October 23, 2020 – Volume 19, Issue 41


ITC@NIEER Study: New Jersey Childcare Centers Imperiled by COVID-19 Costs

COVID-19 safety measures and class size limits and low state subsidies have put New Jersey childcare providers in financial peril, says new research from the Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center at NIEER (ITC@NIEER).

Class size reductions together with expensive personal protective equipment, air circulation upgrades, more frequent cleaning, and other procedural changes have increased costs for safe, high-quality childcare.

“Many childcare providers were already struggling to turn a profit before the pandemic, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if some are now forced to raise rates, turn children away, or close their doors,” said Karin Garver, NIEER’s early childhood education policy specialist, and the report’s author.

“The current reimbursement rates fail to meet the cost per child, leaving providers with two choices, either raise the rates on parents who are not eligible for the subsidy or close their facility all together – both of which would be detrimental to the communities they serve,” Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).

Study: Policy Changes Improve Chicago Pre-K Equity

Policy changes to Chicago’s school-based pre-k system enabled greater equity in both access to and enrollment in full-day, school-based pre-k, according to a new study by education researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago, Start Early (formerly the Ounce of Prevention), and UChicago Consortium on School Research. Closer to home: More equitable pre-k access and enrollment in Chicago analyzes access to and enrollment in pre-k from 2010-2016, both before and after policy changes occurred.

Report Looks at Enhancing Transition into Kindergarten

The Education Commission of the States, in collaboration with EducationCounsel and New America, issued State Policies to Enhance Transitions Into Kindergarten earlier this week. Stressing the importance “that the transition into kindergarten supports all students in an equitable and comprehensive manner,” the report focuses on health equity in transitions, policy strategies to improve transitions, and policy considerations for states.

Reconciling E-Learning with How Young Children Learn Best

“How can early childhood and early elementary school teachers reconcile the need for e-learning with what they know about how young children learn best?”

Senior Researcher Jill Bowdon at REL Midwest poses that question and points to research by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D. “for evaluating educational apps based on the science of learning.” Dr. Hirsh-Pasek believes teachers should consider “apps that promote the four pillars of learning,” according to Bowdon.

OPRE Announces 2021 Forecasted Graduate Student Grants

Information on forecasted Child Care, Head Start, and Behavioral Interventions graduate student dissertation grants in 2021 is available at grants.gov. The Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE) recently announced it is considering funding the grants for 2021.


Dr. Weisenfeld Records Video for EECERA Convocation

NIEER’s Dr. GG Weisenfeld recorded a video outlining the presentation she and Dr. Steve Barnett will make at the upcoming EECERA Convocation. Information about the convocation and registration is available online.


Postdoctoral Associate in Early Childhood Policy and Research

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education seeks a postdoctoral associate.

NIEER conducts and communicates research to support high-quality, effective early childhood education from infancy through the primary grades. Our aim is to stimulate policymaking that will enhance children’s learning, development, and well-being.

The postdoctoral associate will work directly with NIEER’s co-directors on research in collaboration with university and community partners. The associate will contribute to policy analysis, field research, and technical assistance to inform ECE policy and practice. The post-doctoral associate will author and co-author policy briefs and journal articles, support dissemination, and participate in grant writing and communications with potential project sponsors.

The ideal candidate will have a doctoral degree by the hire date in a discipline related to Early Childhood Education. This position will involve ECE conceptual knowledge and research expertise to design, conduct, oversee, and interpret research and to interface with elected and appointed officials as well as philanthropic partners. In addition, the candidate would need relevant professional experience in the field and/or policy research and demonstrated knowledge and expertise in ECE practice and policy. For more information, please see the full job posting.


NIEER’s Jason Hustedt: Key Take-Home Message Is Equity

In a new blog article for NIEER, Jason Hustedt writes about research he co-authored with colleagues from NIEER and the University of Delaware on the effects of the New Mexico PreK program.

“A main goal of pre-K programs across the U.S. is to help level the playing field so children enter kindergarten ready for success,” writes Hustedt. “Yet it appears that some groups of pre-K children may receive greater benefits.”

Published by Early Childhood Research Quarterly“Impacts of the New Mexico PreK initiative by children’s race/ethnicity” is available online.

Read Hustedt’s blog article here.


COVID-19 Transmission in US Child Care Programs

Yale researchers “compared COVID-19 outcomes in child care providers who continued to provide direct in-person child care during the first three months of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic versus those who did not.”

The research team, which includes Walter S. Gilliam, Amyn A. Malik, Mehr Shafiq, Madeline Klotz, Chin Reyes, John Eric Humphries, Thomas Murray, Jad A. Elharake, David Wilkinson, and Saad B. Omar concluded that “within the context of considerable infection mitigation efforts in U.S. child care programs, exposure to child care during the early months of the U.S. pandemic was not associated with elevated risk for COVID-19 transmission to providers.”

The findings published in Pediatrics “must be interpreted only within the context of background transmission rates and the considerable infection mitigation efforts implemented in child care programs,” the authors note.

A Systematic Review of the Implementation of Obesity Prevention Interventions in Early Childcare and Education Settings Using the RE-AIM Framework

Previous reviews of how well obesity prevention interventions within early childcare/education settings achieve desired outcomes often lack external validity reporting, according to researchers Jennifer C. Sanchez-Flack of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Annie Herman and Joanna Buscemi of DePaul University, and Angela Kong, Alexis Bains, and Marian L. Fitzgibbon of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Their research sought to “determine the availability of data on both internal and external validity across dimensions of the Reach, Efficacy/Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework in studies reporting on obesity prevention interventions in early childcare/education settings.”

They concluded, “More consistent reporting on external validity needs to be conducted.” Such reporting will help determine how well “tightly controlled evidence-based trials could transition into more “real-world’ settings or have potential practice and policy implications” and “may also serve to close practice to policy translation gaps.”

Perception that Mothers and/or Guardians of Overweight or Obese Preschool Children Have of a Text Messaging Program to Support Behaviour Change in their Children

Most childhood obesity programs target parents because they’re viewed as key to changing their children’s lifestyle behavior, but participation in such programs is low.

How will mothers feel about receiving text messages to support healthier lifestyle behaviors in their children?

According to researchers Solange Parra-Soto, Alejandra Ortega, Julian Kain, and Carlos Celis-Morales from the University of Chile, and Juliana Kain from the University of Glasgow, “text messaging implemented in a personalized manner was considered successful in regards to providing useful information to support their children’s behavior change.”

Examining the Influence of Interactions between Early Reading Skills and Executive Functioning on Second Grade Reading Achievement

Will “understanding interactions between executive functions and specific early reading skills” help us better understand “later reading achievement”?

Researchers “used multilevel modeling to examine whether executive functions moderate the relation between various early reading skills in kindergarten and second grade reading achievement.”

Using a sample of more than 18,000 participants from the ECLS: K-2011 database, their “findings suggested that early teacher-rated reading skills are related to second grade reading abilities” and “both working memory and inhibition were important moderators for reading independently in kindergarten and are associated with later reading achievement in second grade.”

Preschool Children’s Attitudes towards Their Peers with Special Needs

Does where preschool children interact with peers with special needs influence their attitudes of their peers?

Using data from questionnaires collected from parents and teachers, researchers Helena Reis, Alexandra Silva Icon, Bruna Simões, Joana Moreira, Patrícia Dias Icon, and Maria Dixe of Portugal’s Polytechnic of Leiria found “children who have contact with peers with special needs in classroom have positive attitudes those who have contact in the preschool (outside classroom) have much more” and suggest “that closer contact with children with special needs benefits peer attitudes.”