Our Children’s Fear: Webinar on Immigration Policy’s Harmful Impacts on Children & Early Care and Education

Two new reports from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) document impacts of the current immigration context on our nation’s youngest children. Our findings are based on interviews and focus groups in 2017 with 150 early childhood educators and parents in six states—California, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In this field work, CLASP found troubling effects on young children in immigrant families, including signs and behaviors of distress, as well as serious risks to young children’s healthy development. On this webinar, the report authors will discuss the study findings, including impacts on young children, their parents, and early childhood educators, and recommendations for stakeholders at all levels to safeguard the wellbeing of children in immigrant families.
  • Wendy Cervantes, Senior Policy Analyst, Immigration and Immigrant Families
  • Hannah Matthews, Director, Child Care and Early Education
  • Rebecca Ullrich, Policy Analyst, Child Care and Early Education

Register Here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1595127878189549058

Source: CLASP

Promoting Social and Emotional Development: Four New Resources for Communities and Families with Young Children

January 18, 2017

By Kara Dukakis, Libby Doggett, and Shantel E. Meek

All children are born with the need and desire to connect with those around them. Neuroscience tells us that brain development unfolds rapidly in the first three years of life, and that social and emotional development begins in the earliest days of life. When children feel secure in their relationships and have their needs met in responsive and consistent ways, they begin forming a strong social and emotional foundation. They begin to learn to pay attention, regulate their emotions and behavior, express feelings, and overcome challenges successfully. All of these skills contribute to healthy social and emotional development.

The way in which children experience and manage their feelings and emotions depends a great deal on the relationship with their primary caregiver(s) and other important adults in their lives. The environments where children spend their time – whether at home or in an early learning setting – also affect children’s social and emotional development. Social and emotional development involves several inter-related areas, including social interaction, emotional awareness, and self-regulation.[1]

Social and emotional and cognitive development are interwoven from birth and unfold together. Unsurprisingly, social and emotional development is also closely intertwined with academic success. Learning- especially in the earliest years of life- is inherently a social process. Children learn through and with the adults in their lives. A large body of research shows that children with a strong social and emotional foundation demonstrate stronger academic achievement, are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, and fare better on overall wellness and other positive long-term outcomes.[2] Positive social and emotional development carries important benefits for all children, including young children with developmental delays or disabilities.

Many parents and caregivers, as well as teachers and early learning providers, are eager for information and resources on how to connect with babies and toddlers, manage young children’s behavior,[3] and help children develop relationships, regulate their behavior and emotions, and talk about their feelings. When the adults in children’s lives have appropriate expectations of children’s development at different ages, they have greater success – and much less frustration – with young children.

Building on prior successful partnerships to promote early brain and language development and early STEM education, today, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education are joining with Too Small to Fail to release a Fostering Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children Toolkit on social and emotional development. All of the resources feature examples of simple actions to take, some of which caregivers might be doing already, such as maintaining consistent routines for young children.

This set of resources on healthy social and emotional development includes:

  • A tip sheet for parents and families of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
  • A tip sheet for infant, toddler, and preschool providers and educators
  • A milestones chart with key information on social and emotional development from birth to age 5
  • A fact sheet on the research behind social and emotional development in early childhood and lifelong outcomes
  • A “Let’s Talk About Feelings” poster

Every day, families and educators have opportunities to nurture children’s social and emotional, development through everyday interactions and easy-to-implement activities, such as those provided in the Toolkit. If we all provide supports for our children early in life, they will have the foundation needed to benefit for a lifetime.

Kara Dukakis is Director of Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and The Opportunity Institute

 Libby Doggett is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education

 Shantel E. Meek is Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

[1] Social interaction focuses on the relationships we share with others, including relationships with adults and peers; emotional awareness includes the ability to recognize and understand our own feelings and actions and those of other people, and how our own feelings and actions affect ourselves and others; and self-regulation is the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in socially appropriate ways.

[2] Jones, Damon E., Mark Greenberg, and Max Crowley. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.

[3] Zero to Three, “Tuning In National Parent Survey” (2016).

All materials will be posted on the ECD website when they are 508 compliant. Please see additional resources at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd.


Windows of opportunity: Their seductive appeal


A major theme in early childhood education is that brain research has established the importance of early windows of opportunity that can be exploited to assure optimal brain development and life-long well-being. Explanations involving brain science have a seductive appeal, especially among the general public and policy-makers. Thus, neuroscientific evidence requires special scrutiny in the policy realm. Consideration of the neuroscience behind claims about windows of opportunity reveals a contrast between what is claimed in the policy as opposed to the scholarly literature. The advocacy literature tends to tell only half of the story about the effects of experience on synapse formation. The full story raises doubts as to how much specific guidance neuroscience can provide policy makers about what should go into those windows of opportunity.

Source: The Brookings Institution

Available at: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2015/10/22-childhood-education-neuroscience-window-opportunity-bruer

Together from the Start: Expanding Early Childhood Investments for Middle-Class and Low-Income Families


We are making significant progress in early childhood education but still have a long way to go. Over the past decade, new research in neuroscience on the benefits of high-quality early learning experiences has been met with increased state and federal investments in early childhood policies. Funding for state pre-K programs has doubled in the past ten years, and the federal government has also made new investments through the Preschool Development Grants and the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge. President Obama has also announced ambitious proposals for expanding early education and child care in his 2013, 2014, and 2015 State of the Union addresses—although the these plans have yet to find substantial political traction in Congress.1 And as we approach the 2016 presidential election, early childhood policy is poised to be a central issue of debate.

But this increase in public spending—and the benefits that accrue from it—is not distributed among all American families. While there’s growing political consensus that investing in high-quality early care and learning for low-income children is worthwhile, there is less agreement about the extent to which middle-class families should be included in public early childhood programs. High-quality early childhood programs are expensive because they invest in their workforce through wages, benefits, and training; include low adult-to-student ratios; and implement research-based curricula. President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative would cost $66 billion over ten years to expand states’ pre-K coverage to families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.2 Those who oppose expanding programs beyond low-income families argue that we do not have enough evidence that pre-K and child care benefit middle-class families to warrant an expensive investment.3

Source: The Century Foundation

Available at: http://apps.tcf.org/together-from-the-start

Effects of early childhood education and care on child development


This report considers international research on the impact of early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision upon children’s development and, while not exhaustive, is an extremely comprehensive review, using studies reported from a wide range of sources including journals, books, government reports and diverse organisation reports.

Early research was primarily concerned with whether children attending non-parental care developed differently from those not receiving such care. Later work recognised that childcare is not unitary and that the quality or characteristics of experience matters. Further research drew attention to the importance of the interaction between home and out of home experience. High quality childcare has been associated with benefits for children’s development, with the strongest effects for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is also evidence that negative effects can sometimes occur. The results of studies partly depend upon the context and ECEC systems in place in different countries, but there is sufficient commonality of findings to indicate that many results are not culture-specific.

While the research on pre-school education (three+ years) is fairly consistent, the research evidence on the effects of childcare (birth to three years) has been equivocal with some negative effects, some null effects and some positive effects. Discrepant results may relate to age of starting and also differences in the quality of childcare. In addition childcare effects are moderated by family background with negative, neutral and positive effects occur depending on the relative balance of quality of care at home and in childcare. Recent largescale studies find effects related to both quantity and quality of childcare. The effect sizes for childcare factors are about half those for family factors. The analysis strategy of most studies attributes variance to childcare factors only after family factors has been considered, and, where the two covary, this will produce conservative estimates of childcare effects.

Source:  Child care Canada

Available at: http://childcarecanada.org/documents/research-policy-practice/15/10/effects-early-childhood-education-and-care-child-developmen

Program for parents helps sustain learning gains in kids from Head Start to kindergarten


An instructional program for parents helps young children retain the literacy skills and positive learning behaviors acquired in Head Start and retain them through to the end of the kindergarten year, according to researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The program appears to offset what education researchers call “summer loss,” or the tendency of children to forget during summer break what they learned during the previous year.

Head Start is a federal program designed to improve school readiness among children living in poverty. In the current study, researchers evaluated the Research Based, Developmentally Informed Parent (REDI-P) program. The problem of summer loss has long been known to affect children of all ages, but it is especially pronounced among children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are just starting school.

The program is centered around home visits from educational counselors, who provide parents with materials, such as books and learning games, and coach them on how to use them.The materials reinforce the social and academic lessons, and preparations for kindergarten that the children learned in the Head Start classroom.

Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Available at: http://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/program-parents-helps-sustain-learning-gains-kids-head-start-kindergarten

Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder’s Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five


When every child has the opportunity to meet his or her full potential, we strengthen families, our communities, and the nation’s economic future. Remarkably, one in four American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn and, as a result, fall behind from the very start. Our nation pays a heavy price through larger taxpayer burdens in remedial and special education, more costly health interventions, and increased criminal justice expenditures. Research shows that for a fraction of those costs, preventive investments in high-quality early childhood programs can avoid the high price of remediation and bring enormous benefits to the economy. Further, early intervention strengthens families and accelerates a child’s ability to learn, thus increasing the effectiveness of K–12 education.

America vastly underinvests in early childhood programs that work, especially in the critical period from pregnancy to age three. This guide offers numerous specific, evidence-based public investment opportunities private donors and government can pursue immediately to make an impact. We cannot afford to wait. Philanthropy, business, and government must work together to expand early childhood opportunities so that all children arrive at school ready to learn and with an equal chance to achieve success throughout their lives.

Source: The Bridgespan Group

Available at: http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Youth-Development/early-childhood-funder-guide-2015.aspx#.VkvpQdDMD2A

Promising Practices for “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” 


What works in helping communities to learn the signs and act early?

This is a collection of locally inspired models and ideas that have been implemented and evaluated to varying degrees in programs and communities.

A promising practice helps spread the reach of the campaign and has the potential to positively impact families with young children and the organizations, health care professionals, and early care and education providers who serve them.

Many of the activities in this collection represent the work of Act Early Ambassadors and State Systems grantees who found creative solutions for implementing Learn the Signs. Act Early. with greatest potential impact using very modest resources. We hope their work will inspire you to think about how you can adopt and adapt activities in your local programs and communities to promote awareness of the importance of tracking developmental milestones and acting early on concerns.

How were Promising Practices identified?

The collection includes activities from the beginning of the campaign (2005) through 2014. We established criteria to assess each activity and determine which to include in the collection. Criteria were informed by program values that broadly define what we consider to be a successful and promising activity. Each year we will review partner activities and apply the criteria to them so we can continue to update and add promising activities to the collection.

What about activities not captured here?

Some activities contain more detail than others, and some activities may have been excluded because we did not have sufficient information to score them. In the years to come, we plan to:

  • Improve our ability to gather as much information as we can about our partners’ important work to promote and integrate Learn the Signs. Act Early. within programs and communities across the country,
  • Expand evaluation studies of promising activities, and
  • Use this collection to raise awareness among partners about their role in sharing their important work with us and collecting process and outcome data to demonstrate impact.

If you have questions or suggestions about the collection or any of the specific activities, please contact ActEarly@cdc.gov and include “Promising Practices” in the subject line.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Available at: http://blogs.cdc.gov/actearlypromisingpractices/

Chronic Absenteeism in Kindergarten 


At the end of every school year, after all my kindergarten students had finished their last day celebrations and hurried off to pursue their summer adventures, I would reflect on the success stories of the year. There was that one student who entered kindergarten knowing only a handful of letter names and left reading complete sentences, or another who decided that math was actually pretty fun once she realized she was able to add and subtract all on her own. And, of course, there were also a couple of students who didn’t meet the lofty ambitions I had set for them back in September. These students were unable to strengthen their early reading and math skills to the level needed to enter first grade ready for new challenges. After a couple of years teaching I started to notice a pattern among many of my low-performing students: they missed school, a lot of school. Not a few days here and there due to illness, but days or even weeks at a time when their spot on the carpet would be vacant and their friends would ask about their whereabouts.

It turns out that the attendance issues in my kindergarten classroom were not an anomaly, but the norm. At least 10 percent of kindergartners and first graders nationwide are chronically absent from school, according to a report last month by Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign. The same study found that low-income kindergartners were four times more likely to be chronically absent than their more affluent peers. These chronically absent students miss at least eighteen days of school per year, translating into almost a month of missed instructional time. In California, kindergarten students are the most likely of any elementary school students to be chronically absent. Specifically, 14.2 percent of California kindergartners are chronically absent compared to just 8.8 percent of first graders. In Rhode Island, sixteen percent of kindergartners are chronically absent compared to ten percent of third graders.

This chronic absenteeism among kindergarten students has serious consequences. Students who are chronically absent in the vital early grades of pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade, according to a study conducted by the University of Chicago. A recent report from the California Attorney General found that eighty-three percent of chronically absent California kindergartners and first graders were unable to read proficiently by the end of third grade. It’s now well-understood that students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than skilled readers to drop out of high school. And Rhode Island found that chronically absent kindergartners not only had lower levels of math and literacy achievement as far out as the seventh grade, but were also twice as likely to be retained.

There is good news among all these sobering statistics, however. On Wednesday, in recognition of the fact that chronic absenteeism is a major cause of low academic achievement throughout the nation, the Obama Administration announced the launch of the Every Student, Every Day initiative. According to the Department of Education, an estimated five to seven and a half million students are chronically absent each year in America’s schools. The Every Student, Every Day initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism by at least ten percent each school year, beginning with the current year. The initiative calls on state and local agencies and organizations to work together to identify and support chronically absent students. As part of the initiative the Administration released a community toolkit that provides information and resources to help community stakeholders work to reduce student absenteeism.

So what immediate actions can be taken to reduce chronic absenteeism? First, states have to do a better job of tracking and sharing student absence data. Information about chronic absence should be easily accessible online so that stakeholders are able to identify specific schools and student groups in need of assistance. Seven states, including California, currently do not collect attendance information in its longitudinal student database. However, Hawaii, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are a few of the growing number of state departments of education that are calculating and sharing data regarding chronic student absence. More states should follow their lead so that the extent of the absenteeism problem in each state is better understood.

Another action that can be immediately taken to reduce absenteeism, especially in kindergarten, is to shift the focus of school districts away from punishment for excessive absences and towards an attitude of absence prevention through increased parental engagement. The recent California Attorney General study found widespread parent misperceptions about the importance of attendance in the early grades. Specifically, many parents reported feeling that early grade attendance isn’t as important as high school attendance due to the mistaken belief that students will catch up before they get to high school. Intentional efforts to discuss with parents the link between consistent attendance in kindergarten and later academic success could go a long way in clearing up such misperceptions.

Real academic gains can’t happen without consistent student attendance, no matter how skilled the teacher might be. Better attendance data at the state level combined with targeted parent outreach at the school level can go a long way towards decreasing chronic absences and ensuring that all children make significant academic gains during the school year. No student should miss out on a quality early education just because they don’t show up.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/absence/

What We’ve Learned About Kids And Sleep In 2015


Kids’ sleep is truly precious. For parents, hardly anything beats the sight of their little one wrapped in a blanket, curls strewn over the pillow, breathing softly and looking happy and serene. But what if your child is tossing and turning, snoring or moaning in her sleep? How will the quality of her nighttime rest affect how she fares socially, emotionally and academically?

These were some of the questions that leading medical professionals discussed at SLEEP 2015, which took place in Seattle in June. Underscoring the importance of children’s sleep, the conference added to a wave of newly released research that suggests answers to many of the questions weighing on parents at bedtime.

Source: Huffington Post

Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/09/08/sleep-kids-tips_n_7485616.html