Early Childhood Education Update - April 2011
Apr 05, 2011 | Child Care & Early Education
In this issue:
- The Changing Demographics of Children and Families
- HHS Releases New Supplemental Information Request For the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
- Financing a Birth to Five Model: The Appleton Area School District Model
- Child Care Assistance: 2009 Spending Update
- Summary of State Early Care and Education Developments for FY 2011
- Building a Strong Infant/Toddler Professional Workforce
- Expanding Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Education Success Among Low-Income Parents
- An Assessment of State ECE Data Systems
- Five Ideas for Transforming the Lives of Children and Families
On Tuesday, April 26th, CLASP is hosting a policy event that will explore the changing demographics of children with a focus on trends in child well-being. For more information and to attend this event, please register here >>
Young children are the most racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse of any age group, but they are not unique. They are leading the way for a country that is growing in diversity. In March, the U.S. Census Bureau released final state level data from the 2010 Census. The data show that more than half of the increase in the total U.S. population was due to an increase in the country's Latino population, which grew by 43 percent. At 50.5 million people, Latinos now comprise 16 percent of the U.S. population. The Asian population experienced an equal pace of growth (43 percent) rising to 14.7 million people, nearly 5 percent of the total population. (Note that Hispanic/Non-Hispanic origin and Race are asked as two separate questions on the Census.)
Texas joined three other states (California, Hawaii, and New Mexico) and the District of Columbia in having a "majority-minority" population, where more than half of the population is minority. Based on 2009 data, we know that the number of states with "majority-minority" child populations is even higher. In part, immigration trends contribute to increasing racial and ethnic diversity. From 1990 to 2000, the foreign-born U.S. population grew by 57 percent. From 2000 to 2009, the pace of growth continued at 24 percent. At 12.5 percent of the US population, immigrants now comprise a larger share of the total population since the 1920's. Among the child population, the share of children with immigrant parents is 25 percent.
The data confirm that now is the time to focus early childhood policies and practices on delivering high-quality services that are accessible and appropriate for culturally diverse children and their families. CLASP will continue to highlight additional Census data as it's released, particularly those that focus on the characteristics of young children and their families. To view your state's population distribution and change, please visit the 2010 Census website >>
In addition, two new resources are available that focus on children in immigrant families:
- Children in Immigrant Families: Ensuring Opportunity for Every Child in America - First Focus, with support from the Foundation for Child Development, has released a new report that assesses the conditions of children both in immigrant and native-born families using 13 key indicators from the Foundation for Child Development Child Well-Being Index (CWI). The indicators address the following areas of well-being: health, social relationships, community connectedness, family economic wellbeing, citizenship, and language skills. The report also discusses the implications of the increasingly diverse child population on current policies and legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- Early Care and Education for Children in Immigrant Families - The Future of Children, a partnership between The Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, publishes a biannual journal that explores a range of topics concerning children. The theme of this year's spring issue is children in immigrant families. In the issue, contributors examine the experiences of children of immigrants, including the role of early care and education programs. The issue suggests strategies to remove barriers that impede participation in these programs and help meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse young children.
The latest Evidence-Based Home Visiting Supplemental Information Request (SIR) has recently been released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with collaboration from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as outlined in the first Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). This information request provides states guidance in preparing their updated plans for their home visiting programs. States must complete these plans to receive federal funds for home visiting programs. The new information request strengthens the earlier guidance in important ways.
The SIR addresses the requirements for updated state plans, the steps necessary for completing the requirements, and how HHS will review plans. It includes information explaining the criteria HHS uses to determine evidence-based models, the models initially found to meet the criteria, and details about using "promising approaches" in addition to evidence-based models. The SIR also addresses program implementation and requires states to update their plans to focus on quality. The implementation components necessary include (but are not limited to):
- How the state will develop standards regarding home visiting;
- A plan for recruiting and training qualified staff;
- A plan for ensuring fidelity to the chosen model; and
- A plan for recruiting and retaining program participants.
The flexibility that the SIR provides for states to combine a variety of home visiting models that will best fit their communities, coupled with requirements that they further flesh out their plans for coordinating with other programs, providers and systems, increase the likelihood that states will use the new home visiting program to strengthen their capacity to provide coordinated early childhood systems that are capable of meeting the needs of the children, families and caregivers.
CLASP has released a new factsheet, Financing a Birth to Five Program: The Appleton Area School District Model, which details the efforts of Appleton Area School District (AASD) in Wisconsin to address the needs of young children in their community, long before entry into kindergarten. AASD recognized the importance of the first five years of life. However, district personnel also recognized that their education expertise lay outside the earliest learning years. In 2006, the school district created a Birth-Five Coalition to address the needs of the youngest members of their community. The AASD determined that it could be most effective by expanding parent and community awareness of existing early childhood programs and services for children under five and by working in collaboration with community partners.
Financed in part with Title I funds, the district has put together a comprehensive Birth-Five program that includes a Books for Babies literacy program for parents delivering at local hospitals, community parent education workshops offered in partnership with local community agencies, Parents as Teachers home visitation, Early Childhood Special Education, Title I Preschool and Even Start Family Literacy.
Birth-Five Resource Coordinators now work in targeted elementary schools in the district to increase parent and community awareness of early childhood services, including developmental screenings for three- to five-year-olds, local Department of Health and Human Services programs, child care resource and referral services, Head Start, and the Family Resource Center.
A new CLASP factsheet, Child Care Assistance in 2009: Spending Update, analyzes state expenditures and participation trends from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Total spending on child care assistance (CCDBG and TANF-related funds) declined slightly from $12.6 billion in 2008 to $12.4 billion in 2009, according to CLASP's analysis of recently released data from the Office of Child Care. State spending patterns varied greatly, with 33 states increasing overall spending and 18 states making cuts (individual state factsheets are available here).
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds were critical in holding off further state cuts to child care programs. The 2009 expenditures include $260 million in ARRA funds that became available February 2009. Without these funds, state expenditures would likely have declined even further and an additional seven states would have cut spending on child care. Unfortunately, these funds are now largely spent and states are struggling to keep their programs together in the face of continued budget crises.
In 2009, an estimated 1.6 million children received child care through CCDBG. The number of children served through all sources (CCDBG, TANF and SSBG) is estimated at 2.5 million. Yet, HHS estimates that only one in six eligible-children receives assistance.
In 2010, states faced significant budget challenges. While economic recovery funds helped to support states during these difficult times, a number of early care services and supports, such as child care subsidies, experienced major cuts. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has compiled a list of state actions on child care and early education in the past year in a new report, State Early Care and Education Public Policy Developments (FY 2011). The report illustrates an array of legislative and policy actions as well as a wide variety of uses of economic recovery funds. Among some of the areas that states have focused on in the past year:
- State early childhood advisory councils
- Professional development
- Data systems
- Quality rating and improvement systems
- Child care subsidies
- Child care regulations
- Infants and toddlers
- Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten
- Continuity of care
- Statewide councils
- Health care
- Home visiting
States have responded to tightened budgets in a variety of ways, ranging from increasing subsidy co-payments to reducing full-day kindergarten programs to half-day. At the same time, they have used economic recovery funds to continue building their early childhood systems and have taken promising steps, such as developing core competencies for early childhood professionals.
ZERO TO THREE discusses the components of a strong infant/toddler workforce in a new policy brief, Toward a Bright Future for Our Youngest Children: Building a Strong Infant-Toddler Workforce. Infant/toddler professionals provide a broad range of services and supports for very young children in a variety of settings. The primary fields in which they work are early care and education, early intervention, mental health, physical health, and social services/child welfare. While infant-toddler professionals play a critical role in ensuring that our nation's youngest children have a healthy start in life, no state has a fully coordinated cross-sector professional development system that integrates specific preparation and support for these professionals. The brief identifies five key issues to address in order to build a comprehensive system that serves the needs of all early childhood professionals, starting with those who serve children during their earliest years. These issues are:
- Complete incorporation of the infant-toddler workforce into preparation and ongoing professional development based on widely accepted, evidence-based competencies,
- Alignment with and articulation into college degree programs,
- Alternative pathways to credentials,
- Connection to various service delivery program types, and
- Appropriate compensation.
The brief reviews the research literature on effective professional development for infant/toddler professionals and lays out ten policy recommendations for addressing the five issues. These recommendations include promoting continuous professional development, preparing professionals on how to serve diverse families, and linking increasing qualifications with appropriate compensation. The brief also describes where states currently stand on meeting each recommendation.
The Institute for Women's Policy Research has released a new report, Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents. The report examines the demand for and availability of on-campus child care for student parents seeking postsecondary education as well as the features of successful campus child care programs. In the U.S., almost a quarter of students seeking postsecondary education are parents of dependent children; half of these student parents are single parents. Almost half of student parents also have full-time jobs. As these student parents both work and attend school, access to affordable, high-quality child care is critical to their ability to juggle both responsibilities. The report observes that on-campus child care can serve as an important support particularly for single parents who are more likely to be low-income and have limited child care options. On-campus centers often also offer additional resources, such as counseling services, that supplement child care services.
The report analyzes information from multiple sources, including data from the Department of Education, interviews with child care experts, and surveys with campus child care centers. Based on this information, the report provides an overview of the current student parent population and discusses the challenges that the population face as well as the impact of campus child care programs on their success in achieving a postsecondary degree. The report offers recommendations to improve the supply of child care for student parents and to better integrate services and resources that can be made available through on-campus child care centers. In addition, the report examines ways to improve government policies and funding for programs that help student parents and to build leadership and advocates for campus child care centers.
In 2010, the Data Quality Campaign surveyed 48 states and the District of Columbia to evaluate the status of their early care and education (ECE) data systems based on ten indicators ("Fundamentals of Coordinated State ECE Data Systems") developed by the Early Childhood Data Collaborative. Results of the survey are presented in the brief, 10 Fundamentals of Coordinated State Early Care and Education Data Systems: Inaugural State Analysis. The report examines how states are gathering data for ECE programs at three different levels: individual child, program site, and ECE workforce. It finds that data collection is for the most part uncoordinated, separated from one another by funding stream, and incomplete. States are gathering ECE data for programs to varying degrees. No state has a data system that links ECE data at all three levels across all ECE programs. Pennsylvania has the most linkages, connecting data across all programs by individual child and program site. Among the report's other findings, fewer states collect data at the ECE workforce level than at the individual child and program site level. For instance, at least forty states collect data on children and program sites for subsidized child care, early intervention, and preschool special education, while less than 40 states do the same at the workforce level. To build coordinated ECE data systems that can be used for continuous improvement, the brief recommends that states:
- Articulate the critical policy questions that will drive the development and use of coordinated state ECE data systems,
- Evaluate current and future data collection and linkage needs based on the state's critical policy questions, and
- Strategically govern data collection and use, including ensuring the privacy, security and confidentiality of ECE data.
David Kirp, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California -Berkeley, has published a new book, Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming the Lives of Children. Kirp's new book seeks to create a policy approach that is both cost effective and supports the comprehensive needs of children and families from crib to college. Children in the U.S. are not meeting benchmarks at the same rate that other developed countries are. Moreover, the U.S. is behind other countries when it comes to investments in children. By 2019, it is predicted that the portion of the gross domestic product that goes to support children will decrease by 20 percent from 2.4 percent to 1.9 percent. Kirp puts forth five ideas to achieve the goal of putting kids first. He argues that the five ideas are affordable, have been proven effective, and are universal. These ideas are:
- Give new parents strong support - Parents are their child's first and best teacher. Providing support to new parents helps parents become better teachers for their children. There is a critical need for the home environment of a child to be a learning environment. Kirp argues that the best way to provide support to new parents is through existing home visitation programs.
- Provide high-quality early education - Providing children with high quality early education will not only prepare children to enter into kindergarten ready to learn but will also provide them with skills that are needed all throughout life. Kirp examines the debate on whether early education should be provided for everyone or only for at-risk populations. Additionally, he studies a wide range of early education programs and their effectiveness.
- Link schools and communities to improve what both offer children - Community schools are able to provide children and families with "one stop shops" for a range of services and supports. These schools pay attention to the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of kids as well as focus on building networks, expanding horizons, and drawing families close. Kirp finds that quality in community schools is the most important factor; without quality, the programs will fail. He profiles the Children's Aid Society, which runs community schools throughout the country.
- Provide mentors to youngsters who need stable, caring adults in their lives - A relationship with an adult can make a world of difference for a child and provide a reprieve from forces working against them in everyday life. Mentor programs have been around for ages. Kirp explores two of the most well known programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Friends of Children. The two programs take different approaches but have notable, positive effects on the children they serve.
- Give kids a nest egg that helps pay for college or kick-start a career - Programs, such as the Child Savings Account and Children's Trust Fund, aim to level the playing field for children and to help parents think about their child's future. Having money in the bank makes them more capable of doing so. Kirp highlights various proposals for "nest egg" programs among different states and notes a successful program in Britain that has been recently slashed by current leadership.