Early Childhood Education Update (July 2014)
July 02, 2014 | Child Care and Early Education
In This Issue:
- CLASP Executive Director Testifies at House Hearing on the War on Poverty
- Progress Report on “My Brother’s Keeper Task Force”
- State Involvement in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
- Top Ten CCDF Policies that Support Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
- Child Care Challenges for Workers in Low-Wage Jobs
- The Effects of Inequities at Work on Immigrant Families
- The Unique Needs of Immigrant Parents of Children in Early Childhood Programs
- Abriendo Puertas’ Evaluation Yields Positive Outcomes
CLASP Executive Director Olivia Golden testified at A Progress Report on the War on Poverty: Reforming Federal Aid—the latest hearing in a series held by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan about the War on Poverty. Golden discussed the War on Poverty’s major accomplishments, including the success of programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Head Start, and Pell Grants in reducing poverty and improving the lives of those who remain poor. She also noted the unfinished business that lies ahead.
Additionally, Golden also provided facts about today’s federal-state work support programs which include: food assistance, health insurance, child care subsidies, and income support through cash help and tax credits. These programs are largely targeted to families with children who are working low-wage jobs that do not meet their needs. Frequently, these families also experience gaps in coverage as a result of program implementation.
The testimony also shared lessons learned over the last 50 years about what works and what doesn’t work. Federal programs created from the War on Poverty support work and help children thrive; yet, achieving strong outcomes for families and the nation requires the right blend of flexibility in implementation to adapt to state circumstances, national accountability, well-defined performance measures to achieve consistent results, and sufficient funding to meet desired goals.
Strengthening the economic security of low-wage workers and helping low-wage and low-skill workers move up on the job by improving access to work support benefits and delivering them in a more streamlined and integrated way enables parents to work and care for children, strengthens the safety net for youth and childless adults, and strengthens the nation’s response to deeply poor families.
“My Brother’s Keeper” is a partnership between philanthropy, business, and government intended to test a range of strategies that address opportunity gaps and support boys and young men of color to excel in school and stay out of the criminal justice system. Over five years, $2 million in private dollars have been committed to use proven tools to make a difference for this population.
A progress report from the initiative includes a set of early care and education recommendations to support children cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally and ensure they enter school ready to learn:
Close the word gap and support enriching home environments. The report recommends providing low-cost training, education, and information to parents to improve parenting skills; these efforts would complement home visiting programs that are already in place in many communities. It also recommends developing strategies and tools to close the word gap, including for English Language Learner students and those with Limited English Proficient parents.
Ensure access to high quality early care and education. The report recommends reducing the school readiness gap by expanding access to quality early care and education programs for all children.
Implement universal early health and developmental screenings. The report recommends that states, localities, and districts understand how to leverage existing health insurance to provide universal vision, dental, and hearing screening and appropriate interventions at little or minimal cost to all children, as well as build upon existing relationships and explore new partnerships with nonprofit organizations that deliver health services to young children and families to increase access to screenings and appropriate follow-up services.
Eliminate suspensions and expulsions in early learning settings. Stakeholders can learn from successful efforts to highlight and address suspension/expulsion rates and disparities through transparency, accountability, and technical assistance and expand the effective strategies and practices to states. Early care providers need increased access to evidence-based resources for addressing behavior management and bias and blueprints to help build positive classroom norms and cultures. The report encourages the use of mental health consultants in early childhood settings to build the capacity of all teachers and caregivers to address behavior problems and foster social-emotional development.
The recent $500 million Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion and Early Head Start–Child Care (EHS–CC) Partnership grants gives states an opportunity to increase the supply of high-quality infant and toddler care in their states. A new policy brief from BUILD outlines potential ways in which states can participate in EHS-CC Partnerships, including by becoming EHS grantees (or if choosing not to apply directly) by supporting local applicants through key actions.
The brief includes a detailed explanation of the application criteria for the grant, the requirements the grantee must meet, and a number of suggestions for ways in which states can participate in this formative work and formally support local applicants. Suggestions include: aligning state licensing regulations on group size and ratios with EHS Program Performance Standards; providing state resources to support children and families in the transition from infant and toddler care to Head Start or prekindergarten; and assisting applicants in identifying child care partners who care for children receiving subsidies.
The Office of Child Care released a list of the top 10 ways CCDF policy can support EHS-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships:
- Align eligibility policies so that most EHS families are eligible for child care subsidies.
- Serve the most vulnerable populations by providing special eligibility considerations that ensure the neediest children receive care.
- Allow job search eligibility that assists parents and promotes continuity of care.
- Refer eligible families to Partnerships via the CCDF eligibility processes.
- Align lengths of eligibility so that families can remain eligible for subsidies as long as they are enrolled in EHS.
- Waive parent fees (copayments) for families in EHS-CC Partnerships.
- Establish grants or contracts to help build supply and promote accountability.
- Pay rates supporting quality via tiered reimbursement.
- Develop sustainable payment practices that encourage involvement in Partnerships.
- Include layered funding when designing Partnerships’ financing.
A new report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in collaboration with The Ms. Foundation for Women and partner worker justice organizations representing employees from a range of low-wage service industries finds that low pay, difficult scheduling practices, lack of supports like paid sick days or family leave, and discrimination leave low-wage workers with few options for their children’s care.
Survey and focus group findings from the report found that families in poverty spend approximately 30 percent of their income on child care—if they can afford to pay for care at all. Unpredictable work schedules, such as variations from day to day or week to week, as well as work during nonstandard hours, make it difficult for these parents to find high-quality, reliable child care and near impossible for them to access child care assistance programs. Additionally, employers’ practices frequently disadvantage low-wage working parents and their children because when parents are unable to find child care or child care falls through, they must miss work and lose pay. Lastly, the report details how immigrant parents in low-wage jobs often face additional challenges to accessing child care due to concerns about their immigration status or language barriers.
The report also offers some initial recommendations for policies and practices to address these challenges such as:
- Providing substantial additional investments and designing child care assistance policies so that they respond to families’ diverse needs;
- Raising the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, enacting paid leave and paid sick days, and prohibiting discrimination against caregivers;
- Developing organizing strategies to amplify workers’ voices with policy makers and employers;
These actions will help prompt policies and practices that increase access to affordable, high-quality child care and improve working conditions and quality of life for workers and their families.
A new study from Brandeis University reveals the struggles of immigrant families to secure jobs that will allow them to invest in their children. The study sheds light on the key role of parents’ low-quality jobs in negative outcomes for families.
Drawing on Current Population Survey data, the study uses three indicators of job quality to evaluate whether a job will enable a worker to adequately invest in his or her children. These include (1) wages above an estimated family budget for an adult in a family with a school-age child and a teenage child (“a basic economic security wage”); (2) access to employer-sponsored health insurance; and (3) access to a pension plan through an employer or union. Based on these measures, the study finds major discrepancies in job quality between non-native-born workers (as well as some workers of color) and White, native-born workers. Specifically, the study finds that:
- 43 percent of Hispanic working parents and 30 percent of Black parents have poor-quality jobs (those not meeting any of the three indicators above), while about 20 percent of White and Asian parents have poor-quality jobs.
- Nearly twice as many foreign-born parents have poor-quality jobs than do native-born parents.
- The odds of having a poor-quality job (versus a job with just one of the characteristics of low quality) are 115 percent higher for Hispanic parents and 55 percent higher for Black parents than for White parents.
- The odds of Hispanic, foreign-born parents having poor-quality jobs are nearly 40 percent higher than native-born Hispanic parents.
- Discrepancies are lower for immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer. Nonetheless, even 5 to 10 years after arriving in the U.S., Hispanics are significantly more likely to have poor-quality jobs than White, Black, or Asian immigrants (47 percent odds for Hispanics versus 31 percent for Whites).
These job quality inequities are particularly troubling because foreign-born parents and parents of color are a large and rapidly growing segment of the population. The study shows that more and more families are struggling to make ends meet in poor-quality jobs as they try to raise healthy, happy children.
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) highlights the significant obstacles immigrant and refugee populations face as they try to engage in their children’s education. It identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents new to U.S. systems across the range of expectations for parent skill, engagement, and leadership sought by Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs, as well as strategies that have been initiated to address these needs. The study is based on field research in six states (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and Washington), expert interviews, a literature review, and a sociodemographic analysis.
Issues identified in the report are:
- Lack of dedicated federal funding to support immigrant families and their unique needs;
- Gaps in services;
- Limited outreach to families who speak less common languages; and
- School and community climates that are not positive or inclusive.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including: expanding parent education, literacy, and English language programs; strengthening incentives and accountability for existing program funds; leveraging state policymaking and capacity-building efforts; and building evidence and awareness of gaps. These recommendations can inform policy actions, budgetary investments, and innovations in program design to engage immigrant and refugee parents in supporting their children’s healthy development.
This first product from the Child Trends Hispanic Institute (the first-ever random-assignment evaluation of a Latino parenting program) evaluates the Abriendo Puertas [Opening Doors] program—one of the largest programs in the U.S. working with low-income Latino parents of preschool-aged children. Serving over 30,000 low-income parents and families in 34 states since its inception in 2007, Abriendo Puertas promotes practices that foster children’s learning and development, parent leadership, and advocacy for Latino parents of young children.
Key findings in this brief reveal positive outcomes in parenting practices that contribute to academic success, such as reading with children at home, enhancing preschool children’s learning and preparation for school. This provided parents with a knowledge base of what to look for in high-quality child care and education settings and enabled them to plan and set goals for their children by improving their organizational strategies.
The brief also highlighted areas where the program had less impact, such as efforts to educate parents on ways to offer children healthier foods and an active lifestyle, how to nurture children’s emotional development, and how to become effective advocates for their child before medical, social services, and school authorities.
The brief concludes that by focusing on Latino parents in a culturally appropriate manner to help them prepare their children for educational success, the Abriendo Puertas program is making great strides in improving the lives of the growing Latino population in the U.S.