at 18 months. The baseline will gather information from the following areas: environmental health and safety; fiscal management systems; governance; program management systems including eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA); and comprehensive services.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Office of Head Start

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Build a Scaffolding of Support 


“If we had X dollars to invest in reducing inequality or promoting human capital development, where should we invest it?”

The question begs for a simple answer. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. It depends very much on what the problem is and where gaps exist in investments in human development over the lifecycle of learning.

However, there are simple guidelines for promoting flourishing individuals who reduce inequality through acquired skills and personal initiative:

• Pre-distributing wealth is much more effective than redistributing wealth. While inequality could be addressed with direct transfers of money to disadvantaged individuals and families, unconditional transfers are not as effective as programs that provide early resources for developing skills in children that increase productivity and earnings in the adult years.

• Resist the temptation to look for one silver bullet investment or program. A range of investments should follow the child through his or her development.

• Understand that skills beget skills. The earliest investment produces the best outcomes.

• Look to build a scaffolding of support around disadvantaged children: parental education, nutrition, early learning and early health. Strong families and parents are the catalyst for better education, health and economic outcomes for children.

• Follow up on investments in parenting, early learning and health with access to high-quality preschool that develops cognitive and social and emotional skills. The latter are critically important for a number of positive life outcomes, including school persistence, full-time employment, lifetime wages, better health and positive social behaviors.

• Make sure K-12 education develops the whole child, not just cognitive skills. Unfortunately, very little in public education focuses on this goal.

• Remediation efforts in K-12 and the young adult years should emphasize social and emotional development and mentorship. Improving social and emotional skills, which are more malleable during these years, have proven to be more effective than efforts to increase cognitive skills alone.

• Finally, focus on value, not on cost. While the cost of solving for inequality may seem daunting from an economic, social and political standpoint, keep in mind that the wisely targeted investments in proven supports and programs can deliver significant returns in individual flourishing and better economic and social outcomes for society.

Source: The Heckman Equation

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Access to Early Childhood Programs for Young Children Experiencing Homelessness: A Survey Report


The purpose of this brief is to share findings from a national survey focused on developing an understanding of the barriers and facilitators of access to early childhood services among young children and families experiencing homelessness.

Source: The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

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Linking Head Start Data with State Early Care and Education Coordinated Data Systems


Head Start programs are a critical component of early care and education in our country. They serve more than one million young children and employ more than 230,000 staff members. When linked to other early care and education data systems, data collected by Head Start programs on their children, program services, and workforce can inform key decisions by state policymakers and guide efforts to improve early childhood program responsiveness and effectiveness. However, although Head Start data are a vital component for any comprehensive early childhood data system, only a handful of states are presently linking Head Start data with data from other early care and education programs.

A fully coordinated early childhood data system, inclusive of data from Head Start, state pre-k, child care, early childhood special education, and other publicly-funded early care and education (ECE) programs, provides a comprehensive picture of a state’s early childhood systems. State policymakers gain a full picture of the status of young children and their progress over time, early childhood services, program quality, and the early childhood workforce. Armed with this knowledge, states can reap many benefits, such as enhancing access to high-quality programs for all children, improving program quality, building a more effective ECE workforce, and ultimately, improving child outcomes.

At present, there is no requirement for local Head Start programs to link or share their data with other state data systems. However, several states are making advances toward linking and/or sharing data across their state’s K-12 data system or other services’ data systems. In this process, states have encountered some challenges and have had to tackle issues related to data privacy and security, among others. To better understand some of the challenges, successes, and strategies behind this work, the Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) contacted and interviewed a sample of Head Start and state early childhood leaders in a dozen states.

Source: The Early Childhood Data Collaborative

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Creating Opportunity for Families

November 12, 2014

Nearly half of the nation’s families with young children struggle to make ends meet. A new KIDS COUNT policy report makes the case for creating opportunity for families by addressing the needs of parents and their children simultaneously. Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach describes a new approach to reducing poverty, which calls for connecting low-income families with early childhood education, job training and other tools to achieve financial stability and break the cycle of poverty — and recommends ways to help equip parents and children with what they need to thrive.

Source: The Annie E. Casey Foundation

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ECE Consensus Letter for Researchers

November 2014

As policymakers debate investing in quality early childhood education programs, they should note the widespread agreement among researchers about the value of such programs. An extensive body of research in education, developmental psychology, neuroscience, medicine and economics shows that quality early childhood education programs produce better education, health, economic and social outcomes for children, families, and the nation. As researchers, we urge policymakers to make decisions based on the full body of scientific knowledge about early education and child development.

If you are a scholar or researcher, please click on this link to add your signature.

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

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Comprehensive Early Childhood System-Building: A Tool To Inform Discussions On Collaborative, Cross-Sector Planning


What is the purpose of this tool?
The purpose of this tool is to help state and community leaders improve the capacity of their early childhood system. Comprehensive early childhood systems require work across the Health, Early Learning and Development, and Family Support and Leadership sectors in order to achieve agreed-upon goals for thriving children and families. The tool is based on the framework and accompanying graphic developed by the Early Childhood System Working Group (ECSWG).

Who are the intended users of this tool?
This tool is designed to assist facilitators working with state or community stakeholders from multiple sectors to plan
for and manage integrated early childhood systems. Stakeholders might include leaders from the governor’s or mayor’s office, a Children’s Cabinet or a State Early Learning Advisory Council, relevant state, county and local agencies, non- governmental agencies, and others in the early childhood policy and professional community. Potential agencies to include in such a discussion are listed in the Appendix to this document; the list includes agencies with authority over relevant federal programs and funding streams for young children and families across the sectors of Health, Early Learning and Development, and Family Leadership and Support.

What is Early Childhood System-building?
Early childhood system-building in the ongoing process of developing the structures, behaviors, and connections that make all the components of an early childhood system operate as a whole to promote shared results for children and families. The ECSWG developed this tool with the understanding that states and communities each find their own path to building a comprehensive early childhood system and that it would not be possible to develop a tool that recommends a linear process to follow to do so. System-building is dynamic and can occur in fits and starts or double back and start over. The intention is that this tool would be relevant no matter what stage a planning or management group is in.

How can the ECSWG Early Childhood System graphic facilitate system-building?
The ECSWG has developed a simple graphic (often referred to as “the ovals”) depicting the intersection of the Health, Early Learning and Development, and Family Support and Leadership systems that are necessary to develop a comprehensive early childhood system (see Figure One). Since their creation, the ECSWG graphics have been widely used and adapted by early childhood stakeholders to understand, communicate, and support policy improvements for systems. The graphic shows:

Desired Results: In the center of the graphic is the desired result for early childhood systems, thriving children and families. Each planning group will want to bring further clarity and definition to that term reflecting their own unique priorities.

Source: The BUILD Initiative

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Slide Presentation: The ABCs of Improving Health Outcomes with Early Childhood Development | Heckman


New research from economist James Heckman and colleagues shows that quality early childhood programs that incorporate health and nutrition help prevent chronic disease. Findings reveal substantially better health in the mid-30s with a lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, such as stroke and diabetes. Use this slide presentation to communicate these findings.

Source: The Heckman Equation

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