The Administration for Children and Families presents NRCEC 2020, National Research Conference on Early Childhood. June 27 - 29, 2022 at Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.
June 27 - 29, 2022
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Crystal Gateway Marriott
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Arlington, VA
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2018 Session Videos

Day 1:
Greetings and Plenary

Greetings from ACF Leadership
  • Laura Namy, Executive Director, Society for Research in Child Development
  • Naomi Goldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families
  • Ellen Wheatley, Deputy Director, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families
  • Deborah Bergeron, Director, Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families
Family Engagement: State of the Concept and Evidence Base
  • CHAIR
  • Wendy DeCourcey, Administration for Children and Families
  • PRESENTER
  • Catherine Ayoub, Harvard Medical School, Brazelton Touchpoints Center
The construct of family engagement has grown in importance across the early care and education field over the last 10 years. Family engagement involves building goal-directed relationships that result in ongoing partnerships with families to address their visions and goals for themselves and their children. The impact of a child care program on family health and well-being and development of the child is mediated by the program’s role in engaging and partnering with families. Catherine Ayoub will highlight recent conceptual, practice, and research advances in the family engagement field, describe some cutting-edge projects, as well as identify the remaining gaps in both research and practice related to engaging families across early childhood settings.

Day 1:
“Readiness for Change” in Early Learning: What is It? How Do We Measure It? And What Are We Learning?

  • CHAIR
  • Kelly Maxwell, Child Trends
  • PRESENTERS
  • Tamara Halle, Child Trends
  • JoAnn Hsueh, MDRC
  • Michelle Maier, MDRC
  • Kelly Maxwell, Child Trends
  • Debra Pacchiano, Ounce of Prevention
  • Shannon Wanless, University of Pittsburgh
State leaders, administrators, and researchers are interested in better understanding how best to support and sustain quality improvement. The concept of readiness is increasingly noted as one factor that influences quality improvement. What is readiness and how do we measure it? What is important in determining whether an individual is ready for and will benefit from a quality improvement effort? What characteristics of the organization — e.g., a leader with a vision or openness to innovation — support readiness to change at an individual, classroom, or program level? This session will describe current conceptualizations of readiness and approaches to measuring it. Session presenters will describe plans for measurement and will share research findings about readiness in early learning settings. Session presenters and participants will discuss the role of readiness in research and quality improvement efforts and how best to advance our understanding and measurement of this concept at the organizational and individual levels.
An Overview and Discussion of Readiness
Kelly Maxwell
Psychological Safety as an Element of Readiness to Implement
Shannon Wanless
Assessing Change and Understanding Readiness in Instructional Leadership Development in Cross-Sector Preschool Contexts
Debra Pacchiano
Conceptualizing and Measuring Readiness in the Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI) Project
JoAnn Hsueh, Michelle Maier
Measuring Readiness in the Culture of Continuous Learning (CCL) Project
Tamara Halle

Day 1:
Master Lecture: John Fantuzzo — The Use of Child Outcome Data in Head Start—“We’ve Got to Get it Right!”

  • CHAIR
  • Christine McWayne, Tufts University
  • PRESENTER
  • John Fantuzzo, University of Pennsylvania
The critical and complex question: “How can we better use child outcome data in Head Start to improve program effectiveness?” is at the heart of both aspirations and frustrations in realizing the national Head Start mission. In this session, John Fantuzzo will unpack his understanding of three important aspects of this question: 1) the existence of evidence-based, child wellbeing data to promote child development outcomes in Head Start; 2) the ongoing operational use of these data in local Head Start programs; and 3) expectations and supports for this use in the national Head Start governance system. An applied researcher serving Head Start children and families for nearly four decades, the presenter will draw from his personal experience grappling with the challenges presented by the facets of this essential question. He will share what he sees as current realities and affirm our collective resolve to “get it right!”

Day 2:
Evidence-Based Preschool Curricula: Closing the Gap between Research and Reality

  • CHAIR
  • Jennifer Brooks, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • PRESENTERS
  • Bridget Hamre, University of Virginia
  • JoAnn Hsueh, MDRC
  • Jason Sachs, Boston Public Schools
  • Mindy Zapata, Early Head Start and Head Start, Southwest Human Development
  • DISCUSSANT
  • Jennifer Brooks, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
This roundtable discussion will focus on the current challenges faced by early learning programs trying to find evidence-based curricula that cover multiple domains of school readiness. There is increasing interest specified in the new Head Start Program Performance Standards, as well as in the requirements of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), for programs to implement curricula that have evidence of effectiveness. However, in early childhood, most of the curricula that have such evidence focus on a single domain of development. The purpose of this discussion is to briefly review the existing evidence base and discuss what it means for practitioners seeking to implement evidence-based curricula. The session will include a dialogue between researchers and practitioners about how programs can address this issue immediately, and how research can be developed to address this misalignment between research and reality. The participants will include practitioners and researchers who have attempted to address this issue through different routes.

Day 2:
Session 2 – Master Lecture: Lynne Katz – We’re Dancing as Fast as We Can! The Ever-Challenging, Ongoing Interplay between Research Science and Practice Demands for Children Born Cocaine-Exposed and their Families

  • CHAIR
  • Ann Easterbrooks, Tufts University
  • PRESENTER
  • Lynne Katz, University of Miami
  • DISCUSSANT
  • Rosemary Chalk, Consultant in Child and Family Policy, Bethesda, MD
For close to two decades, the early intervention and research teams at a university-based program for babies and toddlers born cocaine-exposed and their families have faced and overcome challenges. They have juggled the delicate balance of integrating applied research, the framework of implementation science, developmentally appropriate practice, and a partnership with the Miami Juvenile Court Dependency system for maltreated young children in innovative ways to improve outcomes of high-risk children 0-3 years of age. Using incremental steps, cross-disciplinary trainings, and the strength that comes from the pull and tug of relationship-building across researchers and the child welfare system and state education partners, this university project has grown from an initial randomized clinical trial in the late 1990s, to a full-service intervention center for both children and their families today. Its multiple science-informed components reach beyond local communities to impact both state and federal practitioners. The project currently is exploring the applicability of the model’s key components to the prospect of serving the new wave of babies and toddlers born to mothers impacted by opioid addiction.

Day 2:
Challenged Childhoods: Adverse Circumstances and Children’s Early Development

  • CHAIR
  • Sacha Klein, Michigan State University
  • PRESENTERS
  • Rachel Barr, Georgetown University
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha, Michigan State University
  • Nancy Young, Children and Family Futures
  • DISCUSSANT
  • Sacha Klein, Michigan State University
This session will feature a panel of researchers, each with expertise in a difficult circumstance that young children in the U.S. face today. These include the following: the Flint water crisis, parental substance use disorders, the opioid epidemic, and parental incarceration. Researchers will cover: (1) effects of each circumstance on early child development (~birth through 5 years); (2) interventions to combat these negative effects; and (3) research about the success or limitations of these interventions. The speakers also will identify research questions that need to be answered to help practitioners adequately support young children facing these and related forms of adversity. Following the presentations, a moderated discussion will draw out cross-cutting themes related to racism and social stigma’s role in impeding families’ efforts to overcome early adversity and ways in which legislative and regulatory policy can exacerbate and/or alleviate the negative consequences of early adversity on child development and family functioning.
#FlintWaterCrisis: Journey for Justice – Building Health Equity in an Unequal World
Mona Hanna-Attisha
Plans of Safe Care: Supporting Children and Families Affected by Opioid Use Disorders
Nancy Young
Just Beginning: The Challenge of Parenting Young Children while Incarcerated
Rachel Barr

Day 2:
Home is Where the Heart Is: Supporting Relationship-Based Approaches to Work with Families and Caregivers

  • CHAIR
  • Toni Porter, Early Care and Education Consulting
  • PRESENTERS
  • Juliet Bromer, Erikson Institute
  • Neal Horen, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
  • Jon Korfmacher, Erikson Institute
  • DISCUSSANT
  • Nina Johnson, National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance
The session will examine program staff and caregiver perspectives across three early childhood service delivery sectors that engage home-based caregivers: family child care networks, home visiting programs, and early childhood mental health consultation initiatives that serve family, friend, and neighbor providers. Presenters will share data on staff experiences, on developing relationships with caregivers and families, and caregiver experiences receiving support in their homes. Implications for approaches to quality improvement of service delivery will be discussed.
Building Relationships to Support Children: Family Child Care Provider and Agency Staff Experiences with Quality Improvement Support
Juliet Bromer, Toni Porter, Jon Korfmacher
Assessing Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation in Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care Settings
Neal Horen, Deborah Perry, Lan Le, Eva Marie Shivers, Anika Aquino, Kelly Lavin
Assessing Home Visitors’ Communication and Relationship with Parents During Home Visits
Jon Korfmacher, Jill Filene, Anne Duggan

Day 3:
Measuring Cost of Quality Early Childhood Programs

  • CHAIR
  • Emily Schmitt, Administration for Children and Families
  • PRESENTERS
  • Kimberly Boller, Mathematica Policy Institute
  • Emily Gustafsson-Wright, Brookings Institute
  • Rachel Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Health Resources and Services Administration
  • DISCUSSANT
  • Lynn Karoly, RAND
Understanding the cost of early childhood programs is essential for policymakers and practitioners to make decisions regarding where to invest limited funds. This plenary highlights many of the challenges and opportunities facing the early childhood field in terms of understanding the cost of providing high quality early childhood experiences for children and their families by focusing on three recently developed tools to measure costs in early childhood. The first presentation will describe the process of developing an instrument that provides consistent, systematic measures of the implementation and costs of early care and education in center-based settings as part of the Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education (ECE-ICHQ) project. The second presentation will highlight lessons learned from research efforts to develop the Standardized Early Childhood Development Costing Tool (SECT). SECT is a tool that can be used to understand the cost of programs across a spectrum of interventions from birth to primary school and has been used in international settings. The final presentation will describe the development of the Home Visiting Budget Assistance Tool (HV-BAT), an instrument for gathering a standardized set of cost metrics across home visiting programs. The discussant will identify similarities and unique features of each tool and how they can inform policy, practice, and research.

Day 3:
Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

  • CHAIR
  • Sarah Blankenship, Administration for Children and Families
  • PRESENTERS
  • Patricia Del Grosso, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Jaime Thomas, Mathematica Policy Research
  • DISCUSSANTS
  • Amanda Bryans, Administration for Children and Families
  • Rachel Demma, Administration for Children and Families
  • Fran Majestic, Administration for Children and Families
Partnerships in early care and education can increase families’ access to child care and have demonstrated the potential to support quality care and the provision of comprehensive services. However, questions remain about the features of partnerships that are essential for improving quality and supporting infant and toddler development and family outcomes. In an effort to better understand the characteristics of early care and education partnerships, the Administration for Children and Families commissioned a National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships. The study explored the characteristics of EHS-CC partnerships, incorporated the perspectives of child care partners, and collected information on EHS-CC partnership activities aimed at increasing professional development, improving the quality of services, and better meeting families’ needs. In this presentation, we use data from the National Descriptive Study of EHS-CC Partnerships to answer three questions about the EHS-CC Partnership programs: (1) What are the characteristics and features of EHS-CC partnerships? (2) How do EHS-CC partnerships increase access to comprehensive services? (3) What activities do EHS-CC partnerships engage in to improve the quality of child development services? Federal partners from the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care will provide their perspectives.

Day 3:
Developing and Evaluating Interventions to Address Early Childhood Trauma

  • CHAIR
  • Shannon Lipscomb, Oregon State University–Cascades
  • PRESENTERS
  • Sandra Graham-Bermann, University of Michigan
  • Shannon Lipscomb, Oregon State University–Cascades
  • Christy Tirrell-Corbin, University of Maryland
Promoting resilience for young children who experience trauma is paramount to our efforts to improve opportunities and outcomes for children and families facing adversity. Trauma has lasting negative impacts on children’s health, learning, and wellbeing. This session will describe the development and evaluation of new interventions to address early childhood trauma in early learning and family contexts. Christy Tirrell-Corbin will present findings from a national needs assessment that has informed the design of a trauma-sensitive pedagogy for pre-kindergarten. Shannon Lipscomb will present the development and evaluation of Roots of Resilience, a new professional development program to support early childhood teachers and providers caring for children impacted by trauma. Sandra Graham-Bermann will share longitudinal findings from evaluations of interventions for mothers and preschoolers exposed to family violence: Kids Club and Moms Empowerment. Panelists will discuss how diversity of children, families, and/or early learning teachers and providers factor into their research and program design.

Day 3:
MASTER LECTURE: Marcy Whitebook – Toward Getting it Right for the Early Care and Education Workforce: Looking Back and Looking Forward

  • CHAIR
  • Sara Vecchiotti, Foundation for Child Development
  • PRESENTERS
  • Marisa Schlieber, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California-Berkeley
  • Marcy Whitebook, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California-Berkeley
Four decades ago, Dr. Marcy Whitebook began conducting research and proposing policy solutions aimed at improving how our nation prepares, supports, and rewards the early care and education workforce. She was motivated by the low status, poor pay, and deplorable conditions that she and her fellow teachers faced. Unlivable wages and economic insecurity persist today, as documented in the 2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index. In addition to earnings, the Index assesses state early childhood workforce and family and income support policies as stalled, edging forward, or making progress, noting changes since 2016. Following reflections about the potential and challenges of research in shaping policy, Dr. Whitebook will be joined by colleague Dr. Marisa Schlieber, to engage in a cross-generational exchange about why they chose to be policy researchers, highlighting their excitement and frustrations. They will discuss how questions researchers ask or ignore can help to maintain the status quo or contribute to the conditions necessary to transform our early care and education system to one that is fair and equitable for all children, families, and teachers, and families of teachers. In closing, Dr. Whitebook will share her hopes and concerns for the early childhood field.