Early Childhood Education Update - November 2012
November 09, 2012 | Child Care and Early Education
In this issue:
- CLASP Releases Paper on State Child Care Policies for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Families
- New Charting Progress State Examples Highlight Infant/Toddler Initiatives in Minnesota and Tennessee
- "Downward Slide" in State Child Care Policies: NWLC's 2012 Report
- Future of Children Journal Provides In-Depth Look at Literacy Challenges
- NCLR's New Data Tool Focuses on Latino Kids
- Early Childhood Health and Development Among Young Children in Black Immigrant Families
- Educare Implementation Study Highlights Program's Benefits
- Governors Outline How to Align Early Education and K-12 Reforms
CLASP's new paper, State Child Care Policies for Limited English Proficient Families, summarizes state-reported activities to better serve and engage with Limited English Proficient (LEP) families and providers through state child care assistance programs. Every two years the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the largest source of federal funding for child care assistance available to states, requires each state to submit a plan describing how it will use CCDBG funds to improve the quality of child care for all children and help low-income families access child care. The CCDBG State Plans, last revised for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012-2013, serve as the source of new information on how states' activities and policies target LEP and immigrant families, children, and providers.
CLASP's paper finds that some of the most commonly reported activities used to reach out to LEP families and providers include:
- offering bilingual caseworkers or translators for parents and providers,
- providing informational materials about child care assistance in non-English languages,
- offering child care assistance applications in languages besides English, and
- covering English language development in state early learning guidelines for English language Learners (ELLs).
Eleven states-Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin-responded as having 10 or more of the policies or activities that the CCDBG State Plans outlined as relating to child care assistance and ELLs and their families. Each of these policies takes a step toward helping states and communities work with providers who speak non-English languages and serve children from families that are limited English proficient.
CLASP provides recommendations on how states can better support LEP families and providers through state child care policies. These recommendations include:
- implementing a language access plan to ensure effective communication with LEP families;
- providing funding for bilingual staff and translation and interpretation services;
- ensuring that basic training is available in multiple languages through community-based providers; and
- revising early learning guidelines to stress the importance of both first and second language acquisition for ELLs.
CLASP recently published two new State Examples as part of the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project. The State Examples highlight innovative state practices for infants and toddlers in child care.
The first new State Example highlights Minnesota's Retaining Early Educators Through Attaining Incentives Now (R.E.E.T.A.I.N.) program, which offers bonuses to child care providers that demonstrate a commitment to their continuing education and professional development within the child care field and have earned an early childhood degree or credential. Minnesota's Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R) awards R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonuses to both center-based child care providers and family child care providers. Through a competitive application process, providers apply for a bonus, which ranges in value from $1,000 to $3,500 and can be used to cover program or personal expenses. The program earmarks a portion of funding to provide bonuses for infant/toddler providers. The R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program requires at least 25 percent of funds to be awarded to infant/toddler providers. Minnesota recognized a strong need within the state for skilled providers who care for infants and toddlers, which led the state to create this provision. Of the 468 providers who have received bonuses, 330 of them care for infants and toddlers, or 71 percent of all R.E.E.T.A.I.N. recipients.
The second new State Example outlines Tennessee's improved monitoring system and licensing reforms for child care providers. Safety concerns about transportation-related child fatalities, along with increasing need among low-income, working families for quality child care, prompted the state to revamp its monitoring system and enact other licensing reforms. The state passed legislation in 2000 that strengthened the state's child care licensing rules. In addition, Tennessee implemented policy that increased the frequency of inspections to better monitor providers and required annual evaluations of providers to improve the quality of care.
NWLC released its annual report on state child care assistance policies this past month. The 2012 report, Downward Slide, reports on state child care assistance policies between February 2011 and February 2012, looking at state income eligibility limits, waiting lists for child care assistance, parent copayments, and state reimbursement rates for child care providers.
In 2012, families in 27 states were worse off in the past year under one or more of the state child care assistance policies that are outlined in the report. In 17 states, families were better off under one or more of these policies. Over the past two years, the situation for families has worsened in more states than it has improved. Key findings from the report show:
- 7 states lowered their income eligibility limits (in dollar amounts) between 2011 and 2012. Fourteen states kept the dollar amount the same, and the remaining state increased the dollar amount to adjust for inflation.
- 23 states had waiting lists or frozen intake for child care assistance in 2012.
- Only 1 state, New York, set reimbursement rates for child care providers who serve families receiving child care assistance at the federally recommended level.
- 46 states allow families receiving child care assistance to continue receiving it while they look for a job.
The most recent volume of The Future of Children looks at issues surrounding children's literacy in the U.S. The journal explores current levels of literacy, what influences literacy levels, and strategies to help improve literacy. Across eight articles, The Future of Children's "Literacy Challenges for the Twenty-First Century" analyzes how the literacy skills of U.S. children do not match international standards and the growing literacy gap between children from rich and poor families. In order to address these issues, the journal recommends the use of literacy standards, the Common Core Standards in particular, as well as improving teaching in high-poverty areas.
The journal stresses the importance of teaching children how to read informational texts and write analytically, starting at the earliest grades. The articles address a variety of other topics on literacy, including: patterns of literacy among students in the U.S., the role that out-of-school factors can play in literacy development, improving reading in the primary grades, literacy development in children who are low-income and/or from non-English speaking households, building school infrastructures that successfully teach literacy skills, and the use of technology in supporting literacy skills.
"Latino Kids Data Explorer," the National Council of La Raza's (NCLR) new data tool, offers users the opportunity to find information about Latino children across multiple indicators, age groups, and states. The data tool's indicators focus on population trends, nativity status and citizenship, family structure and income, education and language, health, and juvenile justice. Data are also available across age groups: 0-2, 0-4, 0-8, and 0-17.
The "Data Explorer" grew out of NCLR's 2010 report, America's Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends, which looked at the state of Latino children by analyzing well-being across the areas of demography, citizenship, family structure, poverty, health, education, and juvenile justice.
In addition to NCLR's data tool, the organization also released the brief, Young Latino Children-Ready to Learn and Lead?, which highlights the need for greater investment in this population. It finds that 25 percent of children under age 8 in the U.S. are Hispanic, and 36 percent of Hispanic children under age 8 live in poverty. Additionally, the brief finds that Hispanic children under 5 are read to less frequently than white, non-Hispanic children. Thirty-seven percent of Hispanic children under age 5 are read to less than 3 times a week compared to just 12 percent for white, non-Hispanic children. To address these problems, NCLR recommends high-quality preschool for Latino children and greater support during their youngest years.
Migration Policy Institute (MPI) recently published the report, Patterns and Predictors of School Readiness and Early Childhood Success Among Young Children in Black Immigrant Families, which explores the well-being of U.S.-born children to black immigrant parents. While 12 percent of all black children living in the U.S. are children of first- or second-generation immigrants, there is very little research that looks at their health and development.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), the authors of the report analyze the early childhood experiences and outcomes of children in black immigrant families relative to their peers in other immigrant and native groups. The report finds several positive outcomes for children in black immigrant families, such as high rates of marriage, parental education and employment, good health, English proficiency, and strong parental support for education for young children as seen in the high rates of center-based care during preschool years. However, young children in black immigrant families are also susceptible to some potential areas of risk. More than half of young children living in black immigrant families are low income, and young children in black immigrant families experience relatively higher rates of child obesity.
The report suggests that strategies to improve positive outcomes among children of black immigrants should build on existing strengths. For example, since many black immigrant families participate in early care and education programs, these types of programs should be evaluated for quality and effectiveness as well as used to promote parent engagement.
The August 2012 Educare Implementation Study Findings report from the Franklin Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that the 12 Educare schools around the country are having a positive impact on at-risk children's school readiness and vocabulary skills. Educare schools serve at-risk children from birth to 5 years old, and are open full-day and year-long. Since 2005, the FPG Child Development Institute has led the implementation study of the Educare model. The most recent report provides results from fall 2007 to spring 2011.
The report finds that children who enroll in an Educare school before the age of 2 score higher on school readiness assessments when they leave Educare for kindergarten compared to children who enter Educare later on. Additionally, Educare children's vocabulary scores when they leave for kindergarten were higher the earlier they enrolled in Educare. Educare children also show average or above average social-emotional skills upon kindergarten entry. Researchers will continue to study the implementation of the Educare program in order to assess the child, family, and classroom characteristics of Educare schools.
One of the country's newest Educare schools recently opened in Washington, DC. Read an Education Week profile of this school and the promise it holds for improving lives in the nation's capital.
The National Governors Association (NGA) published a white paper that analyzes the role governors can play in aligning early education and K-12 reform efforts. While trying to align the two areas is often challenging, NGA recommends that governors can play an important role in helping their staff and policy leaders promote and work to integrate early care and education programs with the K-12 system.
In order to align reform efforts in these areas, NGA recommends focusing on 6 key areas:
- Leadership and Governance: Redesigning or creating new governance structures that promote the alignment of early education programs and early elementary policies and practices.
- Learning Standards: Work to ensure that early learning standards and grade school standards are aligned.
- Child Assessments: Develop and implement assessments that are aligned from birth to grade 3 that help monitor children's progress.
- Accountability: Align best practices from early education programs into accountability practices in the early grades.
- Teacher/Leader Preparation and Professional Development: Strengthen teacher and leader preparation for both early education and early elementary grades and work to align professional development areas.
- Resource Allocation and Reallocation: Realign resources to support access to high-quality early education programs.