Tipping the Scales – The Resilience Game

9/2015

In this interactive feature, you will learn how the choices we make can help children and the community as a whole become more resilient in the face of serious challenges. Negative events can occur at any moment, and it’s your job to choose positive events to counteract these negatives.

Choose carefully—you only have 20 ‘Resilience Bucks’ to spend. Certain positives will better counteract certain negatives and have a greater positive effect on children in the community. Your goal is to tip as many children’s scales as possible toward positive outcomes.

Clicking on a child’s scale will give you a more detailed look at their history, scale balance, and the placement of their fulcrum. The positive experiences you choose will alter both the scale and the fulcrum’s position—shaping the outcomes of children and the community.

We will all face adversity in life. But will your community thrive? Or dive? It depends on the choices we make!

Source: Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

Available at: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/resilience-game/

America’s Children 2015 – Introduction

9/2015

Twenty-one years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined with six other Federal agencies to create the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Formally chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045, the Forum’s mission is to develop priorities for collecting enhanced data on children and youth, improve the communication of information on the status of children to the policy community and the general public, and produce more complete data on children at the Federal, state, and local levels. Today the Forum, with participants from 23 Federal agencies, continues to collaborate in the collection, production, and publication of policy-relevant Federal statistics about children and their families.

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2015 is a compendium of indicators depicting the condition of our Nation’s young people. The report, the 17th in an ongoing series, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children’s lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable Federal statistics, are easily understood by broad audiences, are objectively based on substantial research, are balanced so that no single area of children’s lives dominates the report, are measured often to show trends over time, and are representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group.

The report continues to present key indicators in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. As in prior years, the report incorporates data modifications that reflect the Forum’s efforts to improve its quality and breadth. In addition to updating data sources and expanding several indicators, this year’s report presents a special feature on health care quality among children in the United States. As is our practice, we periodically revise indicators, data sources, and features to maintain the relevance of the report.

Each volume of America’s Children also spotlights critical data gaps and challenges Federal statistical agencies to address them. Forum agencies meet that challenge by working to provide more comprehensive information on the condition and progress of our Nation’s children. This year, the immunization indicator has been aligned with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 standards, and the health insurance indicator was changed to the child’s health insurance coverage at the time of interview as measured in the National Health Interview Survey.

The value of the America’s Children series and the extraordinary cooperation that these reports represent reflect the Forum’s determination to help better understand the well-being of our children today and what may bring them a better future. The Forum agencies should be congratulated once again for developing such a comprehensive set of indicators and ensuring they are readily accessible in both content and format. The report is an excellent reflection of the dedication of the Forum agency staff members who assess data needs, strive to present relevant statistics in an easily understood format, and work together to produce this substantial and important publication. Nonetheless, suggestions of ways we can enhance this volume are always welcome.

No work of this magnitude and quality would be possible without the continued cooperation of the millions of Americans who provide the data that are summarized and analyzed by Federal statistical agencies. This report is, first and foremost, for you and all of the American public. We thank you for your support, and we hope the volume will continue to be useful to you.

Katherine K. Wallman
Chief Statistician
Office of Management and Budget

Source: Childstats.gov

Available at: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/

Early childhood interventions—a slow fade and a strong comeback? 

9/24/2015

When trying to improve educational outcomes, it is hard not to feel the need for urgency. We want to figure out what works now and implement changes immediately—because if we wait, kids who are in schools now will miss out. Unfortunately, this pressure to act quickly may be fundamentally at odds with the ability to measure what really works, since meaningful changes in the trajectory of student achievement are not always apparent until years later. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern University provides a compelling example of exactly this conundrum.

Schanzenbach’s thesis is that too often, education research only assesses an intervention’s immediate or intermediate outcomes without capturing its long-term benefits. This may be particularly relevant, she asserts, when judging the impact of early childhood investments.

Schanzenbach offers the example of two studies (both of which she co-authored) on the famous 1990s Project STAR class size experiment in Tennessee. That well-known experiment assigned students randomly to either regularly sized classes or smaller ones. Researchers behind both papers (the first from Dynarski, Hyman, and Schanzenbach and the second from Chetty, Friedman, Hilger, Saez, Schanzenbach, and Yagan) found that the smaller kindergarten classes yielded an immediate bump in student test scores for that year; but both papers report that this bump faded as students entered middle school.

That’s not the end of the story, though. When the students became adults, clear positive impacts reemerged for those students who had been placed in the smaller classes. Schanzenbach concludes, “We find that the actual long-run impacts were larger than what would have been predicted based on the short-run test score gains.”

The failure of test score gains to endure and carry through to what later turn out to be positive outcomes may confirm public skepticism about test scores as an accurate indicator of long-term achievement.

But not so fast.

Schanzenbach is right in noting that the fade-out of higher test scores between two and six years after the intervention did not correlate with more positive life outcomes. However, the immediate test score gains from the year of the intervention, when students were in kindergarten, were highly predictive of students’ college attendance and degree completion. Schanzenbach admits as much, stating the first paper that “the short-term effect of small classes on test scores, it turns out, is an excellent predictor of its long-term effect on adult outcomes.”

Schanzenbach’s theory finds stronger footing in her second publication. This study looked at both kindergarten class size and each student’s kindergarten classroom quality (as measured by the average test scores of his classmates at the end of kindergarten—a proxy for a combination of peer effects, teacher effects, and other classroom characteristics). Again, small kindergarten classes correlated with higher kindergarten test scores and higher college attendance.

Moreover, while the higher kindergarten test scores were correlated with higher earnings at age twenty-seven, they provide a statistically significant explanation for only a small portion of the difference in earnings. Thus, the short-term test score bump can barely begin to explain the benefits students derived later in life from having been assigned to a smaller or higher-quality class.

The missing piece of the statistical puzzle was students’ non-cognitive skills. When the STAR students were in fourth and eighth grades, they were assessed on non-cognitive outcomes, with results finding stronger non-cognitive outcomes but faded test-score gains for the students who had been in the small class sizes.

Furthermore, these non-cognitive measures seem to explain a much greater share of future earnings than do the academic outcomes. Teasing apart the positive impact of higher test scores and stronger non-cognitive skills achieved in a higher-quality kindergarten classroom, the higher fourth-grade test scores would predict an additional $40 of income at age twenty-seven, but the non-cognitive skills would predict an additional $139 in earnings.

Although we think Schanzenbach’s characterization of the findings in undersells the predictive power of immediate test score gains, she does raise several critical points. The first is that early childhood interventions may foster outcomes that most strongly emerge long after the initial study period has ended, thereby eluding researchers who only measure immediate and intermediate outcomes for a few years. The second is that interventions may yield effects that cannot be evaluated purely by measures of academic skills and content. As our understanding of the importance of grit and executive functioning grows, so too should our measures of the impact of classroom experience on these skills alongside standardized test scores.

Source: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Available at: http://edexcellence.net/articles/early-childhood-interventions%E2%80%94a-slow-fade-and-a-strong-comeback

ZERO TO THREE: Parent Portal

7/2015

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is an ongoing process of learning who your individual child is and what he needs to thrive.  Our resources are designed to help you tune in to what makes your child tick, and to guide you in thinking about the best way to meet your child’s individual needs.

  • Learn all about how development unfolds in the early years and how you can support your child’s healthy, overall growth.
  • Explore how you can help your young child learn to manage emotions, gain self-control, build self-confidence, and make great friends.
  • Discover how children are learning all the skills they need to be successful in school, starting from birth, with your loving guidance.
  • Explore everyday ways to help babies and toddlers learn important concepts, to be good problem-solvers, and to get along with others, through play.
  • Gain understanding about the root causes of some of the most common challenges parents face in children’s early years and how you can respond in ways that teach self-control and critical coping skills.
  • Read about what to expect around sleep in the early years and how to prevent and troubleshoot challenges that arise.
  • Learn about ways to manage your own emotions and reactions to your child that reduce stress–for you and your child–and that empowers you to nurture your child’s healthy development.

Source: ZERO TO THREE

Available at: http://www.zerotothree.org/parenting-resources/

Head Start: What Works Clearinghouse

7/2015

Report Summary

Effectiveness
Head Start was found to have potentially positive effects on general reading achievement and no discernible effects on mathematics achievement and social-emotional development for 3- and 4-year-old children.

Program Description
Head Start is a national, federally funded program that provides services to promote school readiness for children from birth to age 5 from predominantly low-income families. These services are provided to both children and their families and include education, health and nutrition, family engagement, and other social services.

Head Start program administrators are given the flexibility to design service delivery to be responsive to cultural, linguistic, and other contextual needs of local communities, leading to considerable variability in the services offered. Head Start service models also vary according to family needs, such that children and families may be served through center-based or family child care, home visits, or a combination of programs that operate full or half days for 8–12 months per year. This review focuses on the effects of Head Start programs designed for children ages 3–5. The Head Start programs include a variety of Head Start service models.

Research
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified one study of Head Start that both falls within the scope of the Early Childhood Education topic area and meets WWC group design standards. The study meets WWC group design standards without reservations, and no studies meet WWC group design standards with reservations. The study included 3,697 three- and four-year-old children in a nationally-representative sample.

The WWC considers the extent of evidence for Head Start on the school readiness outcomes of 3- and 4-year-old children to be small for three outcome domains—general reading achievement, mathematics achievement, and social-emotional development. There were no studies that meet standards in the five other domains, so this intervention report does not report on the effectiveness of Head Start for those domains.

This intervention report was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica Policy Research under contract ED-IES-13-C-0010.

Source: What Works Clearinghouse

Available at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/interventionreport.aspx

Talking is Teaching Community Guide & Resources

7/2015

On this page, you’ll find resources designed to help you tackle the word gap and support early learning and brain development. Our resources include the Community Campaign Guide, with lessons learned from our “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaigns in Tulsa and Oakland. You’ll also find creative assets available for free download, relevant word gap references, training materials, tips for parents and more. This website is intended for a wide audience, so we hope you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.

Pre-registration is required for some of these materials, so please fill out the registration form where indicated and follow the accompanying instructions. We hope these resources will serve you well, and are truly grateful to you for joining this effort.

Source: Too Small To Fail

Available at: http://toosmall.org/community

Being Black is Not a Risk Factor: Read the Reports

5/2015

NBCDI’s State of the Black Child initiative is focused on creating resources that challenge the prevailing discourse about Black children-one which overemphasizes limitations and deficits and does not draw upon the considerable strengths, assets and resilience demonstrated by our children, families, and communities. We are deeply grateful for support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Walmart Foundation and the Alliance for Early Success, as well as our data partners, including CLASP and NCCP, and, of course, our Affiliate network and partners on the ground in the states.

Each of the reports, national and state-based, are designed to address the needs of policymakers, advocates, principals, teachers, parents and others, by weaving together three elements:

  1. Essays from experts that focus on using our children’s, families’ and communities’ strengths to improve outcomes for Black children
  2. “Points of Proof” from organizations that serve not as exceptions, but as examples of places where Black children and families are succeeding
  3. Data points that indicate how our children and families are doing across a range of measures

Source: National Black Child Development Institute

Available at: http://www.nbcdi.org/beingblack

The Raising of America

5/2015

The Raising of America is the first national, fully integrated media/public engagement project that aims to reframe the way Americans look at early child health and development.

The Documentary Series

The Raising of America Series is a five-part documentary series that explores the question: Why are so many children in America faring so poorly? What are the consequences for the nation’s future? How might we, as a nation, do better? The series investigates these questions through different lenses: What does science tell us about the enduring importance of early life experiences on the brain and body? What it is like to be a parent today? And what policies and structures help or hinder the raising of healthy, happy and compassionate children? The Signature Hour covers all three of these issues. The four subsequent episodes each dive in for a closer look.

Source: The Raising of America

Available at: http://www.raisingofamerica.org/about-documentary-series

Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress 

2/2015

This is the second in a series of four inter-related reports titled Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress. The first report, Foundations for Understanding Self-Regulation from an Applied Developmental Perspective, provides a comprehensive framework for understanding self-regulation in context, using a theoretical model that reflects the influence of biology, caregiving, and the environment on the development of self-regulation. This report, A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress, provides a cross-disciplinary review on research of the relationship between stress and self-regulation. The third report, A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions from Birth through Young Adulthood, will describe the strength of evidence for interventions to promote self-regulation for universal and targeted populations across development. The fourth and final report, Implications for Programs and Practice, will consider implications of findings from the prior reports for programs supported by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In the present report, the authors introduce and describe a set of seven key principles that summarize our understanding of self-regulation development in context.

Available here: Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress

Citation: Hamoudi, A., Murray, D. W., Sorensen, L., & Fontaine, A. (2015). Self-regulation and toxic stress: A review of ecological, biological, and developmental studies of self-regulation and stress. OPRE Report #2015-30. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Source: FPG Child Development Institute

Available at: http://fpg.unc.edu/node/7716

Child Health USA 2014

4/2015

Child Health USA 2014 is the latest in the series of annual reports on the health status and service needs of America’s infants, children, and adolescents. Key findings are outlined in each section.

POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS
There were approximately 74 million children under 18 years of age living in the United States in 2013, representing 23.3 percent of the population.

HEALTH STATUS AND BEHAVIORS
Indicators of child health and well-being are essential for identifying priority areas for the development and assessment of health interventions.

HEALTH SERVICES FINANCING AND UTILIZATION
The availability of and access to health care services is important for ensuring the health and well-being of U.S. children. Without these services, children are at risk of poor health outcomes.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Areas of special significance to children’s health from Medical Home to the Affordable Care Act.

Source: Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://mchb.hrsa.gov/chusa14/index.html