Dale Epstein focuses on the intersection of research and policy and the role that state and national public policies play in the lives of young children and their families. Her research interests include improving the quality of early childhood programs at the state and national levels, evaluating early childhood initiatives, and data system building and analyses. She currently directs the North Carolina Early Childhood Integrated Data System (NC-ECIDS) project, which integrates early childhood education, health and social service data from North Carolina state agencies to better inform policies and practices for young children and their families. Dale also provides support to North Carolina’s early childhood advisory council as well as the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant.
Before coming to Child Trends, Dale was an Investigator at FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at FPG, she co-directed the Supporting Change and Reform in Pre-service Teachers in North Carolina (SCRIPT-NC) project, which partners with early childhood community college programs to enhance and redesign courses to better prepare early childhood educators to serve children with disabilities and children from diverse backgrounds. She also worked on several other national projects, including CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge, which developed web-based evidence-based practice focused modules to support early childhood professional development in key early childhood content areas, and coordinated the revision of the DEC Recommended Practices. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Research Professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, and remains a Research Fellow at NIEER. While at NIEER, she coordinated the State of Preschool Yearbook, an annual report on pre-K policies across the US. She also co-directed state pre-K evaluation studies in Kentucky and Arkansas, and worked on research studies in New Jersey and Illinois. Dale received her Ph.D. in Human Development, with specializations in Early Childhood Education and Development Science, from the University of Maryland.