Early Childhood Education Update - September 2012
September 10, 2012 | Child Care and Early Education
In this issue:
- New CLASP Publication Offers States Information on Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education Programs
- Policy Brief Series Highlights Best Practices in Early Education for Young Latino Children
- Cost of Child Care Rises Across the U.S. in 2011
- The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Looks at Technical Assistance (TA) Strategies in State Early Childhood Professional Development Systems
- Study Shows Bilingualism Improves Academic Performance of Low-Income Children
CLASP's newly released Putting it Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education aims to help states look beyond the major sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early childhood settings. Comprehensive services like preventive health care, developmental screenings, and family supports are critical to the success of children -especially those who are most at risk for developmental challenges and delays. Yet the sources of child care funding historically available to states have limited supply and allowable uses, and are insufficient to provide comprehensive services in most child care and early education settings.
CLASP's financing guide walks early childhood stakeholders through the steps of building financing partnerships, and provides critical information and resources related to specific federal funding streams that support comprehensive services for children. The guide includes funding examples from state and local communities and technical details on the allowable uses of funding streams to support comprehensive services. The guide looks at fifteen different funding streams including: Head Start; the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP); Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grants; Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS); Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children; Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV); Medicaid; the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP); Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Title I; McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Parts C and B; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Project LAUNCH; and the Community Development Block Grant.
Putting it Together provides state policymakers and advocates with strategies to maximize resources and make policy changes that drive funds, resources, and community partners to child care and early education programs to benefit young children and families. Separate from blending and braiding funding streams at the local or program level, the strategies described in this guide focus on state policy decisions that can facilitate the innovative use of funds, encourage partnerships at the state and local level, and replicate promising models from other states.
Read the complete financing guide >>
POLICY BRIEF SERIES HIGHLIGHTS BEST PRACTICES IN EARLY EDUCATION FOR YOUNG LATINO CHILDREN
National Council of La Raza (NCLR) released a series of policy briefs focusing on current best practices in early childhood education programs that serve young Latino children and young English Language Learners (ELLs). The series, "Preparing Young Latino Children for School Success," uses each of its four briefs to focus on a different set of best practices, including professional development, student assessments, language instruction, and family engagement.
- Best Practices in Professional Development: This brief focuses on the importance of preparing early childhood educators with the knowledge and skills to work with culturally and linguistically diverse children and their families. It looks at professional development through the lens of teaching young Latino children and ELLs. In order to help prepare early childhood educators, NCLR recommends that federal policymakers require states to establish a strong infrastructure for culturally responsive and effective English language instruction, as well as have states create pathways for culturally and linguistically diverse providers to obtain credentials and certifications in early learning as part of their professional development. NCLR recommends that states partner with higher learning institutions to develop coursework that better prepares early childhood educators to work with diverse populations, and have states develop career ladder programs to attract and retain diverse educators and providers.
- Best Practices in Student Assessments: In order to effectively teach and measure the progress of ELLs, assessments must take into consideration the particular skills and needs of these students. In order to appropriately assess ELL students, NCLR recommends that, at the federal level, policymakers incentivize states to develop quality ELL instruction, create professional development plans that ensure assessments are administered in a reliable manner, and provide educators with information on best practices on effective assessment strategies. At the state level, policymakers should work to ensure assessments are reliable and valid for ELL students, that data collection is comparable and cohesive, and that early learning guidelines establish benchmarks for English-language development.
- Best Practices in Language Instruction: English language instruction is critical to helping ELLs progress in school and succeed academically. Effective language instruction can be supported at the federal level by promoting the expansion of dual language early learning programs, and by requiring states to develop early learning guidelines that take the learning needs of ELL children into account and create benchmarks for their English language development. At the state level, policymakers can support English language instruction by creating professional development programs that attract and retain educators who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Additionally, states should make sure that preschool teachers are trained to work with young ELL children and families.
- Best Practices in Family Engagement: Engaging with Latino and ELL families is critical to supporting them as they support their children's learning and development. The federal government can promote family engagement and literacy programs within states, as well as provide information on best practices for family engagement and funding to research and evaluate what outreach programs work best. States can encourage partnerships between early education programs and community organizations to encourage family engagement. They can also help providers obtain greater professional development around how to engage families, particularly ones that are culturally and linguistically diverse.
In 2011, child care costs exceeded 10 percent of the median household income for a two-parent family in 40 states and the District of Columbia, according to Child Care Aware (formerly the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, or NACCRRA), which released the latest update in its ongoing research on the cost of care, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report.
The annual report, which looks at how much parents in every state pay for young children to be in a variety of care settings, found that the average annual cost of center-based care for an infant ranged from $4,600 to $15,000 per year across states, up 2 percent over 2010, and the average cost of center-based care for a 4-year-old child ranged from $3,900 to $11,700, up 4.2 percent over 2010. These high costs rival families' spending on food, rent, and mortgage payments. In 35 states, the average annual cost of child care exceeds state college tuition.
Child Care Aware highlights how rising costs of child care may be driving more parents to less expensive child care options, which may also be of lesser quality and not up to licensed health and safety standards. In order to address the issues of cost and quality, the report recommends that state and federal governments invest child care funds into providing higher quality, safe, and affordable child care options to families.
Recently, NAEYC published a policy report on how states can work to implement integrated early childhood professional development systems. Using focus groups, surveys, and interviews, NAEYC looked at how states are creating policies to develop, support, and monitor professional development TA for early childhood professionals. Their research found that more needs to be done to integrate those who provide early childhood TA into the state professional development system. NAEYC found four public policy areas where more could be done to integrate TA across systems, these include: common terminology; standards, specialized competencies, and qualifications; pathways, ongoing support, and compensation; and data, evaluation, and quality assurance.
The report finds that policies for TA providers are fragmented and are not seen as part of an integrated early childhood system. There needs to be greater transparency about the roles of mentors, coaches, and consultants, and the pathways to becoming a mentor, coach, or consultant need to be more clearly defined and intentional. More work across different early childhood sectors-child care, home visiting, Head Start, schools-needs to be done to integrate and maximize professional development TA offerings. In addition to this, NAEYC found that state stakeholders are looking for guidance on how to integrate professional development across these sectors.
In order to address these issues and implement a more effective TA system, NAEYC makes the following policy recommendations:
- Map the current use of mentors, coaches, and professional development consultants to better understand where these individuals are, and what their qualifications and specialized qualifications are. In turn, use this map to build a TA system that works across sectors.
- Use common terminology and definitions across early childhood professional development system. This will allow for greater uniformity in policies, data, and evaluation, and encourages integration of TA across early childhood sectors.
- Create a unifying framework for specialized knowledge that addresses competencies for specific sectors, roles, and settings.
- Integrate technical assistance providers into the state professional development system.
- Develop policies around compensation and benefits that attract and retain highly qualified TA providers.
- Look into aligning TA policies and support with early elementary grades, from Kindergarten through third grade.
Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of learning a second language. A soon-to-be-published study looks at bilingualism and whether or not it has an impact on low-income children's executive function performance. Researchers in Luxembourg compared the executive function performance of 40 Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilingual, low- income children with that of 40 similar Portuguese children who are monolingual. The researchers compared the children's performance across their working memory, abstract reasoning, selective attention, and interference suppression. These cognitive functions were divided into two larger categories: 1) representation (abstract reasoning and working memory); and 2) control (selective attention and inhibitory suppression).
The study results find that the bilingual children perform much better than the monolingual children with respect to the executive functions that are associated with control. The researchers believe that these results indicate that bilingual children who are also low income can experience similar cognitive benefits of bilingualism, such as increased attention, as children who are bilingual but not low income. The study has yet to be published, but a manuscript is available through Education Week.