Early Learning:
Information and Resources for Families

Early Learning...

ED-HHS Policy on Family Engagement

New ED/HHS Release Joint Letter Supporting Family Engagement in Early Learning
On August 1, 2016, Education Secretary John B. King and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell released a joint letter supporting the Departments' joint Policy Statement on Family Engagement.

 ED-HHS Joint Letter (PDF, 203KB)

ED-HHS Policy Statement on Family Engagement
On May 5, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued a policy statement on the implementation of effective family engagement practices from the early years to the early grades.

 ED-HHS Policy Statement on Family Engagement: From the Early Years to the Early Grades (PDF, 443KB)

 Executive Summary (PDF, 215KB)


ED and HHS have established the Early Learning Interagency Policy Board (IPB) to develop policy recommendations and improve program coordination and quality across federally funded early learning and development programs serving children from birth through age eight. Previously, ED and HHS have released policy statements on Expulsion and Suspension Polices in Early Childhood Settings and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs based on public comments received.

It is the Departments' position that strong family engagement is central in promoting children's healthy development and wellness, including:

  • social-emotional and behavioral development;

  • preparing children for school;

  • seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and

  • supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond.

When families and the institutions where children learn partner in meaningful ways, children have more positive attitudes toward school, stay in school longer, have better attendance, and experience more school success. To further this position, the Departments released a policy statement on the implementation of effective family engagement practices in early childhood and learning programs.

The policy statement:

  • Reviews the research base, legal requirements, and best practices that support effective family engagement in children's learning, development, and wellness;

  • Identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices from HHS' and ED's family engagement frameworks to drive successful policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation;

  • Provides recommendations to states, state educational agencies (SEAs), lead agencies for early intervention services and child care, local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and community-based early childhood systems and programs to implement effective family engagement; and

  • Highlights resources to build programmatic and family capacity to be effective partners.


NEW REPORT  Parenting Matters:
Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0–8

A committee of experts—convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine—was assembled to conduct a consensus study to examine the state of the science with respect to parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices that support positive parent-child interactions and healthy development of children ages 0–8; strategies for supporting parents and helping them engage in parenting practices associated with healthy child development; barriers and facilitators to strengthening parenting capacity and parents' participation in effective programs and services; and gaps in research on parenting. Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0–8 is intended to serve as a roadmap for the future of parenting and family support policies, practices, and research in the United States. The report is sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education, and Health and Human Services, and also a consortia of philanthropy organizations.


Family and Community Engagement

Raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When families, communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. Check out ED’s framework for building greater support and capacity in schools, homes and communities, so ALL students have the chance to succeed.


Supporting Working Families with Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education

High-quality early learning and development programs can make a tremendous difference in the lives of working families and their children. The “Supporting Working Families with Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education” report (PDF | 2.4MB) highlights actions that the Obama Administration has undertaken to support states and communities to help working families access high-quality early care and education, as well as some results of these investments to date.


Resources for Families

  • Talk, Read & Sing
    ED and HHS, in partnership with Too Small to Fail, have created the “Talk, Read, and Sing Together Every Day” tip sheets. Made specifically for families, caregivers and early educators, these resources can help enrich a child’s early language experiences by providing research-based tips for talking, reading, and singing with young children every day beginning from birth

  • Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!
    This coordinated federal effort aims to encourage healthy child development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for children, and support for the families and providers who care for them. Their resources help families celebrate developmental milestones, identify possible delays and concerns early, and enhance children’s development.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Learn the Signs. Act Early.
    This CDC resource for parents help them track how their child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves, from birth through age five. It also helps parents act early by learning what to do if they have concerns about their children’s development.

  • Ready to Learn KIDS Lab
    Ready To Learn (RTL) promotes early learning through age-appropriate, educational and engaging television and digital media content for young children. Through long-standing partnerships with producers, advisors, education and content experts, and practitioners, RTL has created a wealth of age-appropriate content that research and ratings have proved to be superlative. The KIDS Lab includes games and activities that build math and reading skills for kids ages 3–8.

  • Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR)
    CPIR is a key resource for families of children with disabilities or who suspect that their child might have a disability. It connects parents to their state’s parent training and information centers so that parents can find local information about disabilities, early intervention (for babies and toddlers), school services (for school-aged children), therapy, policies, and transportation.

  • Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)—Family Tools
    CSEFL focuses on promoting social emotional development and school readiness. Free Parent Training Modules teach families about promoting children’s social and emotional development.

  • Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI)—Families Community
    TACSEI uses evidence-based practices for improving the social-emotional outcomes of young children.. TACSEI offers many tip sheets, videos, and links to help young children develop, reduce challenging behavior in young children, and to help support families.

  • Find a Head Start Program
    The Head Start Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to young children and their families. Use this program locator to find a Head Start program near you.


Inclusion Resources for Families

ED and HHS have developed a joint statement setting a vision and recommendations for increasing the inclusion of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities in high-quality early childhood programs. This set of resources was compiled specifically for families interested in learning more about early childhood inclusion.

Last Modified: 07/29/2016