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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 40

October 13, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Work Hours, Two Generations and Board Agendas

Hot Topics


A new report from the federal Administration for Children and Families describes how work schedules differ for households of various income levels; between one-parent and two-parent families; and in households where neither, one, or both parents work. As Congress considers tax reforms and spending proposals, these findings demonstrate that child care availability and cost are key issues for families across the economic spectrum.

The National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2017) provides detailed information about when and who may require nonparental care to support parental employment. The work schedules of parents with young children (0 to 60 months) are intertwined with child care decisions, with non-standard hours of employment and irregular work schedules posing challenges, according to the report.

Single-parent workers have more hours per week that they need non-parental care to support parental employment than two-worker households do. Among households with two working parents, low-income households have the most staggered work schedules, partly due to non-standard hours of work. Few two-parent households have any non-standard hours when both parents are working.

Federal tax reform efforts are an opportunity to support families and the high-quality early learning opportunities that benefit children and families.

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), created in 1976 to help working parents with work-related child care expenses, varies between 20 and 35 percent of qualified expenses up to $3,000 per eligible child with a $6,000 cap on qualified expenses. The credit is not refundable, so low-income families do not fully benefit, and the maximum credit for working parents with two or more children is $2,100—below costs for most families.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor, this week began meeting with Congress and advocates about expanding the child care tax credit, which is not related to the costs of child care or preschool.

Sen. Patty Murray has proposed legislation to make child care affordable for families by allowing twice as many children to qualify for family financial assistance, putting more federal dollars toward child care and preschool to expand child care options, supporting universal preschool programs. The legislation also would increase compensation for child care workers, which helps improve quality by attracting and retaining qualified teachers.

The US may be saving money now, Sen. Murray said, but failing to invest in child care and early learning “is costing our country economically a lot more in the future—whether it’s in kids that end up incarcerated, or whether it’s parents themselves who are not contributing to the workforce because they don’t have child care.”

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

More than Home Visits: findings from the AVANCE two-generation program

Two-generation approaches to early learning promise so much, don’t they? The idea is that at-risk children’s needs may be more effectively served when intervening with parent and child simultaneously. Home visiting programs are the most common examples, based on the idea that at-risk families may be better served by supporting their existing home structure. But research literature shows that only programs with high-intensity produce more than minimal effects on maternal behavior.

NIEER Activities

NIEER this week hosted a webinar discussing changes to State of Preschool report quality standards benchmarks, reasons for the updates and policies that should be in place to meet the new benchmarks. The webinar featured yearbook co-authors Steve Barnett and Allison Friedman-Krauss, along with representatives from Michigan, Alabama, and New Mexico.

Download Overview of Changes to NIEER Quality Standards Benchmarks for a one-page explanation of  current and new quality standards benchmarks, as well as changes.
View webinar here.
Slides here

CEELO Update

CEELO this week shared State Board Insight, a National Association of State Boards of Education database tracking all topics considered by state boards of education each month, has been updated with 2017 data through SeptemberOver the summer, many states addressed teacher shortages and early learning. See the NASBE blog links about these two topics.


Early care and education arrangements and young children’s risk of foster placement: Findings from a National Child Welfare Sample

This study published in Children and Youth Services Review explores the possibility that early care and education (ECE) services can help keep children safely in their family homes, using a nationally representative sample of children referred to Child Welfare Services for suspected maltreatment to measure the relationship between ECE receipt and the likelihood that 0–5-year-olds in the CWS will be placed in foster care approximately 18 months later.

Results suggest that Head Start may help maltreated children avoid foster placement and that experiencing multiple types of ECE is a risk factor for foster placement.

First Focus Bill Tracker

The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. The Campaign’s Bill Tracker rates current legislation pending in Congress based on assessments by nonpartisan children’s policy experts and compiles key votes in the 116th Congress on policies affecting children and families.

Key Design Principles for Direct Assessments of SEL: Lessons Learned from the First Design Challenge

A new report from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning summarizes the promises and challenges of creating tools for educators to understand how well their students are learning skills like grit, perseverance, self-regulation, and social cues. The report summarizes winning submissions in an assessment design competition, revealing challenges to measuring SEL skills. Assessing SEL skills is a potential measure of student achievement under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Education inequalities at the school starting gate

Using data from the kindergarten classes of 1998 and 2010, this Economic Policy Institute study examines the relationship between children’s socioeconomic status (SES) and their cognitive and noncognitive skills when starting school. Findings indicate large performance gaps between children in the lowest and highest socioeconomic-status (SES) quintiles and that these gaps have persisted from the 1998 cohort to the 2010 cohort.

This three-part study thus combines a statistical analysis of early skills gaps among a recent cohort of children and changes in them over time with a qualitative study of multifaceted, school-district-level strategies to narrow them.

High-Quality Child Care: A Two-Generation Solution for a Productive American Workforce

The recent report from ReadyNation details the benefits of high-quality child care for the current workforce, through increased worker participation, stability and productivity, and for development of the future workforce. The business leaders find several problems with the U.S. child care system that render it less than optimal for children, families and businesses and call on federal, state and local policymakers to support families’ access to affordable, high-quality child care.

US Health and Human Services Draft Strategic Plan FY 2018-22

The Department has shared this draft HHS plan as part of the strategic planning process under the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 provide Agency stakeholders an opportunity to comment. Specifically, Strategic Goal 3: Strengthen the Economic and Social Well-Being of Americans across the Lifespan includes the Administration for Children and Families overseeing Head Start and other programs serving young children. Comments are due by October 27, 2017.

A QRIS Practical Data User’s Guide

This Build Initiative guide describes a collection of data practices and strategies useful for more effectively implementing any Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). As a practical user guide, it doesn’t delve too deeply into numbers, statistics, or database language but offers easy-to-grasp concepts and ready-to-use resources.


William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation is seeking Program Officer to be a member of the Great Learning program team, playing a key role in supporting the team’s goal of increasing the number of children from low-income families in Philadelphia who experience academic success from early childhood through high school. The Program Officer will be the lead individual responsible for managing and developing a portfolio of grants to expand access to high quality early childhood education centers.  Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to


Harnessing Behavioral Economic Insights to Optimize the Impact of Early Childhood Interventions

Thursday, October 26, 2017 
2-3 pm Eastern  

This webinar will address ways a behavioral economics framework complements understanding of parent engagement with their children and early interventions. Presentations by Zoelene Hill and Michelle Spiegel of the beELL initiative at NYU Institute of Human Development and Social Change. Register. 

Early Education News Roundup 

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

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