Early Childhood Education Update - October 2012

October 09, 2012 | Child Care and Early Education

In this issue:

CLASP AND ZERO TO THREE RELEASE REPORT ON STATE EARLY HEAD START INITIATIVES

This past month, CLASP and ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) released the new report, Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk, which highlights current state initiatives to expand and enhance Early Head Start (EHS) services for infants, toddlers, and their families.

CLASP and ZTT found that 23 states are using at least one of four approaches to build on the federally funded EHS program: 9 states have initiatives that extend the day or year of existing EHS services; 19 states have initiatives that expand the capacity of EHS programs to increase the number of children and pregnant women served; 2 states provide resources and assistance to child care providers; 6 states support partnerships between EHS and center-based and/or family child care providers.

Conversations with states revealed five primary findings within and across the four approaches:

  • Stateinitiatives to extend the day of EHS services are funded through a variety of sources and policy strategies. States extend the day or year using various funding sources , including tobacco settlement funds, state general revenue, Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), and private foundations.
  • Several states are utilizing Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) funding to expand EHS services. MIECHV funding has provided states with a new opportunity to expand the capacity of EHS programs and increase the number of children and pregnant women served.
  • The majority of thesestates have supplemental funding initiatives in which both existing Head Start and EHS grantees are eligible to participate. States provide both funding and strategic guidance to strengthen the relationships between EHS and child care.
  • Two states, Illinois and Oklahoma,continue to provide resources to child care providers. These resources include funding, training, and technical assistance, but vary depending on the initiative.
  • In addition to providing resources for providers,several states continue to encourage EHS-child care partnerships.

The report explores these state EHS initiatives as well as provides recommendations by CLASP and ZTT that can help more states expand or further invest in EHS.

Read the full report, Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk >>

2011 POVERTY DATA SHOW MORE THAN 1 IN 4 YOUNG CHILDREN UNDER AGE 6 LIVES IN POVERTY

Recently released American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimate data show that child poverty persists around the country and that young children continue to experience the highest rates of poverty of any other population. Twelve percent of children under age 6 live in extreme poverty, or in households whose incomes are below 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Twenty-six percent of children under age 6 live in poverty, or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level and 49 percent of children are low-income, or live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Read more about how policymakers should respond to persisting child poverty >>

Additionally, CLASP's DataFinder tool provides up-to-date national and state-level data on poverty, child demographics, and working families. Users can compare data over time and across states.

Access DataFinder >>

CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD POVERTY OUTLINED IN URBAN INSTITUTE REPORT

The Urban Institute published a new report, Child Poverty and Its Lasting Consequences, which looks at the share of newborns who are born poor, family characteristics that relate to poverty, and the adult outcomes of growing up in poverty. The report finds that over the past 40 years, 16 percent of children were born to poor parents, and that nearly half of infants who were born into poverty remained poor for half of their childhoods, or grew up persistently poor. Minority children experience higher rates of poverty as compared to white children; 46 percent of poor black newborns lived in deep poverty compared to 30 percent of poor white newborns. The education level of parents at the time of a child's birth is a factor in whether a child will grow up in persistent poverty. Children born to poor parents who do not have high school diplomas are more likely to grow up persistently poor. Black children with poor parents who are unemployed at the child's birth are more likely to grow up in persistent poverty.

Child poverty can result in many negative outcomes, including a greater likelihood of being poor as an adult, dropping out of high school, experiencing higher rates of teen pregnancy, and having unstable employment. Children who experience poverty in the first two years of childhood are 30 percent more likely not to finish high school compared to children who become poor later in life; and children who experience persistent poverty are 90 percent more likely to enter their 20s without finishing high school.

In order to address the multiple negative consequences that can result from childhood poverty, Urban Institute provides the following policy recommendations:

  • Children born to poor parents should be connected early to home visiting and parental counseling programs that help expose these vulnerable young children to environments that promote healthy brain development. Additionally, mothers should be connected to insurance that can help with their physical and emotional needs.
  • Unemployed parents with low levels of education can benefit from training and work supports, like child care subsidies, to help find and keep stable jobs. Stable employment helps keep a family more economically secure, which can improve children's future outcomes.
  • Promote policies that support flexibility in allowing children to stay in their same schools if their families are forced to move. Urban Institute's research shows that negative reasons for moving, such as foreclosure, can reduce a child's likelihood of graduating from high school. Allowing families to stay in the same schools if they are forced to move because of foreclosure provides children with some stability during a difficult time and could positively impact their future educational outcomes.

Read the full paper on childhood poverty's consequences >>

BUILDING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE SKILLS OF YOUNG LATINO CHILDREN

A new brief from New Journalism on Latino Children, offers an overview of approaches to teaching English to young Latino children. Currently, over 20 percent of U.S. children entering kindergarten are of Latino heritage, and oftentimes Latino children enter school with weaker math and English pre-literacy skills compared to their non-Latino peers. This new brief examines: the impact of quality preschool on Latino English language learners; 3 approaches to English language instruction; and, how quality can enhance early learning.

Quality preschool has been shown to positively impact Latino children, particularly those who are from low-income homes or Spanish-speaking homes. Latino children who attend preschool centers show higher pre-literacy skills compared to similar children who did not attend preschool. The brief examines 3 approaches to English language instruction to determine whether specific models of English language instruction benefit Latino preschoolers who are English language learners. These include: 1) English immersion (EI) where classroom lessons are taught only in English and English is the only language spoken; 2) transitional bilingual education (TB) where teachers build on children's knowledge of their home language while working toward oral and written proficiency in English; and 3) dual-language immersion (DL) where classroom lessons and activities are conducted in equal time periods between a child's home language and English.

A review of research conducted to-date shows that TB programs provided slightly more benefit to preschoolers learning English than EI programs.  However some research suggests that approaches might be equal in terms of effect and that the quality of a program may be what matters. Little research has been done on the efficacy of DL programs; however, one study showed that dual-language immersion programs had a more positive impact on children's English proficiency by the end of fifth grade than English immersion. Dual language immersion is a promising approach, but more research needs to be done to understand its impact. Ultimately, more research is needed to determine the efficacy of each of the language instruction approaches, and to better understand the role quality plays in producing the best outcomes for young Latino English language learners. 

Read the full brief on preschool instruction for young Latino English language learners >>

EARLY CHILDHOOD INVESTMENTS PROVIDE SHORT AND LONG TERM SAVINGS

ReadyNation, a project of America's Promise Alliance, recently released a brief examining the savings of early childhood programs. The brief finds that from birth to age 2, home visiting and parent mentoring programs can help reduce costs and result in improved outcomes for children and their parents. Home visiting and mentoring programs can cut the number of low birth-weight babies almost in half, resulting in a savings of $28,000-$40,000 for each such birth prevented. Additionally, these programs can help reduce child abuse and neglect, reduce the number of emergency-room visits, and increase the number of months parents are employed.

Pre-kindergarten programs provide savings by helping ensure more young children are ready for kindergarten. High-quality programs can reduce the number of children identified as having a developmental delay, decrease the number of students who repeat kindergarten, and decrease the number of children who experience abuse and neglect. Additionally, pre-kindergarten programs that provide comprehensive services also help improve the health of children, and in turn help reduce the rate of absenteeism among students and the number of days of work parents miss.

Benefits of quality early childhood programs are seen well into elementary school. By third grade, children who participated in high-quality pre-kindergarten or home visiting programs have shown increased standardized test scores, lower grade retention rates, and fewer special education placements when compared to their peers who did not participate in these programs.

Read more about the cost savings of early childhood programs >> 

TWO NEW REPORTS FOCUS ON IMPROVING EARLY CHILDHOOD DATA SYSTEMS

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative and New America Foundation each released new reports looking at the issue of early childhood data collection. The Early Childhood Data Collaborative's report, Developing Coordinated Longitudinal Early Childhood Data Systems, looks across states' Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge applications and analyzes states' approaches to various data-related questions throughout the application. New America's brief, Counting Kids and Tracking Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten, examines the need for better data on pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs throughout the U.S.

  • Developing Coordinated Longitudinal Early Childhood Data Systems looks at opportunities in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge application for states to build coordinated, longitudinal data systems. The report looks across the applications submitted for the grant and analyzes states' approaches to various data-related questions throughout the application. What the report notes is that, regardless of whether states were granted the funds and although states' plans vary, there are many commonalities among the proposals that create opportunities for states to learn from one another about creating data systems. For example, many states described ways to make data more accessible and useful by better utilizing available technology and by outlining plans for integrated data systems that are made widely available to stakeholders.

Read the full report from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative >>

  • Counting Kids and Tracking Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten details the lack of reliable pre-kindergarten and kindergarten data and outlines the problems that result from uncoordinated systems. The brief recommends convening a national group of experts on early childhood and K-12 data to examine what states and the federal government should do to create a more logical, systematic approach to collecting and disseminating early education data at the district and state level. In addition to this brief, New America expanded its database to include data on funding and enrollment for publicly supported pre-kindergarten programs within school districts. The data include information from 2007-2011 on the state and school district levels for pre-kindergarten programs funded by the state, Head Start programs and education services for 3-5 year olds through Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Read New America's brief on pre-kindergarten and kindergarten data >>

Access New America's education funding database >>

STATE QUALITY RATING AND IMPROVEMENT SYSTEMS (QRIS) STANDARDS AND EARLY LEARNING

School readiness is considered a key goal of QRIS. Therefore, developing a better understanding of how state QRIS standards promote young children's learning and development is important in evaluating whether or not QRIS standards are doing enough to assess and assist child care providers with early learning activities. In order to evaluate current state QRIS standards on early learning, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) analyzed 23 states' QRIS programs, looking specifically at their standards relating to early learning and development.  The brief found that only a few states provide descriptions of specific practices within their QRIS standards on how providers should promote young children's learning. About half of the 23 states use references to their early learning guidelines (ELGs) to offer support to key areas of early learning. States that set requirements using block levels, not point systems, usually included specific early learning standards and supports linked to ELGs around mid-level.

To improve QRIS standards for young children's early learning, NCCP makes the follow recommendations:

  • States should specify key practices that support young children's early learning within their QRIS standards.
  • The key practices that support early learning should be incorporated at the entry level of a state's QRIS standards.
  • States should examine their ELGs for gaps in addressing key learning and development domains. When states link their QRIS standards to their ELGs they should make sure that their ELGs fully address the domains and standards they are intended to affect.
  • States should look into developing new methods that child care centers and providers can use to provide evidence that they are meeting QRIS requirements focused on early learning practices.

Read NCCP's full brief on using QRIS standards to support young children's early learning >>

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