The Administration for Children and Families presents NRCEC 2024, National Research Conference on Early Childhood. June 24 - 26, 2024 at Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.
June 24 - 26, 2024

2020 Session Videos

Greetings from ACF Leadership

  • Naomi Goldstein, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
  • Shannon Christian, Office of Child Care
  • Deborah Bergeron, Office of Early Childhood Development and Office of Head Start

Opening Session:
Moving Toward Trauma-Informed Systems and Programs in Early Childhood: Strategies and Interventions to Support the Well-Being of Young Children Impacted by Trauma

  • Kyong-Ah Kwon, University of Oklahoma, College of Education
  • Brenda Jones Harden, University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • Walter Gilliam, Yale School of Medicine
  • Shannon Lipscomb, Oregon State University, College of Public Health and Human Science
Early childhood programs and systems offer key opportunities to support the well-being of young children who experience adversity. Early childhood teachers, providers, and families are also impacted by adversity in their own lives, and/or by secondary traumatic stress from caring for children impacted by trauma. This session will present new research on interventions and/or approaches to support adults in nurturing resilience with young children impacted by trauma. The session will open with framing and definition of trauma-informed care as an approach that requires commitment at all levels: systems, organizations, and providers (Bloom, 2016; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014) with a foundation of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Presenters will share findings from new research on interventions and strategies, such as mental health consultation; professional development for early childhood teachers in home as well as center-based programs; wellness supports for staff; and advances in family-oriented programming, such as home visiting. Presenters will consider findings and/or interventions in context of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis, racial injustice, and other recent trauma-inducing contexts.
Additional Resources

Master Lecture:
The Need for a Shared Vision for Early Childhood Education in the United States – Dale Farran

  • Dale Farran, Vanderbilt University
  • Deborah Stipek, Stanford Graduate School of Education
  • Martha Zaslow, Society for Research in Child Development
Early childhood education (ECE) in the United States has two historical roots—compensatory education and caretaking. These competing goals have created confusion in terms of conceptualizing quality and help account for the tension between a focus on instruction for school readiness and providing a caring, socially supportive environment. In the United States we continue to have uncertainty about where to place ECE programs: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education, or a separate agency altogether. Other economically developed countries provide seamless care for children younger than school age and also have a stated country-wide vision for what is important developmentally for young children. Having (or creating) in the United States a shared understanding of goals for early childhood development that combine a caring perspective with an educational one would help focus both the development of measures of classroom quality as well as assessments of children’s development. To do this, we must broaden the conception of education beyond kindergarten readiness and focus on the foundational skills and competencies necessary to support long-term development. We must also determine how to adapt classroom practices to fit the needs of individual groups of children to meet these goals—one size will likely not fit all.

Master Lecture:
Infant-Toddler Group Care: Looking Back, Looking Forward – Diane Horm

  • Diane Horm, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa
  • Rachel Chazan Cohen, University of Connecticut
Multiple factors have led to an increased focus on group care for infants and toddlers over the last decade, with enhanced attention to availability, accessibility, quality, and associated short- and long-term child outcomes. In this session, Horm will trace the evolution of thought and research on infant-toddler group care, using her own career development and insights as a roadmap. She will highlight seminal research findings and influential reports from the last 50 years to illustrate the changing research questions and perceptions of infant-toddler group care. She will summarize recent findings from her work in Tulsa, OK and discuss the lessons learned and implications. Looking to the future, she will identify gaps in the current knowledge base related to infant-toddler group care and provide advice about navigating a career in the broad field of early childhood education.

Master Lecture:
Combating Racism through Authentic Early Childhood Research-Action Partnerships – Iheoma U. Iruka

  • Iheoma U. Iruka, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sara Vecchiotti, Foundation for Child Development
While there has been some progress on some indicators for the growing population of racial and ethnic minority children and their families (such as upward mobility and educational progress for Latino/a and DLL children), racial and ethnic minority children, especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous children, are still lagging behind on many indicators, from health and well-being, to school readiness and achievement. Much of the research has focused on addressing their individual needs and their family and early care and education (ECE) program needs. This research has often taken a deficit-focused, and arguably racist lens, stereotyping racial and ethnic minorities as less than the majority group. While the focus on children, families, and programs is important, it often ignores broader historical and contemporary inequities that continue to advantage white children while disadvantaging children from racial and ethnic minority populations. To truly ensure that ECE delivers on the promise of equitable learning opportunities, leading to racial equity, it is important to engage in research, program, and policymaking that intentionally combats racism.

Caregiving Instability and Brain Development: Implications and Opportunities for Supporting Resilience

  • Elysia Davis, University of Denver
  • Taryn Morrissey, American University
  • Sarah Watamura, University of Denver
  • Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University
Caregiving instability is impacted by economic factors, child care placement availability, child care affordability, caregiver mental health, stress and trauma, incarceration, illness, and a number of other sociocultural factors. This session will present basic science findings from animal and human research on fragmented care for early brain development, as well as consequences for young children experiencing caregiving and environmental instability. Strategies for promoting resilience of children who have experienced instability will be shared, and the discussion will include practical and policy recommendations.

Collaborations for Successful Transitions Between Early Care and Education and K–12

  • Kristie Kauerz, University of Colorado Denver
  • Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, University of Virginia
  • Kyle DeMeo Cook, St. John’s University
  • Peter Dallas Finch, West Valley School District #208, Yakima, Washington
This session will focus on existing frameworks and research on collaborations between early care and education (ECE) and K–12 to support successful transitions to kindergarten. The session will begin with a presentation on how the transition has been conceptualized, within the larger P-3 Framework (Kauerz & Coffman, 2019). Next, two research presentations will provide the most up-to-date research on the transition to school with a focus on collaboration between ECE and K–12. The research presentations will also discuss future research and practice directions to further explore collaborations that support transitions. These presentations will be followed by reactions from a school district administrator who has participated in a demonstration project to better connect public schools with Head Start programs to support the transition. The discussion will focus on policy and practice implications, as well as how work in this area can be extended to include a greater focus on transitions from the diversity of ECE settings.

Conceptualizing Quality in Early Care and Education: Measurement for Improvement at the Center, Staff, and Classroom Level

  • Sally Atkins-Burnett, Mathematica
  • Gretchen Kirby, Mathematica
  • JoAnn Hsueh, MDRC
  • Martha Zaslow, Society for Research in Child Development
  • Laura Johns, National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance
To achieve positive outcomes for children in early care and education (ECE) center-based settings, the field has been working to unpack what it takes to measure and achieve effective pathways to quality at the center, staff, and classroom levels. This session will present the measurement approaches and key findings from three studies examining pathways to quality in ECE. The Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education (ECE-ICHQ) project developed implementation measures around five center functions to understand what the center is doing to support high-quality care. The Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI) study uses classroom quality measures to understand overall quality and to inform the coaches supporting the intervention and professional development for teachers. The Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) measured classroom quality using multiple methods to understand what is captured in different measures and associations with child outcomes. Each study will present information on the measurement approach and contribution to understanding quality. Two discussants (researcher and technical assistance provider) will reflect on lessons from these studies and where we still need to connect the dots. Attendees will discuss experiences, questions, and thoughts for future research.
Additional Resources

Inclusion of Young Children (0–5) With Disabilities: Research as One Driver of Change

  • Sarah Neville-Morgan, California Department of Education
  • Sheila Self, California Department of Education
  • Patricia Snyder, University of Florida
  • Pam Winton, Retired, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Certain evidence-based concepts and associated practices undergird the intervention-focused field of early intervention/early childhood special education (EI/ECSE). Four of those concepts are inclusion, individualization, collaboration, and families. This session has a particular focus on promising professional development approaches to advance inclusion and the implementation of associated recommended evidence-based practices with a focus on young children’s meaningful participation and learning in inclusive preschool and early care and education settings. The four presenters will describe the policy, research, and values rationales for early childhood professional development focused on inclusion and inclusive practices. We will discuss what can been accomplished by linking these rationales using case examples from one state, as well as areas where gaps are apparent and further efforts are needed. The case examples will demonstrate the necessary collaboration across early childhood programs (e.g., Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, child care, family child care) to support inclusion and recommended evidence-based practices.
Additional Resources

Innovative Approaches to Defining and Measuring Access to Early Care and Education

  • Kathryn Tout, Child Trends
  • Elizabeth Davis, University of Minnesota
  • Carolina Milesi, NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Herman Knopf, University of Florida
  • Julia Mendez, UNC Greensboro
  • Andrew Williams, Office of Child Care
Early care and education (ECE) access is traditionally assessed by examining trends in available child care slots and the average price of slots. Yet slots only provide part of the story of access from a family’s perspective. This session will examine ECE access at the national, state, and local levels and consider how recent advancements in data capacity and analytic methods shape a more complete understanding of access. A panel of researchers will discuss how they are using the National Survey of Early Care and Education and other state- and local-level data to understand multiple dimensions of access from the perspective of families. Presenters will share findings as well as the innovative data and methods they are using. The discussant will share reflections on how to apply the findings to policy and other decisions at the national, state, and local levels.

Opening the Black Box of Coaching in Early Care and Education Professional Development and Quality Improvement

  • Elizabeth Cavadel, Mathematica
  • Shannon Monahan, Mathematica
  • Mary Louise Hemmeter, National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning
  • Allyson Dean, National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning
  • Ann Rivera, Administration for Children and Families
A quarter of early care and education (ECE) teachers in centers and a third of listed home-based child care providers reported receiving some form of coaching or mentoring in 2012 (National Survey of Early Care and Education, 2012). However, what “coaching” actually is varies greatly across early care and education settings. In 2017, Head Start program directors were most likely to report using practice-based coaching, while over half reported other coaching models (Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, 2017). In addition to the variety of approaches, ECE coaching clearly differs in other ways, including delivery methods and personnel. Moreover, flexibility and individualization are the norm in ECE coaching. What are the different features of coaching, and how are they implemented? Which aspects of coaching make a difference for improving ECE practices? What should we pay attention to when evaluating professional development efforts that involve coaching? How can we measure what matters most? This discussion will feature three projects that have recently sought to understand variation in coaching and studied, implemented, or supported different coaching models across ECE settings: the Study of Coaching Practices in Early Care and Education (SCOPE) study; the We Grow Together field test; and the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning. Presenters will share their insights about features of coaching and how to assess what matters most.

Quality Improvement Methods in Early Childhood Programs: Approaches and Applications to the Field

  • Anne Douglass, University of Massachusetts
  • Kathryn Tout, Child Trends
  • Tamara Halle, Child Trends
  • Julie Morales, James Bell Associates
  • Kristina Rosinsky, Child Trends
Providing high-quality care in early childhood programs is vital to the development of young children. Federal, tribal, state, and local efforts have focused on approaches to improve and maintain high-quality care in early childhood programs. The purpose of this session is to present on two innovative methods being used in early childhood settings, in an effort to improve the quality of services provided to children and families: the Breakthrough Series Collaborative and human-centered design. The session will include a discussion of the similarities and differences between these methods; how they are being implemented in early childhood programs across various settings, including in Tribal Home Visiting and preschool programs; and how these approaches can be implemented at different levels of early childhood systems. The presenters will provide illustrative examples of the methods, results, and lessons learned from implementation.

Ready for Prime Time? Considerations in the Translation, Dissemination, and Adaptation of Evidence-Inspired Practices

  • David B. Daniel, James Madison University
  • Jessica Barnes-Najor, Michigan State University and the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center
  • Kelly Fisher, Society for Research in Child Development
From medicine to agriculture to nutrition, many fields have developed processes and criteria to responsibly move promising principles from research for positive impact in the field. However, developmental science has yet to agree on a suitable translational model for early childhood education. Without such processes, practitioners and families are vulnerable to investing in, and deploying, programs and practices that may not only subvert the desired effect in typical contexts, but may actually do harm. This session will explore approaches to translating, disseminating, and adapting promising principles into early childhood practice. It will feature a discussion that explores critical questions that the field must address to build stronger, more effective bridges between research and practice, including “What is responsible translation?” “When is it appropriate to disseminate research?” “How much careful research, and what type of research, is enough to inspire the confidence needed to recommend practices to stakeholders in diverse contexts?”

Supporting a Qualified Early Childhood Workforce Through Professional Development: Findings from National Studies and Implications for the Home Visiting and Early Care and Education Workforces

  • Shirley Adelstein, Administration for Children and Families
  • Heather Sandstrom, Urban Institute
  • Mallory Warner-Richter, Child Trends
  • Kathryn Kigera, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • Jon Korfmacher, Erikson Institute
This session will explore issues, challenges, and opportunities related to supporting a qualified early childhood workforce through professional development in early care and education and early childhood home visiting. Panelists will present findings on professional development from two workforce survey projects: Home Visiting Career Trajectories (HVCT) and the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). The discussion will also include perspectives on addressing these issues from the lens of state and local policymaking.

Targeting Parents and Teachers to Support Infant and Toddler Development: Initial Findings From the Early Head Start Parent-Teacher Intervention Consortium

  • Ann Stacks, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University
  • Claire Vallotton, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University
  • Bethanie Van Horne, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Lisa L. Knoche, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools; University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Veronica Fernandez, University of Miami
  • Johayra Bouza, University of Miami
  • Kathleen Dwyer, Administration for Children and Families
There is a need for effective interventions that target parent and teacher practices and parent- and teacher-child relationships as supports for infant and toddler development. This symposium will feature four research teams that constitute the Early Head Start (EHS) Parent-Teacher Intervention Consortium. Each research team is working in partnership with one or more EHS center-based programs to implement and examine a promising intervention that targets both parents and center-based teachers. Each research team will describe how their intervention aims to facilitate sensitive and responsive caregiving practices across home and school contexts and will present findings from rigorous evaluations of their integrative interventions. Findings are intended to inform center-based programs in their efforts to promote and improve infant and toddler development by supporting parenting and teaching.
Additional Resources

Using Data to Tell *Our* Stories Together: Collaborations in Early Education and Care Research

  • Jessica Barnes-Najor, Michigan State University and the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center
  • Lana Garcia, Pueblo of Jemez Walatowa Head Start
  • Meryl Barofsky, Administration for Children and Families
  • Brittany Suralta, Cook Inlet Tribal Council
  • Colleen Vesely, George Mason University
  • Marlene G. Marquez, Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services
  • Deborah Perry, Georgetown University
This session will explore examples of community-researcher collaborations where community voices help to shape the research questions, design and measurement approach, and analysis of data. The impact of this type of deep collaboration on the community, the researcher, and on the usefulness of the research will be discussed.