Early Childhood Education Update - January 2010
January 15, 2010 | Teresa Lim
In this issue:
- Participation of Infants and Toddlers and School-Age Children in the CCDBG Program
- CLASP Releases Report on State CCDBG Plans to Promote Opportunities for Babies and Toddlers in Child Care
- Promising Examples of State Policies That Support Infant/Toddler Care
- HHS Presents Final Report of the Head Start Impact Study to Congress
- NACCRRA Report Provides Impact Assessment of State Budget Cuts on Children
- New Guidebook Addresses State Laws on Family Engagement in Education
- The Long-Term Effects of the Nurse-Family Partnership Program in Elmira, NY
- Supporting Children's Social-Emotional Development Through Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
- The Impacts of Maternal Depression on the Development of Young Children
- NCCP Releases Policy Brief on Child Poverty and Intergenerational Mobility
- Year-End Reports and Future Plans in Early Care and Education in California, Pennsylvania, and Washington
In 2008, 1.6 million children received child care assistance funded through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. This is a decrease of more than 106,000 children from the previous year-and the smallest number of children served this decade. CLASP has created fact sheets on participation of two age groups of children in the CCDBG program based on preliminary data from 2008, the most recent year in which data is available:
- Infants and Toddler in CCDBG: 2008 Update - This fact sheet provides a snapshot of participation of infants and toddlers in the CCDBG program in 2008. Less than a third of children served in CCDBG are under the age of 3, but the share of children receiving CCDBG who are infants and toddlers varies from state to state.
- School-Age Children in CCDBG: 2008 - This fact sheet provides a snapshot of participation of school-age children in the CCDBG program in 2008. A third of children served in CCDBG are between ages 6 and 13.
Custom tables on state and national CCDBG participation can also be created and downloaded from CLASP's DataFinder
CLASP has added a new report, State CCDBG Plans to Promote Opportunities for Babies & Toddlers in Child Care, and accompanying policy brief to its collection of resources and technical assistance tools focused on improving infant/toddler care. The report and brief analyze state Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) plans for FFY 2008-2009 through the lens of the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project's policy framework, which is comprised of four key principles describing what babies and toddlers in child care need and 15 recommendations for states to move forward. CCDBG is the largest source of federal funding for child care available to states and includes an earmark for investments in infants and toddlers. Every two years, states must lay out their plans for using CCDBG funds to help low-income families access child care and to improve the quality of child care for all children.
The report presents an extensive set of examples of quality improvement activities funded by the CCDBG infant/toddler earmark as well as some licensing and subsidy policies reported in state plans that improve infant/toddler care. The examples illustrate how states are meeting many of the 15 policy recommendations of the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project and highlight areas where states could take further action.
CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project features examples of state policies supporting infant/toddler care. We have recently added several new state examples covering the areas of compensation and benefits; providing education, training, and support; and building the supply of quality care. The latest examples are part of CLASP's ongoing efforts to highlight promising state policies and initiatives that promote the healthy growth and development of infants and toddlers. Each state example presents a brief profile of the policy, including how the policy was developed and implemented. CLASP's collection of state examples currently covers topics on:
- Compensation and benefits (New example added)
- Building the supply of quality care (New example added)
- Providing education, training, and support (New example added)
- Establishing core competencies
- Promoting continuity of care
- Supporting a diverse and culturally competent workforce
- Center ratios and group sizes
- Promoting access to comprehensive services
- Promoting stable, quality subsidy policy
- Providing information on infant/toddler care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently presented the final report (and executive summary) of the Head Start Impact Study to Congress. The study examined the cognitive and social/emotional development as well as health status and behavior of a nationally representative set of 3- and 4-year-old children in Head Start in 2002-2003. Key findings from the final report:
- Participation in center-based early childhood programs: Access to Head Start doubled the likelihood that low-income children attended a center-based early childhood program; children without access to Head Start were more likely than Head Start children to be only in parent care.
- Quality of Head Start programs: The majority (70 percent) of children in Head Start attended centers evaluated as having a good or better quality environment based on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale - Revised (ECERS-R).
- Participation by culturally and linguistically diverse families: Parents of 3-year-olds were more likely to enroll their children for a second year of Head Start if their program was culturally supportive, if they were immigrants, or if English was not their home language.
- Impacts on cognitive development and other areas: At the end of Head Start, both 3-and 4-year olds showed improvements in cognitive skills, such as language and literacy, and health; parenting practices also improved. Three-year-olds displayed additional improvements in the area of social-emotional development.
- Long-term effects of Head Start: By the end of 1st grade, the benefits gained by participation in Head Start generally diminished, although there were some continued improvements in parent-child relationships among 3-year-olds.
In response to the report, HHS has announced steps to ensure that Head Start provides high-quality comprehensive programs for the nation's most vulnerable children. These steps include increasing program performance standards; improving program accountability; strengthening classroom practices; and establishing an advisory committee to disseminate relevant research.
In 2009, almost all states made cuts to public health, education, and other programs serving children. As states attempt to close budget deficits, children's programs face potentially deeper cuts. A new report, State Budget Cuts: America's Kids Pay the Price, by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) emphasizes the critical need of these programs for children and families, particularly in the current economic downturn.
According to the NACCRRA report, about 20 percent of children under age 6 lived in poverty during the recession. Moreover, less than about 15 percent of children eligible for child care assistance actually receive assistance. States have reduced or eliminated funding for a wide range of programs, such as child care assistance, special education, children's mental health services, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The report presents a detailed state-by-state list of budget cuts affecting children of all ages. In addition, the report highlights programs that are important federal investments for both children and the nation's overall economic well-being. A summary of the short- and long-term benefits is provided for each of these programs:
- Child care assistance
- Nurse Family Partnerships
- Mentoring programs
- Jobs Corps
- Head Start and Early Head Start
- Teach for America
- Quantum Opportunity Program
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The National Parent Teachers Association (PTA) has developed a reference guide, State Laws On Family Engagement in Education, for use as an advocacy tool to promote family engagement in public schools. The guidebook provides information on state education laws, including background facts, actual statute language, and current developments, concerning family engagement in each state. Six overarching topics are discussed in the guidebook, one of which focuses specifically on early childhood education:
- Family engagement laws and policies
- State grant and award programs for family engagement
- Labor laws regarding parent participation in school activities
- Family engagement in early childhood education and literacy programs
- Family engagement targeting children and youth in high-risk situations
- Family engagement for families with English Language Learners
In addition to identifying which states have provisions related to the six topics, the guide highlights examples of promising state legislation to increase family engagement. Currently, 40 states (including the District of Columbia) have passed laws instructing schools, districts, or boards of education to implement family engagement policies. The guide offers recommendations for ensuring that family engagement is integrated into state education laws.
A new article in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine examines the long-term impacts of a home visiting program, the Nurse-Family Partnership Program, in Elmira, New York. The article, "Long-Term Effects of Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visitation on the Life Course of Youths," presents key findings on a 19-year follow-up of children born to mothers who participated in the Elmira program. A previous study of these children at age 15 found significantly lower rates of arrests, convictions, and behavioral problems among the children. In this latest follow-up, the study analyzed whether these positive effects persisted through late youth and examined factors such as high school graduation rates, criminal behavior, employment, and sexual behavior. Overall, the article finds that at least some of the positive effects continue through age 19, in particular for girls. Among the article's findings on Elmira participants:
- The likelihood of a first arrest was significantly lower for girls in the Elmira program compared to a control group of nonparticipants. There was no significant difference for boys at 19 years.
- Girls in the Elmira program who were born to high-risk mothers (unmarried and low-income) were less likely to receive Medicaid and had fewer children compared to the control group.
- The Elmira program had no significant effects on high school graduation rates for girls or boys.
The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) released a new policy brief, Integrating Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation with the Pyramid Model. The brief illustrates how early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) can support the Pyramid Model, a tiered framework of strategies and measures to support the social-emotional health of children, birth to age 5. Developed by TACSEI and the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, the framework is currently being implemented in several states. The brief reviews the purpose of early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC), knowledge and skills that effective consultants need, and research findings on the benefits of ECMHC. The brief then offers ideas on how ECMHC consultants can help implement the three key elements (universal promotion, prevention, and treatment) of the Pyramid Model. These ideas center on achieving four main goals:
- Building nurturing and responsive relationships between children, teachers, families and other personnel;
- Creating high-quality supportive environments;
- Preventing social-emotional and behavioral problems through identification of at-risk children; and
- Supporting children with serious and persistent behavioral problems and children receiving services from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Center on the Developing Child released a new work paper, Maternal Depression Can Undermine the Development of Young Children, which examines current research on the effects of serious and chronic depression among mothers and other caregivers on the brain development of children, particularly during their early years. About one in eleven infants are exposed to maternal depression in the first year of life. In addition, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of mothers will experience depression at some point in their lives. Rates of maternal depression are more prevalent among disadvantaged groups. For instance, about a quarter of poor mothers with an infant exhibit signs of moderate or severe depression compared to about 11 percent of mothers who are not poor. Research studies find that exposure to maternal depression can occur as early as prenatally and that this exposure can have harmful, long-term consequences on children's brain architecture and stress response systems. Adolescents who are exposed to maternal depression during infancy show higher levels of stress hormones than adolescents who are not exposed.
While a significant number of new mothers experience depression, the brief finds that only 15 percent receive professional support. Research evidence suggests that intervention strategies, such as those centered on mother-child interactions, can help ensure that children exposed to maternal depression continue to have a healthy growth and development. The brief clarifies common misunderstandings about maternal depression and treatment and addresses the importance of the issue to the broader well-being of society.
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) released a new policy brief, Child Poverty and Intergenerational Mobility. The brief investigates the relationship between childhood poverty and the likelihood of poverty in adulthood. Overall, the brief finds that children who experience poverty in childhood (birth to age 15) are more likely to be poor as adults. Among the brief's specific findings:
- About a third of children experience poverty at some point during their childhood; about 10 percent of children experience poverty for half of their childhood.
- Less than a third of African-American children have never lived in poverty compared to 72 percent of white children.
- About 20 percent of children who experience poverty in childhood are poor in young adulthood (at ages 20 and 25). This share increases to 46 percent among children who lived in poverty for over half of their childhood.
To combat intergenerational poverty, the report offers a two-part approach that focuses on supporting both parents and children. Among its recommendations, the report emphasizes the importance of making certain that all young children have access to high-quality early care and education as well as health care and mental health services.
As a new year began, a number of states released end-of-the-year reports for 2009 and proposed plans for 2010 and beyond related to child care and early education. States have evaluated the conditions of their early learning systems and are looking at ideas for improvement. A sample of recently released reports and plans include:
- Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released its annual report on early care and education developments. The latest report highlights major actions that the state took in 2008-2009 to improve opportunities for young children, such as revising child care regulations, developing an English Language Learner toolkit for providers, and providing tools and assistance for programs on braiding state and federal funds for pre-kindergarten. The report also provides county-level data on early childhood education.
- Washington: The Washington Department of Early Learning and Thrive By Five have submitted a comprehensive draft plan to the state's governor that outlines strategies for improving the early learning system over the next ten years, beginning in 2010. The plan addresses a broad range of issues, including nutrition and health, school readiness, and professional development for early learning providers.
- California: The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network (CCR&RN) released its yearly California Child Care Portfolio, a collection of statewide and county-by-county data on the availability and use of licensed child care in the state. The 2009 report reveals that the supply of child care was not enough to meet demand. Child care slots were especially limited for infants. Only 6 percent of licensed slots were available for children under age two.
Children Now has similarly released an annual assessment of children's health and education programs in California. This year's report, California Report Card 2010, finds that 2009 was an especially difficult year given the state's budget crisis and subsequent major cuts to programs. The report rates early learning and development supports and services at a letter grade of "C."