Early Childhood Education Update - November 2009
Nov 09, 2009 | Teresa Lim
In this issue:
- Tracking ARRA Child Care Funds - October State Spending
- CLASP Releases Head Start 2008 State Fact Sheets
- A Tool for Examining State Child Care Subsidy Policies and Promoting Stable, Quality Infant/Toddler Care
- Update on State Child Care Assistance Policies and Use of Economic Recovery Funds
- First Focus Releases Annual Analysis of Federal Spending on Children
- State Early Care and Education Policy Developments for FY 2010
- Financing for Infant/Toddler Services
- Updated Data Resources On Young Children Demographics and School Readiness
- The Impacts of Teacher Training in Classroom Management on Preschool Children's Emotional and Behavioral Development
- NIEER Presents Third-Year Findings on New Mexico's Pre-Kindergarten Program
- CDC Guidance for Early Childhood Programs on 2009-2010 Influenza Season
- Legislative Action on Pre-Kindergarten Programs for FY 2010
The U.S. Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) issues weekly reports tracking state outlays of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Child Care and Development Block Grant (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. CLASP also provides several reasons for why only a relatively small share of national funds has been spent to date.
As of October 16, states, territories, and tribes have drawn down a total of $244.8 million in child care funds, or 12 percent of the $2 billion allocation. Eleven states currently report that they have not drawn down any funds (Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which we count as a state). Six states (Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, and Oregon) 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.
CLASP has created a national profile and state fact sheets analyzing Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data for 2008, which all grantees are required to report to the federal government on an annual basis. Each profile includes data on all Head Start programs in the state: Early Head Start, Head Start preschool, American Indian and Alaskan Native Head Start, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start. More specifically, the information includes data on participants, families, staff, and programs.
To create a custom table of 2008 Head Start/Early Head Start data and other early childhood data, visit CLASP's DataFinder.
CLASP announces the release of A Tool to Examine State Child Care Subsidy Policies and Promote Stable, Quality Care for Low-Income Babies and Toddlers. This tool provides a policy framework that lays out child care subsidy policies-ranging-from simple to substantial changes-that can be implemented to better support babies and toddlers and their families. Users can download and save a copy of this tool, then fill in the appropriate columns with their state's current policies and opportunities for change. In addition, links are included to online resources and examples of state policy initiatives. Assistance in using this tool is available from CLASP. This tool is the first in a series that will be published to help states chart their own progress toward improving child care for babies and toddlers, as part of CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project.
Last month, CLASP and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) held the third in a series of audio conferences about how states are working to improve the quality and accessibility of child care in the current economic crisis. The conference call, Update on State Child Care Assistance Policies and Use of Economic Recovery Funds, discussed how states have successfully used American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to assist low-income families. In addition, the call discussed highlights from NWLC's new child care report, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2009: Most States Hold the Line, But Some Lose Ground in Hard Times. Speakers on the conference call included:
- Shannon Rudisill, Associate Director, Child Care Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Tonya Russell, Director, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Arkansas Department of Human Services
- Brittany Birken, Director, Office of Early Learning, Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation
- Lynne Shanafelt, Assistant Director of Provider of Partnerships Division, Washington State Department of Early Learning
First Focus released its annual review of federal expenditures on programs and tax provisions supporting children. The review, Children's Budget 2009, includes an additional analysis of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which allocated $144 billion, or about 18 percent of total ARRA funds, to programs and services affecting children. Overall, the review finds that the proportion of spending on children, excluding the ARRA, in the federal budget has decreased since 2005. In 2009, children's spending accounted for 9.2 percent of the non-defense portion of the federal budget, while in 2005, it was 10.5 percent. Although children's spending has increased about nine percent in the last five years, total non-defense spending has increased at over twice this rate. The report provides a breakdown of federal spending on children by program and tax policy over the last four years. Among the report's findings on programs serving young children from 2005-2009, adjusted for inflation:
- Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Federal funding has increased by 18.9 percent.
- Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies: Federal funding has increased by 3.2 percent.
- Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities: Federal funding has decreased by 11.8 percent.
- Grants for Infants and Families with Disabilities: Federal funding has decreased by 9.6 percent.
- Child Care Development Block Grant: Federal funding has decreased by 7.4 percent.
- Head Start: Federal funding has decreased by 5.7 percent.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) released a new report, State Early Care and Education Public Policy Developments (FY 2010). The report summarizes state actions on early childhood programs for FY 2010 with attention to the impact of growing budget deficits. In spite of strained budgets, the report finds that many states are moving forward to improve the quality of child care and early education. Although some states have made cuts to programs, others have been able to maintain or expand programs or services with support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Major state policy developments in the following areas are highlighted:
- Professional development
- Child care subsidies
- Child care regulations
- Quality rating and improvement systems
- Infants and toddlers
- Prekindergarten and kindergarten
- Birth to five
- Child assessment
- Quality enhancements
- Public-private partnerships
- Statewide councils
A new brief by ZERO TO THREE and the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Inspiring Innovation: Creative Financing State Structures for Infant-Toddler Services, offers ideas on supporting programs and services for at-risk infants and toddlers using lessons learned from four states (Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) that have successfully developed financing structures for very young children. The brief highlights four critical components that the states address in their financing structures. These components are:
- Target population: The states targeted services and supports for at-risk children and their families. In addition, the states looked at ways to connect birth-to-three systems to broader birth-to-five systems.
- Quality: The states focused on funding high-quality, evidence-based programs and services that included accountability measures and provided assistance for meeting high-quality standards.
- Funding: The states had sustainable, flexible funding structures that allowed them to use multiple funding streams and support a variety of services.
- Design and implementation: The states built partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders to promote, develop, and implement financing structures for infant/toddler services. In addition, the states used existing infrastructures and best practices to develop their systems.
The brief describes in detail three major funding sources (set-asides in larger birth-to-five funding streams, endowments, and public-private partnership funds) that the states use to support their systems and presents strategies for effectively utilizing each of the funding streams. In addition, the brief lays out a set of recommendations for states that address all four of the critical components of financing structures for very young children.
The National Center for Children in Poverty, the Carsey Institute, and the National Center on Education Statistics recently released resources that provide updated information on young children demographics and school readiness:
>> UPDATED STATE DEMOGRAPHIC AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFILES
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recently updated its national and state demographic and early childhood profiles. The profiles provide information on young children and their families as well as early care and education developments in states. Using data from the Current Population Survey released over the past three years (2007, 2008, 2009), the demographic profiles give an overview of:
- Number of low-income and poor children
- Parental employment, education, and marital status
- Child's race/ethnicity
- Child's age
- Geographic locations of children and residential moves
- Home ownership
- Parental presence
The early childhood profiles present data on programs and services that specifically support young children and include information concerning:
- State trends and recent policy developments
- Health and nutrition
- Early care and education
- Parenting and economic supports
>> POVERTY RATES AMONG YOUNG CHILDREN BY GEOGRAPHIC REGION
The Carsey Institute released a new policy brief, Regional Young Child Poverty: Rural Midwest Sees Increased Poverty, While Urban Northeast Rates Decrease. The brief compares the poverty rates of young children, under age six, by geographical region (Midwest, South, Northeast, and West) and setting type (urban versus rural) using data most recently available from the American Community Survey (ACS). Analyzing ACS data, the report finds no major decreases in young child poverty rates across any of the regions or types of settings. Among the brief's findings:
- Midwest: In the rural Midwest, the young child poverty rate increased from 21 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2008.
- Northeast: In the urban Northeast, the young child poverty rate decreased slightly from 28.3 percent in 2007 to 27.6 percent in 2008. However, poverty rates were higher in rural and suburban areas than urban areas of the region.
- South: Almost one-third of young children in the South are poor, the highest share of young children in the nation.
- West: In 2008, the young child poverty rate was highest in rural areas at 23.2 percent, followed by urban areas at 22 percent, and suburban areas at 16.7 percent.
The brief notes that the poverty rates do not cover the period when the recession was at its highest, and therefore the poverty rates may be even worse for 2009.
>> CHILDREN AT KINDERGARTEN ENTRY: FIRST FINDINGS FROM THE EARLY CHILDHOOD LONGITUDINAL STUDY - BIRTH COHORT
The National Center for Education Statistics released a new report, The Children Born in 2001 at Kindergarten Entry: First Findings from the Kindergarten Data Collections of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). The report gives a demographic and school readiness profile of children born in 2001 at kindergarten entry. Among the report's findings:
- Demographics (child/family characteristics): About one quarter of children in the study lived below the poverty line. In addition, almost 20 percent lived in a household where English was not the primary language. Before kindergarten entry, most (83 percent) were in a regular early care and education arrangement.
- Early literacy and math skills and knowledge: Children's reading and math skills varied by demographic factors. For instance, children who lived at or above the poverty line scored higher on reading and math skills than children who lived below the poverty line. Also, children who were in a regular early care and education arrangement before kindergarten had higher reading and math scores than their peers.
- Fine motor skills: Similar to reading and math skills, children's fine motor skills varied by demographic factors. For instance, children who lived below the poverty line scored lower on fine motor skills than their peers.
- Kindergarten participation: About 89 percent of children who entered kindergarten attended a public school, while about 11 percent attended a private (religious or nonsectarian) school. Among children who attended a public school, about half attended a school where over half of students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Almost 75 percent of children in kindergarten enrolled in a full-day program.
- Before/after-school child care arrangements during kindergarten year: About 40 percent of children were in a regular care arrangement during the school year. About 17 percent were in center-based care; about 17 percent were in home-based, relative care; and about 6 percent were in home-based, non-relative care.
A new MDRC report, Can Teacher Training in Classroom Management Make a Difference for Children's Preschool Experiences? presents preliminary findings from the Foundation of Learning (FOL) demonstration, a teacher training initiative in Newark, NJ and Chicago, IL. Launched in 2007-2008, FOL builds on the model of the Chicago School Readiness Project and aims to improve teachers' understanding and skills in nurturing the emotional and behavioral development of young children. Teachers meet on a weekly basis with consultants, who mentor them and directly assist with supporting the at-most risk children in a classroom. The report looks at early results from the Newark site and finds promising impacts from the training initiative:
- Improved classroom management: About two-thirds of FOL teachers scored high on an overall measure of positive classroom management compared to only about half of a control group of teachers not participating in the demonstration.
- Improved classroom productivity, lesson preparation, and instructional time: FOL teachers scored higher on measures of lesson diversity and engagement, curriculum planning, and management of classroom time than the control group.
- Decreases in student conflicts: FOL classrooms had lower levels of student conflict than the control group. However, the quality of teacher-student and peer relationships was the same between groups.
- Improved student behavior and participation in classroom activities: About three-quarters of FOL classrooms scored high on student engagement compared to only about half of classrooms in the control group.
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released a third-year evaluation of New Mexico's pre-kindergarten program. The evaluation, Continued Impacts of New Mexico PreK on Children's Readiness for Kindergarten: Results from the Third Year of Implementation, looks at the school readiness skills of a sample of kindergarten students who participated in New Mexico PreK in 2007-2008. New Mexico PreK is implemented in multiple center-based settings, including public schools, Head Start centers, and child care centers, and funded by two different state departments, the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) and the Public Education Department (PED). Programs are overseen by CYFD or PED depending on which department provides funding. In the third-year evaluation, NIEER finds that New Mexico PreK is having positive outcomes on participating children:
- Positive effects in both CYFD- and PED-administered programs: CYFD- and PED-administered pre-kindergarten programs showed comparable effects on improving children's school readiness.
- Improved early math and literacy skills: Children who participated in New Mexico PreK measured significantly higher on math and literacy skills, such as addition and subtraction, telling time, and understanding of letters, than children who did not participate.
- Continuous positive impacts: The New Mexico PreK program's promising third-year results are consistent with evaluations of the program's first and second years of implementation, which also showed positive effects.
NIEER plans to begin a second phase of evaluation this fall. The second phase will include an analysis of whether the program's positive impacts sustain into third grade.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released guidance for early childhood programs on reducing the spread of influenza in early care settings. The guidance is an update to guidelines issued last spring with more detail on preventative measures that programs, communities, and states can take to protect the health and well-being of providers, children, and families. For local and state officials, the guidance offers a checklist to help them monitor and assess the severity of flu cases. For early childhood programs, the guidance emphasizes the importance of providers and others caring for young children on getting early flu vaccinations, given the vulnerability of young children to the flu virus. The guidance recommends the following preventative practices for those serving young children:
- Get a flu vaccination,
- Stay at home when sick,
- Conduct daily health checks,
- Separate ill children and staff,
- Encourage handwashing and other hygienic practices among everyone,
- Perform regular facility cleanings,
- Encourage early treatment for sick children and staff at high risk for flu complications, and
- Consider selective early childhood program closures if flu transmission is high.
A new PreK Now report, Votes Count: Legislative Action on PreK, Fiscal Year 2010, reviews state actions on pre-kindergarten programs for FY 2010. The report examines the impact that budget shortfalls had on pre-kindergarten investments and finds that most states continued to show support for pre-kindergarten. In total, funding for pre-kindergarten increased by over $65 million. Among the report's findings:
- Fifteen state legislatures increased funding for pre-kindergarten. Of these states, two were first-time investments.
- Nine states and the District of Columbia expected to raise pre-kindergarten funding through their school funding formula. Texas increased pre-kindergarten funding through both the school funding formula and legislative action.
- Six states maintained pre-kindergarten funding levels, while 10 states decreased pre-kindergarten funding.