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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 18, Issue 8

February 22, 2019

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Legislation, Leadership and Funding

Hot Topics

Family leave and UPK

Bipartisan initiatives to help families with young children have been taking off recently. Our own state of New Jersey passed a law increasing paid family leave to 12 weeks and expanding who can qualify as a caregiver. Nationally, the issue has been gaining traction thanks to a strong push by Ivanka Trump and a bill reintroduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Last year a family leave plan was put forward by Senator Marco Rubio who, along with Representative Ann Wagner, is planning to reintroduce it this year as well. For the latest research relating to family leave readers can turn to a new study in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy that finds a direct link between length of maternity leave and quality of mother-child interactions.

And just this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act—which would provide free access to all families below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level through a system of locally run programs that fully integrates Head Start. New legislation could address multiple problems that still dog Head Start despite recent improvements. According to our State(s) of Head Start report, only one-fifth of currently eligible children are served by Head Start, and quality is not what it should be in many programs. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act would provide salary parity to Head Start teachers, who, in 2015-2016 made up to $46,610 less than public school teachers, a key step if the program is to hire and retain highly effective teachers.

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

On February 20th, Dr. Ellen Frede, NIEER Senior Co-director, presented invited testimony on Pre-K for All to a joint hearing for the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance and the Assembly Education Committee. Her talk focused on best practices from other states around the nation. View the slides here.

This report from the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership provides an update to the 2017 statistics. The report collectively presents cross-sector statistics related to early childhood program leaders serving young children birth through age eight.

The findings suggest a continued pressing need for a unifying foundation of administrative qualifications and competencies reflecting a Whole Leadership approach. It also shows that silos of program standards by sector for early childhood administrators can best be eliminated by considering the five policy levers together.

Trends in Pre-K Education Funding in 2017-18

In a new policy brief released by the Education Commission of the States, researchers review the educational and societal impacts of quality pre-K programs before presenting legislative changes to state pre-K funding in 2017-18. Researchers break down total pre-K funding for all states, including year-over-year changes. The policy brief’s authors suggest the most common way states fund pre-K is through a legislative appropriation, so pre-K programs are often subject to discretionary budget decisions and economic cycles.

Analyses of 2017-18 state appropriations for pre-K in all 50 states and the District of Columbia shows continuing support from both republican and democratic governors, legislators and state boards of education. Researchers report that overall, state funding for pre-K programs increased by $256 million, or 3.42 percent, over the previous fiscal year. However, this is the smallest one-year increase since 2012. In 2017-18, Idaho, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming did not provide state funding for pre-K programs. These and other findings are discussed.

Preschoolers Optimize the Timing of Their Conversational Turns Through Flexible Coordination of Language Comprehension and Production

In a recent study in Psychological Science, researchers examined preschool children’s development of their ability to coordinate language comprehension and language production. Authors note that conversation is the natural setting for language learning and use. A key property of conversation is the smooth taking of turns. The study examined turn taking and was based on data from 106 children, ages 3–5 years, and 48 adults.

Researchers found that when children can predict a question’s ending, they leave shorter gaps before responding, suggesting that they can optimize the timing of their conversational turns like adults do. Researchers suggest that this early competency helps explain how conversational contexts support language development.

Association of Behavior in Boys from Low Socioeconomic Neighborhoods with Employment Earnings in Adulthood

In a new study in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers examined which disruptive behaviors in kindergarten are associated with employment earnings in adulthood for boys from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers report on findings from a 30-year follow-up study of 920 boys and examined employment earnings at age 35 to 36 years as measured by government tax return data.

Researchers found that kindergarten teachers’ ratings of inattention were associated with lower earnings at age 35 to 36 years and prosocial behavior with higher earnings after adjustment for child IQ and family adversity. Researchers also found that hyperactivity, opposition, and aggression in kindergarten were not associated with earnings. Researchers suggest that preventive interventions targeting boy’s inattention and/or limited prosocial behavior could have positive impacts on their future employment earnings.

Feasibility of Safe-Tea: A Parent-Targeted Intervention to Prevent Hot Drink Scalds in Preschool Children

In a recent study in Injury Prevention, researchers investigated the feasibility of ‘Safe-Tea’, an innovative multifaceted community-based intervention delivered by early-years practitioners in areas of deprivation in Cardiff, United Kingdom. ‘Safe-Tea’ was implemented at Childcare, Stay&Play and Home Visit settings. Researchers examined the acceptability, practicality, and ability of staff to deliver the intervention, and parents’ knowledge and understanding.

Researchers report that the intervention materials, activities, and messages were well received and understood by both parents and community practitioners. Interactive and visual methods of communication requiring little to no reading were most acceptable to the parents in these settings. Parents’ understanding of the risk of hot drink scalds in preschool children and knowledge of appropriate first aid improved, post-intervention.  Researchers report that work is underway to refine intervention materials based on improvements suggested by parents and to test the intervention more widely in communities across the United Kingdom.

The effect of the Preparing Pequeños small-group cognitive instruction program on academic and concurrent social and behavioral outcomes in young Spanish-speaking dual-language learners

A new study evaluated the effectiveness of Preparing Pequeños, an integrated small-group instruction program designed to promote increased learning for Spanish speaking DLL in language, literacy, and math. Intervention teachers and paraprofessionals, as part of Preparing Pequeños, implemented new classroom and time management systems in order to conduct 90 min of small-group instruction four days each week across the school year. Results showed that intervention teachers and paraprofessionals, as compared to control, showed greater increases in most of the targeted areas of cognitive instruction (d range = 0.60–2.38) and in the use of small groups (d range = 3.32–4.46), progress monitoring (d = 0.17) to inform instruction, and team teaching (d = 1.94). Intervention children, as compared to control, showed significantly greater gains in Spanish oral language, print knowledge, phonological awareness, and phonics with small to large effect sizes (d range = 0.14–0.52). Also, potentially as a result of greater attention to children’s individual needs and support for managing their behavior, intervention children, as compared to control, showed greater decreases in school avoidance, anger, and aggression with small effect sizes (d range = −0.22 to −0.29). Results are discussed in relation to the need for greater attention in teachers’ training in effective approaches for small-group instruction.

Early Childhood Care and Education Levers to Improve Population Health

On September 14, 2017, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to explore the intersection of health and early childhood care and education, two key social determinants of health. This workshop follows a 2014 roundtable workshop that considered the interface between the education and health sectors broadly, from research and metrics to cross-sectoral partnerships and financing. The 2017 workshop continued that discussion, with a deeper focus on early childhood (birth through age 5) as a critical period in human development and an important opportunity for educational and related interventions. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the 2017 workshop.


The Society for Research in Child Development

SRCD is seeking a Director for Policy who can link developmental science with social policy for children and families. The Director for Policy oversees a team responsible for: the SRCD Policy Fellowship Program, communicating to policy makers, apprising SRCD members of key developments in policy, and partnering with SRCD’s Governing Council, Science and Social Policy Committee, and Executive Director.

Interested persons should submit a letter of interest, a resume, and a one-page vision statement via email to Applications submitted by February 28, 2019 will be given full consideration.


2019 Child Care Works Summit

April 3-4, 2019
Sheraton Pentagon City
Arlington VA

The 2019 Child Care Works Summit will be an abbreviated version of the regular bi-annual symposium hosted by Child Care Aware® of America and Child Care Works. This event will welcome CCR&Rs, child care providers, family advocates and other partners to Washington, DC for a day of training and sessions, followed by a Day on the Hill meeting with lawmakers. Register here.

2019 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute

Tuesday, May 07, 2019 – Thursday, May 09, 2019
Friday Center for Continuing Education
Chapel Hill, NC

For over 15 years, this popular 3-day conference has been the premier educational opportunity for people from all early childhood sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about inclusion for young children. The 2019 Inclusion Institute will include world-class experts, groundbreaking sessions, and state-of-the-art free courses for CEUs.

NASEM Report Release Event: A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty

Thu, February 28, 2019
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST
National Academies of Sciences
Washington, DC 20418

Join the Board on Children, Youth, and Families on February 28 at 11:00 a.m. for a public release event for this new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

This report examines the evidence-based programs and policies that reduce the number of children living in poverty and identifies packages of policies and programs that could reduce child poverty in the U.S. by half within ten years, at a cost far lower than the costs the country bears from child poverty.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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