Friday, April 25, 2014

Statewide organizations join together to support Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships grant applicants

With more than 40 percent of children under age 3 in Washington living in low-income families, we know we can do more to support healthy child development from birth. Early learning leaders in Washington are coming together to form a statewide consortium to support applicants for the federal Early Head Start - Child Care Partnerships grant opportunity. This grant, part of President Obama's Early Learning Initiative, will offer $500 million to allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family home child care providers serving infants and toddlers from low-income families.

Consortium members include the Department of Early Learning, Thrive by Five Washington, the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, Child Care Aware of Washington and the University of Washington. These state-level organizations share the statewide goals of:
  • Increasing the availability of high-quality care for infants and toddlers.
  • Ensuring continuity of care for children and families.
  • Supporting communities with high needs for infant and toddler care.
  • Helping infant/toddler programs access resources and system supports that decrease the barriers and challenges that currently make it difficult to provide affordable high quality infant/toddler care to the state’s most vulnerable children and families

The consortium is committed to integrating and building on the existing early learning systems in Washington, including Early Achievers, infant/toddler child care consultation, and existing home visiting and Early Head Start programs. Programs that agree to participate in the consortium model will be eligible for coordinated statewide supports, such as supplemental training and technical assistance, and supports to provide continuity of care for children and a stable and reliable child care funding source for programs. The Consortium will also provide a means for shared learning among member programs.

The new consortium needs programs to become members. Program members will help shape the consortium into a statewide body that strengthens all programs and makes it possible to access more resources for infant/toddler care in the state. Joining the consortium will greatly strengthen programs’ abilities to implement child care partnerships and also strengthen programs’ Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant applications by being part of a statewide effort.  

More information about this consortium will be released in mid-May, including a framework of available supports to programs. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The link between high-quality early learning and lifelong health

Positive experiences in the earliest years result in better physical health throughout life. A new analysis in Science of outcomes for children enrolled in the Abecedarian preschool program in North Carolina confirms that those children have significantly better health as adults than their peers in a control group. 

Children in the program got healthy meals and snacks, as well as high-quality preschool learning and health support. As a result, they were significantly more likely to take good care of themselves as adults, and have lower rates of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

We at DEL work to ensure all of the programs and services we offer are high quality (measured by Early Achievers) and include a focus on the "whole child," which includes not just learning, but also physical and social/emotional health. 

The analysis concludes that policymakers should use this new research in several ways, including to make sure they integrate health and nutrition into early childhood programs. In Washington, health and nutrition are essential components of our state-funded preschool program and in licensed child care

Read an overview of the analysis here

Read more about the powerful connection between high-quality early learning experiences and lifelong health from our partners at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.