Early Childhood Education Update-March 2014
March 11, 2014 | Child Care and Early Education
In This Issue:
- CLASP/CBPP Report: Home Visiting Funds at Risk
- CLASP Analysis Shows New Lows for State Child Care Subsidy Spending and Participation
- Ten Ways State Child Care Administrators Can Promote the Affordable Care Act
- Key Findings from the First Year of Project LAUNCH
- Early Childhood Data Collaborative Report on State Data Systems
- CDF Report Shows Alarming Numbers of Children at Risk
- Dual Benefits of Early Childhood Programs and Partnerships For Children and Families
- How to Best Support the Development and Learning of Multilingual Children
Home visiting has a strong evidence base, backed by rigorous research that supports models’ effectiveness at promoting children’s health and development and strong parenting skills while leading to fewer children in the social welfare, mental health, and juvenile corrections systems, with considerable cost savings for states. Without Congressional action, the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program will expire on September 30, 2014. This would come at a very high cost with fewer families in at-risk communities receiving home visiting, a halt in efforts to build statewide infrastructure and promote better coordination across programs; and a lost opportunity to further build the national evidence base for effective home visiting programs.
Research shows home visiting can be an effective method of delivering family support and child development services. The programs’ outcomes vary depending upon the model used, but similar, positive outcomes have been found across many home visiting models. Home visiting programs can also improve child health and development, increase children’s school readiness, enhance parents’ abilities to support their children’s development, and have the potential to improve family economic self-sufficiency.
A new brief from CLASP provides analysis of national trends for state spending on and participation in child care, including funds from two federal programs—the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant—in 2012, based on the most recent state data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The key findings from the report include:
- Child care assistance spending fell to a 10-year low.
- Total spending on child care assistance—including combined child care and TANF funds—was $11.4 billion, the lowest level since 2002.
- Spending within CCDBG fell to the lowest level since 2002.
- Federal TANF funds used for child care fell to the lowest level since 1998.
- The number of children receiving CCDBG-funded child care fell to a 14-year low.
- A monthly average of 1.5 million children received CCDBG-funded child care, the smallest number of children served since 1998.
- About 263,000 fewer children received CCDBG-funded child care in 2012 than in 2006.
Early childhood programs can play a vital role in connecting children, parents and providers to health insurance coverage. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has gone into effect, many more adults, in particular parents, may qualify for affordable health coverage through Medicaid or public subsidies.
In an effort to assist state child care administrators in outreach related to the ACA, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its latest “Top Ten Ways” fact sheet to aid child care administrators in promoting health insurance opportunities. The fact sheet provides tangible ways administrators can help to spread the word about health coverage and help families and individuals apply for coverage. Strategies include:
- Keeping state and local child care programs informed about health insurance opportunities
- Taking advantage of outreach materials available on InsureKidsNow.gov and other public information.
- Offering information on health insurance enrollment in local offices.
- Reaching early childhood educators with information about health insurance by working with licensing agencies, family child care networks, trainers and others in contact with providers.
- Partnering with child care resource & referral (CCR&R) agencies, community organizations, and the state’s home visiting programs to help families apply for coverage.
- Working with the federal Office of Child Care and regional staff to share promising practices.
Project LAUNCH is a federal grant program effort of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that supports community-level partnerships to improve access to screening and assessment, referral to services, prevention and wellness promotion practices, and other strategies to support children’s social and emotional well-being and mental health from birth to 8 years of age. A report of the first year of implementation assesses Project LAUNCH grantees’ work in five key areas: developmental assessment, integration of behavioral health into primary care settings, home visiting, mental health consultation, and family strengthening and parent skills training.
Highlights from the report reveal that Project LAUNCH grantees were able to increase access to mental health screening for families, complete developmental screenings or assessments with 6,799 children, support social-emotional curricula and mental health consultation in child care and early education programs, and initiate a number of system building initiatives in areas such as Medicaid reimbursement policies, professional development among early childhood professionals, and improvements to early childhood data systems.
During the first year, the project was challenged by the recession which negatively impacted the overall health of the Project LAUNCH grantee communities, increased risk factors faced by young children and their families, and threatened many of the established services for at-risk children and families. Budget constraints and competing priorities also delayed LAUNCH start-up activities in some states. This resulted in the majority of Project LAUNCH grantees having made progress towards their goals to deliver evidence-based services that meet the needs of families in their communities. Activities to change the local early childhood service system were started yet received less emphasis in the first year. Grantees anticipate that many of the systems building activities that Project LAUNCH supports may take the full five-year grant program to achieve.
The Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) released its 2013 State of State’s Early Childhood Data Systems report, which focused on three key aspects of state data systems: capacity to securely link child-level ECE data, collect state-level child screening and assessment data, and manage the security and use of coordinated early childhood data. The report provides a 50-state (plus the District of Columbia) look at how equipped states are to use data to improve decision-making and track outcomes in early childhood education. According to the survey:
- Pennsylvania is the only state that has the ability to securely link child-level data across all ECE programs and to the state’s K-12 data system.
- States have the ability to securely link child-level data to K-12, health, and social services data systems, however only 30 states reported securely linking ECE child-level data to states’ K-12 data, 20 states link ECE child-level data to social services data, and 12 states link ECE child-level data to states’ health data.
- States are more likely to be able to link data for children participating in state pre-kindergarten and preschool special education than children in Head Start or receiving child care assistance.
- Thirty-six states collect state-level child development data from ECE programs and 29 states capture kindergarten entry assessment data to examine children’s developmental status and service needs.
- Thirty-two states have designated an ECE data governance structure to support the development and use of a state coordinated longitudinal ECE data system.
ECDC plans to continue working with states to further the coordination and integrations of their ECE data systems.
The Children’s Defense Fund released the State of America’s Children 2014, a comprehensive analysis of national and state data on population, poverty, family structure, family income, health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence. The report provides key child data by state showing alarming numbers of children at risk.
With the U.S. reaching a tipping point in racial and ethnic diversity, an overview of the report reveals highs and lows for America’s children. The good news is that when families have access to it, the government safety net lifts millions of children out of poverty; ninety-five percent of all children now health insurance coverage. However, children are also lacking many critical supports such as Head Start that provides comprehensive early childhood education. Child poverty has reached record levels (1 in 5 children reported as poor in 2012), with children of color, children in single-parent families, and families in the South being disproportionately poor and at the greatest risk of poverty. Income and wealth inequalities are high, leaving working families to struggle and resulting in high rates of child homelessness and hunger. Many young children could benefit from programs such as Early Head Start and Head Start and need access to a full range of supports and services.
The report ‘Gateways to Two Generations’ from Ascend at the Aspen Institute explores two-generation programs, focusing on creating opportunities for and meeting the needs of vulnerable children and their parents together, in the context of early childhood development.
In the report, Ascend highlights how leading early childhood programs—including home visiting, early intervention, child care, Head Start/Early Head Start, and pre-kindergarten through third grade—are supporting families’ educational success and economic security by providing more than just care and education for children, but by also partnering with parents and serving as a trusted resource that provides an opening for them to explore their own hopes for the future and increase their parenting skills to success in employment or continued education. These partnerships are well positioned to be gateways to two-generation approaches that support children and their parents together.
The models and approaches outlined in the report stem from Ascend's ongoing series of discussions and convenings around early childhood and two-generation approaches. Moving forward, Ascend will continue to convene diverse leaders to explore the potential of two-generation approaches and create practical, feasible options that will increase the impact of such partnerships.
A report from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) examines how to best support the development and learning of multilingual children with recommendations for policy and practice. The report addresses the myth of multilingualism being harmful to children, and offers guidance for parents, teachers, researchers, and policymakers on ways to promote positive language development in children from multilingual families. To best influence language and literacy development of multilingual children, the report recommends the following:
- Development of collaborations across disciplines of early childhood professionals, researchers and practitioners.
- Development and delivery of clear messages around support for learning in and out of school and that are mindful of cultural factors.
- Federal support for research that further advances an understanding of basic developmental processes in multilingual children, identifies and evaluates best practices regarding support of language and literacy development, and optimizes delivery of messages regarding these best practices.
- Development of strategies to address practical issues related to the adoption of recommendations by child care professionals.