Inspired to understand policies by having many different careers in early childhood education as a teacher and a leader, Dr. Weisenfeld is associated with Rutgers as an Assistant Research Professor for National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). In her early career she worked as a preschool classroom teacher and an Early Head Start/Head Start Director that helped her understand the conditions necessary to implement a high quality early learning program. Her work in state government as the lead in early learning provided her the insights in being able to conduct national scans on publicly funded pre-K programs at the state and city levels. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the factors that support high quality early learning programs which lead to positive child outcomes. Dr. Weisenfeld does this by applying her knowledge of working within and across state systems that support children attending high quality programs.
She contributes to the production of the annual State of Preschool Yearbook through reviewing literature; conducting interviews with state administrators; preparing, disseminating, recording and analyzing survey information; and submitting verbal and written reports. Dr. Weisenfeld’s reports are used for public distribution including CityHealth.org for research related to pre-kindergarten efforts operated at the city and state level. In her current capacity she liaisons with the CEELO by developing communication materials and user supports for the Cost of Preschool Quality& Revenue (CPQ&R) estimator. In addition, she designs and co-leads Peer Exchanges for state and city leaders, researches and writes individual state technical assistance reports and policy memos, and provides individual and responsive technical assistance for states and cities.
In Dr. Weisenfeld’s early career she taught self-developed courses on leadership and institutional analysis of early childhood programs and policies affecting young children and their families. Furthermore, she advised doctoral students on dissertation work, which included enhancing their researching skills and supervising their qualitative and quantitative data collection procedures and analyses. Through her research, she knows that access to pre-k is limited, and even fewer children have access to high-quality preschool. Challenges she has identified including blending and braiding public and other funding streams; supporting an early childhood workforce; distribution of funds and oversite in a mixed-delivery and complex early learning system; and the implementation of high-quality standards that can support children’s growth and development.