Policy Resource

Maryland Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Jun 26, 2018

In December 2011, Maryland was awarded a four-year Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant and proposed the following targets to improve its early learning and development (ELD) systems.

The state proposed a number of objectives that would positive impact infants, toddlers and families, including:

  • Develop a new formative assessment for children birth to three, in collaboration with Ohio. The two states would also develop training modules and professional development for the administration of this and other screening instruments.
  • Create two new Community Hubs to provide comprehensive services to pregnant women, children from birth to kindergarten and their families, and child care providers. Hubs provide services such as parenting education, health education and access to health care, employment readiness activities, and facilitate access to services by offering service coordination, transportation, and meals.
  • Offer training to pediatricians on developmental screening practices and to primary care providers to build their mental health capacity, including early childhood mental health detection and intervention.

Maryland made significant progress toward its goals over the course of its grant, including:

  • 24 local early childhood advisory councils (ECACs) were established to bring community support to all the RTT-ELC projects through locally designed activities that support early learners’ learning opportunities and school readiness skills. Each local council successfully executed their RTT-ELC implementation grant by the end of year three.
  • Maryland EXCELS increased the quality of early childhood education programs through the implementation of the five tiers of quality standards. At the end of 2016, 49% of all licensed child care programs in Maryland were participating.
  • Child Care Resource Centers provided technical assistance to nearly 1,000 child care providers to help them meet EXCELS program standards, including new recommendations for developmental screening.
  • Two Community Hubs were established in under-resourced communities in Baltimore to provide and coordinate services for families with children birth to five. Hubs provide family support services such as parenting education, health education, and employment readiness activities; connect pregnant women and parents to center-based and home visiting programs; conduct outreach to child care providers to engage them in professional development opportunities; and work with families to ease transitions as children move from early childhood programs to school.
  • The state developed partnerships with pediatricians, family practice physicians, and mental health providers to support the use of developmental screening instruments as well as early detection and intervention in mental health.
  • The Early Childhood Family Engagement Coalition developed an Effective Practices Toolkit to support early learning providers’ with implementation of the Maryland Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework. The toolkit incorporates Framework goals and offers examples that illustrate how various child care programs are meeting them.
  • Maryland developed the Knowledge and Competency Framework for Child and Youth Care Professionals in April 2015 and collaborated with local community colleges to align pre-service training to the Framework. The state created the Maryland Approved Alternative Preparation Program (MAAPP), a 2 year program for participants interested in earning a certificate in early childhood education.

Learn more about Maryland and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs papers:

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