Volume 14, Issue 22

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hot Topics

Research shows chronic stress can have harmful effects on child development. The Starting at Home project includes child advocates and researchers around the nation looking for effective ways to help families and caregivers build healthy, supportive relationships with the children in their care. The research team, led by assistant professor at the University of Delaware and NIEER Senior Research Fellow Dr. Jason Hustedt, are working to find out if stronger relationships can reduce or offset harmful stressors in a child’s life such as conditions of poverty, abuse and/or neglect. When the study is complete, maintenance and sustainability recommendations will be made on the “Promoting First Relationships” model in Early Head Start.  For more information on the importance of social partners in the development of young children and the negative impacts of stress, read here.

NIEER Research Professor Dr. Shannon Ayers appeared on New Jersey Caucus to talk about if parents make the best teachers. Dr. Ayers responded to this question “we know early language is related to later learning. Where do children initially learn language? It's from the parents, in the home, and from the caregiver.” Parents are the first and probably the best teacher, but parents and teachers should work together on what the child does to achieve optimal cognitive and social-emotional development. Additionally, educational institutions need to be welcoming to parents and provide resources on parent education in order to build partnerships to benefit children. Watch here.

The Pritzker Children’s Initiative and The Bridgespan Group recently released a guide to early childhood investment opportunities that both public and private sector investors can make immediately to improve kindergarten readiness and lifelong success. “Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children” estimates that 1 in 4 American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn. The guide establishes several options for high-impact investment in early education including health and developmental screenings, greater access to high-quality evidence-based programs, and improving professional development and compensation of early childhood educators. NIEER has released several publications on the importance of investments in these sectors including the health benefits of early childhood, access to quality preschool, and low wages for early childhood teachers. Also, see NIEER’s policy brief on Improving Public Financing for Early Learning Programs.

A recent poll from the First Five Years Fund consisting of 800 registered voters nationally found that improving public education and ensuring children “get a strong start in life” is considered a priority for voters. Additionally, 59 percent of Republican voters said they support an increase in early childhood funding that may add to the deficit in the short terms if it pays for itself in the long run. Evidence continues to grow that the public supports investments in early childhood education, and many states and cities are looking for ways to increase access services.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow John T. Bruer questions the importance of brain science in brain development and lifelong well being and how much guidance neuroscience can provide policymakers about early windows of opportunity. See more here.

Michelle Horowitz discusses what the State of Preschool Yearbook can tell us about dual language learners in state programs.


Child Trends released their report Understanding and Addressing the Early Childhood Origins of Mean Behavior and Bullying: Resources for Practitioners to examine behaviors in young children that appear related to later bullying, and what can buffer factors that may link to bullying.

October is Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) Awareness Month: The Safe to Sleep® campaign educates parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers about ways to reduce to the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Additional resources include Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep; a grandparents brochure on safe infant sleep; and a safe sleep environment one-pager. ECE providers can also participate in the free American Academy of Pediatrics online training, Reducing the Risk of SIDS in Child Care


The Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children has just released a report on Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) participation in Massachusetts. The report analyzed state data and conducted focus groups, surveys, and community forums across the state to get a picture of how CACFP is being utilized and found thousands of likely eligible children in early education and care settings are not served.

This issue brief from the Century Foundation discusses the research on the benefits of early care and learning for middle-class families, including the education benefits for the child as well as workforce benefits for parents.

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute published a practice guide with five recommendations for teaching math to children in preschool, prekindergarten and kindergarten.

The agenda for the Human Capital Research Collaborative’s National Invitational Conference Agenda on Sustaining Early Childhood Gains includes several resources and presentations on program length, quality, and preschool to third grade continuity.

study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute finds that students in Georgia’s preschool program show educational improvements while participating in the program. Results of the evaluation showed an improvement in student’s school readiness skills in literacy, math, and general knowledge measures.

This webinar from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance is a roundtable discussion moderated by AL.com’s Jeremy Gray on Alabama’s High Quality First Class Pre-K program

This report from Child Care Canada considers international research on the impact of early childhood education and its effects on development of children.

This edited volume from NIEER Assistant Research Professor Rebecca Gomez and Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan includes several essays on the strengths and limitations of governance in early childhood.

This study  examines collaborations among early care and education administrators in each state across the country in order to better understand how state and local agencies work together to improve access and quality of early childhood programs.

CEELO Update

Program Quality Improvement Systems identifies selected resources to assist states in assessing their current continuous quality improvement process for preschool programs as they expand services to increase access to high quality programs. (Annotated Bibliography)


The Preschool Program Quality Assurance System Discussion Guide is designed to facilitate policymakers’ review of their state’s Preschool Program Quality Assurance Systems (PPQAS). The discussion guide includes two frameworks to inform the critical analysis of the state’s current system. The first framework addresses common components of the system and the second framework considers the governance and functionality of the PPQAS. (Tool)

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A report released this week by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now concluded the statewide achievement gap begins in early childhood and offered recommendations for how the state can improve educational outcomes in traditionally underserved communities by improving access to pre-kindergarten programs.

"We have to recognize that achievement gaps appear very early," said ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Alexander.

Alexander said the report was a way for the organization to join the conversation about early childhood education, which she said fits ConnCAN's belief that "every child should have access to quality education, regardless of race, zip code or economic status."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
(Star Tribune)

Math and reading proficiency scores for Minnesota fourth-graders this year have dipped from their record highs in 2013, according to the results of a national test released Wednesday. In 2013, fourth-graders in Minnesota posted the highest scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), considered the best comparison of students from state to state in the country. But scores for both reading and math dropped in fourth grade this year.

The state also saw no significant improvement in reading or math scores for eighth-graders in Minnesota. Still the state continues to outperform others across the country, especially in math. But state officials say Minnesota’s educators should not be content because large gaps in achievement show many poor and minority students are not meeting standards.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Over the past three years, California has more than quadrupled the number of early childhood centers being evaluated with a new rating system, but that is still just a fraction of the state’s publicly subsidized programs.

The U.S. Department of Education released Tuesday a progress report of the 20 states, including California, that received federal Early Learning Challenge grants starting in 2011. The grants, part of the Race to the Top program, were meant to improve publicly funded early learning programs with systems to rate their quality, as well as track health screenings and assess children’s readiness for kindergarten.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What is not mixed is what universal, affordable preschool offers working parents. Another name for preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds is, of course, child care. And child care is a huge problem in the U.S. It often costs more than what a family spends on rent or food—even more than what it costs to send a child to a public college. The price tag for what the average family shells out has risen more than 70 percent since the mid-1980s. And that’s if you are able to find a spot somewhere nearby that you trust.

Yet families desperately need it. The model of a family whereall parents work has become the norm: Both parents work in 60 percent of married couples with children, while nearly 70 percent of single mothers and more than 80 percent of single fathers are employed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
(U.S. Department of Education)

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.

Monday, October 26, 2015
(Christian Science Monitor)

Chan’s holistic approach echoes the modus operandi of “whole-child” education programs, in which every factor outside of K-12 school is considered pertinent to education as a whole. The Harlem Children’s Zone, for instance, is an ongoing community project that encompasses every stage of education starting from early childhood as well as offering an array of community programs, including ones designed to that promote health.

While there have been mixed reviews of their subsequent academic impact, early childhood education programs like HCZ’s Baby College still serve the community in ways that had been lacking previously.

"There's a lot more to learning and development than test scores," W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, tells NPR in May. "And so if it only has modest impacts, it's probably worth it."

Monday, October 26, 2015
(Delaware Public Media)

Gov. Jack Markell is calling on the state to keep broadening access to early childhood education in his weekly message.

Markell spoke this week from Christina Early Education Center in Newark, which was just given the state's 100th five-star rating -- the highest in the Delaware Stars ranking system for early childhood education.

Markell said the state has made progress in getting more low-income children into the best preschools and daycares:

"More than 58 percent of the state’s most vulnerable children are enrolled in highly rated Stars programs. That's up from just 5 percent in 2011. That's thousands more low-income kids getting a great start," said Markell.

Monday, October 26, 2015
(Online Athens)

Early childhood education has a big economic effect in Georgia, said state officials, scholars and advocates in Athens on Friday.

But the state should find ways to boost the industry lest Georgia fall behind in its quest to produce a more educated workforce, some said in the morning briefing in the University of Georgia’s Seney-Stovall Chapel.

The industry’s economic impact is about $4.7 billion in Georgia, said Georgia State University economic analyst Sally Wallace — a $2.5 billion direct impact, $910 million indirect and $1.3 billion “induced,” she said. Direct is money that goes directly into child care, such as salaries for teachers, while indirect includes such things as transportation and janitorial services associated with early child care. “Induced” means things like the economic effect when employees buy household goods with money they’ve earned in child care, which supports other businesses.

The industry employs 67,000 people and helps create other jobs for 17,000 more; provides care for 337,000 children, which helps nearly 552,000 parents; and generates hundreds of millions in tax revenue for state and federal governments, she said.

Monday, October 26, 2015
(Chalkbeat Colorado)

A recent landmark study out of Tennessee upended the conventional wisdom about the power of preschool and raised questions nationwide, including in Colorado, about how to leverage early education to produce long-lasting impacts.

The Vanderbilt University study revealed that at-risk students who participated in Tennessee’s publicly-funded preschool program showed significant gains initially, but by third grade performed worse than non-participants on both academic and behavior measures.

Early childhood experts here say the study underscores the need for quality in both preschool and subsequent K-3 instruction, but that the findings don’t match Colorado data showing that academic benefits of preschool do stick.

“You don’t have the same story in Colorado,” said Charlotte Brantley, president and CEO of Denver’s Clayton Early Learning.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It comes as no surprise that the quality of a program matters. The Tennessee evaluation reinforces the importance of quality and Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina demonstrate the benefits that can be generated when quality is present.

But that’s only part of the story.

Children develop on a continuum and the years between birth-through-eight represent a unique period on that continuum, when brain architecture is forming. 

To build a strong foundation for learning and third-grade reading, children need good health, strong families, and high quality, developmentally appropriate early learning environments through third grade.

Monday, October 26, 2015
(Catalyst Chicago)

Chicago and Illinois have long track records of leadership in early childhood education. As early as the 1960s, the Chicago Public Schools was among a handful of pioneering districts that createdChild-Parent Centers (CPCs) to provide high-quality early childhood education -- PreK to 3rd grade -- while supporting low-income parents and engaging them in their children’s education. An influential longitudinal study of CPC alumni shows that the model produced substantial increases in both academic achievement and economic returns to society from higher earnings, reduced involvement in crime and better health.

Saturday, October 24, 2015
(The Atlantic)

One of the more staggering education statistics to transpire in recent years is that, in most states, daycare actually costs more than tuition and fees at a public four-year college. The finding, which is based on a 2013 report by Child Care Aware America, specifically refers to the care of an infant—but the high costs of caring for and educating children continue until they enter kindergarten. That’s largely because, compared to the K-12 and higher-ed sectors, there are relatively few public prekindergarten options in the United States to choose from.

The staggering price of preschool means it’s largely open only to wealthier families—even though a new poll suggests that an overwhelming majority of America’s adults agree that the country should ensure more children have access to quality learning in their first five years of life. In the same poll, a plurality of them even went so far as to say that Americans should invest more in early education than in college.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ensuring that every New Jersey child has access to quality preschool education is one of the best investments we can make in our future. Decades of studies have demonstrated that children who enter school prepared enjoy higher academic achievement, are more likely to graduate and go to college, earn more money in their lifetimes and are less likely to rely on government services. . .

Quality preschool and full-day kindergarten is critical not only for socioeconomically disadvantaged youngsters, but for all New Jersey's children. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(National Priorities Project)

One key to successful preschool is that is has to be high quality: that means well-educated, well-paid teachers and thoughtful programs. It’s not cheap.

But it’s worth it. Every dollar invested in preschool saves as much as $17 down the road.

And while it’s expensive, we have the resources. If taxpayers with incomes over $500,000 paid between 0.1% and 1.4% more of their income in taxes (with the highest increase for folks with over $10 million in income), it would cover the president’s proposal to spend $750 billion over the next ten years on preschool for all of our children.  

As a country, we pay plenty in taxes when we decide something is important. In 2014, we spent $628 billion on the military – that’s 90 times as much as we spent on Head Start.

It’s time to get serious about what families need in the 21st century: it’s time for us to recognize that preschool is essential for our kids, our families, and our economy.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that students in Georgia's Pre-K program show educational improvement in key areas and progress at a greater rate while participating in the program, according to a recent study. The results are part of a multi-year evaluation by the Frank Porter Graham Childhood Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

'Ensuring Georgia's youngest scholars continue to benefit from Georgia's highly ranked Pre-K program is one of my top priorities,' said Deal. 'This study confirms that Georgia is on the right track. Our Pre-K program helps students acquire the foundation necessary for a solid education, puts them on track to read at grade level by the third grade and assists in developing essential skills which will lead to academic excellence and future success.'

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(Catalyst Chicago)

In recent years, early education in Illinois has become more exacting, with a more highly trained workforce.

In 2013, the state won a four-year, $52.5 million grant through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge that helped usher in new early learning standards that align with the more challenging K-12 Common Core State Standards and a new rating system that helps parents evaluate preschool quality.

Early childhood educators are being encouraged to obtain standardized credentials that show they’ve mastered important skills, and colleges and universities are increasingly recognizing their credentials — helping early educators move up the higher-education ladder more quickly.

And last year, Illinois won a federal preschool expansion grant — worth $20 million in the first year, with the potential for three more years at that level if the state comes through with its $128 million pledge. The state says this program would extend early childhood education to just under an additional 14,000 preschoolers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(Seattle Times)

A county fact sheet says the defining purpose of the countywide levy, on the ballot as Proposition 1, is to invest in “prevention and early intervention for children, youth, families and communities.” The county further names a wide range of aims to be addressed, from improving the health of newborns to identifying depression in adolescents to helping stave off homelessness.

The investments, though, are spelled out only in the broadest of strokes, mainly in terms of the ages that are to be targeted.

Roughly half the money would go to prenatal care and children under 5. Thirty-five percent would aid older kids and even young adults up to age 24 — in recognition, according to the county, that early gains need to be sustained throughout the period that young people’s brains are still developing.

The remainder would help create “safe and healthy communities” as well as a multimillion-dollar evaluation system.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(National Journal)

Crit­ic­al swing voters would sup­port a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate who en­dorses in­vest­ments in early-child­hood edu­ca­tion.

Sixty-nine per­cent of Lati­nos, 62 per­cent of mil­len­ni­als, and 57 per­cent of those who identi­fy as mod­er­ate would be im­pressed with a can­did­ate who sup­ports such in­vest­ments, ac­cord­ing to a new poll from the First Five Years Fund.

“This is an area where people clearly see a need,” said Jay Camp­bell, a seni­or vice pres­id­ent at Hart Re­search As­so­ci­ates, a Demo­crat­ic polling team that partnered with the Re­pub­lic­an Pub­lic Opin­ion Strategies polling firm to con­duct the sur­vey, dur­ing a call with re­port­ers. Wheth­er a per­son has a child makes little dif­fer­ence in their views.

Bey­ond swing voters, there is broad bi­par­tis­an sup­port for in­creas­ing fed­er­al in­vest­ments to help states bol­ster early-child­hood edu­ca­tion for low- and mod­er­ate-in­come fam­il­ies. Nearly 60 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans sup­port the idea, with 86 per­cent of Lati­nos and 87 per­cent of mil­len­ni­als also back­ing the pro­pos­al.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In very young humans, whose brains and other internal networks still are developing, such stress can have lifelong consequences in large part because of how the stress hormone cortisol affects the brain's structure and circuitry. Long-term exposure can contribute to mental health disorders, learning problems, inability to regulate emotions and a cascade of other troubles, researchers say.

But researchers also know that nurturing relationships with caregivers can relieve such stress in children and even reverse some of the damage done by such situations.

That's why child advocates and researchers around the nation – including a team led by Jason Hustedt, assistant professor in the University of Delaware'sDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies – are looking for effective ways to help families and caregivers build healthy, supportive relationships with the children in their care. Stronger relationships may be precisely the foundational shift children need to overcome the effects of harmful stressors such as conditions of poverty, abuse and/or neglect.

The University's Starting At Home project led by Hustedt is part of the federally funded Buffering Toxic Stress Consortium, which also includes five other research projects to evaluate promising approaches to reducing high stress levels in children. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Federal funds are paying for an expansion of pre-school programs in Springfield, Massachusetts, where children from poor families have historically struggled academically and dropped out before graduating from high school.

A $2 million federal grant will open 11 additional Head Start classrooms for infants and toddlers from low- income families in Springfield.  Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who announced the funding, praised Head Start as a last vestige from the Great Society programs of the 1960s.

" The legacy is millions of people across the country who got a jump start in terms of education," said Neal.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(The Morning Call)

The measure by which we judge which investments are worthwhile as a citizenry is how much time we spend, energy we expel, and the amount of resources we dedicate in the hope of future benefits.

It should be axiomatic that investment in early childhood education is sound policy and will yield far-reaching economic returns. Unfortunately our underfunded preschool programs and the limited resources provided to early childhood education say otherwise.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(Steve Adubato On The Air)

Steve Adubato sits down with parents, educators, and administrators to discuss the importance of family education programs and being an involved parent in early childhood. Guests include Donna Pressma, President and CEO, Children’s Home Society of New Jersey; Mark Mautone, Parent & 2015 New Jersey Teacher of the Year; Veronica Ray, President, New Jersey Head Start Association; and Shannon Ayers, Associate Research Professor, National Institute for Early Education Research.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
(Cable One)

About 50 Republican legislators implored Montana's congressional delegation to reject $40 million in federal preschool grant funding in an August letter. The move left Gov. Steve Bullock literally throwing up his hands while speaking to teachers recently. Bullock pushed a failed state-funded preschool initiative this fall.

He joked that he was pretty sure Republican legislators hated him, not 4-year-olds, when they refused to add a $37 million proposal to fund a 4-year-old preschool program in the state budget while hammering out a deal in April.
After seeing the letter, "I start to worry that some of them might hate 4-year-olds too," he said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
(Yahoo News)

 The Pritzker Children's Initiative of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation and The Bridgespan Group released a new paper that estimates that 1 in 4 kindergarteners nationwide – 1 million total – come from low-income families and enter school not fully ready to learn. In response to this overwhelming statistic, a new guide for funders outlines numerous specific, evidence-based, early childhood investment opportunities that have been shown to help ensure children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn so that they achieve success throughout their lives.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Nationwide, there are more expulsions in preschool than any other grade level. In Missouri, one out of every 10 preschool-age children is expelled. Deeper into that statistic, African American boys are three times more likely to be expelled than other children in preschool.

“We need to have schools ready for children, not children ready for schools, particularly in preschool,” Zwolak said on Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air.” “We need to be prepared to receive children who are coming from many different backgrounds. And we need to tool up teachers on what that really means for them.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
(New York Times)

Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.

Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.

Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay, Mr. Deming found. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
(Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"There is widespread consensus among the business community, and growing bipartisan consensus among public officials, that investments in early childhood are the best long-term investments we can make in our workforce, in our educational system and the overall well-being of our commonwealth,” he said.

Koonce spoke at a meeting on the economics of early childhood education hosted by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce at the University of Richmond.

Virginia’s economy will need more than 2 million new workers over the next 10 years, he said. Businesses have traditionally devoted resources to training adults for jobs, he said, “but it is a equally, if not more important, for the private sector to be involved at the start of the pipeline.”

He said businesses and public officials need to consider how resources might better be allocated to serve “high-quality pre-K programs that have accountability and performance measurements in place.”

The quality of early childhood education can be linked to educational outcomes later in life, said John Weinberg, a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015
(Inside Philanthropy)

Now, Gates's focus appears to be getting more specific. In our email exchange, Weber described Gates's new focus this way: "Our work will have a specific focus on improving the provision of high-quality pre-K for three- and four-year-olds as well as supporting a well-prepared and compensated workforce."

This explains the foundation's recent grant for $100,000 to the Institute of Medicine in October 2014 to support a study that will "inform a national framework for strengthening the capacity of parents of young children, birth to age eight."

Another key point about Gates's ECE strategy, as Sarah Weber put it: "We do not expect to provide grants to direct service providers." Rather, the foundation hopes to work with city, state, and federal partners to develop promising programs and to couple workforce development efforts with high-quality child care options.

This intrigued me, so I asked Weber if I could get some more details. I wanted to get a sense of what the pairing of workforce development granting with ECE grantmaking would look like. But right now, the foundation is not ready to answer those kinds of questions. We will keep checking with them, though, to find out more when the picture becomes clearer.

I also wanted to know more about Gates's exemplar programs. To learn about that, Weber referred me to this study commissioned by the Gates Foundation and written by James Minervino, which describes in great detail the four exemplar programs that Gates is using to shape quality early learning. Some key findings? All exemplar programs have two adults in the classroom, and all exemplar programs have no more than 22 children in the classroom. Another key finding: Quality pre-K thrives in an environment where political leaders are active on the issue, particularly mayors and governors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
(Sun Herald)

Democrat Sannie Overly promised a Jack Conway administration would spend more money on public preschool programs while Republican Jenean Hampton said it was a "non-issue" for Matt Bevin during a statewide televised debate of Kentucky's major party nominees for lieutenant governor just two weeks before the election.

"This whole issue, this is a non-issue for us. This wasn't even on our radar," Hampton said when asked if a Bevin administration would provide public preschool programs in Kentucky. "The reason the Conway camp is blowing this out of proportion is they have no other substance to offer. So they do what they always do, which is deflect attention from the real problems in Kentucky."

After the debate, Hampton told The Associated Press she meant that cutting spending for public preschool programs was the non-issue, saying "it wasn't even on our radar for budget cuts or anything else."

"I rose out of poverty. Obviously I care about kids education," said Hampton, who was raised in Detroit by a single mother who could not afford a television or a car.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015
(Deseret News)

In 1992, the National Bureau of Economic Research began a 10-year study of the personalities of 1,420 low-income children in western North Carolina.

When researchers revisited some of their data last month, they noticed a trend they hadn't studied before: When the financial condition of the children's families improved, so did their behavior.

In 1997, a casino opened on the North Carolina's Eastern Cherokee reservation. The tribal-owned casino distributed profits evenly to each adult tribal member. During the study, these semiannual payments averaged $2,000 and gave a quarter of the study's families a major income boost.

Every year, the researchers asked parents comprehensive questions about the behavior of their children. They used this data to identify trends in how the children's personalities evolved. They found children of parents who received casino money had a measured increase in their conscientiousness (their tendency to be organized, responsible and hardworking) as well as their agreeableness (tendency to act in a cooperative and unselfish manner).

And the change was more pronounced for children whose casino payments made the biggest financial impact.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lawmakers are moved by the data -- studies that show children are better prepared when they start school and that each dollar invested results in a $7 return -- but they are also moved by personal, face-to-face stories of what the program did for their constituent's children or the frustration of not having it available, Poole said.

"Legislators need to hear the results, they need to hear the needs," Poole said.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force are leading a 10 year, $125 million campaign to fully fund First Class Pre-K by 2023. Accomplishing that will require advocates to make their voices heard, Bridgeforth said.

"There is no substitute for advocacy," Bridgeforth said. "We have to continue to urge legislators to make Pre-k a priority."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When it comes to programs designed to care for children, New Jersey is among the best in the nation in some areas, however, more work still needs to be done.

Children (Catherine Yeulet, ThinkStock)
Children (Catherine Yeulet, ThinkStock)

One of the state’s leading child advocates said Jersey’s preschool and child insurance programs are very good, but worries remain about the state’s rapidly rising child poverty rate and child care costs.


“In our state-funded preschool program we serve more children in a high quality program than pretty much any other state both in terms of the number of children and the quality of the program,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Each fall, a new crop of preschoolers sets out for their first taste of formal education. Usually, this means kids in classrooms, playing with blocks, painting, and training their bodies to sit still for what will be the next 13 years in a classroom. But right now a new experiment in early education is playing out in parks around Seattle, Washington. At Fiddleheads Forest School, three and four-year-olds will spend their whole school day outside — playing in the mud, climbing over logs, and learning about bugs and birds. Even in famously rainy Seattle, there are no buildings for this school. If there’s a storm, they take cover in a greenhouse.

The Fiddleheads “classroom” is a clearing under a canopy of cedar, fir, and maple trees in Washington Park Arboretum. Sprinkled around the clearing are different “stations” — a circle of logs to sit and eat lunch on, several more upturned cedar logs that are being used as tables for painting or for reading. The “Science,” station has laminated cards diagraming the life cycle of a preying mantis, a microscope, and a plastic terrarium to entomb the students’ captured crickets.