Volume 6, Issue 19

October 16, 2007

Hot Topics

Three-quarters of Maryland's nearly 6,000 home-based child care providers voted to join the Service Employees International Union late last month. According to the Baltimore Sun, the push to unionize child care workers in the state began three years ago but gathered steam this year when the state switched payment systems, resulting in late payments for subsidized child care. Home-based providers held a rally at the state department of education and the state subsequently offered loans to bridge the crisis. The union says it will provide better training and reimbursement rates for home-based providers. Child care providers in Illinois, Oregon and Washington state have also been organized by the union.
The largest study ever of the impact of environment and genetics on the health of America's children came closer to launch when the first 22 centers selected to conduct it were recently named. When in full swing, the study will follow a sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Researchers will gather and analyze data on children's genetic make-up as well as numerous biological, chemical, environmental, physical and psycho-social factors. Sample selection could begin as early as next year. The effort is a collaboration by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Environmental Protection Agency. St. Louis University School of Public Health is the lead research institution.
A study in which preschool-aged children at risk of anti-social behavior learned to socialize with peers, identify feelings, and follow rules found that doing so through family-based intervention alters their response in anticipation of social challenges from peers. A randomized trial conducted by New York University early childhood psychiatry professor Laurie Miller Brotman and colleagues, the study has implications for preventing juvenile delinquency. The study sample included 92 families in which there was a preschooler and an older child who had been in trouble with the law. Some of the families participated in the intervention and some did not. Levels of the hormone cortisol were checked in the children's saliva to determine their levels of stress. Children in the intervention group had cortisol levels that parallel patterns found in normally developing children considered at low risk for anti-social behavior. Brotman said the findings suggest that antisocial behavior isn't "hard-wired." The study appears in the October issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry. It's available at http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/64/10/1172.
Canada's Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development launched its Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development on October 9th. The Centre says its encyclopedia covers a wide range of early development topics and contains input from 270 authors from 11 countries. Each topic is organized with key messages geared for parents and service providers. For researchers and others wishing to delve more deeply, each topic has a comprehensive folder containing numerous articles and research reports. Serving on the Encyclopedia's editorial board is Richard Tremblay, the Centre's director and a noted researcher on aggression. The encyclopedia is available at http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/en-ca/home.html.
An article in this week's U.S. News and World Report details a program in Illinois that's enabling neighborhoods — especially those with large ethnic concentrations — to lend a helping hand to individuals desiring to be teachers. Grow Your Own Illinois is enabling candidates without college degrees to get them through forgivable college loans in exchange for a minimum 5-year commitment to teach in under-served schools. Among the advantages: teachers are familiar with the native language of many students and they’re more likely to stay in the neighborhoods rather than migrate to the suburbs. Read it at http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/2007/10/12/grow-your-own-teachers.html.
The recent voluntary recall by manufacturers of cold remedies for children under two years old shines a light on a number of issues regarding medicines for kids. Experts cited in a number of media outlets have said that not only is there no evidence the remedies work in young children but that they are also not tested in young children. While many parents believed the medicines were safe in children under two, the small print on labels said to consult a physician first. Some doctors and consumer advocates say the industry's decision to discontinue marketing cold remedies for children under two may be a pro-active move to prevent a ban being contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration that would prohibit them being sold for children under six.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Director Steve Barnett appeared on the October 14 episode of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato on NJN. On the program, Dr. Barnett joined Jacqueline Jones (New Jersey Department of Education), Peggy Freedson-Gonzalez (Montclair State University), and Jeaninne E. Maldonado (Newark Preschool Council, Inc.) to discuss the increase in and importance of dual-language instruction in preschool. The episode can be seen on the NJN web site at http://www.njn.net/television/webcast/caucusnewjersey.html.

Calendar

October 17, 2007 - October 17, 2007
Washington, DC – Although based in Washington, this satellite broadcast is intended to reach a nationwide audience of prekindergarten advocates though local conference sites.
October 21, 2007 - October 23, 2007
Chicago, IL - The theme for this year's conference is "The Journey Continues: Giving Our Children a Chance."
October 28, 2007 - October 30, 2007
San Diego, CA - Join participants from across the country at the National Even Start Association's 13th annual conference.
November 7, 2007 - November 10, 2007
Chicago, IL - This conference provides participants with a variety of sessions focusing on practical experience and applied research.

Early Education News Roundup

October 12, 2007
The Chillicothe Gazette, Chillicothe, OH
Just talking to a child can improve vocabulary and performance in school. At least that's what new educational research has shown and what MaryJo Flamm-Miller is trying to spread to parents and others in Ross County through a series of literacy programs.
October 10, 2007
The Buffalo News
The importance of early childhood education can't be overstated in a city that holds the dubious distinction of being the second poorest in the nation. Study upon study highlights the direct link between early childhood education and future economic growth.
October 9, 2007
The Tennessean
The program's goal is to teach kids in one semester how to work through meltdowns in an appropriate way and be ready for kindergarten. Similar pre-K programs have been opening across the country, said Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, a unit of the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
October 9, 2007
Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, PA
The tool, called the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, was authorized under Act 4 of 2001. It enables corporations owing certain types of tax to dedicate the money to scholarships for children so they can attend quality pre-kindergarten.
October 8, 2007
The Examiner
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray in the next month or so is slated to introduce legislation to make pre-kindergarten available to every 3- and 4-year-old in the nation's capital, an idea that would costs tens of millions of dollars to implement. The exact language of the legislation hasn't been written, but there are two basic goals: expand pre-K access to all, and improve the quality of all pre-K programs so that they’re accredited.
October 8, 2007
The Florida Times-Union
Among other things, 76 percent of the children who joined [Jacksonville Mayor John] Peyton's book club in 2004 as 4-year-olds were able to recognize at least 75 percent of alphabet letters by the time they entered kindergarten, according to a report by the Jacksonville Early Literacy Partnership. In addition to the book club, which has reached around 26,000 children, the partnership also began rating child care centers and providing early childhood readiness coaches and other curriculum help.
October 8, 2007
Idaho Press-Tribune
Public, pre-kindergarten education is a hotly debated issue between members of Idaho's House and Senate, but it's a decision that would be best-resolved at the local level. [Local school districts] should be able to adopt or reject such ideas based on their unique needs and the wishes of local parents.
October 8, 2007
The Kansas City Star
Universal free prekindergarten may prove to be a good idea and a financial boon for cash-strapped households. But to the people who've been in the trenches operating some of the city's preschools, the past couple of months have brought heartache and upheaval.
October 7, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Statewide, $75 million was included in the state budget this year for Pre-K Counts, an effort pushed by Gov. Ed Rendell. It's the state's first program aimed at providing public preschool for pupils from moderate-income families, local early child care experts said.
October 7, 2007
The New York Times
As the number of children found to have autism has soared nationally, districts across the region are struggling to provide appropriate support services, which typically involve individualized instruction, and to manage the escalating costs.

Resources

This report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University describes the process by which brain architecture is formed in very young children and integrates this scientific knowledge with the knowledge of the program factors that work in order to offer the best practices for positive outcomes for children.
This study compared Tulsa's universal prekindergarten classrooms to a sample of state-funded preschool classrooms in seven states as well as to the national Head Start program and found that the Tulsa program is of higher quality than those across the nation and produces greater outcomes for children.
This chart from the Zero to Three policy center summarizes major federal programs currently focused on infants and young children and clarifies the roles federal, state and local governments play in those programs.