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NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 20

May 18, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Happy Birthday, Lessons from NJ, Neatness Counts

Hot Topics

Happy Birthday Head Start

The National Head Start Association today is celebrating the program’s anniversary and kicking off a fund-raising campaign to finance advocacy efforts.

What began in 1965 as an eight-week “War on Poverty” summer pilot project quickly expanded to a school-year schedule to better meet the needs of young children in poverty. Despite decades of bipartisan “support” for Head Start, however, the program continues to suffer from inadequate funding.

As our 2016 State(s) of Head Start report noted: “the program is not funded at a level that would make it possible to provide child development services of sufficient quality and duration to achieve its goals while serving all eligible children even at ages 3 and 4, much less for those under age 3.”

NIEER estimated that federal annual funding falls $14 billion short of what would be needed to serve all eligible 3- and 4-year-olds in high-quality Head Start programs for 1,020 hours per year. Early Head Start is even further from the funding levels needed to fulfill its expressed mission.

Congress has provided Head Start with meaningful increases in the past several years, but a truly great birthday present would be a plan to fully fund the program by its 60th birthday–which is not that far off.

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

NIEER Activities

Earlier this year, NIEER, along with the Education Law Center, ACNJ, and ETS, hosted the Abbott at 20: Building on Success conference drawing more than 240 advocates, educators and policymakers to celebrate New Jersey’s groundbreaking public preschool program and explore expanding access for more children across New Jersey—and the US.

A recent blog published by New America notes Abbott pre-K program’s “impressive effects on participants,” and credits the groundbreaking court decision, funding based on need—not availability—and reliance on a mixed delivery system enabling widespread access. Author Anisha Ford also highlights the key role local leaders play, focusing on Evelyn Motley, director of the Office of Early Childhood Programs and Services in Plainfield Public School District, who explained her district’s success was due to “taking what was in code and the early childhood guidelines and taking it to a higher level of implementation.”

“While aspects of Abbott’s implementation, like the court mandates on quality and funding, would be difficult to replicate, there is still much that other states and districts can learn from Abbott,” the blog states. “But the future of Abbott’s own success lies in the hands of New Jersey’s districts and district leaders…”

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) added a new resource: Determining Costs of Preschool Quality in Kentucky, describes how Kentucky and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence validated estimates that reflect the cost of providing preschool and child care across Kentucky at various levels of quality. The data collection methods, including use of the CPQ&R, and the cost findings are summarized.


Pre-Kindergarten Attendance Matters: Early Chronic Absence Patterns and Relationships to Learning Outcomes

In a paper recently released in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, researchers examined the prevalence of pre-kindergarten chronic absence for different student subgroups, its relationship to learning outcomes during pre-kindergarten, and its association with ongoing attendance patterns and learning outcomes through second grade in a large, urban district.

Results indicate that absence in pre-kindergarten was widespread, particularly among African American students and for those who entered pre-kindergarten with the lowest skills. Chronically absent pre-kindergarten students displayed lower levels of academic and behavioral kindergarten readiness and were more likely to be chronically absent in later grades. Furthermore, students chronically absent over a number of years needed significant intervention to read at grade level in grade 3. Researchers suggest that developing interventions to improve attendance in pre-kindergarten and early elementary years could potentially reduce achievement gaps and improve educational success for these students.

Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs: A Systematic Review with Effect Sizes

A new review article in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy provides a systematic review examining the efficacy of curriculum-based interventions to address children’s handwriting difficulties in the classroom that spanned from preschool through second grade. The review examined 13 studies.

Researchers concluded that curriculum-based handwriting interventions resulted in small- to medium-sized improvements in legibility, which is a common challenge in this age group. They conclude that curriculum-based interventions can lead to improvements in handwriting legibility, but that more research is needed on specific curricula.

Improvements in Physical Activity Opportunities: Results from a Community-Based Family Child Care Intervention

A recently released article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine examines the relationship between a community-based family childcare home intervention on both nutrition-related policies and practices and child dietary intake. Data were collected at 17 sites that serve children ages 2–5 years and included follow-up.

Authors suggest that a simple, policy-focused intervention was successful at reinforcing and improving upon nutrition-related practices at family child care homes. They suggest as a result that children consumed adequate, but not excessive, portions of the balanced meals served to them.

Exploring How the Home Environment Influences Eating and Physical Activity Habits of Low-Income, Latino Children of Predominantly Immigrant Families: A Qualitative Study

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health explores low-income Latino parents’ beliefs, parenting styles, and parenting practices related to their children’s eating and physical activity while at home. Researchers conducted focus group discussions with 33 low-income Latino parents of preschool children 2 to 5 years of age.

Results revealed that healthy eating and physical activity for their children and themselves is important to these parents. However, conflicting schedules, long working hours, financial constraints, and neighborhood safety concerns could impact their ability to create a home environment supportive of these behaviors.

Researchers suggest that pediatric healthcare providers can play an important role in facilitating communication, providing education, and offering guidance to low-income Latino parents on promoting early healthy eating and physical activity habits. They further suggest that future interventions of this type may be integrated and coordinated with home-visitations.

Neighborhood context and center-based child care use: Does immigrant status matter?

A paper recently released in Early Childhood Research Quarterly examines associations between individual families’ use of center-based child care and neighborhood concentrated poverty compared to concentrated affluence. Family immigrant status also was investigated as a potential moderator of relationships.

Major findings revealed that greater neighborhood concentrated affluence was associated with families’ higher likelihood of using center-based child care. Among immigrant families only, as the size of neighborhood friends/kin networks increased, the likelihood of participating in center-based child care programs was higher. Researchers suggest that by reducing neighborhood structural barriers and by fostering neighborhood networks, immigrant families’ access to center-based child care may potentially be increased.


Portland State University (Oregon)

Portland State University is seeking a director for the Helen Gordon Child Development Center (HGCDC), which offers a full-day infant-toddler and preschool program. HGCDC provides a full-day early childhood program for the campus community with priority enrollment for PSU students and faculty/staff, serving 200 children aged four months through five years.

The Director provides overall administration and leadership for the HGDC including finance, staff development, family and University community relations, and program policy. In addition, the Director oversees the short-hour campus childcare program, ASPSU Children’s Center. Click here for details and application


Overview and Access to the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES) 2015

June 4, 2018
1 pm EDT

Join Research Connections and researchers from Mathematica Policy Research and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, for a webinar on the new American Indian and Alaska Native Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 (AI/AN FACES 2015) data file, the first national study of Region XI Head Start children and families. Presenters include Lizabeth Malone, Mathematica Policy Research; Meryl Barofsky, OPRE; Laura Hoard, OPRE.

Register Here

Early Education News Roundup

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

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