Supporting the

Rights & Needs of Young Children

Defending the early years

DEY’s Primary Goals

  • To advocate at the grassroots, local, state, regional, and federal levels for education policies based on child development theory and research.
  • To mobilize the early childhood community to speak up for age-appropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices that are based on research.
  • To promote appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms and to support educators in counteracting policies and practices that undermine whole child health and optimal learning.

DEY’s Mission

Our mission is to work for just, equitable, and quality early childhood education and care for every young child. We inform educators, administrators, and parents about how children develop and learn best. We advocate for active, playful, experiential
approaches to learning informed by child development theory and evidence-based research.

What’s New at DEY?

Centering Collective Value In The Early Years Webinar

Rethinking Schools, Defending the Early Years, and Black Lives Matter at School partnered for this conversation on Centering Collective Value in the Early Years. This webinar event celebrates the 2024 Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.

This year’s Week of Action theme is “Centering and Celebrating Collective Value.” The Black Lives Matter at School guiding principle of Collective Values states, “We are guided by the fact that all Black lives, regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, economic status, ability, disability, education, location, age, immigration status, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, matter. None of us are free until we are all free.”

Defending the Early Years Executive Director Denisha Jones and Rethinking Schools Executive Director Cierra Kaler-Jones will be in conversation with Makai Kellogg, an early childhood educator and Equity and Diversity Coordinator at School for Friends in Washington, DC; Akiea “Ki” Gross, an early childhood educator, creator, former classroom teacher, instructional coach, and cultural organizer; and Laleña Garcia a Brooklyn kindergarten teacher and member of the NYC Black Lives Matter at School steering committee.

YouTube video

This webinar event celebrates Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. This year’s Week of Action theme is “Centering and Celebrating Collective Value.” The Black Lives Matter at School guiding principle of Collective Values states, “We are guided by the fact that all Black lives, regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, economic status, ability, disability, education, location, age, immigration status, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, matter. None of us are free until we are all free.

(Denisha’s opening remarks)

DEY Launches Regional Childhood Defenders Working Groups

DEY is excited to announce the launch of our Regional Childhood Defenders Working Groups, aimed at bringing together early childhood educators, advocates, and parents to promote our advocacy campaign. These groups will serve as a platform for local coalitions to work together towards building awareness, educating elected officials, and supporting guidelines and implementation requirements that restore the link between high quality and child development. As a national nonprofit organization, DEY is committed to supporting local advocates in their efforts to create change at the state and local levels. We invite you to apply to join a group or serve as a co-facilitator and help us make a difference in the lives of young children.

DEY continues to resist the attempts to censor children’s literature that explores race, gender, sexual orientation, and the truth about our country’s history. In an effort to support early childhood educators, parents, and advocates, we are launching the DEY Banned Book Club. Each month, we will feature a banned early childhood book that we encourage you to read to the children in your life. Reading to children about complex topics is the best way we can build a foundation for their ability to make sense now and work to address them when they are older.

Our second banned book club feature is from Hollywood actor and son of DEY founder and board president Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Matt Damon. Matt chose the banned book Radiant Child and provided his insights on the book and why all children should read this important story. Radiant Child is a critically acclaimed biography of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and its censorship has sparked debates about the freedom of expression and the importance of diverse voices in literature.

Are you interested in sharing a banned book? Send an email to denishajones@dey.org to sign up for the DEY Banned Book Club!

YouTube video

In Defense of Early Childhood Education and Care

Restoring the Link Between High Quality and Child Development

Last year, we launched our first advocacy campaign: In Defense of Early Childhood Education and Care: Resorting the Link Between High Quality and Child Development. This campaign aims to reaffirm our commitment as early childhood educators to the principles of child development and resist mandates and policies not based on child development.

Since the launch, we have gained over 100 endorsers, hosted a town hall, and added references to our What We Know About Child Development list. Next week at the NAEYC conference in Nashville, TN, we will continue promoting the campaign by sharing ideas on linking our practices as educators and advocates to what we know about child development.

Our second year of the campaign will include short videos and fact sheets that you can use to advocate for practices that are rooted in child development. Our focus will shift to explore what we mean by high quality. We know quality is a significant issue in early childhood education and care. However, it is often conflated with bureaucratic rules and requirements, making identifying actual high-quality practices in ECEC challenging. We will conduct research and host town halls to develop a high-quality framework based on the knowledge and experiences of educators and providers rooted in what we know about fostering optimal child development. We hope that this work will support you in creating a just and equitable early childhood environment.

We invite you to check out the references for our statement and send us any that you think should be included. If you cannot join us in Nashville, please look for a reflection in the November newsletter. And please share our statement with your networks. Our goal for year 2 is to have 500 endorsers!

Click here to read and endorse our sign on statement.

podcasts. PUBLICATIONS. resources.
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Slowing Down with Kisha Reid

In this episode, Kisha Reid talks with Denisha Jones about her new nature-based discovery child care program, her visions for inspiring more teachers to choose the power of play, and her plans to slow down.

View of adults seated under a tent attending Hope School's Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents, Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the Child.

‘The Importance of Play on Child’s Holistic Growth’ Homa Bay County, Kenya  

Hope School organized a Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents, Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the Child.

Why Babies Shouldn’t Be Looking at Screens

Why Babies Shouldn’t Be Looking at Screens

This Op-Ed was originally published by the Provincetown Independent. TAKING BACK CHILDHOOD Why Babies Shouldn’t Be Looking at Screens New…

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Stand With DEY
Become an Activist

DEY seeks to rally parents and educators to take action on policies affecting the education of young children, by encouraging them to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.

Apply for Action Grant

DEY provides mini-grants of between $200 and $500 to individuals and organizations to help foster work in communities across the country. DEY’s first mini-grant, awarded in 2014, resulted in a rally for play that took place in Minneapolis.

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DEY

Are you concerned about the direction that education policy is going? We are, too!
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A Brief Look at DEY’s impact.
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DEY has an active presence on Facebook, with over 10,000 followers, and on Twitter, with over 2,000 followers.
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Viewer traction of DEY produced videos also available on DEY’s YouTube channel.
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Distinguished nationally and internationally-known early childhood experts and organizations.
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DEY’s mini-grant impact on ensuring child-initiated play prospers
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DEY issued comprehensive reports, position statements, and fact sheets in English and Spanish.
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DEY’s reports, position papers, and op-eds have been quoted and published in the major national media and press.
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