Early Childhood Education Update: February 2010

February 04, 2010 | Teresa Lim

In this issue:

EARLY CHILDHOOD PROVISIONS IN THE PRESIDENT'S FEDERAL BUDGET

On February 1, President Obama presented his FY 2011 budget proposal to Congress. The document offers a blueprint of the president's spending priorities for the coming year. This budget reflects the administration's understanding of the importance of quality child care and early education experiences for young children and intention to expand and improve the quality of the early childhood system in a coordinated way. Specifically, the budget calls for:

  • $1.6 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), including $373 million for quality activities of which $137 million is targeted for activities that improve the quality of infant/toddler care;
  • $989 million increase for Head Start, including Early Head Start;
  • $3 billion increase for programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); and
  • Nearly $9 billion over ten years for the proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund.

In addition, the budget calls for expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit; funding to reauthorize the Child Nutrition programs, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); and funding for Promise Neighborhoods and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. 

CLASP has a summary of the early childhood provisions in the federal budget. In addition, CLASP and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) hosted a free conference call that provided the latest details on the President's 2011 Budget Proposal and what it meant for early childhood programs. The call included an overview of the FY 2011 budget and strategies for advocates at the state and national levels and a timeline of Congressional actions. Additionally, the call highlighted next steps for the Early Learning Challenge Fund and the CCDBG Reauthorization and the impact of the Budget process on both. 

CLASP LAUNCHES IMPROVED CHARTING PROGRESS FOR BABIES IN CHILD CARE WEBSITE

CLASP announced the redesign of its web resources for the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project. New pages for each of the project's 15 recommendations feature easy-to-navigate tabs that contain:

  • Research to "make the case" for the recommendation;
  • A research bibliography;
  • Policy ideas that states can use to move toward the recommendation;
  • State examples including links to relevant legislation and regulations, a description of how the state developed and implemented the policy, and any cost data and evaluations or other data; and
  • Online resources.

Users can also navigate to technical assistance tools that CLASP is developing to help states chart their own progress in improving infant/toddler care, as well as other related resources in CLASP's Child Care and Early Education work. 

*CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project links research to policy ideas and examples that support the healthy growth and development of infants and toddlers in child care settings. The project provides resources to help states make the best decisions for infants and toddlers in child care. The foundation of the project is a policy framework comprised of four key principles describing what babies and toddlers in child care need and 15 recommendations for states to move forward.

FAQS: ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON USING TITLE I OF THE ESEA FOR EARLY EDUCATION

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, or the No Child Left Behind Act, NCLB) was established in 1965 to provide schools that serve disadvantaged children with federal funding to meet these children's educational needs. Funds flow to states and in turn to school districts and schools. Title I funds have been permitted to be used for young children below compulsory school age since the creation of the ESEA. While many districts use Title I funds in this way, others have questions on the permitted uses of these funds at the early childhood level.

CLASP has created a list of Frequently Asked Questions on using Title I for early education, based on conversations with state and local school districts personnel. Based on the ESEA law and Department of Education non-regulatory guidance, we answer questions such as:

  • What ages of children can Title I funds serve?
  • Which children are eligible for Title I preschool?
  • Who decides at the district level whether to use Title I funds for preschool children and programs?
  • Can Title I funds be used by the state to fund state pre-kindergarten programs?
  • Can Title I funds be used in non-school settings?
  • What is the state role in using Title I funds for preschool?
  • And others...

OFFICE OF HEAD START ANNOUNCES EXPANSION GRANT OPPORTUNITY

The Office of Head Start recently announced that $6.8 million in expansion grants is available for current federally funded Head Start grantees to increase the number of low-income, preschool-age children served by Head Start. Eligible grantees are limited to those in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Wyoming, and the jurisdictions of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Funding for these grants is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Grantees may apply to expand enrollment in current service areas or to serve communities where Head Start is not presently available, provided that other requirements are met. Some funding may also be used to support training and technical assistance needs related to expansion. The grants, which will be competitively awarded, are for a project and budget period of 17 months and include a cost sharing requirement. A waiver or reduction in the cost sharing provision may be granted for some cases. The deadline for applications is March 8, 2010. About 20 awards are expected to be distributed.

EXAMINING THE UNDERREPRESENTATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN IN THE U.S. CENSUS

In the 2000 U.S. Census, over one million children under age 10 were not captured. Among children under age five, over three-quarters of a million children, or about 4 percent of this age group, were missed. The Annie E. Casey Foundation investigates the factors that affect the undercounting of young children in the U.S. Census in a new report, Why Are Young Children Missed So Often in the Census? The report finds that children under age five are undercounted at a higher rate than other age groups. Moreover, young minority children are undercounted the most often. Various possible factors that help to explain this underrepresentation are discussed, such as:

  • Data collection: The census form provides only enough space to complete full demographic information for the first 6 members of a household; households can only list the names of the 7th through 12th person. Because households usually list their members from oldest to youngest on the form, information on the youngest may not be fully captured. The report highlights other problems in filling out the census form and collecting data.
  • Hard-to-count households: Children live disproportionately in households classified as hard-to-count or in a hard-to-count area. Compared to other age groups, young children are more likely to live in a large (7 or more people) household, a mobile family, or other complex family/living arrangement that makes it difficult for the census to capture. About 20 percent of children live in hard-to-count areas compared to only 14 percent of senior citizens.

The report predicts that capturing young children in the 2010 census will be more challenging given shifting demographics of the young child population and the housing crisis. Children of immigrants and minority families are expected to increase, yet they are the group that is often undercounted. This undercounting is particularly concerning given that census data impacts the allocation of federal funds to programs serving children. The report offers a set of strategies for advocates to ensure that children are accurately counted in the census.

THE HIGH COST OF CHILD CARE TO WORKING, LOW-INCOME AND POOR FAMILIES

The Carsey Institute released a new policy brief, Low Income and Impoverished Families Pay Disproportionately More for Child Care, which underscores the significant burden that child care expenses can have on low-income and poor families who need child care to work or seek work. The brief provides an analysis of child care data from the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the most recent available survey, and focuses on families with children under age six that have an employed mother. In the analysis, the percentages of household income that poor and low-income families spend on child care are compared to the share spent among all families with young children. Differences in geographic location (rural versus urban) are also considered. Among the brief's key findings:

  • Share of family income: Overall, all families with young children (under age 6) and an employed mother spent 8 percent of monthly household income on child care expenses. This share of income increases to 18 percent for low-income families and 32 percent for poor families.
  • Rural versus urban areas: Low-income families in rural and urban areas spend a comparable share of income on child care at 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Poor families in urban areas spend a higher portion of income (34 percent) on child care than poor families in rural areas (27 percent).
  • Child care assistance: Child care subsidies help to alleviate the costs of child care for low-income families. For instance, low-income families receiving assistance spent about 15 percent of income on child care compared to 19 percent for families not receiving assistance.

As the recession continues, this brief emphasizes the critical need for child care assistance among low-income and poor families who face greater challenges in affording high-quality care for their children.

LINKING CHILD HEALTH AND SCHOOL READINESS

A new issue brief, Connecting Child Health and School Readiness, addresses the importance of integrating child health and well-being into state early childhood systems and overall strategies to support early learning. Produced by the Colorado Trust, the brief observes that while child health is recognized as important to school readiness, it is frequently dealt with independently of other early learning services and supports, such as child care and preschool. The brief emphasizes that child health services and supports should be included as a key component of an early care and learning approach, as also reflected in the Early Childhood Systems Workgroup's framework for a comprehensive state early childhood system. The brief highlights from the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for serving young children and their families various desired health outcomes that promote school readiness. Four overarching goals critical to promoting healthy child development are further elaborated in the brief:

  • Ensuring access to comprehensive health coverage,
  • Expanding the provision of comprehensive child health services,
  • Connecting child health to other early childhood services, and
  • Improving the environments in which children live through community health approaches.

The brief offers an assortment of actions and strategies that states can take to meet each goal. In addition, the brief provides state examples of effective initiatives and approaches that promote healthy child development and well-being.

INVESTIGATING THE REPERCUSSIONS OF IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT ON CHILDREN

The Urban Institute released a new report, Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement, which investigates the short- and long-term impacts of parental arrest, detention, and deportation on children of immigrants. The report documents the experiences of 190 children in 85 families across the nation affected by immigration enforcement actions. Among the report's findings, children encountered both economic and social-emotional struggles during the time after a parental arrest or detention. These struggles included:

  • Family separation and economic hardships: Most families lost a working parent as a result of an immigration raid, which resulted in family income loss, housing instability, and food insecurity. In cases of deportation, some families were forced with the difficult choice of either leaving a child in the U.S. while a parent was deported or having the entire family leave the country, regardless of the child's citizenship status.
  • Child behavior changes: The majority of children exhibited behavioral changes, such as anxiety, clinginess, anger, and aggression, in the short- and long-term. This was particularly evident in cases of child-parent separation and instances where a parent was arrested in the home. Schools provided stability and a safe haven for most children.
  • Community responses: Churches/faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and non-profit service providers and lawyers provided the most support and legal assistance for families affected by immigration raids and arrests, while social service and child welfare agencies provided just some assistance.

The report presents a set of recommendations to alleviate the adverse impacts on children affected by immigration enforcement actions, such as reforms for immigration laws as well as for immigration enforcement strategies. Additionally, the report offers recommendations to improve community responses and services to better support affected children and families.  

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF SPENDING ON SCHOOL READINESS IN MICHIGAN

A growing base of research suggests that investments in programs supporting the growth and development of young children have significant, positive long-term payoffs, such as reduced spending on special and remedial education, criminal justice, and social services. Building on this research, Wilder Research's latest report, Cost Savings Analysis of School Readiness in Michigan, estimates the total cost savings and revenues resulting from early care and education investments in Michigan over the last 25 years. In 2009, these investments accumulated to about $1.5 billion in cost savings. The report provides a breakdown of these payoffs:

  • Schools: Schools saved about $133 million in K-12 education due to reduced spending on grade repeating, special education, and replacement of teachers resulting from lack of workplace satisfaction.
  • Taxpayers: Taxpayers saved about $584 million due to reduced government and tax spending on services and programs, such as juvenile corrections, child abuse and neglect, and Medicaid services, and increased tax revenues resulting from outcomes, such as higher productivity among parents while their children are in early education programs.
  • Public: The public saved about $347 million in reduced spending on violent crimes, property offenses, and other acts committed by juveniles and adults.
  • Economy: The annual economic impact from early childhood investments is about $1.3 billion due to reduced spending on government services and revenues generated by the creation of jobs and wages.

The report also estimates that the annual cost of not ensuring that all disadvantaged children have access to early childhood education is about $598 million. This amount is less than half the cost of expanding the state's Great Start School Readiness Program so that all eligible children could participate. About 35,000 children are estimated to be eligible but not enrolled in the Great Start or Head Start programs.

HEALTH AND SAFETY COMPLIANCE IN CONNECTICUT'S EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Over 4,300 child care centers and family child care homes are licensed in Connecticut. Drawing on a sample of these programs, the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut conducted an extensive analysis of 1,422 routine, unannounced, random inspections using data submitted by licensing specialists in the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). Findings from this first ever comprehensive health and safety assessment are presented in a new report, Ensuring Health and Safety in Connecticut's Early Care and Education Programs. The assessment examined two primary issues: level of compliance with licensing regulations and correlation between compliance and five factors (accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, NAEYC; source of funding; access to a trained child care health consultant; staff continuing education; and median household income of facility location).

The report's major findings on child care centers included:

  • Overall compliance: Over 90 percent of programs were in compliance with 64 percent of regulations as required for centers and 83 percent of regulations as required specifically for programs serving infants and toddlers.
  • Greatest compliance areas: The highest levels of compliance were in the areas of child basic health needs, child supervision, program documentation, education program, and infant-toddler outdoor safety and development.
  • Lowest compliance areas: The lowest levels of compliance were in the areas of outdoor/indoor safety, indoor health, documentation of child and staff health records, emergency preparedness, and medication administration.
  • Factors correlated with compliance: Factors positively correlated with compliance were school readiness, access to a trained child care health consultant, median household income, and staff continuing education.

The report's major findings on family child care homes included:

  • Overall compliance: Over 90 percent of family child care homes were in compliance with 87 percent of the 83 required regulations.
  • Greatest compliance areas: The highest levels of compliance were in the areas of outdoor safety; indoor health; child health; child protection; development; program documentation; and parent interaction.
  • Lowest compliance areas: The lowest levels of compliance were in indoor safety; child, staff, and family documentation; medications; and qualifications of provider.

To further ensure the health and safety of the state's early childhood programs, the report offers recommendations that address four areas: program improvement, medication administration training, licensing requirements and training of licensing specialists, and electronic data systems.

NCCP RELEASES FACT SHEET IN NEW SERIES ON ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS AMONG LOW-INCOME CHILDREN

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) released the first in a new series of fact sheets centered on economic and material hardship. In this first fact sheet, Who Are America's Poor Children? NCCP profiles the characteristics of children officially defined as poor (i.e., live at or below the federal poverty level). Currently, about 14 million children (19 percent) live in families considered officially poor. This is a 21 percent increase or increase of 2.5 million children since 2000. Young children have the highest poverty rates, with 22 percent of children under age six living in poor families compared to 18 percent of children over age six. While about half of states have young child poverty rates at 20 percent or more, only 17 states have an overall child poverty rate as high as 20 percent.

The fact sheet also finds that the percentage of minority children who are poor is higher than white children. Similarly, the share of children of immigrants who are poor is greater than children with native-born parents. Among some of the major hardships that poor children face, three major challenges are noted: food insecurity, lack of affordable housing, and inadequate access to health insurance. The fact sheet details three strategies to combat these hardships:

  • Make work pay;
  • Support parents and their young children in early care and learning; and
  • Support asset-accumulation among low-income families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLASP's Early Childhood Education Update is a monthly roundup of news, legislative developments, research, and other developments of interest to the early care and education community. This update is part of CLASP's project, funded by The Joyce Foundation, to provide technical assistance to early childhood policymakers and advocates in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

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