New Study Brings Insight into Parental Choices in Early Education

Over the past several decades, the number of young children enrolled in formal, center-based early childhood education, which can include Head Start, state-funded pre-K, and private child care programs, has grown dramatically. For example, while only 23 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in formal early learning programs in 1968, that number increased to 65 percent in 2000 and 70 percent in 2012. State-funded pre-K programs now exist in 43 states and serve 1.5 million children, an all-time high, including 32 percent of the nation’s four-year-olds.

Growth in this sector has led to a heightened urgency in understanding why parents choose certain education settings over others for their children. Already, there have been a large number of studies examining which families choose to enroll their children in center-based early learning programs as opposed to home-based settings. However, there is a surprising lack of research available about how parents make decisions about choosing among options within the formal sector of Head Start, state-funded pre-K, and private child care programs.

It’s important to understand how and why parents choose one type of center-based care over others because the type of program chosen can have an impact on overall child and family well-being. For example, Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs have generally been shown to be of higher quality than private child care centers, likely because these programs face more stringent regulations than private centers. However, there are benefits to private centers that often lead families to choose them, such as the fact that they generally offer longer, more flexible hours that are attractive to working parents. As states increasingly look to help parents navigate the wide variety of early education choices available to them, it’s important to gain a better understanding of what parents look for in a provider and how they go about searching for an ideal fit for their needs.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Virginia attempt to fill the research gap about how low-income parents make choices within the formal early education sector. The researchers selected 80 early education programs that primarily served four-year-olds across five Louisiana parishes (counties) during the 2014-2015 school year. Researchers included programs to participate if they received some public funding, meaning Head Start, state pre-K, and private child care centers that received subsidies were included. Within each program, one classroom was randomly selected and parents of enrolled students were asked to respond to surveys about various aspects of their search for an early learning program. In all, about 1,300 low-income parents completed the survey.

Overall, the survey responses suggest that parents had similar views about what aspects of a program are most important, regardless of which setting their child was in, but they reported vastly different experiences about the search for a program itself.

Parents across all three types of settings agreed that the following features are the most important when selecting an early education program: that the program builds academic skills, offers a clean and safe environment, and provides teachers who respond warmly to children. Parents weighed these features as more important than more practical considerations, such as the convenience of the program’s hours and even its affordability.

But it’s in the search process itself where the researchers observed meaningful differences by setting. For example, parents seeking private child care were over three times as likely to use ads or the internet to aid them in their search compared to Head Start and state pre-K parents. Perhaps most importantly, child care parents searched more, considered more alternatives, and found the search process more difficult than other parents. Child care parents were also less likely to report that they enrolled in their top choice compared to other parents surveyed.

Why is the search process more difficult for parents who choose private child care? The survey didn’t allow the researchers to answer this question, but they do offer a few possible explanations. It could be that child care parents had more limited options as a result of having income that was slightly too high to qualify for Head Start or state pre-K. It’s also possible that child care parents were eligible and did apply for Head Start or state pre-K, but were turned away due to limited supply and had to continue in their search.

The report acknowledges that more research is needed to better understand why families in child care settings found their search more challenging, but the researchers say that one place policymakers could look to for lessening the burden for parents is a state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. The researchers suggest that refined QRIS’s that offer parents streamlined, easy-to-understand information about early education programs in their area are likely to facilitate better and easier decision-making on the part of parents. For example, Louisiana recently unveiled an online tool that provides parents with performance profiles for early education programs.

The fact that child care parents found the search process difficult and were less likely to enroll in their top choice is significant. Due to the substantial increase in funding for CCDBG included in the recent budget agreement, the Center for Law and Social Policy estimates over 150,000 additional children will receive child care subsidies to be used at child care centers. While this expansion of access to care and education is welcome news, it also means a large increase in the number of parents engaged in the search for a quality program. Understanding parents’ motivations and frustrations can help programs and policymakers provide information necessary to ease the burdens on parents searching for a quality early education program.

Source: New America

Available at: https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/new-study-brings-insight-parental-choices-early-education/

Home Visitor Webinar Series: Socializations in Home-Based Programs

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
3–4 p.m. ET

Register Online Now!

Learn about the key role socializations play in home-based programs during this webinar. Monthly socializations offer both children and parents a chance to participate in group activities and interact with peers. Parents have many time demands so it can be challenging for them to participate. Join us to explore practices, activities, and strategies for offering engaging and effective socializations.

Topics for the webinar include:

  • The role of socializations in Head Start and Early Head Start home-based programs
  • Planning and implementing effective socializations
  • Frequently asked questions about socializations
  • Resources to support informative and engaging socializations

Target Audience

  • Home visiting program leaders
  • Home visitors
  • Regional T/TA staff who support home visiting programs

How to Register

Select the link to register: https://events-na2.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/951782966/en/events
/event/shared/1043467858/event_registration.html?sco-id=1099394061&_charset_=utf-8

Questions?

To learn more, contact the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning at ecdtl@ecetta.info or (toll-free) 1-844-261-3752.

Home Visitor Webinar Series 2018 Calendar

Save the dates and mark your calendars! The Home Visitor Series webinars occur bi-monthly, from 3–4 p.m. ET:

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018
  • Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018

To watch previous webinars in this series on-demand, visit https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/home-visitor-series.

Choosing Parenting Curricula: Introducing a Compendium of Evidenced-Based Parenting Interventions

11/2015

Strong parent-child relationships set the stage for children’s success in school and in life. Discover ways to partner with families to strengthen these relationships in your program using this compilation of evidenced-based parenting interventions for children ages birth to 5. Research has shown that the parenting interventions in this guide support children’s learning and development.

The Compendium includes all the information you need to make choices about parenting interventions you can implement in your program. Many of these parenting programs provide opportunities for parents to learn more about their child, reduce family stress, and deepen parent satisfaction. Find information about cost, training, length of the parenting group, and the goals of the intervention.

Source: National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Partnerships and the Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/docs/compendium-of-parenting.pdf

New Reports: Dual Language Learners in Portland (OR), San Antonio (TX), and Washington (DC)

10/30/2015

Nearly one year ago, New America launched its Dual Language Learners National Work Group to provide consistent analysis of policies affecting dual language learners (DLLs). In our inaugural blog post, we argued, “Too often, DLLs’ needs are considered solely as afterthoughts in…education policy discussions.” So, as part of our first year of work, we promised to “spotlight” places where educators are trying “innovative strategies to serve these students better.”

Over the last year, we visited 30 campuses across 11 districts in two states and the District of Columbia. During these visits, we talked to dozens of teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Today, the DLL National Work Group is proud to publish three reports built from these conversations. The papers explore local efforts to improve how schools support DLLs in San Antonio (TX), Portland (OR), and Washington (DC). In each paper, we trace out the history, design, implementation, and effectiveness of various local reforms before offering concrete lessons for districts pursuing similar strategies.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/profilepost1/

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

10/8/2015

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/

Motivational Interviewing Suite

10/2015

These short videos provide examples of how to use Motivational Interviewing strategies in everyday conversations between Head Start and Early Head Start staff and families. In the first video, watch as a parent and a teacher talk about a child’s challenging behavior in the classroom. The second shows a home visitor talking to a parent about a positive depression screening.

Staff can use these videos to identify skills to enhance their relationships with families. Watch the accompanying debriefs to see how the strategies impact how the participants think and feel. Use the related materials to deepen your knowledge of the process and skills around Motivational Interviewing.

Source: National Center on Health, Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/mental-health/ec-mental-health-consultation/motivational-interviewing.html

The Impact of Discrimination on the Early Schooling Experiences of Children from Immigrant Families

9/2015

How the young children of immigrants experience their early school years may in large part determine their academic future and negatively affect their emotional, social, and mental development. Children benefit from a positive, supportive learning environment where their contributions are valued; many from immigrant families, however, experience discrimination in school during their early, impressionable years.

The experiences that children have in their first classrooms are foundational to how they think about themselves as learners, students, and members of the larger communities around them. Any experiences of discrimination at this vulnerable age can negatively affect personal development and academic trajectories, and limit the emotional benefits of early childhood education.

This report, part of a research series supported by the Foundation for Child Development, maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences of discrimination for children, their families, and schools. It begins by describing how discrimination in the early years can affect a child’s development, academic performance, and later mobility. The report then outlines types of discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school. The report concludes with recommendations that focus on training teachers, building relationships between schools and immigrant communities, and encouraging more varied, culturally sensitive learning experiences.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. How Discrimination in School Affects Young Children
A. The Effects of Discrimination on Children’s Development and Academic Performance
B. Discrimination and Parental Engagement in SchoolC. The Role of Local Contexts and Attitudes

III. Types of Discrimination Experienced
A. Personal Forms of Discrimination
B. Structural Forms of Discrimination

IV. Reasons for Discrimination in the Early School Years
A. Lack of Meaningful Connections with Immigrant Communities
B. Focus on Immigrant Families’ Deficits Rather than Assets
C. Inadequate Teacher Preparation and Recruitment
D. Testing Pressures in the Early Grades
E. Negative Labels and Concerns over School Readiness

V. Recommendations

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Available at: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/impact-discrimination-early-schooling-experiences-children-immigrant-families

Development of a Measure of Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ), 2010-2015 

8/2015

The goal of the FPTRQ project is to develop new measures to assess the quality of the relationship between families and providers/teachers of early care and education for children birth to 5 years of age. The measures will examine this relationship from both the parent and the provider/teacher perspectives, and capture important elements of family-provider/teacher relationships such as attitudes of respect, commitment, and openness to change and practices such as bi-directional communication, sensitivity, and flexibility. The project aims to develop measures that are appropriate for use across different types of early care and education settings, including Head Start and Early Head Start programs, center-based child care, pre-k classrooms, and home-based child care. In addition, a high priority of the project is to make the new measures culturally appropriate for diverse populations, including lower-income and higher-income families, ethnically/racially diverse providers and families, and non-English speaking families and providers.

Tasks for the FPTRQ project include (1) reviewing literature on family and provider/teacher relationships; (2) developing a conceptual model of the key components of family-provider/teacher relationships that promote family engagement and lead to better family, child and provider outcomes; (3) reviewing existing measures; (4) consulting with experts in relevant fields on possible content and format of the measures; (5) holding focus groups with parents and providers/teachers, developing items, and piloting the measure; (6) development of final measures for extensive data collection in a variety of care settings; (7) psychometric and cognitive testing to ensure the soundness of the measures; (8) the development of a sustainability plan regarding training on the measures and production of future editions of the measures as needed; and (9) developing, conducting cognitive testing, and pilot testing measures to assess the relationship quality between Family Service Staff and parents in Head Start/Early Head Start.

Source:  Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/research/project/development-of-a-measure-of-family-and-provider-teacher-relationship-quality-fptrq

Home Visiting: The Expansion of an Idea 

8/2015

Investing in home-based services for pregnant women and new parents is a topic of high interest. Of the myriad ways to reach out to young children and their parents, home visiting has surfaced as a uniquely promising approach for promoting the early intervention mission.

These features include:

Reaching new parents in a nonstigmatizing manner: Outside of public education, prenatal and obstetric care are among the most broadly accessed services in the United States. Offering home visiting within a health care framework engages new parents without requiring them to be singled out as facing unique difficulties. Similarly, all parents share a common interest in preparing their children for later learning and insuring they are well positioned to nurture their child’s healthy development and early learning.

Minimizing barriers to accessing service: Accessing any intervention can be daunting, particularly for parents lacking experience and skills in navigating complex service delivery systems. Home visiting helps parents overcome barriers to service access and connects families with appropriate supports in a timely manner.

Individualizing the message: Home visiting providers tailor their messages to fit a parent’s specific knowledge, skills, cultural beliefs, and learning style. Personalizing services is particularly important given the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of a state’s new parent population.

Opportunities to evaluate the home environment and engage other caregivers: Delivering services within a participant’s home offers a unique opportunity to determine the physical safety of a child’s most proximate environment. Repeated home visits allow for a more nuanced assessment of the home’s general stability, relationships among family members, and availability of informal and formal supports.

Since the early 1970s, home visiting programs have proliferated in the United States. They have been promoted as a strategy to engage parents in their young child’s early learning, to insure a new mother and her infant have access to a high-quality medical home, and to address parental and contextual challenges that place a young child at risk for child maltreatment or poor developmental outcomes. Changes to federal policy in 1989 allowed states to use Medicaid dollars to support early home visiting. Over the past 40 years, several states, such as Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia, have used these funds, and state-generated resources, to expand home visiting programs they found promising or establish at least one new parent initiative to support a parent concerned about how she might best care for her children. Federal investments in home visiting also were available through the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). In the 2003 CAPTA reauthorization, voluntary home visiting was identified as one of the core Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program services included in Title II of the Act.

In 2010, Congress passed the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill provided for a $1.5 billion public investment to assist states, territories, and tribal entities in replicating evidence-based, targeted home visiting programs and building a comprehensive early childhood system to promote the health and safety of pregnant women, children ages 0–8, and their families. This legislation, while dramatically increasing home visiting services across the country, benefited from the early replication work achieved by states, often working in partnership with one or more national home visiting models.

This video provides a visual of how home visiting has spread throughout the country as seen through the lens of five evidence-based home visiting models. These five include four of the oldest and most widely available models in the country (Healthy Families America, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters – HIPPY, Nurse Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers) as well as one of the newer models gaining increased attention (SafeCare). The video does not represent all investments—either state or federal—in home visiting at any point in time. Rather, it illustrates the date at which each model’s current affiliate agencies began enrolling families. Collectively, the video illustrates how these five models have expanded over the years and how communities increasingly gained access to a greater array of home visiting options.The continued expansion of home visiting and the ability to provide families with access to an array of strategies is essential if the approach is to achieve its goal of providing all parents the capacity they need to insure their child’s healthy development and safety.

Source: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Available at: https://vimeo.com/134656037

To Prevent Bullying, Focus on Early Childhood 

8/18/2015

How do we prevent bullying? Despite decades of study and numerous programs claiming to be the solution to bullying, few programs have actually been shown to be effective. One of the main issues is that “bullying prevention” is often a misnomer; instead of trying to stop the behavior before it begins, the focus of many programs is on reducing already high rates of bullying. By the time students enter sixth grade, the earliest grade for which nationally representative data is collected, nearly 28 percent report having been targeted in the past year. For younger children, data are far more limited, but suggestive. The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found that 20.4 percent of children ages 2-5 had experienced physical bullying in their lifetime and 14.6 percent had been teased (verbally bullied).

To actually prevent bullying before it starts, we need to focus on how bullying behaviors develop—for those engaging in bullying behaviors and those being targeted—starting in early childhood. Child Trends recently conducted a literature review and convened an expert roundtable, which NAEYC took part in, to document current understandings of the roots of bullying in early childhood. We identified key contextual factors linked to bullying behaviors, promising and evidence-based programs that help address emerging behavior, and the need for further research.

Research on bullying and early childhood development is limited. When we talk about bullying, the early childhood audience is often forgotten. There remains immense debate in the field about how to distinguish between typical, sometimes aggressive behavior that young children show and the more strategic and deliberate behaviors that define bullying. In preparing their uniform definition of bullying, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined bullying as being between “school-aged youth,” recognizing that the behaviors observed in young children are often not what we traditionally think of as bullying, but are developmental in nature, as children first begin to navigate interactions with peers. Many young children who are aggressive with their peers will not engage in bullying behaviors in later childhood and adolescence. Likewise, being the target of an aggressive behavior does not mean that child will be victimized for life. Still, these early aggressions (and conversely, the early skills of sharing, listening, and empathy) are precursors to later behavior, and it is important to intervene early. More research is needed to understand the trajectory of early aggression into bullying behaviors.

Despite the limited literature, four key factors consistently seemed to be related to bullying behaviors in young children:

1) Parents’ treatment of each other, their children, and others influences how young children treat their peers. Specifically, parents’ use of harsh discipline and children’s exposure to domestic violence are related to increases in bullying behavior, while parents’ positive engagement in their children’s lives, such as through interactive play, reading, and meals together, seems to be protective against bullying behavior. Parents serve as role models for their children, and modeling empathy, concern, and care for others may help deter later bullying. Resources such as those provided by the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education can help parents expand their own “circle of concern” and help their children do so, too. (It should be noted here that the majority of current research looks at the behaviors and characteristics of mothers; studies looking at the role of fathers are more limited, primarily because mothers are more likely to be the primary caregiver for young children and more likely to respond to the research. Some effort is being made, however, to address the role of fathers in bullying prevention.)

2) Young children exposed to maltreatment are more likely to be involved in bullying, both as the target and the aggressor. Not only can maltreatment change children’s behaviors, it has been shown to fundamentally alter the development of young children’s brain structures, which can lead to developmental deficits including in the social and emotional domains. Early intervention is critical to help stem these delays. Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence Raising Safe Kids, an evidence-based program specifically aimed at helping reduce child maltreatment and promote positive parenting strategies, is one approach that shows promise.

3) Television and other media can contribute to the development of both aggression and pro-social skills. Screen time for your children is one of the most debated subjects among early childhood advocates. Research shows that increased television watching is related to increases in aggressive behavior even if the content is not inherently violent. Conversely, when shows are specifically designed to promote skills such as sharing, empathy, and other pro-social skills—shows like Sesame StreetDaniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, or in past generations, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—children are more likely to engage in these behaviors after viewing.

4) Building young children’s social and emotional skills and promoting welcoming classrooms can significantly reduce aggression. Evaluations of several evidence-based social and emotional learning programs for young children, such as PATHS for Preschool, Second Step, and Al’s Pals, show that helping children understand and control their own emotions, and understand those of others, can significantly reduce conflict and aggression. Even without these formalized interventions, teachers of young children (and parents for that matter) can work to reduce bullying behaviors. The Guidance Matters column in the professional journal Young Children provides a number of resources that can support these efforts.

Overall, it is clear that more attention needs to be paid to identifying, researching, and preventing the roots of bullying behavior in young children. It is only when we recognize that bullying behaviors do not simply appear in elementary or middle school, but may be part of a developmental trajectory, that will we be able to stop bullying.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/to-prevent-bullying-focus-on-early-childhood/