Early Childhood Education Update - October 2009
Oct 01, 2009 | Teresa Lim
In this special issue:
- CLASP Launches Redesigned Website and DataFinder Tool
- Child Care Assistance in 2007: Spending Update
- Tracking Economic Recovery Child Care Funds: Monthly Update
- NWLC Releases 2009 State Child Care Assistance Policies Report
- Leveraging Federal Funding for Longitudinal Data Systems
- Child Care Subsidy Use and Employment Outcomes in Illinois, Texas, and Maryland, plus A Guide to Using Subsidy Data
- Infants and Toddlers in State and Federal Budgets
- Supporting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children
- Using Developmental Science to Inform Early Learning Policies and Practices
- New Data Tool and Research Brief Focuses on Children of Immigrants
- Smart Start Releases Website Tool on Early Childhood Development Initiatives
- The Status of California's Young Children and Their Families
- Key Initiatives to Promote Self-Sufficiency in Louisiana
- Study Examines Chicago Family Child Care Networks
- Chapin Hall Releases Research Briefs on Home-Visiting, Child Abuse Prevention, and Immigrant Families' Use of Public Assistance
CLASP is pleased to present a redesigned and enhanced website that provides easy access to an array of resources on policy issues impacting low-income people. New research and analyses, legislative updates, and other information relevant to the early childhood field can be found by clicking on "Child Care and Early Education" under the Issues tab on the home page. CLASP provides resources on a diverse range of topics affecting young children, including:
- Child Care Subsidies
- Children of Immigrants
- Head Start/Early Head Start
- Infants and Toddlers (also check out CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project)
- Systems and Financing
- State Developments
- Economic Recovery
The website also features a new DataFinder tool, which allows policymakers, advocates and others to synthesize national and state level information about various programs and trends that affect low-income people and families. The data tool currently contains data on spending and participation in the Child Care Development and Block Grant (CCDBG) and Head Start/Early Head Start; young child demographics; poverty statistics; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) expenditures; and other useful information. CLASP will add more data to this evolving tool over time.
States report spending in the Child Care Development and Block Grant (CCDBG) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). CLASP released a new policy brief, Child Care Assistance in 2007: Spending Update, which summarizes key developments in child care spending in 2007, the most recent fiscal year in which data is available from HHS. This brief provides information on CCDBG and TANF child care funds that were spent during that time period as well as national trends in child care spending in recent years. Among the brief's findings for spending in 2007:
- Total child care spending: Total spending, including federal and state CCDBG and TANF-related funds, increased by $993 million, or 8 percent, to nearly $13.0 billion. This increase is attributed to an increase in CCDBG expenditures in California and an increase in state TANF MOE funds in two states, California and Massachusetts. If California is excluded from the national figures, national spending from 2006 to 2007 remained nearly flat.
- State spending: Thirty-one states increased overall child care spending, while 20 states made cuts. Sixty percent of the increase in spending was attributed to California ($862 million), while 29 percent of the decrease was in New York ($122 million).
- CCDBG spending: CCDBG expenditures increased to $10.2 billion-$7 billion in federal funds and $3.2 billion in state matching and MOE funds (including expenditures of funds appropriated in prior years). This increase was the result of increased spending reported by California.
- TANF spending: Federal TANF funds used for child care increased slightly, reversing a six-year trend of decline. Nationally, states used approximately $3.2 billion in TANF funds for child care in 2007, approximately $64 million more than in the previous year, or a 2 percent increase.
Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are available until September 30, 2010. The U.S. Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) issues weekly reports tracking state outlays of ARRA funds. CCDBG ARRA funds are intended to be spent quickly and effectively to create new jobs, serve more families, and improve the quality of care.
CLASP is providing monthly updates on national and state-by-state spending to help inform policymakers and others of how much allocated funds have been drawn down. As of September 18, states, territories, and tribes have drawn down a total of $183.6 million in child care funds, or 9 percent of the $2 billion allocation. Fifteen states currently report that they have not drawn down any funds (Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which we count as a state). Four states (Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Ohio) have drawn down over 50 percent of allocated dollars. Please note that ARRA reporting of state outlays includes any tribal funds drawn down within the state.
The National Women's Law Center recently released its annual review of state child care subsidy policies, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2009: Most States Hold the Line, But Some Lose Ground in Hard Times. The report, which focuses on the period between February 2008 and February 2009, finds that state child care subsidy policies have remained largely unchanged. Four areas of subsidy policy are analyzed: income eligibility, copayments, waiting lists, and reimbursement rates. Among the few states that made changes, the report finds that more of them made negative changes that restricted access to child care assistance than made positive improvements to support low-income families. The report's findings include:
- Income eligibility: Three states decreased the income eligibility for assistance, while the remaining states either increased or kept eligibility at the same level.
- Copayments: In over half of states, copayment levels remained the same from 2008 to 2009. Families in about one-fifth of states paid higher copayments in 2009 compared to 2008.
- Waiting lists: Nineteen states had waiting lists, an increase from the previous year when there were seventeen states. Among fifteen states in which comparable data is available, five of them witnessed an increase in the number of children on these lists from 2008.
- Reimbursement rates: In 2009, nine states had reimbursement rates that met the federally recommended level. This is a slight decrease from 2008 when 10 states met the recommended level but less than half of the 22 states that met the level in 2001.
Given the limited period covered, the report notes that it does not include analysis of the effects of the recession during its peak or the impacts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). However, the report provides some updates of state activities since February 2009 and offers examples of steps that states plan to take with ARRA funds.
The Data Quality Campaign released a new interactive resource, Leveraging Federal Funding for Longitudinal Data Systems: A Roadmap for States, which identifies various federal funding opportunities that states can tap into to support the development and implementation of data systems. A description of each funding source is provided as well as relevant federal guidance and suggestions on how the funds may be used. Funding sources available specifically to early childhood programs include:
- Head Start
- Child Care and Development Block Grant
- Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The resource is currently based on funding allocations set through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, FY 2009 appropriations, and budget requests for FY 2010. New funding opportunities will be added to the resource as they become available.
A new report, Employment Outcomes for Low-Income Families Receiving Child Care Subsidies in Illinois, Maryland, and Texas, presents findings on a three-state study conducted by a partnership of four university-based research centers with support from the U.S. Census and Child Care Bureaus. Using state administrative data and data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the study analyzes two main issues concerning child care assistance: program participation and employment outcomes. For program participation, the study looks at the parent and family characteristics of program participants, including income eligibility and work requirements, and the rate of participation in child care assistance programs. For employment outcomes, the study examines employment durations/terminations and their effects on income eligibility. The study's findings include:
- Parent and family characteristics: Demographic factors associated with higher program participation rates included single parent status, younger parental age, and minority race/ethnicity status. Additionally, participation rates were lower among single parents with children ages 0-1, than parents with children ages two and older. Immigrant status was associated with lower participation rates in Illinois and Texas.
- Geographic locations: In Maryland and Texas, program participation rates were lower in urban areas compared to non-urban areas while the opposite held true in Illinois.
- TANF receipt: Across all three states, families that received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participated in child care assistance programs at higher rates than those who were not TANF recipients.
- Employment duration: Use of child care subsidies was associated with longer durations of employment, particularly in Illinois. The association was weakest in Maryland.
- Employment terminations/Income ineligibility: In all three states, parents who had participated in the program the previous quarter were less likely to lose their subsidy due to income ineligibility (ie, incomes exceeding the income threshold) than first-time recipients who had not participated previously. Program participation was associated with longer employment periods only in Illinois.
Accompanying the report is a resource for researchers, A Guide to Understanding State Child Care Subsidy Programs Through Analysis of Public and Non-Public Use Datasets. The guide discusses three factors critical to researchers in analyzing data: study population, data sources, and data validity. The tool offers examples of how child care subsidy use and employment outcomes can be analyzed using publicly available data, such as ACS data, and non-public data, such as state administrative data on program participation.
A new report, Infants and Toddlers in State and Federal Budgets: Yesterday's Choices, Today's Decisions, Tomorrow's Options, outlines key issues discussed at a roundtable organized by the Urban Institute. The roundtable was convened to discuss the observed disparity between limited investments in programs serving infants and toddlers and research evidence showing that the early years are a critical period of growth and development. The report highlights major facts about national and state spending, including the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on very young children, and summarizes roundtable participants' responses to this current policy situation. Five main issues emerged from the roundtable discussions:
- Utilizing available health and nutrition programs to serve infants and toddlers;
- Improving the coordination of programs and funding streams;
- Providing comprehensive services and supports to infants and toddlers, including developmental, mental health, and medical care services;
- Partnering with parents and providing family supports; and
- Making the case for further investments in programs serving infants and toddlers.
Roundtable participants offered a diverse range of ideas and strategies to help states improve services and supports for infants and toddlers. Approaches included tapping further into existing programs and strengthening partnerships with state leaders. Roundtable participants also identified challenges to moving forward, such as the need for better integrated data systems to ensure accountability. Overall, participants reached general consensus that future federal spending should build on ARRA investments and that it is critical to ensure that infants and toddlers are included in the broader discussions of health care and education reform.
Two new policy briefs from the National Center for Children in Poverty focus on the importance of supporting the social and emotional development of young children:
- Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood - This brief provides an overview of critical issues concerning the social and emotional development of young children. These issues include family and environmental risk factors; children in foster care and child welfare; the present conditions of service delivery and support systems; and access to high-quality mental health and early intervention services. The brief finds that an estimated 9.5 to 14.2 percent of children, birth to age five, experience social-emotional issues that impair their healthy growth and development as well as school readiness. Yet, a survey of state policies finds that many states lack comprehensive systems that screen at-risk children and provide adequate access to high-quality supports and services. The brief looks at the types and utilization of available services and identifies various challenges to accessing treatment. Recommendations for supporting the mental and social well-being of young children are outlined, which include requiring the use of standardized tools to screen children and ensuring that pediatricians and other early care providers receive adequate mental and social health training.
- Promoting Social-Emotional Wellbeing in Early Intervention Services - This brief presents findings from a study on state policies and strategies that support the social and emotional development of infants and toddlers. The study focused particularly on services and supports provided through Part C, the Early Intervention Program for Infant and Toddlers with Disabilities, of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The study revealed both positive and negative findings on state activities to support early intervention. Among the study's positive findings, most states (70 percent) recommend the use of screening tools to identify children with or at risk of developmental delays. Furthermore, almost 90 percent of states support activities that encourage screening children through primary care doctors, while another 96 percent collect data that could be used to track the social-emotional skills of children. Among the study's negative findings, only half of states reported that they provided infant/toddler relationship-based training, and less than 40 percent mandated that a representative with specific knowledge in social-emotional development be included on the evaluation committee that decided eligibility rules of Part C. The brief offers a set of recommendations to improve screenings and service coordination, increase access to family support, and ensure program accountability.
The Frank Porter Graham Institute released a new policy brief as part of its pre-k -grade three initiative, First School. The brief, Using Developmental Science to Transform Children's Early School Experiences, illustrates the important connection between developmental psychology and early education. Four elements critical to shaping a young child's learning and development are explained in the brief: self-regulation, representational thought, memory, and attachment. The brief presents seven ways in which young children's school experiences can be improved by applying what is known about the science of children's development to actual school practice:
- Enhance teachers' understanding of child development and ability to create developmentally supportive curriculums;
- Increase the role of play as an instructional tool;
- Improve teachers' ability to understand and address misconceptions by children;
- Inform strategies on how to improve children's memory skills;
- Support a child's social/behavioral development;
- Inform teachers about opportunities for explicit instruction and independent exploration; and
- Identify and focus on skills that are more difficult for children to learn.
The Urban Institute released a new data tool on children of immigrant families. The tool compiles data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) and provides information, such as the number and percentage of children in immigrant families, nationally and by state, as well as the parent and family characteristics of these children. ACS data from 2005 and 2006 are currently in the tool, which will be updated as new information is released by the Census Bureau. Users can generate customizable charts or tables that feature one or more of 21 demographic, social, and economic factors, including:
- Age breakdown (young children are divided into two groups, ages 0-3 and 4-5)
- Race and ethnicity
- Citizenship and immigrant status of children and parents
- Children's school enrollment and parent's education
- English proficiency
- Employment and income status of household
Accompanying the data tool is a report, Children of Immigrants: National and State Characteristics, which summarizes key findings from the tool's database. Among the findings, young children are more likely than older children to be in immigrant families. Nationally, children of immigrant families represent 24 percent of young children ages 0-5, while representing 21 percent of school-age children ages 6-17. In addition, the report finds that there may be some under-enrollment in early education among young children in immigrant families. In 2005-2006, 22 percent of children ages 3-5 who attended preschool or kindergarten were from immigrant families. Yet, children from immigrant families accounted for 24 percent of the preschool-age population. Although 1.9 million preschool-age children in immigrant families attended an early education program, another 1.3 million were not enrolled.
The Smart Start National Technical Assistance Center launched a new resource section on its website for states to share information and ideas on developing, implementing, and evaluating early childhood initiatives. The resource section builds on the framework of the Early Childhood Systems Working Group and focuses on four key components to supporting young children and families: early learning; family support; mental health and nutrition; and special needs and early intervention. States can find a wide range of materials, such as policy analyses, legislative reports, and data tools, on the following issues:
- System developments
- Public awareness/advocacy
- Programming and provider/practitioner
States may also contribute resources to the new website tool and provide feedback on additional information they would like to see on the webpage.
The WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies released a presentation, California's Young Children and their Families: Demographic, Social, and Economic Conditions, which offers a current portrait of young children and their families in California. The presentation summarizes key data on the state's population of young children, including the growth rate, county distribution, school readiness levels, race/ethnicity, and proportion of children in immigrant families. In addition, the presentation provides data in the following areas:
- Poverty: Poverty levels broken down by age, household income, race/ethnicity, employment status of parents
- Parental education: Mother's education level and maternal education by race/ethnicity and region
- Teen parents: Share of teen mothers broken down by region and race/ethnicity
- Child care and early education: Proportion of children enrolled in early care and education programs, access to programs by age, and Head Start/Early Head Start enrollments
- Health: Proportion of children without insurance, children served by Medicaid, pregnancy and health statistics, access to dental care
- Risk factors: Key risk factors affecting young children, including health and social-emotional factors
The Louisiana Department of Social Services released a report, Promoting Self-Sufficiency for Louisiana's Citizens: A Framework for Strategic Investments, which outlines a set of policy actions and strategies for reducing poverty in the state. The report describes two key initiatives of the department: workforce development and family support. As part of the family support initiative, child care and early education are highlighted as critical components to assisting low-income families and promoting preventative strategies. The report emphasizes the importance of providing access to high-quality child care and outlines resources that the department is utilizing to promote access, which includes the Child Care and Development Fund; the School Readiness Tax Credit; the Quality Start Child Care Rating System (QRS); and the Automated Time and Attendance System. In addition, the report discusses the importance of early education programs, such as Head Start and state pre-kindergarten, in promoting school readiness as well the importance of investments in early intervention programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership, in supporting the health and social-emotional well-being of young children.
The Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy released a policy brief and full report on the Family Child Care Network Impact Study. Conducted in 2002-2004, the study focused on a sample of 150 licensed family child care (FCC) providers in Chicago and analyzed the effects of participation in FCC networks on child care quality as well as the kinds of services provided by networks to members. Two types of family child care networks were examined in the study: voluntary, provider-led associations and staffed FCC networks. Overall, the study found that FCC providers who were members of FCC networks scored higher on care quality than providers who were not a member of any FCC network based on two measures of quality: the Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS) and the Arnett Caregiver Interaction Scale (Arnett CIS). Among the study's other findings:
- Staffed networks versus provider-led associations: Among providers affiliated with an FCC network, providers in staffed networks measured significantly higher on quality than providers in provider-led associations.
- Most successful networks: Staffed networks with coordinators specially trained in infant care and that provided support services to providers measured significantly higher on quality than staffed networks without these two features and provider-led associations.
- Effective network support services: Support services that were highly or moderately correlated with higher quality included regular communication between network staff and providers, onsite training at networks for providers, specialized infant training for coordinators, and frequent visits to FCC homes to assist providers in working with children.
- Least effective network support services: Support services that were least correlated with higher quality included monthly health and safety visits to FCC homes, referrals to external training, peer mentoring, material resources, and business services.
The policy brief and report offer various recommendations to state policymakers and FCC networks on ways to improve the quality of FCC care. These recommendations include providing incentives to FCC providers to join staffed FCC networks, investing in resources to recruit network coordinators with training in infant development, and ensuring regular communication between the network's staff and its members.
Chapin Hall released three new research briefs in recent weeks:
- Embedding Home Visitation Services Within a System of Early Childhood Services - This brief discusses key issues concerning early childhood systems to help inform policymakers and legislators about the potential impact of home visiting legislation currently being considered by state legislatures and Congress such as the Early Support for Families Act. Among these issues, the brief describes four features necessary for a comprehensive early childhood system: early access to health care, a broad risk assessment, home visitation services, and links to child care and early education programs. Home visiting programs are examined in further detail as an important component to these systems. The brief also focuses on the role of evidence-based research in developing and evaluating early childhood systems. A set of indicators for identifying effective programs is outlined.
- The Duke Endowment Child Abuse Prevention Initiative - Chapin Hall released three evaluation reports on the Duke Endowment Child Abuse Prevention Initiative. Launched in 2002, the purpose of the initiative was to lower child maltreatment cases through improvement of parenting practices and behaviors and strengthening of community service systems and support. The initiative consisted of two program sites: the Durham Family Initiative in Durham, North Carolina and Strong Communities in Greenville, South Carolina. Two of the reports provide in-depth findings and evaluations of each of the program sites. The remaining report provides an overall mid-point assessment of the initiative. Using administrative and household survey data, the mid-point report finds mixed results in terms of the initiative's impacts. For instance, administrative data showed a promising decrease in child abuse reports, rates of hospitalization related to maltreatment, and infant mortality rates in Durham. No comparable improvements were found for Greenville. However, household survey data suggest that parenting behavior improved in Greenville while similar results were not found for Durham. The report identifies promising program features that show potential for replication and offers recommendations for moving forward with the initiative.
- Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Families: Who Takes Up Supports? - This brief compares the use of public assistance programs between U.S.-born and foreign-born families. The brief's findings are part of an eight-year longitudinal study on the use of public supports and services among low-income families in Palm Beach County, Florida. Participation in SCHIP/Medicaid, food stamps/WIC programs, and child care assistance are analyzed. Among the brief's findings, U.S.-born mothers are significantly more likely to have health insurance for themselves and their children as well as to receive food stamps. In addition, U.S.-born mothers are three times more likely to use child care subsidies than foreign-born mothers. The only program in which foreign-born mothers are more likely to receive benefits from compared to U.S.-born mothers is WIC. Interview data also suggest that foreign-born mothers may be less keen on placing infants in center-based child care but more willing when the child is three years old and older. The brief also identifies barriers among foreign-born families to accessing program services and supports such as limited English proficiency and un-flexible location/hours of benefits offices.