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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 18, Issue 11

March 15, 2019

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Families, Budgets and Pre-K Benefits

Hot Topics

All in the Family

Interest in paid family leave recently picked up steam as an effective state policy to improve child and parental well-being.

new report from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University points to paid family and medical leave as improving health and economic outcomes in North Carolina by reducing infant mortality and nursing home use, while increasing labor force participation and employee retention.

Statewide paid leave programs are “generally” viewed by employers as having had “a positive effect or no noticeable effect” and potential savings for families would outweigh administrative costs to implement and run the program, according to Paid Family Leave in North Carolina: An Analysis of Costs and Benefits.

The federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) already requires employers to provide leave–but does not require or provide pay for employees during time off. California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island already have state policies in place. Both Washington and Washington D.C. have policies taking effect in 2020, and Massachusetts’ policy will go into effect in 2021.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently proposed providing six months of paid leave per child, dividing the time between family members, according to CalMatters. California was first to offer paid family leave in 2002, giving most workers six weeks of partial pay to care for a new baby or sick family member, funded by a 0.9 percent tax taken out of most paychecks. In addition, women who give birth get an additional six weeks of disability pay.

New Jersey recently expanded paid family leave from six weeks to 12 weeks, effective in July 2020, allowing workers to take time off to care for not only sick family members but also loved ones who are not blood relatives, according to WHYY. Signing the legislation into law, Gov. Phil Murphy focused on the benefits to children, saying “Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child.”

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Don’t Look to Trump Budget for Child Care Help — You Won’t Find It

Despite what the Administration claims, this preview shows that Trump does not prioritize the child care needs of families and children. Based on what we know so far, the Budget flat-funds the main federal child care program—the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—and proposes to provide $1 billion in one-time funding to states, but only if they agree to roll back protections for children in child care.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss recently presented at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in Washington D.C., exploring the topic “Does Auspice Matter?: Impacts of New Mexico PreK in Public and Nonpublic Settings.”

Dr. Friedman-Krauss’ presentation was based on NIEER’s evaluation of NM PreK over five years which found positive impacts from the state-funded prekindergarten program for young children’s cognitive skills. Her presentation found that impacts varied for children attending NM PreK in public schools than those in nonpublic schools, though impacts were positive for both groups of children.


Effect of Gestational Age on Maternofetal Vascular Function Following Single Maternal Engineered Nanoparticle Exposure

The study recently published in the journal Cardiovascular Toxicology found that early in the first trimester and late in the third trimester were critical windows during which pollutants most affect the mother’s and fetus’s cardiovascular systems.

The study looked at how the circulatory systems of pregnant rats and their fetuses were affected by a single exposure to nanosized titanium dioxide aerosols — a surrogate for particles found in typical air pollution — during their first, second and third trimesters. The results were compared to pregnant rats that were exposed only to high-efficiency filtered air.

The researchers found that exposures to pollutants early in gestation significantly impact a fetus’s circulatory system, specifically the main artery and the umbilical vein. Later exposure had the most impact on fetal size since the restricted blood flow from the mother deprives the fetus of nutrients in this final stage.

Little People, Big Lives Report: Foundations for Healthy Australian Children in the 21st Century

This newly released report summarizes research suggesting that practical and achievable approaches can protect children’s well-being. The study was led by researchers at the University of Notre Dame Australia who examined the latest evidence-based recommendations for optimal child development.

The authors summarize basic needs and approaches that families can engage in to support optimal child development that includes, but are not limited to 1. Safety, Security, Love and Belonging – talk, listen, read, play, sing, dance and hug every day. 2. Healthy Eating and Drinking – food prepared and enjoyed together with a balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, with a priority focus on whole and unrefined foods, including water as the preferred drink. 3. Active Play that is interactive, encourages creativity and imagination. Playing sports and games that children enjoy and spending time outside is also recommended. 4. Healthy Sleep which should be a priority for all the family that includes healthy sleep hygiene and developing a bedtime routine, and 5. Positive Screen Time – use digital technologies to aid in living rather than dominating it by limiting screen time and avoiding cyber-addiction with recommendations on monitoring online activity.

They further suggest that parents, caregivers and the broader community can all play a role by recognizing the importance of children’s earliest years of life for children in the present and the adults they will become. But they also suggest that it is important to take the actions outlined in order to demonstrate that support over the years.

New Benefits of Public School Pre-Kindergarten Programs: Early School Stability, Grade Promotion, and Exit from ELL Services

A new study in Early Childhood Research Quarterly explores short-run effects of state-funded, public school-based pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs on the early educational outcomes of students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Researchers based their study on data on all kindergarten students enrolled in public schools in years 2006 and 2007. They examined differences in outcomes from pre-K to the early grades – promotion to first grade, school mobility, and exit from English language learner (ELL) status. Researchers compared students who were enrolled in public school pre-K in the previous year to students who entered the public school system at kindergarten.

Researchers found that children who participated in a public school pre-K program had higher rates of promotion to the first grade and higher rates of school stability between kindergarten and first grade. Researchers also report that ELL children who enrolled in public school pre-K had higher exit rates from ELL status by first grade compared to students who entered at kindergarten. These and other findings are discussed.

Associations between Publicly Funded Preschool and Low-Income Children’s Kindergarten Readiness: The Moderating Role of Child Temperament

A new study in Developmental Psychology examined whether the benefits of Head Start program participation varied for low-income children with difficult temperaments. Researchers note that difficult temperament status is a source of vulnerability that connotes to an increased risk for poor early school outcomes. The study was based on a nationally representative sample of low-income children (drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). Researchers examined whether associations between public preschool participation and children’s cognitive and social-emotional skills in kindergarten are moderated by difficult temperament status. Head Start and public school-based pre-k were compared both with parental care and with each other.

Researchers found weak evidence that public preschool’s benefits on children’s cognitive and social-emotional skills in kindergarten are moderated by child temperament. However, researchers found that school-based pre-k is significantly associated with better reading skills relative to parental care only for children with difficult temperaments. Finally, they found that for children with difficult temperaments, Head Start was significantly associated with better approaches to learning relative to parental care, and with reduced externalizing behavior problems relative to school-based pre-k.

An Examination of Kindergarten Teachers’ Beliefs about Creative Pedagogy and Their Perceived Implementation in Teaching Practices

A recent release in Thinking Skills and Creativity focused on kindergarten teachers’ beliefs about creative pedagogy, their perceived implementation of creative pedagogy in their teaching practices, and factors contributing to differences between their beliefs and their practice. The study was based on data from 698 kindergarten teachers in Shanghai, China.

Researchers found that kindergarten teachers hold strong beliefs about three of four dimensions of creative pedagogy: possibility thinking, interpersonal exchange, and self-initiated pursuit. However, they focus less on these aspects in their reported practice. Additionally, they have neutral beliefs about teacher-oriented pursuit, the fourth dimension of creative pedagogy, but they implement this more in their reported practice.

Kindergarten tier and teachers’ degree major are associated with teachers’ beliefs about creative pedagogy in various dimensions. Also, teaching experience, gender, and kindergarten category predict differences in teachers’ reported practice about creative pedagogy in various dimensions.

Researchers suggest the top three factors contributing to the divergences between teachers’ beliefs and practice of creative pedagogy are the teachers themselves, family, and teaching materials and environment. The researchers suggest these findings have implications for kindergarten teacher professional development programs and the implementation of creativity reform in China.


The Buffett Early Childhood Institute

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska is seeking a Director of Program Development who will conceptualize and lead systemic approaches to reducing achievement and opportunity gaps in early learning and education settings, birth through Grade 3.

The Director reports to the Executive Director of the Institute and works closely with the other Institute directors, particularly Research and Evaluation and Early Childhood Workforce Development. See details.


National Black Child Development Institute Annual Conference

If you are interested in presenting at NBCDI’s 49th Annual Conference, September 28-October 1, 2019 in Chicago, IL, access the Call for Proposals here.  NBCDI is seeking proposals that present strengths-based, action-oriented solutions that will help participants move their schools, neighborhoods, communities and states forward. Submissions must be completed by Friday, April 22, 2019 at 11:59 pm.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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