Expanding Early Care and Education for Homeless Children | Early Childhood Development | Administration for Children and Families


Ensuring the early learning and development of our country’s youngest children is essential to ACF’s work. Supporting the well-being of these young children and their families is an urgent task and one that is critical to improving the long-term educational outcomes of children nationwide.

Several federal policies and programs are in place to strengthen the ability of early care and education (ECE) providers to serve young children experiencing homelessness. Whether you are in a Head Start program, early childhood program, or work at the state level on early childhood systems and services, the resources listed below will assist you in ensuring that these young children are prioritized for services that support their learning and development.

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Policies and Guidance


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Source: Administration for Children and Families

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/interagency-projects/ece-services-for-homeless-children

Empowering Our Children by Bridging the Word Gap


By Mary Shankar, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Research shows that during the first years of life, a poor child hears roughly 30 million fewer total words than her more affluent peers. Critically, what she hears has direct consequences for what she learns. Children who experience this drought in heard words have vocabularies that are half the size of their peers by age 3, putting them at a disadvantage before they even step foot in a classroom.

This is what we call the “word gap,” and it can lead to disparities not just in vocabulary size, but also in school readiness, long-term educational and health outcomes, earnings, and family stability even decades later.

It’s important to note that talking to one’s baby doesn’t just promote language development. It promotes brain development more broadly. Every time a parent or caregiver has a positive, engaging verbal interaction with a baby – whether it’s talking, singing, or reading – neural connections of all kinds are strengthened within the baby’s rapidly growing brain.

That’s why today we are releasing a new video message from President Obama focused on the importance of supporting learning in our youngest children to help bridge the word gap and improve their chances for later success in school and in life. The President’s message builds on the key components of his Early Learning Initiative, which proposes a comprehensive plan to provide high-quality early education to children from birth to school entry.

Source: The White House

Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/06/25/empowering-our-children-bridging-word-gap

CLASP Early Learning Conference Call

2 p.m. Eastern

Passcode: 2459696

We know that many of you are interested in the details of the recently introduced Strong Start for Children Act and are also eager for an update on federal budget negotiations. Please join CLASP, FFYF, NAEYC, and NWLC for a call about current developments in early childhood at the state level.

On this call, we will discuss the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which was just introduced in both the House and Senate. We’ve all been eagerly awaiting this bill, which closely tracks and strenghtens the President’s proposal.

The call will highlight:

  • The Strong Start for America’s Children Act which was introduced on November 13th; and
  • The ongoing Budget Conference and the opportunities it holds for early learning.

We are eager to answer your questions, as well. As questions come up during the course of the call, please email them to Helen Blank (hblank@nwlc.org).

Source: CLASP

HELP Chairman Tom Harkin Introduces the Strong Start for America’s Children Act Bill Summary

“Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth. The investment we make as a nation in early learning will pay dividends for generations to come. Decades of research tell us that from infants and toddlers to preschoolers, early learning is the best investment we can make to prepare our children for a lifetime of success.”—HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)

The Strong Start for America’s Children Act builds on the framework put forward by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address and reflects Chairman Tom Harkin’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that learning begins at birth. This proposal would greatly increase access to and quality of programs that serve children from birth to kindergarten.

This bill consists of four measures that would:

  • Accelerate states’ efforts to provide high-quality preschool to low and moderate income families;
  • Increase the quality of infant and toddler care in center-based and family child care settings;
  • Support quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); and
  • Encourage continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.


Preschool Formula Program: This would authorize a formula program to states for the purpose of providing universal, voluntary pre-kindergarten. States will distribute funds to local entities – which may include districts, schools, Head Start programs or licensed child care providers – that meet high-quality standards. Funds would be disbursed based on a state’s share of four-year olds living at or below 200% of the poverty line. States or local entities would first have to provide universal access to four-year olds before serving three-year olds.

States would have the ability to reserve up to 15% of the formula funds they receive to serve infants and toddlers through high-quality providers – if states chose to exercise this option they would have to ensure that infants and toddlers would enter into the state’s high-quality pre-kindergarten programs once they reached age three.

Preschool Development Grant Program: This would authorize competitive grants solely for states not receiving preschool formula grants. The purpose would be to increase capacity in states to position them for preschool formula grants and to improve states’ systems of early childhood. The Department of Education would make awards to help: 1) states with small state-funded preschool programs expand such programs; or 2) states without any state-funded preschool programs to establish them.

This would authorize $4 billion for Early Head Start-child care partnerships. Early Head Start providers, which serve infants and toddlers, would partner with local center-based and family child care to improve the quality of their infant and toddler care. These partnerships would be funded through the existing Early Head Start

Source: Administration for Children and Families

Available at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/final_senate_summary.pdf

Preschool for All Town Hall

Friday, July 19th, 2013 at 12:45 pm (MDT) in Denver and Live Via the Internet

Please join U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (in person or live via the internet) for a town hall on the President’s Preschool for All initiative, hosted by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. The town hall will be held Friday, July 19th at 12:45 pm (MDT) in the Administration Building facing Martin Luther King Blvd. at the Clayton Early Learning Campus, 3801 Martin Luther King Blvd in Denver, CO.

President Obama has proposed an unprecedented, far-reaching investment in America’s youngest children.  This birth-to-five initiative includes  $75 billion over ten years, nationally, in federal-state partnerships to provide high-quality, preschool for all four-year-olds whose families are economically at (or below) 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The proposal also seeks to boost the quality and supply of federally subsidized child care for infants and toddlers, as well as expand a voluntary home visiting program to help parents create environments for their children to develop and learn.

The purpose of the town hall is to give local educators, parents, business leaders and other stakeholders in early learning a chance to hear directly from the Secretary and local leaders about this policy while it is still being formed and provide input.

For those not able to attend the Secretary’s Town Hall in person, the session will be broadcast in listen only mode via Adobe Connect at 12:45 pm MDT:http://connect.enetcolorado.org/earlylearningtownhall .

Questions and comments in response to the Town Hall can be sent to U.S. Dept. of Education Rocky Mountain Communications Rockymountain@ed.gov

Please include your name, organization and contact information in your email.  

To test your computer access please click here.

Link to a description of the President’s plan and other resources:  http://www.ed.gov/early-learning

Space is limited for the in-person event in Denver. Please RSVP to Ltgovernor.garcia@state.co.us. Contact Helen.littlejohn@ed.gov  if you have any questions.

Activity Matrix: Organizing Learning Throughout the Day – Head Start


This in-service suite introduces the activity matrix as an effective tool for teachers to organize learning opportunities for children who need additional support during daily classroom activities and routines.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/center/practice/ISS/organize.html

Designing Environments

This in-service suite provides an overview of features of the physical and social classroom environment that maximize young children’s engagement and learning.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/center/practice/ISS/design.html

Early Learning


Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is among the smartest investments that we can make. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life—when the human brain is forming—represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and in life.

Participation in high-quality early learning programs—like Head Start, public and private pre-K, and childcare—will provide children from all backgrounds with a strong start and a foundation for school success. These programs also generate a significant return on investment for society; numerous economic studies have documented a rate of return of $7 or more on each dollar invested through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.

President Obama’s comprehensive early learning agenda invests in and strengthens early childhood education, care, and development for our nation’s youngest learners. It helps to prevent achievement gaps before they start, and invests from an early age in children as our most critical national resource.

Source: The White House

Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov//issues/education/early-childhood

Results Matter Video Series on Early Childhood Assessment


These videos have been produced to help providers better understand ways to use observation, documentation, and assessment to inform practice. You can watch the clips online or download QuickTime versions of the videos for use in educational and professional development activities.

Use of these Videos in Professional Development Activities

Below each video, there is a DOWNLOAD VIDEO link which can be used to download an Apple QuickTime .MOV file for use in professional development activities. IMPORTANT NOTE: 1) You may not use any of the videos on this site for commercial purposes; 2) You may not edit, alter, transform, or build upon any of the videos on this site; and 3) You may not post a copy of any of the videos on this site to any web site.

Source: Colorado Department of Education

Available at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/resultsmatter/RMVideoSeries.htm

Power to the Preschoolers


“Spread the word about President Obama’s plan to provide high-quality preschool for every kid in America,” twittered the White House on Wednesday. We all know that nothing on the planet compares to the awesome power of social media. But it may require more than a hashtag to bring this one home.

You may remember that earlier this spring, the president unveiled a budget plan that included a big initiative on early childhood education. Universal pre-K for 4-year-olds! More programs for low-income infants and toddlers! Big push for higher quality! And to help pay for it all, a new 94-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

Everybody was so excited. “This is going to be wonderful,” said former Vice President Walter Mondale. (We will stop here for one minute and recall that when Mondale was in the Senate, he successfully led a bipartisan effort to make quality preschool programs available to every American family. Then Richard Nixon vetoed the bill. Flash forward 42 years, and here we are, backward.)

But about Obama’s plan. How could this not work out? The nation’s fabled upward mobility has come to a screeching halt because low-income kids start behind in kindergarten and never catch up. Nobody has come up with a better idea for fixing the problem than early childhood education.

Source: The New York Times

Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/opinion/collins-power-to-the-preschoolers.html?ref=gailcollins&_r=1&