Last month Joan Lombardi, a nationally-recognized early childhood researcher, retired from the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), the section of the federal Department of Health and Human Services that deals with Head Start and child care programs. Lombardi had served as deputy assistant secretary and inter-departmental liaison for early childhood development since 2009.
On Wednesday, Linda Smith was announced as Lombardi's replacement. This is a significant appointment because Smith most recently served as executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), a leading national voice for child care. Prior to that, she served on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s staff, concentrating on early childhood policy, TANF and child maltreatment policy. Smith has long been respected on child care and early learning issues.
We believe the time is right for a new national focus on dual-generational, quality child care that supports working parents and childhood learning while promoting social mobility. This focus should include identifying and promoting state and local innovation, reauthorizing the Child Care Development Block grant, attracting and training effective child care providers and strengthening outcomes in a resource constrained environment.
Achieving these outcomes will take skill, knowledge and effort. Fortunately, Smith is well prepared to address the needs of both parents and children. Her background in the child care system will allow ACF to make progress on dual generational policy. We hope this appointment continues Lombardi’s emphasis on learning and provides a refreshed emphasis on quality in the child care system.