CSG Members Engage with Federal Officials at the White House

On Thursday, Nov. 20 a group of state legislators and education officials met with staff from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.  An update on the Administration's priorities, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and critical early education initiatives were discussed.

Rohan Patel, special assistant to the President and deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs shared administration priorities including workforce development, trade, immigration and issues surrounding climate change.  Susan Golonka, acting director, Office of Family Assistance at the Administration for Children and Families, told the audience that early learning experiences have a "life-long Impact" on children.  She shared information on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and how TANF and community services are now mandatory partners in the American Job Centers, the one-stop service center for workers.

"Focusing on evidence and best practice along with greater accountability is key to making a change," Golonka said.  The goal of WIOA is to create a system - no matter what system a state choses - that provides workers the services they need to become self-sufficient.  Golonka said "States must bring the systems together so people can feed their families."  She noted a heightened emphasis on foster children, runaways, dropouts and the homeless.

Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary and interdepartmental liaison for early childhood development, Department of Health and Human Services, shared that on Wednesday, Nov. 19, the Child Care Development Block Grant was signed after no revisions for 18 years.  The data she presented showed 64% of a child's development occurs within the first 90 days of their life and, by age 3, 80% of brain development has been completed.  She reminded the audience that "a child is always learning and each setting should be teaching whether it be child care, Head Start or school."  

Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education, brought an update on recent education events.  She said the department is ensuring federal funds are going to evidence-based programs with a smaller amount going to "promising programs."  The West VIrginia and Maine preschool systems were highlighted as exemplary programs and ones in which policymakers should look for replicable opportunities.  Doggett said "large-scale preschool programs that are high-quality show substantial positive impacts on a child's learning and they have improved health, increase adult employment, decreases teen pregnancy and show a decrease in criminal justice issues,"

Attendees meet today with researchers and neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins University to learn how to translate science into state policy. 

 

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