It seems we learn more and more every day about all that our youngest children can learn. Research shows [PDF, 93KB] that a tremendous amount of brain development happens in the very first months of life. By the time children are 3 years old, the structures of their brains that influence later learning are mostly formed.
Millions of infants and toddlers across the country spend a significant part of their days in early care and education settings, including child care and Early Head Start. At the Offices of Child Care (OCC) and Head Start (OHS), we have a responsibility to ensure that those children, their families, and their teachers get the best support we can offer. We have increased our focus on the youngest children in recent years, and we are pleased to announce that OCC and OHS are co-administering two new training and technical assistance (T/TA) projects that focus on infants and toddlers in early care settings.
National Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership T/TA Center
This Center will support the effective implementation of new Early Head Start – Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership grants that provide comprehensive high-quality services for infants and toddlers. The Center will provide training, resources, and materials to federal staff, OHS and OCC T/TA partners, and Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) administrators so that all are equipped to meet the needs of new EHS-CC Partnership grantees. The Center will work collaboratively with OHS National Centers and the OCC Technical Assistance Network to develop and present a series of orientation sessions around the country for the new EHS-CC Partnership grantees. This Center also will recruit and train a team of implementation planners and fiscal consultants who will be able to provide T/TA at the grantee level. The cooperative agreement for the EHS-CC Partnership T/TA Center is with ZERO TO THREE, in partnership with Child Care Aware® of America, FHI360, Training and Technical Assistance Services at Western Kentucky University, and Mathematica Policy Research.
Career Pathway Portal for Great Infant-Toddler Teachers
The Career Pathway Portal for Great Infant-Toddler Teachers project will create a Web-based, one-stop portal of existing federally-funded, public domain, online training programs. This portal will support the child care and Head Start workforce as they progress on an established career pathway. The work will span child care, Early Head Start, Head Start, prekindergarten, and early childhood mental health. It will have multiple points of entry, from preservice to master teacher, consultant, or coach. The portal will include research-based resources for higher education, state licensing, and credential agencies. The project will design a mechanism to assess how curricula and educators can better target positive caregiver-child interaction using a framework that will be grounded in learning, reflective feedback, focused observation, and planning for improvement. Professional development systems will be able to use a cost-estimation tool to plan investments that support the infant-toddler workforce. The contract for the project is with ICF International and will be supported by subcontracts with ZERO TO THREE and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Parents and teachers work hard to care for and educate children from birth, and we are eager to support them. We believe these projects are a key step in improving quality in infant-toddler early care and education settings nationwide.
This article was originally posted to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) blog. To read more blogs from ACF, visit The Family Room Blog at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog.
Linda Smith is the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families; Ann Linehan is the Acting Director at the Office of Head Start; and Shannon Rudisill is the Director of the Office of Child Care.