Early Childhood Education Update - December 2009
Dec 10, 2009 | Teresa Lim
In this issue:
As we enter the holiday season, CLASP urges you to remember those families who are the hardest hit by the economic recession. Now more than ever we need public and private resources to help ensure that children and families have what they need to thrive.
- CLASP Releases National and State Fact Sheets on Child Care and Development Block Grant Participation in 2008
- Extending Home Visiting to Kinship Caregivers and Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers
- New Infant/Toddler Resources on Core Competencies and Training
- Update on State Child Care and Early Education Advisory Councils
- Updated Fact Sheets Provide Information on Children of Immigrants in the U.S. and Basic Facts About Low-Income Children
- A Review of Home Visiting Program Models and Their Effectiveness
- The State of City Leadership on Supporting Early Childhood in 2009
- Tennessee Releases Evaluation Report on State's Pre-Kindergarten Program
- Early Literacy Gaps in Maryland
- Promoting Community-Based Early Childhood Education Partnerships in Texas
CLASP has created national and state facts on Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) participation using preliminary data from 2008, the most recent year in which data is available. The fact sheets review information on the ages of children receiving assistance, the types of child care settings used, and the reasons families receive assistance. According to the Child Care Bureau data, 1.6 million children received child care assistance funded through the CCDBG program in 2008. This was a decrease of more than 106,000 children from the previous year-and the smallest number of children served this decade. A majority of states (29) served fewer children in 2008 than in 2007, while 19 states served more children.
CLASP has previously reported that the number of children birth to age 13 living in low‐income households (those earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level) has grown in recent years. With the need for assistance growing and fewer children receiving help, it may be that a smaller share of eligible children are receiving child care assistance today, as compared to 2000, when CLASP calculated that one in seven eligible children received help.
Custom tables on state and national CCDBG participation can be created and downloaded from CLASP's DataFinder.
CLASP announces the release of a new report, Extending Home Visiting to Kinship Caregivers and Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers. The report explores how home visiting programs are serving children in kinship care and in family, friend, and neighbor care, based on CLASP's interviews with major national models of home visiting and other stakeholders. It also presents detailed considerations for implementing home visiting with these caregivers, including matters of curricula, staffing, and service referral, and discusses opportunities that result from serving these caregivers. It concludes with recommendations for states and the federal government.
CLASP has added two new papers to its series of infant/toddler care resources. The papers are part of CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project, an ongoing initiative to highlight state policies that support the healthy growth and development of infants and toddlers in child care settings and provide online resources to help states implement these policies. The foundation of the project is a policy framework comprised of four key principles describing what babies and toddlers in child care need and 15 recommendations for states to move forward. CLASP's latest papers link research and policy on two of the project's policy recommendations:
- Establish Core Competencies: CLASP recommends that states establish a core body of knowledge, skills, and expertise that providers and caregivers need in order to give babies and toddlers quality care, based on current research on social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. This document presents supporting research, ideas for how state child care licensing, subsidy, and quality enhancement policies can move toward this recommendation, state examples, and online resources for state policymakers.
- Provide Access to Education, Training, and Ongoing Support: CLASP recommends that states seek to ensure access to specialized professional development for providers working with infants and toddlers, including participation in higher education programs, community-level training, ongoing individualized consultations, and access to appropriate information and supports for caregivers, so that all those who care for infants and toddlers in all settings understand and implement a core body of knowledge and skills. This document presents supporting research, ideas for how state child care licensing, subsidy, and quality enhancement policies can move toward this recommendation, state examples, and online resources for state policymakers.
CLASP and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) held the fourth 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 Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education and Care, discussed states' progress in using economic recovery funds to assist them in getting state early childhood advisory councils off the ground as well as information about the workings of existing Councils. The Head Start Reauthorization Act of 2007 requires that governors establish an early childhood advisory council responsible for developing and coordinating a comprehensive child care and early education system. Presenters on the call provided information on where states stand on establishing councils. Speakers included:
- Rachel Demma, Senior Policy Analyst in Early Childhood Education, National Governors Association
- Karen Schimke, President, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, New York
- Dave Edie, Early Education Policy Analyst, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
- Jim Redmon, Executive Director, Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund
The New America Foundation has also conducted a 50-state study on the status of state early childhood advisory councils. Findings from the study are presented in a new report, The Next Step in Systems-Building: Early Childhood Advisory Councils and Federal Efforts to Promote Policy Alignment in Early Childhood. The report compiles information, based on interviews with state early childhood personnel, on actions states have taken to create early childhood advisory councils. As of November 2009:
- 19 states have officially designated an existing coordinating body to be their early childhood advisory council.
- 30 states have not yet assigned an advisory council, although the majority can predict whether they will use an existing council or create a new one; only four states reported that they were undecided.
- One state has chosen not to apply for federal funding for an advisory council and will not have a council.
The report describes some of the varying approaches that states are using to establish a council and offers recommendations for ensuring that the councils are effectively formed.
The Urban Institute and National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) released updated fact sheets on the demographic and socio-economic conditions of children in the U.S.:
- Children of Immigrants: Immigration Trends: This fact sheet from the Urban Institute provides updated information on children of immigrants using data from the American Community Survey and other sources. Overall, the fact sheet finds that the number of children from immigrant families is expanding at a faster rate than children in native families. Among the fact sheet's findings:
- The number of children in immigrant families doubled from 8.3 million in 1990 to 16.4 million in 2007. These children now account for more than one in five U.S. children.
- From 1990-2007, children of immigrant families increased by 8.1 million compared to an increase of 2.1 million children in native families
- The rate of growth among children of immigrants was the highest during the 1990s although the population continued to increase in the 2000s.
- Basic Facts About Low-Income Children: This set of fact sheets from NCCP provides information about children from low-income families, including number and share of low-income children, family characteristics, geographic location, and health factors. Overall, 41 percent of children live in low-income families, and 44 percent of young children (under age six) are low-income. Further information on young, low-income children is available and broken down by two age groups: birth to age three and children under age six.
The Society for Research in Child Development released a report, Home Visitation and Young Children: An Approach Worth Investing In? The report summarizes the history of home visitation in the U.S. and reviews the present research literature on major home visiting models. Key issues, concerns, and challenges in implementing and evaluating the various approaches are examined. Among them, the report finds that there is a lack of consensus on the effectiveness of home visitation as an early intervention strategy. For instance, some studies conclude that home visitations have strong positive impacts, while others conclude that they have modest effects at best. The report attributes this to the use of varying research methods and standards of measure as well as different interpretations of findings. Additionally, the report finds that there is a lack of cross-program coordination and integration of home visitation into overall early intervention strategies. The report looks at the role of home visitation as part of a System of Care approach linking comprehensive services and supports to families.
The report also reviews major policy developments, including proposals to create a federal funding source for home visitation programs. Given the potential federal investments, a set of considerations for moving forward are outlined. These considerations address various issues for implementing effective home visitation programs, such as incorporating home visitation into a System of Care approach, improving the coordination of funding streams, and ensuring that the needs of diverse families and communities are addressed.
The National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, & Families released a new report, The State of City Leadership for Children and Families. The report highlights key actions taken by municipal leaders in 2009 to support children and families at the local level. In particular, the report looks at new developments as well as emerging and existing trends that have occurred in the past year. The first section of the report focuses on city efforts to improve early childhood outcomes and presents examples of local initiatives to address child care and early education issues, such as:
- Training, education, and other supports for informal caregivers
- Access to affordable, high-quality child care and pre-kindergarten
- Access to museums and other cultural venues for young children
- Information for parents of newborns and parent leadership
- Early literacy and school readiness
- Home visiting programs
- Family-friendly workplace policies
- Father involvement
The report also lays out four ideas for supporting further early childhood at the city level:
- Support the health and education of children of immigrants through parent mentoring programs;
- Integrate the protection of young children into a city's overall homeland security plan;
- Develop early education "learning stations" in public locations; and
- Work to ensure that all young children have access to infant and toddler programs that meet the quality standards set for Early Head Start.
The Tennessee State Comptroller's Office released its annual evaluation report on the state's pre-kindergarten program, Assessing the Effectiveness of Tennessee's Pre-Kindergarten Program: Annual Report, 2008-2009. The report is a follow-up to a Second Interim Report released in July 2008 that compared the short- and long-term academic outcomes of children who participated in the state's pre-kindergarten program to children who did not attend. Data from three academic years were examined: 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07. Expanding on the results of the Second Interim Report, the latest report continues to find that children who attend pre-kindergarten show better school readiness in the short term than children who do not attend. Overall, the former scored higher on assessments of academic performance at the end of kindergarten than the latter. Students were tested in reading, mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies.
Among low-income students, the report finds a significant positive correlation between pre-kindergarten participation and school readiness. This correlation, however, fades by first and second grade. While the positive effects continue slightly among low-income students, there is no significant continued correlation between pre-kindergarten participation and academic performance among other students in the long term. The report also examines two changes that occurred in 2005-2006: expansion of the program and curricular alignment to kindergarten standards. Although no significant effects of the changes were found on student performance, the report calls for further analysis of possible impacts given current limited data. The report looks at the types of curriculums used by pre-kindergarten programs and finds that they vary widely across the state.
Advocates for Children and Youth released a new policy brief concerning the school readiness of children in Maryland. The brief, Young Minority, Low-Income, Limited English Proficient Students Lag in Literacy, finds that minority, low-income, and limited English proficient (LEP) kindergarten students score lower than other students in early literacy and language skills on the Maryland School Assessment. Moreover, these gaps in literacy persist into third grade. Among kindergarteners, the literacy gap for racial minority groups has decreased over the last several years, while the gap for LEP children has increased. In 2001-2002, the school readiness gap between English proficient and LEP kindergarteners was 15 percentage points. This gap increased to 20 percentage points in 2007-2008. The brief recommends that free or low-cost access to high-quality kindergarten should be available to all young children at risk for school failure and not based solely on income.
The Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas and the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition released a new guidebook, Community-Based School Readiness Integration Partnerships: Promoting Sustainable Collaborations. The guidebook presents the research basis for the importance of school readiness and lays out a detailed 8-step plan for building a comprehensive early childhood education system through school, community, legislative, and stage agency collaborations. The eight steps are:
- Assess community needs,
- Identify and recruit partners,
- Build trust, teams, and partnerships,
- Develop a common vision and goals,
- Finance the partnership,
- Delineate roles and responsibilities,
- Ensure quality, and
- Sustain partnerships.
Using information and data collected from over 100 stakeholders throughout Texas, the guidebook gives a demographic and socio-economic portrait of the state as well as overviews of the state's child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten programs. Additionally, the guidebook identifies the types of partnerships that are primarily used among the programs. Given this landscape, the guidebook provides direction on how to use the 8-step plan to achieve a comprehensive early education system in the state.