Volume 13, Issue 24

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hot Topics

The Child Care and Development Block Grant was reauthorized in November for the first time since 1996 after nearly a year of negotiating. Clare McCann provides a detailed look at the bill’s provisions at EdCentral. States will no longer be able to reassess family eligibility more often than every 12 months; more frequent checks can jeopardize children’s enrollment depending on variations in family income. The bill also encourage states to move towards subsidy systems that do not financially punish child care centers when children are absent. The reauthorized CCDBG also focuses on safety, with fire, health, and safety inspections even for small license-exempt providers. The House and Senate have agreed on an additional $400 million over six years to fund quality improvements. The National Women’s Law Center has released a side-by-side comparison of the features of the reauthorized version.

State and local governments continue to focus on expanding investment in early childhood education. In North Dakota, a state without state-funded pre-K, Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill to invest $6 million to help provide pre-K to about 6,000 4-year-olds. The plan would provide $1,000 per child ($1,500 for children eligible for free or reduced-price lunch), an estimated half of what the program would cost. The North Dakota legislature did not fund early childhood during its 2013 session, though state regulations were changed to allow schools to fund early childhood via local tax revenue at their discretion. In Indianapolis, months of debate have led to the City-County Council approving a $40 million early childhood education plan. The plan commits the city to providing $20 million in funding, though the exact mechanism for that is still undecided, with an expected $20 million match from business and nonprofits. The plan would provide pre-K scholarships for 700 to 1,200 children from at-risk neighborhoods. In New York, advocates have proposed a plan to further expand the state’s universal pre-K program at the same time New York City has detailed their plan to evaluate the recent early education expansion.

This panel on Caucus: NJ featured NIEER Director Steve Barnett, along with other early childhood experts, examining the state of New Jersey’s preschool programs. The Abbott program serves as a national and international model, offering high-quality pre-K to all children in 31 NJ communities with high levels of poverty, and about a quarter of the state’s children. Despite legislation on the books since 2008, no additional funding has been awarded to increase access for three and four-year-olds in other school districts . Panelists discussed research findings that reveal the long-term positive and measurable results of quality preschool, the success of public-private partnerships, and why the legislature has failed to commit additional funding. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Assistant Research Professor for NIEER and CEELO, has previously appeared in this series to discuss creative development. More information on the Grow Up Great initiative from PNC can be found here.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this blog, NIEER/CEELO Research Fellow Jim Squires discusses findings of a new CEELO FastFact on which states accommodate children with special needs in their Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). He calls for a second "I" in QRIS: inclusion--to help parents find programs that will best serve their children.

In this blog, Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan highlights findings from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment's new report, Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study.


The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families is a hub of research to improve the lives of Hispanic children and families. The Center is both policy and program driven and is dedicated to providing timely research findings, tools, and other opportunities to advance the capacity of fields serving Hispanic children and families. The Center hosts a summer research fellowship program that supports approximately three research fellows per year, over a 12-week period (approximate dates June 1st to August 31st). More information is available here.

This brief describes a variety of ways in which parents and other family members can be involved in supporting young children's effective use of technology both through family involvement at home and at school and through school-home conferencing. Five briefs available from T is for Technology provide answers to five key questions identified as important to supporting effective implementation of technology in early childhood education. They combine the perspectives of experts, practitioners, advocates, and other stakeholders expressed at the RAND-PNC Grow Up Great Forum in May 2014 with findings from the literature.

This evaluation of Arizona’s piloted teacher evaluation model, conducted by Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd, used results from observations, measures of student academic progress and a survey of students, parents and peers. 

As K-12 shifts to competency education, the question becomes how to train the educator workforce from pre-service through credentialing, professional development and evaluation. This brief works through that process, explains what new skills educators will need and finishes up with policy barriers and their solutions. (iNACOL and Knowledge Works)

CEELO Update

As the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, in partnership with the Institute for Child Success and United Way Association of South Carolina prepared to release its 2015 Early Childhood Common Agenda, NIEER/CEELO Senior Fellow Jim Squires delivered a keynote address at the Children’s Trust Legislative Summit in Columbia on November 18. In his presentation The Impact of Policy on the Class of 2027: Early Care and Education in South Carolina, Squires emphasized the need to revise the 20th century paradigm of parallel birth-5 and K-12 education systems to create a more coherent P-20 system with quality serving as a common denominator.  “Common sense and research converge to demonstrate the importance of supporting the development and learning of every young child, including the pivotal roles played by responsive parenting and healthy communities. . . Fortunately, we have the knowledge to make it happen now.” 

The transition from preschool or other early learning settings into kindergarten marks an important event in the lives of more than 3.5 million children and their families each year. November 19th, CEELO and the REL Northwest webinar explored one component of successful transitions: kindergarten entry assessments (KEAs). National experts, including Thomas Schultz, Senior Scientist, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) & Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, Council of Chief State School Officers and Jana Martella, Co-Project Director, CEELO, Education Development Center (EDC) participated in a Webinar examining how to integrate KEAs into a comprehensive assessment system and how to use the data to inform teaching practices. State departments of education presenters also highlighted practical strategies they are using to assess a child’s school readiness and adjust instruction to help bridge any gaps. A recording is available here and slides are here.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 8:00am to Friday, December 12, 2014 - 5:00pm

The NTI is carefully developed to meet the learning and networking needs of those working with infants and toddlers in Early Childhood Education, Early Intervention, Mental Health, Early Head Start, Child Welfare, Parent Education, and Pediatrics.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015 -
4:00pm to 5:30pm

This event is part of the New York City Wonder of Learning Serioes. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 8:00am to Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 12:30pm

The American Montessori Society will be having their annual conference in Philadephia. Find more information here

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, December 5, 2014
(The Gazette)

Pony up the money to educate disadvantaged kids from birth until they start kindergarten, or spend more taxpayer dollars later on special education, incarceration or welfare. That was the message newly elected and re-elected state lawmakers representing the Pikes Peak region heard Thursday. At a legislative breakfast in Colorado Springs, early childhood education advocates presented studies they say show that providing quality programs for impoverished children pays off.


Thursday, December 4, 2014
(The State Journal-Register)

When it comes to improving children’s long-term educational prospects, both hard research and common sense point us to what needs to be done: enroll 3- and 4-year-olds in high-quality preschool so they enter kindergarten and elementary school ready to learn. And yet, as documented in “The State We’re In: 2014” — a biennial report produced by the bipartisan education advocate Advance Illinois — the state of Illinois is losing ground when it comes to early childhood education access.


Thursday, December 4, 2014
(89.3 KPCC)

The Board of Commissioners of First 5 LA, the nonprofit that advocates for children 0 to 5 and funds health and early education programs from tobacco tax revenue, met in mid-November and approved a new strategic plan. The plan deemphasized direct services such as subsidized preschool slots, resulting in no new funding contract forLos Angeles Universal Preschool, which has provided thousands of free preschool seats for 4-year-olds since 2004 with First 5 LA support. Earlier this year, LAUP joined other advocacy groups to push the LAUSD school board for a dedicated $34 million to expand early education. It’s an example, Ayala said, of how local school districts can be lobbied to help expand preschool using California's Local Control Funding Formula. Local Control Funding Formula gives local districts spending power and mandates that the funds be used to help English language learners and low-income and foster youth.

“Our biggest hopes are two,” Ayala said. “One is [the] Local Control Funding Formula, because the investment needs to start at home. But the other is that there has been a promise to expand from the governor and the Legislature." 

Thursday, December 4, 2014
(New York Amsterdam News)

The 3- and 4-year-olds may not know how to read, but they know what college is, thanks to Camden, N.J.’s early childhood education program. Last year, Camden high schools had a 53 percent graduation rate. Reshaping expectations is one of the biggest challenges for educators in the Camden schools, and teachers say it starts at the beginning.

“The college plan begins here,” said Katrina McCombs, director of Camden’s early childhood education program. “We’re trying to plant that seed early on, so it’s part of their vocabulary.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014
(KSAT 12)

The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce released new findings Thursday showing how big of an impact early childhood education has on the economy. "Our children need to be receiving a better education in order for the business community to profit as much as we would like to from their continuing education and contributions to the workforce," said John Gonzalez, president and CEO of JDG Associates.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(Statesman Journal)

Oregon parents spend more on of their income on child care than parents in almost every other state, and they could start paying even more, according to an audit released Wednesday by the Secretary of State's Office.

The Beaver State ranks first in the nation for average annual child-care costs as a percentage of income for married couples and second in the nation for single mothers. A single mother with an infant spends 62 percent of her income on child care; if she has a 4-year-old, that number is 47 percent.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(The Advocate)

A committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved new oversight rules for 2-year-olds in child care centers despite arguments that the standards will be too lax. The requirements are expected to be approved Wednesday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which is grappling with the issue as part of the state’s overhaul of its pre-K system. Backers said the regulations strike a balance between safe practices and affordability. A higher teacher-to-toddler ratio would force huge fee hikes that have to be shouldered by parents and guardians, backers of the committee-endorsed plan said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This September, 51,000 4-year-olds filed through the doors of 1,655 preschool programs across New York City. For many of them, everything may have been new: new teachers, friends, cubbies, and a strange phrase, “crisscross applesauce, hands in your lap.” The children may not have sensed it, but for the city, lots of things were new, too. These children are a part of a broad-scale experiment with historic implications, unfolding in real time. They are part of Year 1 of universal pre-kindergarten in New York.

Public preschool programs come with very small chairs and massive expectations. Mayor Bill de Blasio has staked a great deal on universal pre-K as a tool for reducing economic inequality. He made the initiative a key element of his campaign. In his first month of office, the mayor engaged in a closely watched standoff with the governor about funding, eventually securing $300 million from the state as the first installment in a five-year commitment. After a hectic summer of health and safety inspections, the program launched.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(EdWeek )

In an open letter to policymakers, more than 500 researchers have urged the expansion of and increased public investment in early-childhood education.

Arguing that critics of greater investments in early education "ignore the full body of evidence," the letter says: "Existing research findings are sufficient to warrant greater investment in quality programs now."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(Charlotte Observer)

Children who lack these early interactions enter kindergarten with a vocabulary 18 months behind where they need to be to succeed. Without vocabulary proficiency the child risks falling so far behind that his or her prospects for graduating high school or finding a meaningful job are greatly diminished. This is very much a ‘get this right now or pay later’ proposition for society.

Central to a child’s keeping pace in vocabulary development is the parents’ active role, so learning takes place in the home long before school begins. Parents must talk, read, sing and play with children from birth. A strong vocabulary is the end result of these dynamic exchanges.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(Star Tribune (Editorials))

Though several weeks remain before the 2015 Minnesota Legislature convenes, advocates of early education are pushing to expand support for state-sponsored preschool. It’s a worthy goal: Lawmakers should move to bolster what they’ve begun. . . . In 2012, Minnesota spent about $500 million in state and federal funds for early-childhood development and education services for 84,000 children, leaving 72,000 children unserved, based on Wilder Foundation research. Cuts to the federal Head Start program have left about 5,500 state children on waiting lists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(Washington Post)

Republican lawmakers in North Dakota are throwing their support behind pre-kindergarten funding in a big way, reflecting broadly held views in support of such programs.

On Tuesday, a handful of local Republican lawmakers including the chairman of the Senate Education Committee joined state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler in announcing a plan to cover half the pre-K education cost of an estimated 6,000 children, according to the Forum News Service. With just 36 percent enrollment among 3- and 4-year-olds, the state ranks fifth from the bottom in early childhood education, Baesler said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
(WGEM.com (NBC))

A new study from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute shows that moving a child to different day cares can negatively impact their social development.

Many parents choose child care as a way to help develop their child's skills while being able to work, but sometimes life gets in the way. 

Douglas Community Services Assistant Director Faith Carr says the children are learning to form stable and secure relationships in early years to serve as a model for social connections. She says keeping a child in the same setting helps them develop trust, which is essential to developing social skills. Carr says changing up the child care can keep a child from learning right and wrong.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

More than 1,000 poor Indianapolis children will have access to high-quality preschool starting in 2016 after an Indianapolis City-County Council vote tonight to approve a $40 million public-private partnership between the city, business and philanthropic leaders.

The solid 19-8 vote margin to approve a compromise between Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and council Democrats follows nearly six months of debate in the city about how to pay for it. The vote was uncertain enough that Ballard led a rally at Indianapolis City Market earlier today to whip up support before the meeting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
(Clarion-Ledger (Opinion))

With the holiday season full upon us, most of us are thinking about the children in our lives and how to share the wonder of Christmas. So it might be a good time to think about one thing we could do as a nation and as a state that would significantly improve the lives of America's youngest children: make a serious commitment to early childhood education.

A recent poll conducted for the bi-partisan First Five Year's Fund found that 71 percent of Americans of all political stripes support increasing the federal investment in high quality early childhood programs. Over 9 in 10 support making early education and childcare more affordable, and 67 percent support ensuring access to affordable childcare. So this is one of those rare issues upon which most Americans and both parties actually agree.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A vast majority of California registered voters believe attending a high-quality preschool is important to a student’s future success in school, according to a Field Poll conducted in partnership with EdSource

Of the 1,010 registered voters surveyed, 61 percent consider a high-quality preschool experience “very important” to a student’s later success and 22 percent said it is “somewhat important.”

“What these findings show is a clear recognition of the critical importance of high-quality education in the lives of children, and to their future success,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge, a preschool advocacy group in California. “With 83% of the public believing that a quality early experience is critical, there can be no mistake that this is a core public value.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
(Montgomery Advertiser)

A group led by some of Alabama's top business executives is pushing for another expansion of the state's voluntary pre-kindergarten program and is trying to make it accessible to 17 percent of the eligible 4-year-olds. . . 

In May, the National Institute for Early Education Research said Alabama is one of only four states with pre-K programs that meet all 10 of its quality benchmarks. State test results from 2013 showed that every third grader who had been through the pre-K program scored proficient or above in reading.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
(Grand Forks Herald)

After their party was criticized last session for not providing state funding for preschool programs, several Republican lawmakers joined the state’s top education official Tuesday in announcing a $6 million plan to fund early childhood education for 4-year-olds. The state funding would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student, said Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. . . 

North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota are among the 10 states that don’t provide state-funded preschool, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Minnesota spent about $13.8 million in state funds on pre-K education in the 2012-13 school year, the institute reported.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

After months of acrimony in which the chances of passage seemed bleak, plans for a $40 million early childhood education program in Indianapolis are on the verge of becoming reality. The proposal, which cleared a council committee with a unanimous vote, establishes the program's framework but puts off some significant decisions to next year -- namely, how to fund it.

Monday, December 1, 2014
(The Oregonian)

Gov. John Kitzhaber's education spending proposals for 2015-17 would deliver huge gains for early childhood education and primary school reading instruction while holding the rest of K-12 education at a relative standstill.

Monday, December 1, 2014
(Washington Post)

 The No Child Left Behind education law could be making a political comeback.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who is the incoming chairman of the Senate committee overseeing education, says his top education priority is fixing the landmark Bush-era law. His goal? Get a bill signed by President Barack Obama early next year.

Doing so will require bipartisanship that’s been elusive since the law, primarily designed to help minority and poor children, came up for renewal in 2007.

Monday, December 1, 2014

ExceleRate Illinois, the state's new quality rating and improvement system for all early learning programs, today announced a collaboration with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) to generate awareness for the importance of quality early learning programs among pediatricians and their patients' families.

"This collaboration is a perfect fit for ExceleRate Illinois because pediatricians are such a trusted and 'go-to' resource for parents," said Theresa Hawley, Ph.D., executive director, Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.  "We are delighted to launch this collaboration, which complements ICAAP's involvement in early learning initiatives and helps extend our message to parents about the importance of quality early learning programs to their child's healthy development," she said. 

Through a website (www.excelerateillinois.com), parents can access resources about how a quality early learning program can prepare their child for success in school and in life.  

Monday, December 1, 2014
(The Freeport News)

The  Ministry of Education, Science and Technology puts “a high value” on early chldhood education. So said Minister of Education, Jerome K. Fitzgerald earlier this week during the official regrading of Naomi Blatch Primary School to Naomi Blatch Preschool. Fitzgerald informed on Monday that approximately $368,832.54 was invested to upgrade the facility and he deemed the exercise a testament of the priority of education at all levels. The minister pointed out that the Ministry and its Department of Education have placed  “a high value” on early childhood education.

Making reference to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Fitzgerald quoted, “children who attend a high-quality preschool enter grade school with better reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills than those who do not.”

Monday, December 1, 2014

On Monday night our City-County Council will vote on a proposal to offer high-quality preschool to thousands of children over five years. The proposal is the result of a compromise between the council’s Democratic leadership and a Republican mayor. . .

For families of the children of Indianapolis, however, this program would mean much more. Parents don’t need a lot of convincing about the importance of preschool. Nearly every parent wants to give their child a great start to school, and they know preschool works. The problem, as we know, is the high cost of tuition and limitations of programs like Head Start that can only serve so many children. Nearly every parent wants the best for their child, but so many are on the outside of good preschool classrooms looking in. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014
(Red Orbit)

Children who attended a full-day preschool program had higher scores on measures of school readiness skills (language, math, socio-emotional development, and physical health), increased attendance, and reduced chronic absences compared to children who attended part-day preschool, according to a study in the November 26 issue of JAMA.

Participation in high-quality early childhood programs at ages 3 and 4 years is associated with greater school readiness and achievement, higher rates of educational attainment and socioeconomic status, and lower rates of crime. Although publicly funded preschool such as Head Start and state prekindergarten serve an estimated 42 percent of US 4-year­ olds, most provide only part-day services, and only 15 percent of 3-year-olds enroll. These rates plus differences in quality may account for only about half of entering kindergartners having mastered skills needed for school success. One approach for enhancing effectiveness is increasing from a part-day to a full-day schedule; whether this improves outcomes is unknown, according to background information in the article.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Great Recession took a greater toll on Michigan than many other states. Our recovery has taken longer, as well. There are signs that we are on the mend. In fact, economists predict that the state will continue to show improvement during the next two to five years, including steady job growth. . .

Many experts believe that early childhood education is crucial to our economic future, and if we fail to focus on education, the chance that Michigan will falter again is much greater. In an article this month in Bridge Magazine, Ted Roelofs and Mike Wilkinson wrote about which Michigan regions are growing the fastest. In the article, the authors wrote the state will falter in the decade ahead if it fails to produce more college-educated graduates to compete in a knowledge-based economy. It also stated that Michigan is already lagging behind when it comes to per capita income with neighboring states.

Saturday, November 29, 2014
(Duluth News Tribune)

Education advocates will be intensifying their push for more state-paid preschool during the upcoming legislative session, the latest sign that momentum around early education in the state is building. MinneMinds, a group of Minnesota foundations, nonprofits, cities and education institutions, is gearing up to ask legislators for $125 million to $150 million to fund early learning scholarships for low-income children. Advocates are trying to make wider use of scholarships for low-income, at-risk children. Those scholarships now cover only about 10 percent of the state’s eligible children.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Listening. Sharing. Following directions. Making friends. Managing big emotions. Planning for the future. A high-quality preschool program helps children develop in all these ways. But, a new report argues, such matters of the heart shouldn't be left behind just as students are learning to tie their shoes. Melissa Tooley and Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation write that schools should focus on these same skills, habits, attitudes, and mindsets with older kids. They say research shows they're just as important as academics.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New research suggests that young kids could benefit from more time around their peers in a classroom setting.

A new study released Wednesday in theJournal of the American Medical Associationfound that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschool than in part-time programs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
(The River City News)

A federal grant being pursued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky could lead to universal preschool in eight local school districts.

The $15 million possibility was sprung on the districts pretty suddenly, according to Bill Grein, an administrator with Covington Independent Public Schools. He presented details about the grant to the Covington Board of Education last month. "This grant opportunity came at us like a tornado," he told the board.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

As public support and awareness of the importance of preschool grows at the federal, state and local level, there is a debate in the early childhood education world over how to achieve “universal preschool” and what form it should take. The battle over the meaning of the term was in full display earlier this year when some California legislators, led by then-Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, pushed to expand the state’s new transitional kindergarten program under the banner of “universal preschool” to all 4-year-olds, regardless of income. Currently only children whose 5th birthday falls between September and December are eligible to enroll in transitional kindergarten, which is effectively an extra year of school paid for by taxpayers. But instead of expanding transitional kindergarten, others in the Legislature pushed to expand less costly full-day preschool programs – also in the name of universal preschool. This was the approach that was backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and which eventually won out.

Monday, November 24, 2014
(Montana Standard)

When it comes to choosing a preschool in Montana, parents are on their own.

The state of Montana licenses day care centers and registers day care homes. But there is no oversight on preschools. The preschool accreditation standards approved last week by the Montana Board of Public Education won’t change that lack of regulation. The accreditation standards don’t require any preschool to be accredited – unless it is a preschool funded by state money.

Basically the Board of Public Education set accreditation standards for public preschools or preschools funded by public schools. There are few such programs now, because no funding is available.