White House Supporting Dual Language Learners in Early Learning Settings

Today the White House is announcing a new Federal policy statement from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education on better supporting our country’s youngest Dual Language Learners (DLLs) in early childhood programs. The Obama Administration will be joined by public and private sector organizations that will also announce new commitments to support DLLs. Additionally, the White House, in collaboration with Too Small to Fail and Invest in US, is holding a regional convening today at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education in Miami, FL, to highlight the importance of supporting our country’s DLLs in early childhood programs.

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Data indicate that about one in five school-aged children speak a language other than English at home, a figure that has more than doubled in the past few decades. Estimates suggest that this number may be even higher for learners under the age of six; for example, nearly a third of children in Head Start programs are DLLs. Research with young DLLs clearly reflects that children’s bilingual skill development promotes overall language development and should be encouraged.

The Federal policy statement being released today recognizes the cultural and linguistic assets of this population of children and provides important resources and recommendations to the early childhood field to ensure that our nation’s early education programs are not only accessible to these families, but appropriately foster the learning and development of this large, growing group of children. Today’s announcements also mark progress on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which aims to ensure that all young people, including children of color, can reach their full potential.

Collectively, today’s Federal actions include:

A new Federal policy statement on more effectively supporting Dual Language Learners in early childhood programs – The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) will release a Federal policy statement on supporting DLLs in early childhood settings. The statement includes comprehensive policy recommendations to States and to early childhood programs. It also recommends that States and local communities work together to ensure that all early childhood programs are welcoming and linguistically accessible to families of DLLs, foster children’s emerging bilingualism and learning more broadly, and support the early childhood workforce in building their capacity to stimulate the learning of DLLs.
A new DLL electronic toolkit for programs, early educators, child care providers, and families – The new DLL toolkit, released by HHS’ Office of Head Start, includes free resources on supporting the learning and development, including dual language development, of DLLs at home, in early learning settings, and in the community. The DLL toolkit will be available at no cost to all early childhood programs, including all Head Start programs which serve more than 300,000 DLLs every day. The toolkit will also be disseminated to home visitors in all 50 states supported by the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and the families they serve.

If your school could benefit from an DLL program, Lectura Books offers award-winning bilingual books that can be used as a great teaching tool for Dual Language Leaners. If you’re interested in viewing a preview of some of the books Lectura Books offers, visit their YouTube page.