Early Learning Insights
Newsletter of the Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development
In This Issue
About OECD
Alignment. Quality. Access.
OECD leads the state's initiatives to create an integrated system of quality, early learning and development programs to help give all Illinois children a strong educational foundation before they begin kindergarten.  Learn more.
Upcoming Events
03/14/2017 Integration and Alignment Committee Meeting

03/15/2017 Data, Research, and Evaluation Subcommittee Meeting

03/22/2017 Family Engagement Subcommittee Meeting

See calendar for more events and details.
New Resources
Illinois Early Childhood System Videos (Spanish)
CDC Child Obesity Fact Sheet 
Infant Immunizations
OECD Initiatives

Additional Resources
Contact OECD
Stay Connected
March 10, 2017
Dear Early Childhood Community,
In this issue, we are pleased to introduce the cross-agency initiative on early childhood workforce development through the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Youth. We also have important resources to share on a multitude of topics, including preparation for the upcoming Early Childhood Block Grant, safe sleep, and resources for programs that are wondering how to best support immigrant and refugee families.
This has been a busy spring in difficult budgetary times and amidst federal transitions, and we thank all of you for the vital role you play in supporting and welcoming all children and families.
Best Regards,
Cynthia L. Tate, Ph.D.
Executive Director, OECD
Top Stories

Getting ready for Preschool for All/Prevention Initiative Grant Applications


There are a multitude of data sources available to programs and communities as you develop grant applications for Preschool for All (PFA) and the Prevention Initiative (PI).  Throughout your application process, you can always go back to IECAM's  special web page for PFA/PI grants for the 2017-2018 school year. This page includes links to much of the data needed to complete the Statement of Need for the PFA and PI grant competitions. IECAM has put together a quick checklist to help make sure you have collected all the necessary information to understand your community's needs and put together a strong, community-focused plan. 
  1. Have I used the Response to PFA and PI Request for Proposals Standard Report? Have I looked at all of the geographic regions represented in my service area as well as all of the early childhood data for my service area?
  2. Have I used the School District Profile Standard Report? Have I looked at all of the school districts (both unit and elementary) in my service area as well as the early childhood data for my service area?
  3. Have I found all of the demographic data that I need to adequately describe my service area? If not, check out the Additional Links section of IECAM's special web page on PFA/PI grant applications.
  4. Have I checked out the materials on Concentrated Disadvantage Areas on the PFA/PI grant application page?
  5. Have I called the information librarian at my local public library for other sources of information and/or data in my service area?
  6. Have I called and/or met with my early childhood partners (e.g., Head Start, PFA, PI, child care providers)?
  7. Have I called and/or met with my community partners that support and contribute to child and family well-being, including physical and mental health services, housing providers, and homeless shelters?

Early Childhood Education Workforce Development


Last March, Governor Rauner initiated the formation of the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Youth (the Children's Cabinet ) to lead the State's vision for achieving child and family outcomes from cradle to career.  One of the projects the Cabinet has decided to take on concerns the Early Childhood Education Workforce Development.  Led by OECD, this project is engaging partners from the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Human Services, Department of Children and Family Services, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, Council on Developmental Disabilities, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Department of Innovation and Technology. 
The project is focused on working towards solutions to address the problem that not all of Illinois' children with high needs receive quality care and education services from an educated and qualified workforce, reducing the likelihood that they will be ready for kindergarten.  The Working Team, which will be expanding this spring to include external stakeholders, is pooling its knowledge and individual agency priorities to advance three strategies:
  • Build a "pipeline" to attract and retain qualified, diverse caregivers
  • Provide pathways to create career opportunity and promote movement
  • Develop enhanced analytic capacity to track the workforce through pathways
The Quality Committee of the Illinois Early Learning Council is an advisory body to this project.  We encourage any of you who are interested in early childhood workforce development issues to keep up with the work of this Committee Meeting dates and more information are always available through the OECD website. 

Resources for Early Childhood Programs Serving Immigrant, Refugee, Undocumented, or Mixed Status Children and Families

Immigrants and refugees are among the Early Learning Council's priority populations, and ensuring that priority populations have access to high quality early learning programs is the charge of the ELC's All Families Served Subcommittee. The subcommittee has created guidance for early childhood providers to support immigrant and refugee children and families-including families with mixed documentation status. Early childhood programs are encouraged to review and understand resources and supports, which includes Know Your Rights and legal resources. (This is a living document and may be updated as needed, in response to any future policy developments.) 

 ISBE Needs Readers!

The Illinois State Board of Education has put out a call for evaluators to assist with the Preschool For All and Prevention Initiative proposals.  Please consider volunteering your time and expertise for this important work.  ISBE is expecting this to occur in May and June, with each reader evaluating 10-20 applications.  Please complete this survey no later than May 1, 2017.  Questions may be forwarded to the ISBE Early Childhood Division at earlychi@isbe.net

Policy Corner
Illinois MIECHV's Safe Sleep Initiative: New Infant Safe Sleep Policy and Training
Ensuring that infants are sleeping in safe environments is a public health priority. In 2014, there were over 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths in the United States. In order to reduce preventable sleep-related infant deaths, the AAP provides several recommendations that promote a safe sleep environment. As of 2016, there are 19 safe sleep guidelines that are recommended for all infants 12 months or younger. Below are some of the main recommendations:
  • The baby should be placed on his or her back in a crib or bassinet that has a firm surface and tight fitted sheet.
  • A crib should be bare and all soft bedding (crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys) should be removed from the crib.
  • For at least the first six months, babies should sleep in the same bedroom as parents, but not share the same sleeping surface. Co-sleeping with babies on a bed, couch, or sofa should be avoided.
  • The baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs should be avoided.
  • They baby should be breastfed.
As of October 2016, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program began tracking three safe sleep benchmarks to determine whether caregivers were practicing safe sleep guidelines. The safe sleep benchmark questions ask how often the baby is placed to sleep on his or her back, how often the baby bed-shares with anyone, and how often the baby sleeps with soft bedding. To complement this new benchmark tracking initiative, The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development is partnering with SIDS of Illinois , the Ounce of Prevention , and the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health to develop safe sleep policies and provide statewide infant safe sleep training to MIECHV home visitors and trainers of home visitors. The safe sleep policy will require all MIECHV programs to educate parents about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep guidelines (listed above). The half-day safe sleep training, which will start in April 2017, will educate home visitors about current safe sleep guidelines and ways to overcome caregiver barriers in practicing these guidelines. We hope that the policy and trainings will encourage more safe sleep discussions between home visitors and caregivers and lead to an increased understanding and practice of infant safe sleep guidelines among caregivers.
A summary of the updated AAP safe sleep guidelines can be found here and the full list of these guidelines can be found here . For further information about MIECHV's safe sleep policy and training program, please contact Lesley Schwartz at Lesley.Schwartz@illinois.gov .

Partner Spotlight
Innovation Zone Spotlight: 
North Lawndale

Prior to 2013, North Lawndale historically struggled with its preschool enrollment. Yet, there were many eligible children who were not enrolled in programs. In fact, 49% of North Lawndale's three and four year olds were not in any formal early learning program. The North Lawndale Innovation Zone examined the disconnection between families needing early learning options and open preschool slots. Through collaborative strategies and with the help of numerous committed partners, the community successfully reached full CPS preschool enrollment and developed family-centered supports to bolster attendance.

The North Lawndale Innovation Zone made a concerted effort to enroll "priority" families: homeless families, families living in deep poverty, teen parents, and children in FFN (Family, Friend and Neighbor) care. The zone was able to connect with hundreds of families, thanks to efforts of the committed partners at the table. The collaboration implemented creative outreach in nontraditional locations. Partners from a variety of programs and sectors volunteered to help. Some of these locations included: grocery stores, local businesses, clinics, aid offices, libraries, and food pantries. Volunteers from various agencies received training on outreach methods, talking points, and early learning options. The zone also created packets listing every CPS and community-based preschool option in the neighborhood. The zone helped families to obtain birth certificates, transportation, and general guidance throughout the process.  As a result, the North Lawndale community reached full CPS preschool enrollment on September 1, 2015and continued for the past two years.

Once enrollment improved, the zone looked at how to sustain children in early learning programs. Chronic absenteeism is when a child misses 10% of the school year. It often leads to behavioral and academic issues, and tends to be more prevalent in homeless families and families living in deep poverty. There are now two Attendance Advocates working with families one-on-one in three North Lawndale schools to understand what attendance barriers they are facing at home and connect them with resources. From the 2015-2016 school year, 74% of participating families' attendance improved. This work has had a tremendous impact on the school's overall attendance, the attendance of children who were previously chronically absent, and the stability of family relationships with the schools.
In the News
Getting Preschool Right
Over the past two decades, research on brain development and a better understanding of children's early development have emphasized the importance of a child's first learning experiences and the need to nurture them in safe and stimulating environments. Policy makers in many states have come to recognize the foundational importance of preschool-especially for lower-income children-and its potential to narrow the vast achievement gap between wealthy and poor kids.
For most children, pre school is their first learning experience outside the home. In order for preschools to create an environment where child ren learn best, they should have a child-centered curriculum that encourages students to learn math, literacy and critical thinking via hands-on activities and play, and should empower children toward self-directed education. Teachers play a critical ro le as they help kids navigate their emotions, encourage and value the students' pe rspectives, an d guide playtime to make it more meaningful.
In the United  States,  despite the in creasing number of children attending preschool -- in 2012, 28 percent of American four-year-olds attended  preschool, twice the percentage t h at did in 2002 - the percentage of children who have to a high-quality preschool continue to shrink. According to the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, only 18 percent of low-income American children, versus 29 percent of high-income kids, are getting a high-quality preschool education, and many children attend mediocre schools that provide few, if any, lasting benefits. This issue finds its roots in funding and workforce problems and the push for kindergarten readiness.

Read Melinda Wenner Moyer's article  to get a better understanding of the changing landscape in preschool education in the US and what we can do to help children get a better start at learning.

Available Resources
DCFS Events
Free Early Childhood Cross Collaboration Training
The Department of Children and Family Services is organizing Early Childhood Cross Collaboration Training across the state.  These regional trainings are free and open to the broad range of community stakeholders working with infants and toddlers in the child welfare system.  The purpose of these training events is to learn more about the unique needs of infant and toddlers involved in the child welfare system as well as the community agencies serving very young children.  Please see the attached flyer   for more information about the following training dates:
March 15-Caseyville
March 21-Mt. Carmel
March 24-Mt. Vernon
March 30--Carterville
Day Care Open Forum
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will be holding a Statewide Day Care Open Forum in 10 locations around Illinois. This forum is an opportunity to hear about day care licensing updates, policies and procedures, and other helpful information. Check below for location and dates in your area.
All times are 6:30 - 8 PM.  -  Please RSVP if you are attending.
3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
3/22/17 (Day Care Home)
Marquita Davis
Belleville (Southwestern Illinois College)
3/20/17 (Day Care Home)
3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
Denena Young
John A. Logan College
3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
3/23/17 (Day Care Home)
Ken Yordy
3/22/17 (Day Care Center)
3/22/17 (Day Care Home)
*Spanish Speaking
Tammy Woodfolk
3/22/17 (Day Care Home)
Tammy Woodfolk
3/22/17 (Day Care Center)
3/23/17 (Day Care Home)
Elizabeth Seggebruch
3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
3/23/17 (Day Care Home)
Charity Hipkins-Robinson 
Mt. Vernon
3/20/17 (Day Care Home) 3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
Mary Harlan
Rock Island
3/21/17 (Day Care Center)
3/22/17 (Day Care Home)
Karen Kelly
Round Lake Beach
Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center
3/22/17 (Day Care Center) 3/22/17 (Day Care Home)
Pat Sandraco

  Promoting Social and Emotional Development

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, together with Too Small to Fail, released a Fostering Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children Toolkit on social and emotional development.
As brain development unfolds during the first three years of life, so does social and emotional development.  When children feel secure in their relationships and have their needs met in responsive and consistent ways, they begin forming a strong social and emotional foundation. They begin to learn to pay attention, regulate their emotions and behavior, express feelings, and overcome challenges successfully - all of which contribute to healthy social and emotional development.
During this critical period, primary caregiver(s), other significant adults, and a child's environments, affect children's social and emotional development. Many parents and caregivers, as well as teachers and early learning providers, are eager for information and resources on how to connect with babies and toddlers, manage young children's behavior, and help children develop relationships, regulate their behavior and emotions, and talk about their feelings. When the adults in children's lives have appropriate expectations of children's development at different ages, they have greater success - and much less frustration - with young children.
This toolkit features examples of simple actions to take, some of which caregivers might be doing already, such as maintaining consistent routines for young children or playing simple social games.
This set of resources on healthy social and emotional development includes:
  • A tip sheet for infant, toddler, and preschool providers and educators
  • tip sheet  for parents and families of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
  • A milestones chart  with key information on social and emotional development from birth to age 5
  • A fact sheet on the research behind social and emotional development in early childhood and lifelong outcomes
  •  A "Let's Talk About Feelings" poster 
Every day, families and educators have opportunities to nurture children's social and emotional, development through everyday interactions and easy-to-implement activities, such as those provided in the Toolkit. If we all provide supports for our children early in life, they will have the foundation needed to benefit for a lifetime.
Call for Participation: Erikson's EDI Pilot Project
Erikson Institute  is launching the second phase of a statewide pilot project featuring the implementation of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) with a  request for participation (RFP)  from community coalitions/collaborations and/or school districts across Illinois. The EDI has been used throughout Canada and Australia for over a decade as a tool to help communities measure the development of young children by neighborhood and advocate for effective early childhood policies, systems and resource alignment. Last fall, the EDI was used for the first time in Illinois in two communities that were selected for phase one of the pilot:  Success by 6 Coalition in Kankakee County  and  Greater East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership & AOK Network
Through generous funding from the  Robert R. McCormick Foundation , Erikson will provide support to community partners in the form of coaching, technical assistance, and resources to implement the EDI, analyze the results, and develop action plans to improve the development of young children, including school readiness.
The EDI provides a holistic snapshot of young children by developmental domain and neighborhood before starting kindergarten. Developmental domains include: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, communication skills and general knowledge.
EDI results can be used in plans to promote school readiness through early childhood investments and success in school through targeted interventions.  The EDI distinguishes itself from other kindergarten readiness assessments in two ways:
  1. 1.    Results are reported through maps and tables at a neighborhood level rather than by each child-no data is ever used to evaluate individual children, teachers or schools.
  2. 2.    Active participation from community and school stakeholders is the centerpiece of the EDI pilot project to both analyze results and appropriately plan for their use.
Learn more about the EDI pilot project and applicant eligibility .  Up to four pilot communities will be selected through an application process that will end on Monday, April 10, 2017.  Find the application here  and join one of two webinar information sessions scheduled on  Tuesday, March 14 from 12:00-1:00 p.m . or  Thursday, March 16 from 11:00-12:00 p.m .
For questions concerning the pilot project and webinar information sessions, please contact: 
Jaclyn Vasquez at edi@erikson.edu or 312.566.4474.

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development | | Diane.Carasig@illinois.gov | earlychildhood.illinois.gov
160 N. LaSalle St. Suite N-100
Chicago, IL 60601