WIDA Early Years partnership with Minnesota renewed

October 6, 2021

WIDA and the Minnesota Department of Education’s Division of Early Learning Services are happy to announce a renewed partnership with WIDA Early Years to provide access to professional learning opportunities and resources for early care and education professionals working with young multilingual learners and their families.

WIDA Early Years partners with state agencies to provide comprehensive services and access to resources for state leaders, higher education faculty and early care and education (ECE) professionals who serve multilingual children and families. “We are thrilled to resume our partnership with Minnesota this year and look forward to promoting equitable ECE opportunities for young multilingual children in the state of Minnesota,” said Lorena Mancilla, director of WIDA Early Years.

According to a report compiled by WIDA for the Minnesota Department of Education titled Young Multilingual Children in Minnesota, 21 percent of children 0 to 8 years of age speak another language besides English. Minnesota has taken several steps towards supporting these young learners.

In the fall of 2021, Minnesota launched a revised version of the Knowledge and Competency Framework for Early Childhood Professionals: Working with Preschool –Aged Children in Center and School Programs, which included competencies for supporting multilingual learners and their families, created in partnership with WIDA Early Years. As a next step, Minnesota is recruiting trainers to develop a cohort of WIDA Early Learning Resource Specialists who will support early learning programs as they develop professional development opportunities for early educators. Additionally, Minnesota is contracting with an individual to act as a “WIDA Ambassador” to help support the individual trainers, as well as to facilitate connecting and supporting early learning programs and trainers to best meet each program’s individual training needs.

Minnesota’s Ten Commitments to Equity state, “Creating equitable opportunities is dependent upon having inclusive policies and practices that represent all students, and providing each student increased access to and creating meaningful participation in high-quality learning experiences where each student realizes positive outcomes.” This partnership supports this commitment and the commitments to prioritize equity, go local, start early, and improve conditions for learning.

Minnesota believes that the combination of high-quality professional development designed by WIDA Early Years, along with support from the WIDA Early Learning Resource Specialists and the WIDA Ambassador, will help early educators gain the competencies needed to provide services that are developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically responsive, supportive of family engagement, and emphasize the important role that language plays in the lives of young children and their families.

Current members of the WIDA Early Years state network include Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin — with Virginia also joining this month. To learn more about WIDA Early Years tools and resources, please visit the WIDA Early Years webpage.

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