Early Learning Insights
Newsletter of the Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development
In This Issue
Alignment. Quality. Access.

GOECD 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
See the  Early Learning Council Calendar  for upcoming meeting details.
GOECD Initiatives
Prenatal to Three Initiative (PN3)
Serving Families Together Initiative
Suspension & Expulsion Resources
Stay Connected

GOECD is currently hiring for an Executive Assistant to provide day-to-day support to the Acting Executive Director and administrative support to ensure efficient operation of several initiatives and programs. Click here  for the Job Description. Please share this opportunity with your networks. 

Interested applicants, please send cover letters and resumes to:  GOV.OECD@illinois.gov.
KIDS Coach Job Opening

A Kindergarten Instructional Coach will organize professional learning and coaching around equitable learning environments, developmentally appropriate practices, and KIDS data.This position will collaborate with the KIDS Coaching and Professional Development Coordinator along with other colleagues. As a Kindergarten Instructional Coach, candidate will work with district classroom teachers and administrators to support student learning in all content areas. The Kindergarten Instructional Coach will focus on individual and group professional development to support identified professional learning needs and refine instruction. Extensive travel to school districts across designated regions will be required.  This position is housed in Regional Office of Education 51.  Click here for more information.

Please email cover letters and resumes to Michelle Escapa at  mescapa@roe51.org by July 31, 2020. 
Share your feedback and recommendations with the Early Childhood Funding Commission

The Governor's Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding is seeking input and feedback from families, providers, and community members on how to ensure better access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for children birth to age five. Click here to share your feedback in English; oprime aquí­ para compartir sus opiniones en Español. 
Requests for Proposals for the Community Parenting Saturation Project

Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) has released Requests for Proposals for the Community Parenting Saturation Project, which aims to launch an initiative in two communities (one in the city of Chicago and one outside the city of Chicago) that:
  1. Demonstrates what a saturated approach to family engagement strategies within a community would look like; and 
  2. Tests whether this approach truly leads to measurable changes in parenting beliefs and skills, as well as prepares children for kindergarten. 

Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate a strong and compelling need for this project in their community and have an existing early childhood community collaboration. Click here for more information and for links to the Grant Application Narrative and Grant Application. 


The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Friday, August 28, 2020. Completed applications must be submitted electronically to choua.vue@actforchildren.org.

Study of Families' Opportunities and Choices after Children's Early Exclusion (FOCCEE)
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are conducting a study to elevate the voices of parents whose children have been excluded from child care following IL PA 100-0105, which prohibits the use of expulsion in nearly all types of early childhood education settings. The researchers are interested in better understanding whether and how this legislation is influencing children's and family's experiences in Illinois. Findings from this study will provide critical information to policymakers, programs, and family advocates about the multiple ways families navigate exclusions and transitions. 
Eligibility criteria include: 
  • Parents of children between the ages of 2-6 who have been expelled after January 2018. 
  • Parents of children with or without a disability/developmental delay 
  • Must reside in the state of Illinois 
Parents who are interested in participating in a 60-90-minute phone interview are asked to complete a short 2-minute screener form to ensure they qualify to participate.
As a token of appreciation, a $30 gift card from Target will be sent to all participants via e-mail. 
For more information, please contact:  Dr. Sarai Coba-Rodriguez at scobaro2@uic.edu or at 312-413-1053.
The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) have invited licensed child care centers in designated counties to help test a new method of ExceleRate quality funding and program improvement. Participating centers must be located in Group 2 (mostly rural) counties as defined by the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and have served at least 40% CCAP children during Fiscal Year 2020.

This pilot project is funded through the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5). The grant will provide additional funding through contracts with centers to support a sufficient, well-compensated staff that can test new Continuous Quality Improvement practices. GOECD and IDHS hope to learn whether this new contract-based approach to quality improvement can be adopted on a broader scale as part of the ongoing state funding and support system. In exchange for the additional funding, program leaders must take charge of quality and implement the new CQI practices specified in the pilot standards. The McCormick Center at National Louis University will support the centers with baseline program assessments and consultation for program leaders.
Response to the invitation has been strong, and GOECD expects to have a full list of interested centers by the end of July. For more information, contact Dr. Anita J. Rumage, ExceleRate Pilot Project Coordinator, at Anita.J.Rumage@illinois.gov .
The 2020 Census helps decide how much money Illinois communities will receive for schools, child care and early learning, health insurance and medical care, early intervention and home visiting programs, food assistance, foster care, housing assistance, and public transportation.
Help the state of Illinois receive the resources that are needed for the next 10 years. 

Remember, when it comes to the Census, everyone counts!  Complete the Census now.
Building New Foundations Survey: Prenatal to Five and COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, early childhood systems, policies, funding, services, providers, and families adapted and innovated to meet the needs of young children, their families, and communities. These positive changes might inform future efforts to build a more effective, accessible, and equitable early childhood system.
The National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers is conducting a scan of public sector leaders, policy analysts and advocates, service providers, and other key informants working in states, communities, and nationally to 1) understand bright spots of reform during the pandemic, and 2) to capture new ideas to strengthen and build new foundations for systems of care. 
The focus is on the prenatal-to-five population (young children and families) with a special interest in systems, services, and practices for infants and toddlers. Ideas generated from this survey will be used to understand and share illustrations of success and change, using those examples to inform ongoing efforts to build effective, accessible, and equitable early childhood systems.  
Take the Building New Foundations survey to share what you have seen and what changes you would like to see for young children and their families. It will be open until July 31, 2020. 
Please forward this email to others who might have changes or ideas to share! If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Stover Wright from the BUILD Initiative at  mstoverwright@buildinitiative.org .

Eric Dropkin joins GOECD as our Data Analytics Manager. Eric specializes in project implementation with broad-based expertise in public policy, research methodology, strategic planning, and financial/budget analysis. Eric comes to us from a late stage GovTec startup where he most recently served as a professional services manager and was responsible for project management and software implementation. He combines his training in public policy and project management to ensure project success and leverages his experiences to provide unique perspectives on process improvement and change management. His career includes time at NORC and the Cook County Budget Office. Eric received his Masters of Public Policy from the University of Chicago.
Announcing Grant Recipients for PDG B-5-funded Projects to Support the Early Childhood Workforce

GOECD and the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) are pleased to announce the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity® ECE Credential Competency Project grant recipients funded by the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5):
  • Heartland Community College, Normal IL
  • Illinois State University, Normal, IL
  • Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL
  • National Louis University, Chicago, IL
  • Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
These Illinois higher education institutions will work collaboratively to create innovative early childhood teacher preparation pathways using the Gateways to Opportunity® ECE Credential competencies as the foundation for this ground-breaking work. Competency-based education offers multiple entry and exit points for educators at different stages of learning, creating increased accessibility for the early childhood workforce (which is more culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse than the broader teaching population). Well-designed online early childhood coursework, including avenues for assessment of prior learning and articulation of course credit aligned to credentials and degrees that includes a progression building from lower- to higher-level competencies, is a critical need in Illinois to help mitigate the teacher shortage. Click here for more information.

Also using federal PDG B-5 funds, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), in partnership with GOECD, awarded $1.3 million in grants to Illinois colleges and universities to strengthen and diversify the early childhood workforce pipeline through the Early Childhood Credential Completion Cohort (EC4) project:
  • Joliet Junior College
  • Lewis University
  • National Louis University
  • Quincy University
  • Western Illinois University
These grants will support over 150 students in the coming academic year. Three of the five selected colleges and universities will include a focus on supporting early childhood educators in rural settings, three will include a focus on supporting infant-toddler teachers, and three will focus specifically on supporting educators of color. All will create programs designed to address the shortage of early childhood educators in Illinois and the need to support educators who represent the communities in which they serve.
Featured Resources
Webinar Recording: Creating Anti-Racist Early Childhood Spaces

Last month, the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) hosted (and recorded) a webinar on Creating Anti-Racist Early Childhood Spaces . Children notice race at a very early age and can begin to categorize people according to skin color. The webinar presents strategies for creating an anti-racist environment to promote the development of healthy racial identities and is now available online.
Spanish Language Webinar on the Transition to Kindergarten Amid COVID

Even under normal circumstances, the start of kindergarten can be a stressful time for children as they enter a world filled with new expectations and routines. COVID-19 may create continued uncertainty and additional worries about what school will look like for children in the fall. The Department of Education funded Early Learning Network  has released a webinar specifically designed for Spanish speaking families  to help them prepare their child for a successful transition into kindergarten.

The webinar, "Cómo Ayudar a Los Niños Pequeños en Casa Durante la Pandemia: Estrategias para Apoyar a Sus Hijos con la Transición a Kinder Desde Casa," was led by Ximena Franco, Ph.D. from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
New Report Guiding State and Federal Policy Toward Equity in the Early Years

The Children's Equity Project and Bipartisan Policy Center recently released a new report, Start with Equity: From the Early Years to the Early Grades informed by over 70 policy and research experts nationwide. The report addresses three key policy areas related to equity: harsh discipline and its disproportionate application, inclusive learning for children with disabilities, and equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities for dual language learners. This review covers the latest data and research, in addition to recommendations for policymakers at all levels of government to take meaningful steps toward addressing these inequities.
Call Your Pediatrician Campaign & Well Child Visit Resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Since the onset of the pandemic, a significant drop in well-child visits has resulted in delays in vaccinations, delays in appropriate screenings and referrals, and delays in anticipatory guidance to assure optimal health. Pediatricians have rapidly adapted to provide appropriate elements of well exams through telehealth when clinically warranted. However, additional elements require in-person visits. Concern exists that delays in vaccinations may result in secondary outbreaks with vaccine-preventable illnesses. 

Using humor and real-world conversations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has launched the #CallYourPediatrician campaign, which aims to reach parents with timely reminders that going to the pediatrician, even during COVID-19, is important and safe. Campaign information on the "COVID-19 To-Dos", "20 Minutes", and "Moms Text" campaigns can be found here; the AAP has developed everything needed to share on your own platforms and networks. The campaigns include sample texts, videos, and photos sized for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. All posts should include the hashtag #CallYourPediatrician.

The AAP has also issued new guidance on providing pediatric well-care during COVID-19. The AAP strongly supports the continued provision of health care for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, well-child care should be provided consistent with the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents (4th Edition) and the corresponding Bright Futures/AAP Recommendations for Preventative Pediatric Health Care (Periodicity Schedule).
2020 Illinois KIDS COUNT Report

In June, the Voices for Illinois Children released its 2020 Illinois KIDS COUNT Report. The report shows continued health disparities for children across the state when the data are analyzed by race and ethnicity, such as for infant mortality, birth weight, blood lead levels, and emergency room asthma visits. The data are contextualized by social determinants of health, such as housing, education levels, household and family incomes, and transportation. 

A few of the report findings are that the percentage of Black children who lived in poverty (35%) in 2018 was higher than the state figure (16%) and all other racial/ethnic groups (Latinx at 20% and multiracial at 18%). For housing costs, 29% of Illinois children live in households spending 30% or more of their income on housing. Infant mortality among Black infants (13 per 1,000 births) was consistently two times the state rate (6.1 per 1,000 births), while all other racial/ethnic groups fall below the state rate.

KIDS COUNT also includes recommendations, such as extending the requirement for DHS to collect statistical data on the racial and ethnic demographics of program participants for each program administered by the Department to other state agencies and making additional investments in school-based health centers.
ZERO TO THREE State of Babies Yearbook: 2020

ZERO TO THREE released their State of Babies Yearbook: 2020   in June, which provides comparison data on the well-being of infants and toddlers on national and state levels. The Yearbook has found that children in poverty and children of color face the greatest obstacles, such as low birthweight, unstable housing, and limited access to quality child care. The findings are significant as 42% of babies live in low-income household and 51% of babies are children of color. The report also highlights major disparities that begin before birth, especially for Black children, driven by systemic racism and social injustices.

According to The State of Illinois's Babies , there are 451,799 babies composing 3.5% of the total state population. Of this group, 48.9% of babies are children of color, 5.4% live in rural areas, and 39.2% live in households with incomes less than twice the federal poverty line. The Yearbook also includes information on demographics, health, families, and positive early learning experiences for Illinois' children and families, as well as how Illinois compares on a national level. The Think Babies  toolkit provides resources in reaching out to networks and advocating on these issues with federal, state, and local elected officials.
2020 KIDS Count Data Book

The 31st edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children across the United States were faring before the coronavirus pandemic began. The report shows state rankings and the latest available data on child well-being, as well as data that shows deep racial inequities.

Despite documented gains for children of all races and income levels, the nation's racial inequities proved deep and stubbornly persistent during the reporting period, according to the data. The nation failed to provide African American, American Indian and Latinx children with the support necessary to thrive while states failed to dismantle barriers facing many children of color. Not surprisingly, nearly all index measures indicated that children with the same potential experienced disparate outcomes. 
Upcoming Events
Early Childhood Care & Education Transition to Kindergarten  (July 29, 2020/1:00 - 2:30 p.m.)

Description:  In typical times, the transition from Child Care, Head Start, Community Based Programs and Pre/K district classrooms to Kindergarten can be both an anxious and exciting time for many children and their families. During unprecedented times such as those we are currently navigating, this is doubly true. More than ever, cross sector collaboration and the role of teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators is vital to assisting children and families through this process. Participants will explore evidenced based, developmentally appropriate transition strategies and techniques that ensure continuity of care to support Kindergarten success for all students, including multilingual learners and students with a disability.

Presenters:  Dr. Antoinette Taylor (Exceptional Needs Consultant), Grace Araya, (Director, Community Systems Statewide Supports - Illinois Action for Children),  Iris Hildreth (Family Engagement Manager - IL Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development),  Tammy Notter (Early Childhood Education Consultant), and Jaclyn Vasquez (Associate Director, Early Development Instrument - Erikson Institute, Policy and Leadership).

Family Engagement (Engaging and Empowering Families as Early Learning Stakeholders) (August 5, 2020/ 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.)

Description:  Family engagement is one of the most powerful predictors of a child's development and of positive academic, social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes for young learners. Parents and guardians are their children's first and best teachers, making the importance of addressing the needs of children within the context of their family critical. This is especially true during the unprecedented dilemmas children and families are experiencing due to the pandemic and a variety of ongoing events. This interactive webinar will explore evidenced-based strategies to promote collaboration with families to build mutually respectful and goal-oriented relationships that support positive outcomes for children, increased support for children's learning at home and school and positive transitions to Kindergarten.

Presenters:  Dr. Antoinette Taylor (Exceptional Needs Consultant), Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas (Associate Vice President of Policy - Erikson Institute, Policy and Leadership),  Grace Araya, (Director, Community Systems Statewide Supports - Illinois Action for Children),  Iris Hildreth (Family Engagement Manager - IL Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development),  and Jaclyn Vasquez (Associate Director, Early Development Instrument - Erikson Institute, Policy and Leadership).

Inaugural 2020 National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit

The theme for the Inaugural 2020 National Prenatal-to-3 Research Policy Summit  is Building a State Policy Roadmap to Strengthen the Earliest Years. The Summit will bring together early childhood stakeholders, including policy leaders, advocates, researchers, and funders to: learn about the newest scientific findings on child development; discuss policy decisions and their impact on racial disparities; launch the 2020 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, including custom state Roadmaps and online data interactives; and hear from state-leaders on using the Roadmap to strengthen their respective state's early childhood systems.

The Summit is presented by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center  at the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. It will take place on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, Central Time. The Summit will be virtual with free registration . For questions, contact cfrpevents@austin.utexas.edu .
34th Annual Illinois AfterSchool Network Spring Conference

The Annual Illinois AfterSchool Network Spring Conference for after school and youth development professionals will take place on Saturday, March 27, 2021 in Bloomington, Illinois. Jessy Newman is the keynote speaker and serves as Senior Researcher of Youth Development and Supportive Learning Environments at the American Institutes for Research. Workshop sessions will count as Gateway Registry approved training hours. Registration and additional information can be found here.
Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development | earlychildhood.illinois.gov
160 N. LaSalle St. Suite N-100
Chicago, IL 60601