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Race to the Top Cash Sharpens Focus on Early Childhood in Nine States

From guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome back to the Early Years blog. This space has been on hiatus for several weeks as we transition to a new blogger. In the meantime, I'll be posting here occasionally as I write stories on early childhood issues, along with my coverage of English-language learners.

To kick off 2012, I have a story that takes a closer look at the nine states that won the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and the difficulties and opportunities they face as they move into adopting the numerous policies they've promised in return for receiving millions of dollars.

Here are some highlights from a few states' plans that I couldn't squeeze into my story:

Delaware: In addition to training early-childhood providers about its new ratings system for early-childhood programs, this state will also train health care personnel who treat children. This makes a lot of sense because health care practitioners are often in a position to advise families on child-care options for children.

North Carolina: A leader in the field of early-childhood services, the state will establish what one advocate calls an "innovation for the country" by creating a new masters' degree program in early childhood leadership.

Massachusetts will do something similar by setting up a postgraduate leadership credential for early-childhood administrators.

Ohio: To ensure that the initiatives established by the federal grant money will last beyond four years, Ohio will have a committee—with lots of business-minded folks as members—to find new public and private funding sources to keep the efforts going.

All of these states will be worth watching closely as they begin putting their proposed policies into practice in the new year. I hope all of you in the early-childhood field will comment here and help me keep an eye on what unfolds.

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