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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 39

September 28, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Family Focus, Moms at Work, Jobs at Yale

Hot Topics

Family Focus

A report published this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation underscores that enhancing supports for parents can improve outcomes for children.

The odds are stacked against children born to teens or parents ill-equipped to provide financial and emotional stability. The Opening Doors for Young Parents report warns that “we cannot change these odds by solely focusing on children when their lives are indelibly shaped by the adults raising them.”  While this may be an overstatement, there is no doubt that supports for parents can improve the lives and development of young children.

The report makes several recommendations for federal and state policymakers to support economic and family stability for young parents struggling to “earn, learn and raise a family,” such as pairing education and training, transportation and housing assistance for at-risk parents with subsidies for high-quality, flexible child care and preschool.

States are urged to use a recent increase in the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) to assist young parents seeking high-quality, affordable infant and toddler care. States also should allow higher education and vocational programs to count toward completing any benefit program work requirements.

“The nation can’t afford to have these young people sidelined from the economic and civic life of our country,” the report states. “And we can’t afford to have their children deprived of a strong start in life.”

Earlier this year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the Early Childhood is Critical to Health Equity report, which also called for viewing child outcomes through a wider lens.

“Supporting children requires supporting families,” the report noted. “Improving health equity in early childhood requires reducing poverty in households with children, which may require different strategies than those that focus on services for children alone.”

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CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently launched a newly reformatted website for easier access to key resources and focus on strategic projects.

A new online Resource Library allows users to search and download reports, presentations, toolkits, Leadership Academy and technical assistance resources. Content is organized so users can search by content area, resource type, title, date and key word.

CEELO also added new resources to support states in responding to the federal PDG B-5 funding announcement.


The Effects of Universal Preschool in Washington, D.C

A new report from the Center for American Progress examines the effect of providing two years of free, full-day preschool on the labor force participation of women with young children using data from the 2000 decennial census and the 2005–2016 American Community Surveys to analyze the maternal labor force participation rates of women with at least one child under age 5 in Washington, D.C.

Between 2000 and 2008, the city’s maternal labor force participation rate hovered around 65 percent. Following passage of the Pre-K Act, this rate increased dramatically, reaching 76.4 percent by 2016, the report states. The city’s maternal labor force participation rate increased about 12 percentage points, with 10 percentage points attributable to preschool expansion. DC mothers with young children participate in the labor force at about the same rate as DC mothers whose children are in elementary school; and maternal labor force participation increased among both low-income and high-income families.

These results suggest that two years of universal, full-day preschool is associated with a large positive effect on maternal labor supply.

Language Experience in the Second Year of Life and Language Outcomes in Late Childhood

A new article released in Pediatrics explores the effectiveness of automated early language environment estimates for children 2 to 36 months old to predict cognitive and language skills ten years later. Researchers also examined effects for specific developmental age periods. Researchers found that conversational turn counts at 18 to 24 months of age accounted for 14% to 27% of the variance in IQ, verbal comprehension, and receptive and expressive vocabulary scores ten years later after controlling for SES. Adult word counts between 18 and 24 months were correlated with language outcomes but were considerably weakened after controlling for SES.

Researchers suggest their data support the hypothesis that early talk and interaction, particularly during the relatively narrow developmental window of 18 to 24 months of age, can be used to predict school-age language and cognitive outcomes. Researchers emphasize the need for effective early intervention programs that support parents in creating an optimal early language learning environment in the home.

Early Head Start Dosage: The Role of Parent-caregiver Relationships and Family Involvement

A study recently published in Children and Youth Services Review examined predictors and pathways relevant to children’s dosage in Early Head Start (EHS) using the dataset from the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Study.

Study results indicated that families with higher risks were more likely to leave EHS early and were enrolled in EHS for less time. Children were less likely to leave EHS early when their caregivers reported positive relationships with parents when children were age 1. The length of EHS enrollment, however, was not predicted by parent-caregiver relationships but positive parent-caregiver relationships were associated with the higher level of family involvement during EHS which, in turn, predicted both lower rates of early leaving and longer length of EHS enrollment.

Researchers suggest results indicate that promoting initial positive parent-caregiver relationships and encouraging family involvement  may be important for maximizing children’s EHS dosage, which has been shown to be beneficial.

Implementing Enhanced Education to Improve the UCLA Preschool Vision Program

A new Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (JAAPOS) article examined whether educational pamphlets and videos for adults can increase follow-up rates for eye examinations among preschool children. Preschools were randomly assigned to standard and enhanced-education groups. The target population was 3- to 5-year-olds attending preschools within Los Angeles County and receiving services from the UPVP.

The follow-up rate for receiving a complete eye examination was 75.3% in the enhanced-education group and 65.1% in the standard group. Researchers suggest educating adults during the screening session can increase follow-up rates and suggest future research examine barriers to seeking eye care for children.

Impact of the Coordinated Approach to Child Health Early Childhood Program for Obesity Prevention among Preschool Children: The Texas Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Study

In a new article in Childhood Obesity, researchers examined the impact of a two-year implementation of Coordinated Approach to Child Health Early Childhood (CATCH EC), a preschool-based healthy nutrition and physical activity program, on child Body Mass Index (BMI), diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors among 3- to 5-year old children across Head Start centers in Houston and Austin, Texas.

Researchers suggested results demonstrated significantly lower child BMI from year one to two follow-up among those in intervention Head Start centers, compared to those in the comparison centers. There were no significant between-group changes in child dietary, physical activity, or screen time behaviors. Researchers suggest that implementation of a preschool-based obesity prevention program can be modestly effective in lowering the prevalence of child overweight in low-income populations.

Natural Environments Near Schools: Potential Benefits for Socio‐Emotional and Behavioral Development in Early Childhood

The American Journal of Community Psychology recently published an article examining differences in teacher ratings of preschoolers’ socio‐emotional and behavioral functioning in relation to the presence of natural elements (e.g., trees, parks) near children’s homes and schools.

Researchers found that students’ development of emotional and behavioral regulatory skills was the greatest when there were high levels of tree canopy either at home or school. Researchers also report that students developed greater independence and social skills when their schools were in neighborhoods with limited impervious surfaces (concrete).  They suggest while the study did not yield causal evidence regarding the impact of nature exposure or the effectiveness of greening interventions, school administrators and city planners could collaborate to maximize potential benefits of their greening efforts near schools.


Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence

The Center is hiring three Institute of Education Sciences-funded positions to support implementation of early childhood SEL programming and research. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of the RULER approach to social and emotional learning in preschool settings.

RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating Emotions) uses a multi-generational, whole-school approach to promote leader, teacher, and child social and emotional skills as well as school and classroom climate.

Opportunities include:


Making Home Visiting Services More Efficient & Effective for Families

Monday, October 15, 2018
2 pm ET

This webinar introduces the Home Visiting Applied Research Collaborative, a national research and development platform advancing the field toward precision home visiting.

The webinar describes methods to examine precision home visiting innovations, highlighting as an example the evaluation of a state-level initiative that uses family goal planning to match services to families’ unique strengths, risks, and needs. This webinar has been adapted from a presentation at the 2018 National Research Conference on Early Childhood. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

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

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