CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People

October 26, 2016

According to new research from the Yale Child Study Center, many early childhood programs demonstrate implicit bias in assessing children’s behavioral challenges and making decisions about suspension and expulsion.

The study asked early childhood teachers and administrators to watch two videos—one featuring a Black boy and girl, the other a White boy and girl—and identify challenging behavior. It found that teachers spent a disproportionate amount of time watching the Black boy. When explicitly asked which student required the most attention, 42 percent of participants said the Black boy, 34 percent the White boy, 13 percent the White girl, and 10 percent the Black girl.

The study tracks closely with recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office for Civil Rights. According to ED’s 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), Black children comprise just 19 percent of those enrolled in public school pre-kindergarten but 47 percent of preschool children who receive one or more suspensions. Black boys are also more likely to be expelled than their peers. In addition to implicit bias, these children experience higher stress levels and less access to high-quality early education.

The body of evidence showing racial disparities in accessing and succeeding in early childhood programs demonstrates a strong need to review and modify federal, state, and local policies. We need to create a level playing field where all kids can access quality programs and receive equal treatment—supporting their success now and in the future. If we fail to address racial disparities, we’ll be undermining healthy development for millions of our youngest children.

Source: CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People

Available at: http://www.clasp.org/issues/child-care-and-early-education/in-focus/racial-bias-in-preschool-teachers

Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Least Restrictive Environments

1/9/2017

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to reaffirm the position of the U.S. Department of Education (ED or Department) that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs where they are provided with individualized and appropriate supports to enable them to meet high expectations. Over the last few years, States and communities have made progress in expanding early learning opportunities for young children, with all but four States investing in free public preschool programs.1 The Federal government, while aligning with the movement of States, has led several efforts to increase access to and the quality of early childhood programs, such as the Preschool Development Grants and expansion of Head Start. States have focused on improving the quality of early learning programs, including the development of early learning program standards and incorporating these into Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS).2

In September 2015, ED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a policy statement on promoting inclusion in early childhood programs to set a vision on this issue and provide recommendations to States, local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and public and private early childhood programs.3 Despite the expansion of early childhood programs, there has not yet been a proportionate expansion of inclusive early learning opportunities for young children with disabilities. Given this concern and the ED-HHS policy statement on early childhood inclusion, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is updating the February 29, 2012, Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to reaffirm our commitment to inclusive preschool education programs for children with disabilities and to reiterate that the least restrictive environment (LRE) requirements in section 612(a)(5) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA or Act) are fully applicable to the placement of preschool children with disabilities.4 This DCL supersedes the 2012 OSEP DCL and includes additional information on the reporting of educational environments data for preschool children with disabilities and the use of IDEA Part B funds to provide special education and related services to preschool children with disabilities.

The LRE requirements have existed since passage of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) in 1975 and are a fundamental element of our nation’s policy for educating students with disabilities (the Education of the Handicapped Act was renamed the IDEA in 1990). These requirements reflect the IDEA’s strong preference for educating students with disabilities in regular classes with appropriate aids and supports. Under section 612(a)(5) of the IDEA, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, must be educated with children who are not disabled. Further, special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

MORE…

1 Walter N. Ridley Lecture: Pre-Kindergarten Access and Quality are Essential for Children’s Growth and Development (November 2, 2016), available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/walter-n-ridley-lecture-pre-kindergarten-access-and-quality-are-essential-childrens-growth-and-development. For more detailed but less recent information on State investments in public preschool see: Barnett, W.S., Friedman-Krauss, A., Gomez, R.E., Squires, J.H., Clarke Brown, K., Weisenfeld, G.G., & Horowitz, M. (2016). The state of preschool 2015: State preschool yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.

2 QRIS statewide systems are implemented in over half of the States and others are developing such systems. ED and the of Department of Health and Human Services have supported States in further developing such systems under Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and the Child Care Development Fund. For more information see: https://qrisguide.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?do=qrisabout.

3 See U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Policy Letter on the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs (September 14, 2015), available at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/earlylearning/joint-statement-full-text.pdf.

4 Although not discussed here, other Federal laws apply to preschool-aged children with disabilities as well. These laws include section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA). The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 504 and pursuant to a delegation by the Attorney General of the United States, OCR shares (with the U.S. Department of Justice and HHS) in the enforcement of Title II of the ADA in the education context. HHS has Title II jurisdiction over public preschools. 35 CFR §35.190(b)(3). Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the Department. 29 U.S.C. § 794, 34 CFR §104.4(a). Section 104.38 of the Department’s Section 504 regulations specify that recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department that provide preschool education may not on the basis of disability exclude qualified persons with disabilities, and must take into account the needs of these persons in determining the aid, benefits, or services to be provided. 34 CFR §104.38. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, including public schools, regardless of whether they receive Federal financial assistance. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, 28 CFR Part 35 (Title II). Additionally, as applicable, entities providing preschool education must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements set forth in Title III of the ADA that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, including businesses and nonprofit agencies that serve the public. The U.S. Department of Justice enforces Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, 28 CFR Part 36 (Title III).

Source: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

Available at: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/preschool-lre-dcl-1-10-17.pdf 

A Farewell Letter from Dr. Enriquez

Dear Head Start program staff and parents,

I am blessed beyond words to have spent the last 20 months working with such intelligent, committed, and loving colleagues as yourselves. So it is with a mixed heart that I announce that as the Obama Administration is coming to a close, so is my time at the helm of the Office of Head Start. Simultaneously, it is a pleasure to remind you of the successes that we have accomplished together as we enhanced the Head Start legacy for future generations.

We strengthened Head Start, set our sights on creating high-performing agencies, opened and enhanced communication systems, reported on lessons learned from the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) and the Designation Renewal System (DRS), and worked in unison to publish the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. These accomplishments were designed to position present and future generations with quality tools to help them become even more successful!

Though each of our Head Start families is unique, it is our job to help them become as strong and stable as possible, regardless of what they believe or who they are. Our Head Start community consists of traditional two-parent households and non-traditional families made of a single mother or father; children raised by grandparents, relatives, or older siblings; and families whose parents are both of the same gender. We have students who open gifts on Christmas, who are taught the Torah, and who proudly wear headscarves as part of their Muslim faith. Some of our families are indigenous Native Americans, some are descendants of the pilgrims, and yet others moved to the United States within the last year and may migrate to work and bring food to our tables.

Our Head Start family is a snapshot of this country, and we are faced with the task of creating an environment that celebrates and harnesses the strengths of all of these differences. As partners, staff, and parents, I know you strive to get better at that—and I thank you for all you do!

You serve more than one million children annually, but it is your passion to focus on the “one child in a million,” as though each were our own that makes me most proud. You are the face of Head Start, made even more beautiful by the loving attitude and hard work you bring to Head Start every day.

I have traveled our nation and met magnificent and highly competent people throughout all levels of Head Start. It is not just your minds, but your hearts and minds working in unison that must continue guiding us forward with compassion and focus. Therefore, I leave the Office of Head Start with the knowledge that it remains in capable hands—hands that are guided by passionate hearts and sharpened minds.

As always, I am deeply humbled and honored to have worked with each and every one of you. My very best wishes for you from this day forward.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Blanca E. Enriquez

Dr. Blanca Enriquez is the Director at the Office of Head Start.

Source: A Farewell Letter from Dr. Enriquez

Available at: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/news/blog/farewell-dr-enriquez.html

Education Agenda 2017: Top Priorities for State Leaders, the Next Administration, and Congress

1/4/2017

Today’s students are the next generation of American doers and thinkers. The most diverse population ever, they have the honor and the burden of keeping the United States on the forefront of innovation and social progress.

To ensure students can succeed, our country’s publicly-funded education system—from early learning to public schools, and through higher education and workforce training—must be strengthened. So far, this system has failed too many of our country’s young people—turning them off of learning before they exit elementary school, leading them to repeat grades or drop out, requiring them to engage in costly remediation, and more. Widespread disparities are festering between students from high-income and low-income families; racial justice is still wanting; and linguistic diversity is still seen as a challenge instead of an opportunity.

To reform this system, New America’s Education Policy program recommends that leaders in the new administration, members of Congress, and state and local policymakers turn their attention to 10 important actions:

  1. Expand access to quality early learning.
  2. Smooth transition points from pre-K through higher education and into the workforce.
  3. Transform the preparation and ongoing development of educators.
  4. Align research and development to educational practice.
  5. Build an infrastructure for supporting dual language learners (DLLs).
  6. Improve access to and linkages between education and workforce data while protecting student privacy.
  7. Hold “bad actors” in the higher education system accountable.
  8. Simplify and target financial aid to the students who need it most.
  9. Repair the federal-state partnership in higher education.
  10. Connect education and the labor market by moving beyond the “skills gap.”

Source: New America Foundation

Available at: http://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/policy-papers/education-agenda-2017/

Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities; Preschool Grants for Children With Disabilities

12/19/2016

The Secretary amends the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governing the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities program. With the goal of promoting equity under IDEA, the regulations will establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and in its local educational agencies (LEAs); clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, using the same statutory remedies required to address significant disproportionality in the identification and placement of children with disabilities; clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found; and require that LEAs identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (comprehensive CEIS) and allow these services for children from age 3 through grade 12, with and without disabilities.

Source: Federal Register

Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/19/2016-30190/assistance-to-states-for-the-education-of-children-with-disabilities-preschool-grants-for-children

U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million in Pay for Success Grants for Preschool Programs

12/22/2016

The U.S. Department of Education announced today more than $3 million in grant awards to eight government organizations for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots that will support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool and improve educational outcomes for 3- and 4-year-olds. These grants will allow states, school districts and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities in the near term.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that attending high-quality preschool can help level the playing field for our most vulnerable children, we continue to have a huge unmet need in this country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We’re pleased that these grantees will work in their communities to make the case for investing in early education and drive expansion of high-quality preschool.”

Pay for Success is an innovative way of partnering with philanthropic and private sector investors to provide resources for service providers to deliver better outcomes—producing the highest return on taxpayer investments. Through Pay for Success, the government agrees to pay for concrete, measurable outcomes, but taxpayer funds are spent only if those outcomes are achieved.

Twenty-one applications were reviewed.  Among the 8 winners are one state (Minnesota), one charter school, one school district and five local government agencies.

  • Napa Valley Unified School District, CA, $380,944
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education, CA, $392,704
  • Ventura County Office of Education, CA, $397,000
  • Minnesota Department of Education, MN, $397,158
  • Mecklenburg County Government, NC, $335,677
  • Cuyahoga County Office of Early Learning, OH, $374,320
  • Clatsop County, OR, $350,000
  • The Legacy Charter School, SC, $381,815

These feasibility studies will advance the understanding of how Pay for Success can be used to expand and improve the quality of preschool programs for low-income and disadvantaged preschoolers. Each grantee identified potential outcome measures for students that attend preschool, such as improved kindergarten readiness, reading and math growth or achievement, and improved social and emotional skills. Those outcomes will be evaluated over the course of the grant. The grantees will also examine whether children’s social and emotional development is predictive of future school success, cost savings and other societal benefits.

Each Pay for Success project will include an assessment of the design and expansion of an evidence-based preschool program and a cost-benefit analysis showing the return on investment to the community. In the event the Pay for Success model is determined to not be a viable model for funding early childhood learning in a particular community, the grantee’s final report will detail those reasons and offer potential alternatives to Pay for Success that would positively impact early childhood learning.

The grants require safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities if the reduction in the need for special education is one of the outcome measures explored in the feasibility studies.  Three of the studies included special education as an outcome measure, and the proposals for all three of these include safeguards and emphasize the importance of engaging special education and disability stakeholders.

The Education Department supports initiatives that are based on evidence, focus on outcomes, and improve education for students at all ages, including early childhood, elementary and secondary education, career and technical education, post-secondary and adult education. Pay for Success is one of several strategies that the Department can use to promote evidence-based policy. In addition to its potential to lead to high-quality Pay for Success projects that provide or expand early education for children, these investments will add knowledge to the field about a wider range of outcome measures that preschool Pay for Success projects should consider and will encourage other entities to set strong guardrails when using special education as an outcome measure.

Today, the Department also released another resource to explore how educators might build on and sustain the positive effects of preschool.  A new case study of five programs examined two types of promising strategies to support children’s learning in early elementary school: (1) aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3, and (2) differentiated instruction.  The five programs included:

  • Boston Public Schools
  • Chicago Child–Parent Centers (Chicago and St. Paul)
  • Early Works (Portland, Oregon)
  • FirstSchool (Martin County, North Carolina)
  • Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program (Redwood City, California)

Findings indicate that all five aligned instruction across grades by coordinating standards, curricula, instructional practices and professional development. Common elements of these programs included the use of professional learning communities, coaches, parent engagement, and play-based or student-initiated learning. All reported using strategies to accommodate students’ different skill levels, including modifying assignments, adapting learning materials, providing different levels of support, or using small-group instruction.

Source: Office of Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education

Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities; Preschool Grants for Children With Disabilities; Final Rule

12/19/16

The Secretary amends the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governing the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities program. With the goal of promoting equity under IDEA, the regulations will establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and in its local educational agencies (LEAs); clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, using the same statutory remedies required to address significant disproportionality in the identification and placement of children with disabilities; clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found; and require that LEAs identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (comprehensive CEIS) and allow these services for children from age 3 through grade 12, with and without disabilities.

Source: Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 243

Available at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-19/html/2016-30190.htm

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

Questions?

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

Opportunities to Promote Children’s Behavioral Health: Health Care Reform and Beyond: Workshop Summary 

11/2015

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law in 2010, has several provisions that could greatly improve the behavioral health of children and adolescents in the United States. It requires that many insurance plans cover mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative services to help support people with behavioral health challenges, and preventive services like behavioral assessments for children and depression screening for adults. These and other provisions provide an opportunity to confront the many behavioral health challenges facing youth in America.

To explore how the ACA and other aspects of health care reform can support innovations to improve children’s behavioral health and sustain those innovations over time, the Forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health held a workshop on April 1-2, 2015. The workshop explicitly addressed the behavioral health needs of all children, including those with special health needs. It also took a two-generation approach, looking at the programs and services that support not only children but also parents and families. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions of this workshop.

Source: The National Academies Press

Available at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/21795/opportunities-to-promote-childrens-behavioral-health-health-care-reform-and?utm_source=NAP+Newsletter&utm_campaign=37318e693a-Final_Book_2015_11_30_21795

Systemwide Solutions to Improve Early Intervention for Developmental–Behavioral Concerns

11/2015

by Kevin P. MarksAdriane K. GriffenPatricia HerreraMichelle M. MaciasCatherine E. RiceCordelia Robinson

“Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive!” (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/child-health-development/watch-me-thrive) seeks to systematically increase early detection of developmental–behavioral problems among at-risk children, from birth through 5 years. This initiative represents a coordinated effort to increase early screening and detection rates across the health, education, and social service sectors. Although the earliest detection of children who need extra developmental–behavioral support is a laudable goal, these efforts will be for naught without appropriate supports to document follow-up and enrollment into services. To meet the challenge of what happens next, our nation must address its capacity crisis. The leadership issue across sectors is to build the capacity to increase and improve access to evidence-based services that are tailored to child and family needs.

This initiative is the stated promise of early intervention (EI) for ages 0 to 3 years, early childhood special education (ECSE) for ages 3 to 5 years, and other high-quality early learning programs. In 2011 and 2012, 2% to 3% of US children received EI under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; https://ideadata.org/) Part C, and 5% to 6% of children received ECSE under IDEA Part B, Section 619.1 Twelve percent of children are diagnosed with any developmental disability between 3 and 10 years and 16% between 11 and 17 years.2 Mental health disorders emerge in 21% of children between 9 and 17 years.3 Although it can be challenging to reliably identify infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with the more prevalent mild disabilities and disorders, red flags (eg, positive or concerning screens) may be identifiable. Alas, the chasm between percentage identified and served is unacceptable given the assortment of interventions or supports proven to improve outcomes (http://www.ectacenter.org/topics/effective/effective.asp).4

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics

Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/11/04/peds.2015-1723