Early Childhood Education Update - April 2013

April 08, 2013 | Child Care and Early Education

In this issue:

CLASP RELEASES NEWEST HEAD START STATE PROFILES

CLASP has recently released our annual Head Start State Profiles. These state profiles analyze the most recent Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data from 2011. All Head Start grantees are required to submit PIR data to the federal government on an annual basis. Each profile includes data on all Head Start programs in the state, including Early Head Start, Head Start preschool, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start. The profiles also include information on Head Start participants, families, staff, and programs. CLASP has produced these fact sheets each year since 2005.

The national Head Start PIR Profile for 2011 shows that:

  • Head Start served over 1.1 million children nationally.
  • Twenty-six percent of children in Head Start spoke primarily Spanish in their homes.
  • Forty-one percent of children served in Head Start were white, 37 percent were Hispanic, 38 percent were black, and 8 percent were bi- or multi-racial (note: overlap among these categories).
  • Ninety-seven percent of children had access to a medical home and were up-to-date on their immunizations at the end of the Head Start program year. Ninety percent had access to dental home, and 96 percent had access to health insurance at the end of the program year.
  • Seventy-nine percent of families accessed at least one family service through Head Start. 

Visit CLASP's In the States to read the profile for your state, or view the national Head Start PIR Profile for 2011

ABBOTT PRESCHOOL PROGRAM STUDY FINDS CONTINUED BENEFITS IN FIFTH GRADE FOLLOW-UP 

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up. The study shows that children who participated in the Abbott preschool programs in New Jersey increased their achievement in language arts and literacy, math, and science on fourth and fifth grade New Jersey standardized tests. Additionally, participation in the Abbott preschool program decreased the likelihood of grade retention and special education placement. Children who participated in Abbott for two years saw larger gains across subject areas, but similar rates of grade retention and special education placement as children who only participated in Abbott for one year. 

First offered in 1999 in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court school-funding case, Abbott vs. Burke, Abbott preschool programs are offered to both 3- and 4-year-olds and are designed to help children be school ready. The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES) is following the cohort of 4-year-old children who completed preschool in 2004-2005. The APPLES studies have found continued positive gains from preschool attendance.  

Based on the results of this study, NIEER recommends that New Jersey work to ensure that over 90 percent of children in the Abbott preschool program participate in two-years of the program. NIEER also recommends that high-quality preschool be expanded, so that all low-income children, not just those in Abbott districts, are offered comparable programs. Lastly, NIEER recommends that New Jersey develop a plan to extend high-quality preschool to all children in New Jersey. 

Read the full APPLES fifth grade follow-up study >> 

PARTICIPATION AND CONTINUITY IN MINNESOTA'S CHILD CARE SUBSIDY PROGRAMS 

Two new briefs from Child Trends examine the child care subsidy program in Minnesota. These briefs are part of a series from the Minnesota Child Care Choices study. The two most recent briefs, Changes in Child Care Arrangements in Minnesota and Continuity of Care and Participation in the Child Care Assistance Program, look at patterns of participation, continuity, and choice for children and families receiving child care subsidies. 

  • Changes in Child Care Arrangements in Minnesota - This brief examines changes in child care arrangements as reported by low-income parents. Parent-reported data comes from four different waves of the study's longitudinal survey that tracked families for 1.5 years. Changes are examined by analyzing the child's care arrangements and looking at provider changes during each of the four waves of the survey. Children were divided into age groups of infants, toddlers, preschool age, and school age. Parents were asked about changes in primary provider and changes in type of care (center, family child care or family, friend and neighbor care, and parental care). In this sample of Minnesota families, over half of all children (52.2 percent) experienced a change in primary provider in the first six-month wave of the survey, and 37.8 percent of children changed their type of care arrangement. For children whose parents were followed for all four survey waves, 30 percent of the children remained in the same type of care over 18 months, 37 percent changed type of care once, and the remaining percentage of children changed type of care two or three times. The brief also found that it was common for children in parental care to transition to FFN or center care, and once children were in center-based care were more likely to stay there. The Minnesota Child Care Choices study will continue to look at the child, parent, and provider characteristics associated with the probability of changing providers or switching to different types of care arrangements.
  • Continuity of Care and Participation in the Child Care Assistance Program - This brief uses administrative data to examine the length of time children participate in Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and the continuity of their care arrangements during this time. The data used cover the period from January 2009 to June 2010, and examine children's "spells" of CCAP participation. Spells are a series of months within this time period when the child received subsidized child care, and children can have multiple spells. In this study, a child's spell ended when there was a full month in which they did not receive any subsidized child care through CCAP, and they only analyzed the first spell a child had. The brief's findings show that the typical child received CCAP for eight months without a break, and that the child's care arrangements were relatively persistent while in CCAP. The brief also finds that 25 percent of spells ended by the fourth month and 25 percent exceeded 16 months. These findings are similar to other states' studies of child care subsidy spell length. Further research is needed to analyze child, families, and provider characteristics in association with participation in CCAP. Questions remain about why children and families leave CCAP and why families choose to participate; analysis of these questions could provide information to help develop better policies that support families' child care choices. 

Read Child Trends' full briefs: Changes in Child Care Arrangements in Minnesota and Continuity of Care and Participation in the Child Care Assistance Program 

ACT POLICY REPORT ADVOCATES FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY LEARNING 

ACT, the organization responsible for the ACT college entrance assessment, recently released a report through their research and policy center that highlights the importance of early learning and investments in early education programs. College and Career Readiness: The Importance of Early Learning looks at how school districts can develop systems that support and encourage high-quality early education programs. The report outlines why early learning investments are important, the components of strong early learning programs, barriers to strengthening these programs, and the importance of building systems that support early learning. 

The report advises that strong early learning programs consist of providing young children: strong starts in reading, particularly when it comes to decoding words, and mathematics; content-rich curriculum that incorporates science, history, geography, and the arts alongside English language arts and mathematics; and, activities that develop children's "executive functions," allowing them to strengthen their ability to regulate their own attention and activities.  In addition to supporting these components of strong early learning programs, ACT stresses developing systems that support early learning. To develop a support system, ACT recommends: 

  • Developing clear and specific curriculum and academic goals
  • Selecting staff and leadership, and building schools' capacity, that will support early learning
  • Piloting and evaluating instructional materials to ensure that they support the curriculum and goals of the school district
  • Monitoring the performance and progress of students to ensure students who need extra help receive it
  • Fostering connections between school leaders and teachers so they can work together to identify students who need extra support and provide them with it. This practice should be applied to teachers who need extra support as well.  

Read the full policy report >>

PARENTAL UNEMPLOYMENT TAKES ITS TOLL ON CHILDREN

A recent report from Urban Institute and First Focus analyzes how a parent's job loss affects children. Often the loss of wages and stress that families experience with unemployment can have negative impacts on children. As the U.S. continues recovering from the Great Recession, millions of families are still struggling with unemployment. In an average month in 2012, 6.2 million children lived with unemployed parents, and more than one in six children were affected by an unemployed or underemployed parent. To better understand how the rise in unemployment is affecting children, the report, Unemployment from a Child's Perspective, looks at five questions: 

  • How many children are affected by parental unemployment?
  • How does parental job loss affect children?
  • Who are the children of the unemployed?
  • Where do the children of the unemployed live?
  • To what extent are families with children covered by unemployment insurance?

The report finds that black children are twice as likely to live with an unemployed parent as white children, and that children of college-educated parents are less likely to have unemployed parents than other children. Children in single-parent families are also more likely to live with an unemployed parent than children in two-parent families. The number of children with unemployed parents also varies greatly across states. Nationally, 9 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent. In California, 11 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent, and 13 percent of children in the District of Columbia live with at least one unemployed parent. However, less than 4 percent of children in North Dakota and Vermont live with an unemployed parent. 

Unemployment from a Child's Perspective also finds that only 36 percent of children with a parent that was unemployed at some point in 2011 and received unemployment insurance (UI) during the year. Twenty-nine percent of children with an unemployed parent received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits but not UI. Thirty-five percent live in families who relied on private sources of support. 

In order to help better support the children and families experiencing unemployment, the report recommends that states modernize their "unemployment insurance programs and expand access to groups that have lower coverage rates, including low-wage workers, working mothers, part-time workers, and the long-term unemployed." Additionally, it recommends improving public outreach and looking into improvements in the application process.  A stronger economic recovery partnered with training programs or transitional employment to help long-term unemployed parents gain additional skills is what will ultimately help many families and children. 

Read more about unemployment's effects on children >> 

PEW REPORT SHOWS CONVERGING ROLES FOR PARENTS

The report, Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dad Converge as the They Balance Work and Family, finds that "traditional" roles for parents are changing. In the past few decades, mothers are working outside of the home more in paid work, and fathers are contributing more time to housework and child care. However, mothers continue to spend significantly more time on housework and child care than fathers do. Equal shares of mothers and fathers wish they could be at home raising their children rather than working. However, in 2012 32 percent of mothers reported that they would prefer working full time, which has increased from 20 percent in 2007. Women who are in difficult financial situations are the most likely to report that working full time is their ideal situation.

Using data from a Pew Research survey and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), the report offers a picture of how mothers and fathers with children under the age of 18 view their work and family roles, and how much time they spend in these roles. In 2011, mothers spent an average of 21 hours per week on paid work; this is up from eight hours in 1965. Mothers reported spending 14 hours on child care in 2011, and men reported spending 7 hours, an increase of 4 hours and 4.5 hours, respectively, since 1965. Mothers are spending significantly less time on housework; in 2011, they reported spending 18 hours per week on housework. In 1965 that number was 32 hours. In 2011, father reported spending 10 hours on housework per week, an increase of 3 hours from 1965.

Read Pew's full report on modern parenthood >>

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