Early Childhood Education Update (December 2013)

December 13, 2013 | Child Care and Early Education

In This Issue: 

CLASP and Urban Institute Release Joint Paper on Child Care Assistance Simplification and Alignment with other Work Supports

Urban Institute and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze: Simplifying and Aligning With Other Work Supports; a report aiming to help states confront burdensome administrative processes that make it difficult for low-income families to get and keep child care benefits and the cumulative challenges clients face in trying to access other benefits for which they are eligible (i.e. SNAP/Medicaid).  This report provides an overview of steps that state child care agencies can take to reach a new vision - one in which eligible parents applying for child care could give their information one time, be easily connected to child care as well as the larger package of benefits for which they are eligible, and be able to keep their benefits as long as they are eligible with minimal burden to themselves and to the state.

Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze offers an in-depth guide to the steps states can take to simplify child care subsidy programs, both to better serve families and to align with other work supports.  It provides concrete policy ideas and examples from states across the country.  With this information, states can identify strategies to improve access and retention of benefits, while improving service delivery and reducing administrative burden.

The report is part of the Work Support Strategies (WSS) Initiative, a multiyear effort that is working with a select group of states to help them design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports for low-income working families (including health coverage, nutrition benefits, and child care subsidies).

Read the Full Report Here>>

CLASP and NCCP Release Joint Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality

This fact sheet provides information about the percentages of young children in each state experiencing risks related to poor educational outcomes. It then shows trends in federal and state investments in early care and education programs and state policies related to both access and quality. Major findings in the report include:

  • Family economic hardship is the predominant risk factor associated with academic failure and poor health. Nationally, 25 percent of children under six live in poverty. Other risk factors include having a teen parent, living in a household without English speakers, and having parents without a high school degree.
  • Children are underserved by the three largest federal child care and early education programs: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and Head Start and Early Head Start.
  • Funding for CCDBG has not kept pace with inflation and growing need. Since 2006, approximately 150,000 children have lost access to child care subsidies and an additional 30,000 will lose subsidies as a result of sequestration.
  • Although funding for Head Start has increased by $1.2 billion from 2006 to 2012, demand has exceeded its growth. Only 42 percent of eligible children are served by Head Start preschool and a mere 4 percent of children who are eligible are served by Early Head Start. As a result of sequestration, 57,000 children have lost or will lose access to Head Start services in 2013.
  • States are not meeting recommended benchmarks for child care group sizes and adult-child ratios. Currently, only 4 states (CT, ND, OR, VT) meet benchmarks for both class size and adult-child ratios, while 33 states meet neither of these critical benchmarks.

A complex mix of federal and state investments and policies shapes low-income families' access to quality early care and education. Currently, these investments and policies are too weak to benefit large numbers of young children experiencing economic hardship and other circumstances that can pose serious risks to their healthy development and school success.

Read the Fact Sheet Here>>

CLASP Releases Resource on Family Engagement, Part of Our "Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care" Project

Promote Family Engagement is part of CLASP's "Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care" project, an effort to link research to policy ideas to help states make the best decisions for infants and toddlers in child care. This latest resource provides research documenting the importance of effective family engagement and strategies for engaging and partnering with families in caring for their babies and toddlers. It also includes policy recommendations states can consider to support and strengthen family engagement in child care settings through state child care licensing, subsidy and quality enhancement policies. Specifically, the resource finds:

  • Babies do better when family members and child care providers and caregivers have consistent, communicative relationships and families feel engaged in and supported in their child care arrangements.
  • Family support and parenting education in child care can improve outcomes for infants and toddlers and their families.
  • Family engagement and support strategies should consider the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of families.
  • Models of best practices in family support and engagement offer guidance to child care providers and caregivers.

The paper includes policy recommendations states can consider to improve their family engagement strategies for infants and toddlers.  Reccomendations include how states can: promote the incorporation of best practices around culturally competent communication into child care, promote effective family support and parenting education models in child care settings, and help programs serving infants and toddlers incorporate practices that provide families with opportunities to engage in their children's learning in a variety of ways at home, in the program, and in leadership roles. 

Read the Promote Family Engagement Rationale Here>>

Bipartisan Strong Start for America's Children Act Introduced in House and Senate

On November 13, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced The Strong Start for America's Children Act, landmark legislation that provides for universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten services for low-income children through a federal-state partnership and expands quality child care for infants and toddlers.  Components of the bill include:

  • Preschool Expansion: States could use the funds to serve four-year-olds whose families have incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty. Eligible entities to provide preschool include schools and community-based providers including child care and Head Start programs. States would receive an allotment of federal funds based on their population of four-year-olds from families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty. Providers would be required to meet established quality standards.
  • Infant/Toddler Set-Aside: States would be allowed to use up to 15 percent of their funds for high-quality early care and education for low-income infants and toddlers.
  • Early Learning Quality Partnerships: Grants would be provided to Early Head Start agencies to partner with center-based and family child care providers, particularly those that serve children receiving child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and that aim to meet Early Head Start standards, in order to increase the quality and capacity of providers serving children through age three.
  • Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting: The legislation expresses support for continuing to provide resources for voluntary home visiting.

Read a Summary of Proposed Bill Here>>

New Brief Finds High-Quality Preschool Can Narrow the School-Readiness Gap for Children of Color

A recent brief from the Center For American Progress finds that high-quality preschool can reduce the school-readiness gap, especially for low-income children of color and children who are non-native English speakers. The brief examines the findings of previous studies that have found that children from diverse backgrounds, including all income levels and across racial and ethnic groups make significant gains when they attend high-quality preschool programs. 

Three longitudinal studies, the 1960s groundbreaking HighScope Perry Preschool Project, the Abecedarian Preschool program in the 1970s, and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers founded in 1967, have had pronounced, long-term impacts on African American children.

A 2008 study of Oklahoma's universal preschool program conducted in Tulsa found that on measures of early literacy skills and problem solving, Hispanic children made greater gains than any other subgroup.

Overall, children who attend a high-quality early learning program gain months of additional learning in addition to lifelong achievements such as improved graduation rates and earnings, along with decreased rates of crime and adolescent pregnancy.                                             

Read Brief Here>>

AECF Report Underscores Importance Of The First Eight Years of Life

The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, makes the case for high-quality early childhood programs that include supports for families as they have a powerful and lasting impact on children as they progress through school and into adulthood.  Citing decades of research that have provided strong evidence of what an integrated early childhood system should look like to meet the needs of every child, the report focuses on three primary goals: support parents as they care for their children; improve access to quality early care and education, health care and other services; and ensure that care is comprehensive and coordinated for all children from birth through age 8.

The report offers three policy recommendations, (1) support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children; (2) increase access to high-quality, integrated programs for children from birth through age 8, beginning with investments that target low-income children; and (3) develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of children's development and support their transition to elementary school and related programs for school-age children.  Moreover, the report claims that elected officials, advocates and other policymakers are well positioned to make the case for a comprehensive and integrated birth through age 8 system that ensures all children have a real chance to succeed and contribute to a stronger society.

Read the Report Here>>

Compendium Offers Two-Generation Strategies for State and Local Policymakers

This guide, Promoting Two-Generation Strategies: A Getting-Started Guide for State and Local Policy Makers by the Ray Marshall Center, addresses the challenges of low-income families who were hard hit by the Great Recession by offering solutions that link quality workforce development services and quality early childhood education for low-income families. The goal of a two-generation strategy is to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty, moving the family toward economic security and stability through education, workforce training, and related support services.  This strategy provides opportunities for parents and children, economic supports, and social capital in the form of family and peer support services while also appealing to state and local programs because it draws upon existing services, coordinates with the local business community and philanthropic organizations, and can be tailored to regional economic conditions.

The guide presents five facilitating factors that appear to be linked to the success of two-generation strategies: supportive policy frameworks, leadership, program administration, integrated and flexible funding streams, and evidence-oriented culture. The guide then details some of the common steps taken in establishing two-generation programs and identifies recommendations for state and local policymakers interested in implementing a two-generation approach.

Read the Paper Here>>

Child Care Aware of America Releases 2013 Report on High Cost of Child Care

In its annual report on the costs of child care, Child Care Aware provides information on the high cost families pay for child care in every state in comparison to other household costs such as housing, food, utilities, transportation, college tuition and health care.  The report shows that child care is expensive and for many parents, safety, health and school readiness come at a cost that they cannot afford.  This report is divided into five major sections that provide an in-depth look into:

  • Child Care in America
  • Child Care and the Family Budget
  • Average Cost in the States
  • Paying for Child Care
  • Why Child Care Cost are so High

Recommendations for federal and state governments are offered in order to assist in their work of helping families access and afford quality child care so that children's safety and healthy development are not jeopardized.

Read the Report Here>>

National Survey of Early Care and Education Brief on Early Childhood Education Teachers and Caregivers

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its first brief from the National Survey of Early Care and Education, a nationally representative study of utilization and availability of early care and education.  The first brief on teachers and caregivers working directly with young children in center - and home-based settings finds:

  • the ECE workforce in 2012 was large, comprised of about one million teachers and caregivers directly responsible for children age zero through five years in center-based programs, and another one million paid home-based teachers and caregivers serving the same age group.
  • An additional 2.7 million unpaid, home-based teachers and caregivers were regularly responsible for young children not their own for at least five hours a week.
  • Among those working in center-based programs, a majority (59%) work in center-based programs with no school sponsorship or funding from Head Start or public pre-K; 6 percent work in school-sponsored settings; a third (35%) work in centers that are not school-sponsored but receive Head Start or public pre-K funds.
  • The educational attainment, experience, and wages of center-based teachers and caregivers varied considerably by the sponsorship and funding of center-based programs and by the age of children served.
  • A majority (53%) of center-based teachers and caregivers reported having college degrees-and more than a third (35.5%) reported BA or graduate/professional degrees- higher than found in prior studies.
  • A greater share of home-based caregivers-about 30 percent-reported college degrees than was estimated in prior studies.
  • Wages were closely tied to educational attainment in ECE; however, wages for college-educated ECE teachers and caregivers are much lower than for comparably educated workers in the overall economy.
  • Educational attainment and wages were highest for school-sponsored center-based programs, next highest for other centers with Head Start funding, and lower for other ECE centers or those with public pre-K funding.

Read Research Brief Here>>

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