Brief: Early Childhood Higher Education: Taking Stock Across the States 

11/2015

By Marcy Whitebook, Ph.D. and Lea J.E. Austin, Ed.D.

This brief is based on findings from the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Higher Education Inventory conducted in several states: California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. This brief highlights the extent to which ECE teacher preparation is currently integrated across the birth-to-age-eight continuum, and on variations in field-based practice opportunities for teachers of young children.

Source: Center for the Study in Child Care Employment

Available at: http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/cscce/2015/early-childhood-higher-education-taking-stock-across-the-states/

Supporting Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness: A Child Care Development Fund State Guide 

10/2015

NAEHCY and the Ounce of Prevention Fund are pleased to announce a new guide intended to assist states in utilizing their Child Care and Development Fund state plan (“CCDF Plan”) as a vehicle for improving access to high-quality early care and education for children who experience homelessness. The guide provides background information on common barriers and challenges; best practices for serving homeless families; a summary of requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-186) (“CCDBG Act”) related to homelessness; and a summary of some of the opportunities available through the state CCDF Plan to improve access.

As a companion to the guide, a self-assessment tool that can assist states in assessing their current policies and practices and identifying options to better support vulnerable children is included. We recommend reviewing the self-assessment tool prior to reading the guide.

Early care and education services, including child care, can help mitigate the impacts of homelessness on children. Research overwhelmingly shows high-quality educational experiences in the preschool years can have a positive effect and long-term benefit throughout a child’s education. Yet compared to poor housed parents, homeless parents are less likely to receive child care subsidies. At the same time, they are more likely to rely on informal child care arrangements and to report quitting jobs or school due to problems with child care. Homelessness presents barriers over and above what other poor families face, which are exacerbated by other factors, such as fragmentation of service systems, limited availability of services, lack of transportation, rigid program rules and the family’s mobility.

The new CCDBG offers an unprecedented opportunity to move states toward policies that make it easier for homeless families to access child care subsidies, and with new CCDF state plans due in March 2016, the time to act is NOW!

Please share this guide with your colleagues and partners at the local and state level, and please let us know how we can be helpful in your efforts.

Source: The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

Available at: http://naehcy.org/educational-resources/supporting-children-and-families-experiencing-homelessness-child-care-development-fund-state

Determinants of Subsidy Stability and Child Care Continuity. Final Report for the Illinois–New York Child Care Research Partnership 

9/1/2015

This mixed-methods multiyear (2010–14) study, the Illinois–New York Child Care Research Partnership Study: Phase 1, analyzed the experiences of a new cohort of child care subsidy clients residing in four sites in Illinois and New York. The study used longitudinal state administrative data from child care payment records in combination with newly collected telephone survey and qualitative interview data from subsidy clients to identify patterns of program use and to examine factors that predict exits from the subsidy program and from subsidized providers. This research report discusses findings from the administrative data analysis and telephone survey.

Source: The Illinois/New York Child Care Research Partnership Study

Available at: https://ssascholars.uchicago.edu/ccrp/news/determinants-subsidy-stability-and-child-care-continuity-final-report-illinois%E2%80%93new-york

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

Building Blocks: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2015 

10/27/2015

Child care helps children, families, and communities prosper. It gives children the opportunity to learn and develop skills they need to succeed in school and in life. It gives parents the support and peace of mind they need to be productive at work. And, by strengthening the current and future workforce, it helps our nation’s economy. Yet many families, particularly low-income families, struggle to afford child care.

  • Families in 32 states were better off in February 2015 than in February 2014 under one or more child care assistance policies.
  • Families in 16 states were worse off under one or more of these policies.
  • Fourteen states reported they had made or expected to make improvements in one or more of the policies covered in this report after February 2015.

Source: National Women’s Law Center

Available at: http://nwlc.org/resources/building-blocks-state-child-care-assistance-policies-2015/

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/

A National Snapshot of State-Level Collaboration for Early Care and Education

9/2015

The Child Care Collaboration Study, conducted by a research team at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and funded by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, is designed to examine collaborations among child care administrators and providers at both the state and local levels and to determine whether different models of collaboration are related to access and quality of early care and education programs. The study comprises two phases, the first of which focuses on the national landscape regarding collaboration among child care administrators. The second phase builds on the findings from the first phase to examine relationships between state-and local-level collaborations in two specific states, Maryland and Vermont. This research brief focuses on the findings from the first phase of the study by describing collaboration among state early care and education leaders across the country and focusing on these leaders’ perceptions of the interactions among their respective agencies.

Source: Child Care Collaboration Study

Available at: http://ltd.edc.org/sites/ltd.edc.org/files/ChildCareCollabBrief2015.pdf

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

Responding to the Tennessee Pre-K Study

9/29/2015

By Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development

A new study of the Tennessee Pre-K program came out this week. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have been conducting an evaluation of the program for a number of years and the latest study reflects findings on children at the end of the third grade. Not surprising, the study shows that improved outcomes gained during the Pre-K year are not sustained by the end of the third grade. These results are similar to the Head Start Impact Study and are not particularly unique. They may be troubling, but not for the reasons one might think. Can – or should – we assume the cause of “fade out” is attributed to just the Pre-K program? What else should we consider?

First, fade out is not well understood. There are several things that should be considered. Do the gains fade out because of the quality of the Pre-K program or because of the quality of K thru Grade 3? Is the fade out the result of K-3 teachers focusing on those children who have had no formal early learning experiences – sometimes referred to as “catch-up?” – or is the dosage of the Pre-K experience (one year vs. two years or half-day vs. full-day) something that needs to be better understood?

Second, what do we really know about the quality of the Pre-K experiences overall? The quality of early learning programs has not been studied closely. In the years since the Head Start Impact Study was conducted in 2002, much has been done to improve the quality of Head Start. For example, significant improvements have been made in teacher qualifications, curriculum, classroom assessment and overall monitoring. The impact of these and other improvements have yet to be studied.

Third, how a child performs on certain scales such as literacy and mathematics are important, but alone are not the only measure of how a child is doing. It is well understood that the social-emotional development of children is at the core of their ability to learn academic skills and function in society. The Vanderbilt Study acknowledges that children arrive at Kindergarten socially and emotionally better equipped to learn, but what happens after that? As anyone who has ever taught kindergartners will attest, skills such as self-regulation may be the biggest indicators of how a child will perform later in life. What happens to this aspect of development during the K thru Grade 3 period deserves more study to not only better understand the Tennessee study but better approaches to the birth to five years as a whole.

Fourth, another question that is still largely unstudied is how the quality of the learning experiences in the schools the children attend impacts fade out and why. Do the gains fade out because there is alignment between the Pre-K and elementary school approaches to learning or curriculum? If so, how do we improve the alignment between two systems that are so different? According to the recent NAS Study on the Early Childhood Workforce “proficient learning in each domain of develop and early learning is facilitated when standards, curricula, assessment and teaching practices are aligned with each other and across ages and grade levels, based on rigorous research and evaluation and implemented with fidelity”. There is much we don’t know about alignment in each of these areas.

Fifth, are there more sustainable gains if children are provided rich early learning experiences earlier, beginning at birth, as the neuroscience suggests? If, as research demonstrates, by the age of three, poor children have heard 30 million words less than their economically advantaged peers, then the time to start is much earlier than Pre-K for four-year-olds.

One last thought – the Parents. Early childhood programs, especially those conducted in community-based programs, have much more engagement with parents. In part because of their children’s age, parents must deliver and pick them up directly, which provides for almost daily communication with teachers. The importance of this cannot be over-estimated but has not been studied extensively. Parent communication and involvement changes dramatically once a child enters school.

As my friend and colleague, Walter Gilliam PhD, Director of the Yale Child Study Center, once said, “if you eat a good dinner and go to bed full, it should still come as no surprise that you are hungry  the next day”. Maybe, just maybe, the fade out occurs because we are focusing too narrowly on just one “meal” or one year of a child’s life. What happens during the years before and the years after Pre-K are just as critical as the experiences during that single year of the child’s life.