Early Childhood Education Update - December 2012
December 05, 2012 | Child Care and Early Education
In this issue:
- 2010-2011 National Head Start and Early Head Start Program Data Highlighted in New CLASP Fact Sheets
- Interactive Worksheet Provides States Guidance on Funding for Comprehensive Services
- Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation Releases Report
- Opportunities and Concerns for Early Childhood Education in Common Core State Standards
- National Baby Facts Highlight Diversity, Needs of Nation's Infants and Toddlers
- Model for Dual Language Learner Teacher Competencies (DLLTC) Introduced
- Community Action Guide Outlines How to Support Infants, Toddlers, and Families Impacted by Mental Health Problems, Substance Abuse, and Trauma
Using data from the Head Start Program Information Report (PIR), CLASP has developed two new fact sheets providing a look at the Head Start preschool and Early Head Start programs in the 2010-2011 program year. These new fact sheets explore the characteristics of children and families served by the programs, as well as the programs themselves and their staff. Some highlights include:
- In 2011, the Head Start preschool program served over 942,000 young children and their families through 1,789 grantees nationwide. This is a decrease of nearly 130,000 children from 2010.
- By the end of the program year, 97 percent of children in the Head Start preschool program had a medical home for ongoing care and 93 percent had a source for ongoing dental care.
- Eighty-eight percent of Head Start preschool teachers had at least an associate degree (A.A.) in early childhood education or a related field - an increase of 3 percent from 2010.
- Spanish was the primary home language for 24 percent of children in Head Start preschool programs.
- In 2011, the Early Head Start program served more than 148,000 children under the age of 3 and about 16,700 pregnant women through 1,028 grantees nationwide. In 2011, there were increases in grantees, as well as children and pregnant women served compared to 2010.
- Twenty-seven percent of Early Head Start participants in 2011 were from a home where English was not the primary language.
- Eighty-four percent of Early Head Start families accessed at least one support service in 2010 ranging from parenting education to emergency and crisis intervention, representing a 2 percent increase from 2010.
- In 2011, the percent of EHS teachers with at least an associate degree increased 3 percent from the previous year to 54 percent. Twenty-seven percent of EHS teachers have bachelor's degrees in early childhood education or a related field (up from 24 percent in 2010).
Planning Funding Partnerships: A Worksheet to Help States Get Started in Putting it Together is an interactive worksheet that comes from CLASP's Putting It Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education. States and communities embarking on financing partnerships to expand access to comprehensive services in child care and early education settings can use this worksheet to begin mapping the need, available resources, and potential partnering strategies that will help them move forward. This document may be downloaded, edited, and saved.
The worksheet provides states and communities with the opportunity to think about what services children in the state or community need; the funding streams available to pay for these services; who administers the funds and how are they currently being used; if partnerships already exist and what stakeholders are at the table; if child care and early education providers are ready to participate in funding partnerships; and what policy decisions need to be made at the state or local level to use funding streams to support comprehensive services.
The Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation released its final report in November. The Committee was charged with reviewing and making recommendations on the design and analysis of Head Start program studies. Additionally, the Committee was asked to comment on the effectiveness of Head Start and Early Head Start (EHS) as well as on current early childhood evidence and its implications for Head Start and future research.
The report outlines a vision for Head Start that focuses on school readiness outcomes in particular and is supported by data and research. In terms of the effectiveness of Head Start and EHS, the report cites studies that have shown programs improve family well-being and school reading of children living at or below poverty. Additionally, the report notes that improvements to both programs, such as widespread use of observational measures of quality, competitive renewal, and new technical assistance systems, have not been factored into previous evaluations of the programs. The Committee also discussed concern with comparing evaluations of other early childhood programs with evaluations of Head Start when these studies have varying methodologies.
In order to improve the Head Start and EHS programs, as well as improve the research behind the programs, the Committee offers three overarching recommendations:
- Have a data-driven focus on school readiness and other key outcomes. To support this recommendation the Committee recommends: developing federal guidance for local programs on how to define and measure children's progress toward school readiness; helping build assessment and data systems that can track children's progress toward school readiness goals; supporting programs and their own unique population; strengthening and streamlining all components of the national Head Start Program (i.e. program standards, technical assistance systems, monitoring, and program data collection); and convening a federal cross-agency panel that develops a framework to identify important components of preparing an early childhood workforce.
- Use evidence-based practices that benefit all children or are designed for population subgroups. The Committee recommends working with other agencies to update and disseminate new evidence on effective practice, focusing technical assistance on helping programs select and implement the strongest evidence-based practices in their classroom, conducting strong evaluations of new Head Start initiatives (like the Designation Renewal System), and building the research base to address gaps in evidence-based research conducted in order to improve the use of evidence-based practices in programs.
- Further improve the continuity and coordination of early childhood services from prenatal to age 8. In order to improve continuity of services, the Committee recommends: providing guidance to local programs on how to efficiently and effectively provide services across this age span; guiding and supporting EHS and Head Start programs to coordinate with one another; improving the alignment and linkages between Head Start and other early childhood standards, assessments, monitoring, data collection, professional development and technical assistance; conducting research on the family, cultural, and demographic factors relating to the continuity of care, the effects of multiple years of high-quality service on children's school readiness and performance, and learning the conditions that best support children's continued achievement and adjustment.
A recently published NAEYC paper provides a framework for thinking about and discussing the widely adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for K-12 education within the early childhood education field. The implementation of CCSS is of particular importance to NAEYC as well as the early childhood field because of overlapping interest in the latter years of early childhood during the early elementary grades, and because the adoption and implementation of CCSS has the potential to impact programs for children prior to entering kindergarten. The paper notes concern about the restrictive domains Common Core covers, focusing only on language arts and mathematics at this time, and lacking attention on the importance of the whole child. Additionally, NAEYC is concerned about the time and resources allocated to implement CCSS and the means of assessing children's progress in meeting the standards. However, the paper also notes opportunities to share the early childhood field's expertise and experience with pushing evidence-based best practices across all levels of education, and working to more closely connect early childhood education with the K-12 system.
The Common Core State Standards: Caution and Opportunity for Early Childhood Education provides guidance on four main themes that were also used to develop and implement early learning standards in early childhood education. These are meant to highlight the potential contributions the early childhood field can make toward the implementation of Common Core learning standards in early elementary school through upper grades. Recommendations on how the development and implementation of early learning standards can inform the implementation of CCSS include:
- Emphasizing significant developmentally appropriate content and outcomes
- Reviewing learning standards through an informed and inclusive process
- Using implementation and assessment practices that support children's development in ethical, appropriate ways to ensure the standards' effectiveness
- Providing foundational support through the schools and education programs, professionals, and families
NAEYC will continue writing and presenting information on the implementation of CCSS and how it relates to the early childhood field. They also encourage the early childhood community to be involved by sharing their own experience and research knowledge of implementing standards, the importance of focusing on a variety of domains of child development, and monitoring and commenting on updates when possible.
With more than 12 million infants and toddlers under the age of 3 in the U.S., it is critical for us to understand the diverse characteristics of this group. ZERO TO THREE's (ZTT) recent publication, National Baby Facts: Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families in the United States, emphasizes the importance of early experiences in shaping a child's later experiences and adult outcomes. National Baby Facts, which is a helpful resource for policymakers and advocates, presents statistics on the demographics, health, families, and early learning experiences of children birth to age 3. ZTT finds:
- Seventy-five percent of infants and toddlers with a single parent are in low-income families (an income less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, FPL), and 35 percent of infants and toddlers with married parents are in low-income families. Nationally, 48 percent of all children under 3 live in low-income families.
- Sixty-three percent of infants and toddlers are white, 25.5 percent are Hispanic, 14.4 percent are black, and 4.7 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. Hispanic and black infants and toddlers are more likely than white infants and toddlers to live in low-income families.
- Just over 8 percent of children under age 6 don't have health insurance coverage. Medicaid covers one-third of all births in the U.S. every year.
- Sixteen percent of Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients are under age 5.
- More than 30 percent of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits have children under 3. Close to 22 percent of households receiving heating assistance through Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) have at least one child under 5.
- Sixty-three percent of mothers with infants are in the labor force.
- Thirty percent of children receiving child care subsidies are infants and toddlers.
The Alliance for A Better Community in collaboration with National Council of La Raza (NCLR) published the Dual Language Learner Teacher Competencies (DLLTC) Report, which provides extensive information on the need for, development of, and implementation of teacher competencies to support young dual language learners (DLLs). The report highlights the need across the country and in California specifically, for a better prepared and educated early childhood education (ECE) workforce to care for and teach the large population of young DLLs. In California, 36 percent of children enrolled in kindergarten were classified as English Language Learners (ELLs) during the 2009-2010 school year, however very few ECE providers have had training in cultural and linguistic competency.
This report provides background information on the importance of DLLTC for children's short and long term outcomes as well as the need to have educators and caregivers who understand first and second language acquisition and are culturally and linguistically competent. The DLLTC Report covers research behind DLLTC and offers models for what DLLTC should look like within the domains of language and literacy and socioemotional development. Each of these domains is broken down by the teachers' level of cultural knowledge and experience teaching. Within each section the report provides guidance on specific practices that teachers and caregivers can use to support children's dual language development. The report also provides recommendations on the necessary dispositions for teachers working with young DLLs.
The report concludes with a policy brief that helps translate the competencies and practice into policies that support caregivers, teachers, children, and families. The brief provides recommendations for what can be done at the state level to: strengthen the ECE workforce and increase the number of teachers who receive training in dual language acquisition and socioemotional development of DLLs; include indicators in quality rating improvement systems that address linguistic and socioemotional development of DLLs; create a streamlined and centralized data system of the ECE workforce that includes information about their knowledge and experience with DLLs; and supplement efforts to integrate DLLTC into higher education coursework. At the local level, the report recommends expanding professional development and technical assistance efforts to integrate DLLTC and providing incentives to recruit bilingual early educators and administrators.
The harmful and long-lasting impacts trauma and adverse experiences can have on infants and toddlers are widely recognized. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a Community Action Guide that focuses on supporting infants, toddlers, and families who are impacted by caregiver mental health problems, substance abuse, and trauma. The goal of the guide is to help build responsive communities that respond sensitively to the needs of a family.
The Community Action Guide is divided into four sections. The first section covers the importance of early development, focusing on recent research on how the brain develops. Section two looks at recent research on how toxic stress can negatively affect brain development, looking particularly at toxic stress that can occur in families struggling with mental health problems, substance abuse, and a history of trauma. This research is meant to be used to help communities make the case for new or greater outreach efforts, a new law, or advocacy effort. The third section examines how to help build a solid foundation between young children and their closest caregivers, and then expanding outward, focusing on relationships with peripheral caregivers. The fourth section offers a road map for action that includes guidance on how to assess resources in your community as well your community's needs and capacity. It also looks at how to build partnerships, create a strategic plan, and implement and evaluate community programs.
The appendices also include lists of organizations to use as resources, warmlines/hotlines, screening tools, and more tips on how to evaluate your outreach efforts.