Staff Spotlight: Karin Garver

Karin Garver recently joined the GSE staff team at the National Institute for Early Education Research. Garver is the Early Childhood Education Policy Specialist and works closely with early childhood agencies in New Jersey, as well as across the nation, in an effort to inform policy creation and implementation. Before her current position with NIEER, Garver worked for over a decade with the New Jersey Department of Education in the Division of Early Childhood Education. At the DOE, Garver worked with and was exposed to NIEER’s work for years before she eventually joined the team last winter. In addition to the work she does with NIEER, Garver is also applying to Ph.D. programs and is excited to use the work she contributes to at NIEER to help advance her own education as well.

Garver’s passion for equal access to a high-quality education radiates from the work that she does. In her current position as an Early Childhood Education Policy Specialist for NIEER, she works with both NIEER, as well as the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) which is a center housed within NIEER. The work she does with CEELO surrounds providing a cost model for state-funded preschools which provides information to help states and policy makers understand the costs of running a high-quality preschool program. When speaking about the importance of providing high-quality preschool programs, Garver said “It’s not enough to just put kids in seats. We want to put kids in high-quality seats.”

For NIEER, she works on one of the institute’s signature projects, the State of Preschool Yearbook, which is a survey and subsequent publication that goes out to all states that provide state-funded preschool programs to assess their policies, enrollment, funding, among many other things. The survey aims to see if preschool programs hit NIEER’s 10 quality benchmarks that were established as the foundations of quality for state-funded programs. “Early childhood education is so important and we really just want every child to have a chance at attending a high-quality preschool” said Garver.

Garver loves the work that she does and is determined to help provide states and policy makers the information they need to make informed decisions about providing state-funded preschool programs. She said that one of the things she loves the most about her position is being able to learn more about the national climate surrounding early childhood education programs and policies because she gets to see the great programs other places across the nation are employing to move forward with high-quality early education. Garver said, “Thinking about an individual child in an individual family, and how circumstances beyond their control can dictate a lot of what happens in their lives, it just doesn’t seem fair. Quality programs and services can benefit families all over the nation and helping create better policies to achieve those quality programs is what inspires me to do what I do.”

Besides the work that she does with NIEER and CEELO, Garver is an avid runner and baker. “I often joke with my friends and family that I run so that I can bake!” Garver said. She also loves spending time with her family and friends. In the future, Garver hopes to see more and more states approaching and achieving the quality benchmarks that NIEER has developed bringing the nation closer to higher quality education programs. On an individual level, Garver looks forward to getting to know her work even better to increase her efficiency and effectiveness on the job. Garver’s fight for high-quality preschool programs helps the GSE fulfill its mission of Advancing Excellence and Equity in Education each day.