TANF and the First Year of Life: Making a Difference at a Pivotal Moment 

10/2/2015

Americans overwhelmingly agree that children’s fate in life should not be determined by the circumstances in which they are born. But children born into poor families are at great risk of persistent poverty during their childhood, and long-term negative effects on their health, economic success, and overall well-being. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) offers an important, large-scale, high-impact opportunity to achieve two-generational goals for parents and infants. However, state TANF programs often fall short of their potential.  Barriers to access, underfunded services, and work requirements that do not take the needs of infants into account hold parents back and make it harder for them to lift themselves and their infants out of poverty. This report suggests a new framework for thinking about TANF in the context of the first year of life, a vision for what a reformed TANF might look like and concrete steps that states can begin taking right now to move their programs in this direction.

Source: CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People

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

Windows of opportunity: Their seductive appeal

10/22/2015

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

Effects of early childhood education and care on child development

10/21/2015

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

U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Release Early Learning Challenge Annual Performance Reports for 20 States 

10/27/2015

The U.S. Department of Education released a report today that shows Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states are rapidly improving the quality of early learning programs while enrolling more children, especially from low- and moderate income families, in the highest-quality programs.

What’s more, thousands more children are receiving health screenings to help detect medical or developmental issues earlier, the report shows. The report comes from the annual performance reviews for the 20 states that have received more than $1 billion in Early Learning Challenge grants since 2011. These reports capture the successes achieved and obstacles overcome by states in the last year.

“By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like the Early Learning Challenge, states are giving many more children a strong start in life,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials and education advocates, these states are implementing plans to develop high-quality early learning systems that improve the quality of learning and provide our youngest citizens with the strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond.”

The Early Learning Challenge is a historic federal investment that supports states in building strong systems of early learning and development to ensure that underserved children – including low-income and minority students, as well as students with disabilities and English learners – and their families have equitable access to high-quality programs.

Highlights from the reports:

  • More than 72,000 early learning and development programs are now evaluated under their states’ Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (TQRIS) – an 87 percent increase since the states applied for their grants.
  • Nearly 14,000 programs are in the highest quality tiers of their states’ rating system – a 63 percent increase since the states applied for their grants.
  • Significantly more children with high needs are enrolled in programs in the highest quality tiers of their states’ rating system.
  • More than 200,000 children with high needs are enrolled in highest rated state-funded preschool programs.
  • Nearly 230,000 children with high needs are enrolled in child care programs that receive federal child care subsidy funds and are in the highest tiers.
  • More than 150,000 children with high needs are enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start programs in the highest tiers.

“The Early Learning Challenge, an education reform initiative announced by President Obama in 2009, has been a catalyst for advancing state-led efforts to improve education. When we invest in early education, the benefits can last a lifetime,” HHS Administration for Children and Families Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Greenberg said. “Children who attend high-quality early learning and preschool programs are more likely to do well in school. We all gain when our country has strong early childhood systems in place to support our children on the path to opportunity.”

Duncan discussed the report at the annual grantee meeting in Virginia for the thirty-two states implementing the Early Learning Challenge, as well as Preschool Development Grants. Launched in 2011 as a historic joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Early Learning Challenge now has 20 states participating: California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and Wisconsin. These grantees are working to align, coordinate and improve the quality of existing early learning programs across multiple funding streams that support children from birth through age 5.

Duncan also spoke about the Preschool Development Grants, a program jointly administered by both Departments. In 2014, 35 states and Puerto Rico applied for the Preschool Development Grants, jointly administered by the Departments, to expand high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families. Due to the limited funding, awards were made only to 18 states in over 200 high-need communities that span the geographic and political spectrum. Despite the evidence showing the importance of early learning and the unmet need for preschool in America, earlier this summer, House and Senate committees authored partisan spending bills that make significant cuts to programs that provide important services such as health care, public health and safety, job training, and education. Both bills eliminate Preschool Development Grants, jeopardizing critical early education opportunities for more than 100,000 children in the last two years of the grants.

This Early Learning Challenge report provides a high level overview of the progress made by Early Learning Challenge states in key areas as they implement their state plans. For more detailed information, see the individual state annu

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-departments-education-and-health-and-human-services-release-guidance-including-children-disabilities-high-quality-early-childhood-programs-0

National Center on Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships (NCEHS-CCP) Evaluation

10/27/2015

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded 275 Early Head Start expansion and Early Head Start-child care partnership grants (EHS-CCP) in 50 states; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and the Northern Mariana Islands. These grants will allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family child care providers to expand high-quality early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers from low-income families.

NCEHS-CCP will support the effective implementation of new EHS-CCP grants by disseminating information through training and technical assistance (T/TA) and resources and materials. NCEHS-CCP is primarily targeted to T/TA providers working directly with the EHS-CCP grantees (including Office of Head Start (OHS) and Office of Child Care (OCC) National Centers, regional training and technical assistance (T/TA) specialists, and implementation planners and fiscal consultants). State and federal agencies (including OHS and OCC federal staff, Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) administrators, Head Start State and National Collaboration directors), as well as EHS-CCP grantees will also find helpful information on partnerships through NCEHS-CCP’s resources.

The NCEHS-CCP at ZERO TO THREE is proposing to conduct a descriptive study of NCEHS-CCP that will provide information that will document the activities and progress of NCEHS-CCP toward its goals and objectives. Findings from the evaluation will be translated into action steps to inform continuous quality improvement of NCEHS-CCP.

The proposed data collection activities for the descriptive study of NCEHS-CCP will include the following components:

Stakeholder survey. Web-based surveys will be conducted in the spring of 2016 and 2018 with key stakeholders (including OHS and OCC federal and national center staff, regional T/TA specialists, CCDF administrators, Head Start state and national collaboration office directors, and implementation planners and fiscal consultants). The stakeholder survey will collect information about the types of support they received from NCEHS-CCP in the past year, their satisfaction with the support, how the T/TA informed their work with EHS CCP grantees, and how support could be improved.

Stakeholder telephone interviews. Semi-structured telephone interviews will be conducted in spring of 2017 and 2019 with a purposively selected subgroup of stakeholders that complete the stakeholder survey. The interviews will explore in more detail the types of T/TA support participants received from NCEHS-CCP, how that support has informed their work with EHS-CCP grantees, their satisfaction with the support, successes and challenges, and suggestions for improvement.

This 60-Day Federal Register Notice covers the data collection activities for NCEHS-CCP and requests clearance for (1) the stakeholder survey, and (2) the stakeholder telephone interviews.

Source: Federal Register, Volume 80 Issue 207

Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-10-27/html/2015-27239.htm

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

10/20/2015

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

Supporting High Quality Services for Children and Families

10/2/2015

Operating on national and regional levels, the federal early childhood training and technical assistance (T/TA) system will support high quality services for children and families. All entities will:

  • Target services for children birth to age 5, and their families, with supports for expectant families and school-age children;
  • Promote the provision of comprehensive services and school readiness with strategies that are age, developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate;
  • Provide high-quality, evidenced-based, practical resources and approaches that build capacity and create sustainable early childhood practices at the regional, state, and local levels;
  • Scaffold timely and relevant guidance, training, materials and professional development activities to account for different stakeholder needs and levels of readiness;
  • Emphasize use of data for continuous quality improvement, coordination, and integration across the broader early childhood sector;
  • Build upon previous evaluations and lessons learned from the Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care T/TA; and
  • Include evaluation of the quality of the assistance provided and the degree to which early care and education programs, staff, children and family’s needs are met.

Source: Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/interagency-projects/ece-technical-assistance

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

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process Module: Collecting & Using Data to Improve Programs

8/2015

This online learning module provides key information about the COS process, and the practices that contribute to consistent and meaningful COS decision-making. Over the course of multiple sessions, participants will learn about:

  • why child outcomes data are collected;
  • the key features of the COS process;
  • the essential knowledge needed to complete the COS process;
  • how the three child outcomes are measured through the process;
  • how to identify accurate COS ratings using a team-based process;
  • the importance of comparing children’s current functional performance to age-expected functioning;
  • when and how to measure progress in the three child outcome areas; and
  • how to document ratings and evidence to support those ratings in COS documentation.

Please use the link below to register for the module. You will be automatically redirected to the module after registering. The module is self-paced, so you may access it as often as desired.

Source: ECTA Center and DaSy Center

Available at: http://dasycenter.org/child-outcomes-summary-cos-process-module-collecting-using-data-to-improve-programs/