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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Use Your Vote to Be a Big Voice for Little Kids™

The Baby Monitor

April 16, 2012

Use Your Vote to Be a Big Voice for Little KidsTM

Babies and toddlers can’t vote, but we can. When we vote, we are able to speak out on behalf of this constituency and ensure that their interests are taken into account in important policy decisions. This new article from the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network provides tips to help you get out the vote this election season. Click here to read the article now. 

Federal Policy Update

Continued Investments in Quality Early Education Programs through Race to the Top

The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that funds will be made available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform. Of the $550 million appropriated for Race to the Top through the Department of Education’s fiscal year 2012 budget, $133 million will be made available for a second round of Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) state grants. Eligible states for the second round of RTT-ELC will be limited to five that had strong applications in the first RTT-ELC competition in 2011 but did not receive awards, including: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Each of these five states will be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of the requested award amount in their 2011 application. Additional dollars from the 2012 appropriation will be used to run a new district-level Race to the Top competition. Stay tuned for more details on RTT-ELC, and read the Federal Policy Baby Blog to learn more about recently introduced legislation that makes a powerful statement about quality child care for infants and toddlers.

State Policy Update

Connecticut Is Improving the Dental Health of Young Children

Connecticut has taken significant steps to improve the oral health of young children. In response to a 2006-2007 screening of more than 600 Head Start students that revealed high levels of untreated tooth decay, the state initiated Home By One to establish a dental home for all Connecticut children by age one. The state made progress toward this goal by establishing partnerships between pediatric practices, dental homes, WIC offices, and HUSKY (SCHIP) case managers; training pediatricians in fluoride varnish application, caries risk assessment, and guidelines for dental referral; training dentists in the appropriate technique for age one dental visits; and engaging WIC parents in oral health advocacy workshops. The state also approved Medicaid reimbursement for primary care physicians who provide early preventive dental care for children younger than three. The initiative has produced significant results: 935 medical professionals have received training, 40 dental homes have been established, and nearly 9,500 children under age three have received dental services. Connecticut is continuing to develop strategies to build on these early successes. Read the full state policy update now.

Your Input is Needed!

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) is requesting input from early childhood professionals to inform their strategic plan to end family and child homelessness.  They are specifically looking for feedback about early childhood learning and educational outcomes for this population of young children. Please share your input with USICH at their website http://usich.uservoice.com by April 30.

Publications & Resources

Birth to Three Institute Registration Deadline Approaching
Registration for the Birth to Three Institute (BTT) closes on May 7. This year’s conference will feature over 80 sessions covering topics such as School Readiness, Home Visiting, Dual Language Learners, and Family Child Care. BTT will take place June 11-14 in Washington, DC. Click here to download the full program and register now.

Preventing Early Childhood Obesity
Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education Programs, the latest set of standards from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education, describes evidence-based best practices in nutrition, physical activity, and screen time for early care and education programs. This resource is intended to provide practical intervention strategies to prevent excessive weight gain in young children. The standards apply for all types of early care and education settings, including centers and family child care homes.

New QRIS Resources
Two new resources on Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) add insights and strategies for states to consider. Check out Moving to Outcomes: Approaches to Incorporating Child Assessments into State Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement Systems from the RAND Corporation, and A Count for Quality: Child Care Center Directors on Rating and Improvement Systems from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC).

Understanding Young Children in Military Families
Military Family Projects at ZERO TO THREE released a policy brief entitled Increasing Understanding of Infants and Young Children in Military Families through Focused Research. The brief examines the effects of combat deployment on infants and toddlers in military families. It concludes with recommendations for increased research on this topic.

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