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May 2021 Edition: Promoting Children’s Hearing, Speech and Mental Health



The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter

Promoting Children’s Hearing, Speech and Mental Health

May 2021

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In This Issue:

From the Directors

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

In May, we celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month: Building Connections. Hearing and communication are important parts of a child’s overall development, so early and ongoing screening is critical. Families, early childhood educators and providers, and health professionals can work together, and build connections to provide opportunities for supporting young children’s hearing, speech, and language development.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is May 2–8. The mental health of children is connected to their families and communities. The actions of the adults in their lives — parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators and providers — help children shape how they treat themselves and others.

In this edition of “Early Learning,” you will find information to support the speech, language, hearing, and mental health of children as well as resources that help build equity and connections.

For our blog, we interviewed Nicole Brigham and Shelby Fromm, scholars in an interdisciplinary personnel preparation program through a grant partnership between Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University, funded by the Department of Education.

Thank you for reading Early Learning!

David Cantrell, Ph.D.
Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Jamila Smith
Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


Project Spotlight

The National Center for Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five

The National Center for Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five (PDG B–5 TA Center) supports states in building, enhancing, and expanding birth through five mixed delivery systems and high-quality birth through five programs and services. The PDG B-5 TA Center has released a new brief, “How State Leaders Can Promote Meaningful Family Engagement at the State and Program Level.” This brief provides an overview of research-based practices and policies that state leaders can use to support meaningful family engagement in children’s early learning, which ultimately improves child and family outcomes. State leaders’ actions can influence family engagement efforts at both the state and program levels.

Early Learning Updates

Fast Facts

ED’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is excited to release new Fast Facts that take a closer look at newly released 2018–19 state level data files on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Section 618 Data Products website. The release of the 2018–19/2019 IDEA Section 618 Data Fast Fact provides information related to IDEA Part B Child Count and Educational Environments, IDEA Part C Child Count and Settings, Discipline and IDEA Part B and Part C Exiting data collections. Visit the OSEP Fast Facts page for existing and future Fast Facts.


Voices From the Field

Voices From the Field: Better Hearing and Speech Month!

We recently interviewed Nicole Brigham, an audiology scholar, and Shelby Fromm, a speech-language pathology scholar. The scholars are enrolled in an interdisciplinary personnel preparation program through a grant partnership between Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University, funded by the Department of Education. Both scholars share how they are building connections between disciplines to support children and families. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS blog.

This Month’s Recommended Resources

The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)-funded National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) at Utah State University serves as the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention National Technical Resource Center (EHDI NTRC). The EHDI NTRC helps programs ensure that children who are deaf or hard of hearing are identified through newborn, infant, and early childhood hearing screening and receive the diagnostic and early intervention services they need.

Hearing Screening Fact Sheet

The Office of Head Start’s National Center on Health, Behavioral Health and Safety (formerly the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness) has a hearing screening fact sheet that can be used to prepare parents to know what to expect from a screening and how to prepare their child. Additional resources for supporting families and staff are included in the document.

Racial Equity Toolkit

The HHS-funded Center of Excellence for Infant & Early Childhood Infant Mental Health Consultation has developed a Racial Equity Toolkit. Resources include videos and other tools that can help systems leaders and practitioners build capacity in understanding race and systemic racism, bias, and culturally responsive practice and meaningfully embed equity in their programs and practice. Resources are added on an ongoing basis.

Early Childhood Social Media Campaign

A new early childhood social media campaign kicks off this month. The campaign is a collaboration between OSEP-funded early childhood technical assistance centers and the Parent Technical Assistance Centers and is designed to highlight useful resources for families of young children. Look for information on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at #ECFamResources.

Equity in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education

The ED-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center and the Division for Early Childhood will host a series of webinars, featuring various experts in the field of early childhood special education and early intervention, on disrupting the pervasive inequities of our systems. Topics will include troubling notions of "at risk," challenging biases about families in home-based services, suspension and expulsion in early childhood settings, counteracting racism and ableism in early childhood systems, and engaging in systems change in pursuit of equity.

Featured Webinars

Critical Considerations for the Return to School for Young Children

The ED-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations is hosting a free webinar on May 13 on what practices should be implemented to support children as they return to the classroom. The presenters will identify social-emotional teaching practices for the preschool classroom, the use of Pyramid Model practices to support children entering kindergarten, and partnerships with families. Register now at the webinar link.



Equity in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Webinar

The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation has a free webinar series to promote equity for children and families from marginalized communities. The webinar on May 26, “Culture, Identity, and History as Sources of Strength and Resilience for Asian American & Pacific Islander Children & Families,” will discuss racial bias and inequities in the early care and education experiences of Asian American & Pacific Islander children and families, and explore ways to support and strengthen culturally responsive relationships and responses in infant and early childhood mental health consultation. Register at the link above.

Funding Opportunities

ED published a Notice Inviting Applications for the FY 2021 Personnel Development To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities — Interdisciplinary Preparation in Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services for Personnel Serving Children With Disabilities Who Have High-Intensity Needs grant competition. The purpose of the grant is to increase the number and improve the quality of personnel who are fully credentialed to serve children, including infants and toddlers, and youth with disabilities who have high-intensity needs.

The application deadline is June 22, 2021

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau is accepting applications for current Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program recipients to apply for funding under the Pediatric Audiology Competitive Supplement to the LEND program. This supplement will support the clinical and leadership training of pediatric audiology trainees within LEND programs as well as continuing education for practicing professionals.

The application deadline is July 1, 2021.

Connect With Us Online!

Check out the Early Learning newsletter archive.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter — @Ed_Sped_Rehab — and tell your friends.



Check out more early learning stories, including "Voices From the Field" posts, on OSERS Blog.

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