April 30, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 17

HOT TOPICS

Young Children in The American Families Plan

The American Families Plan introduced by the Biden Administration this week contains multiple proposals that directly benefit young children over the next 10 years. These include $200 billion for expansion of universal pre-K beginning at age 3, $225 billion for child care, $225 billion for paid leave, expansion of summer and school-year nutrition programs, plus increased child tax credits ($3,600 per child under 6) and child care tax credits. These and multiple other provisions of the proposal would benefit the early care and education workforce, thereby indirectly benefiting young children. Read more here.

Foundation For Child Development Young Scholars Program

Early-career researchers are invited to apply to the Foundation for Child Development’s Young Scholars Program. The YSP supports policy- and practice-relevant research that “examines the preparation, competency, compensation, well-being, and ongoing professional learning of the early care and education (ECE) workforce.”

Committed to diversity, the foundation encourages applicants who are of color, first-generation college graduates, culturally and linguistically diverse, and from low-income communities and other underrepresented groups. It also seeks applicants representing “a variety of disciplines and methodological approaches.”

Eligible researchers must have received their doctoral degrees between Jan. 1, 2012 and June 30, 2020. Physician applicants must have received their M.D. degrees between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 30, 2020.

View the YSP FAQs here. Download the complete 2022 YSP guidelines here. Questions may be submitted to ysp@fcd-us.org.

New Video on Governance From the PDG B–5 TA Center

The National Center for Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five (PDG B–5 TA Center) released a new video to help staff at state and territory agencies understand the role of governance in improving the early childhood (EC) system.

“How Governance Influences State Early Childhood Systems” shares the lessons learned and insights of three experienced state EC administrators. The video features: Amy Jacobs, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning; Steven Hicks, assistant state superintendent of the Division of Early Childhood in the Maryland State Department of Education; and Susan Gale Perry, chief deputy secretary at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. While the states consolidated EC programs in different agencies, they share a common goal of creating greater efficiency, accountability, and access to programs for all children — particularly vulnerable children and families. Access the video here.

PRESCHOOL MATTERS TODAY

Are We Willing to Pay More than Lip Service to High Quality Early Learning?

NIEER Early Childhood Education Policy Specialist Karin Garver makes the case for prioritizing funding and access for high-quality preschool in her latest blog post. “It’s wonderful to be able to say that we have bipartisan support for high-quality public preschool, but now we need to put our money where our mouth is — the President’s proposed $200 billion initiative is a great start,” Garver wrote. “At a ballpark figure, total public spending will need to be about 4 to 5 times what it is now to support quality pre-K for all children,” she wrote. Read the post here.

NIEER ACTIVITIES

NEPC Review: The Drawbacks of Universal Pre-K: A Review of the Evidence (Manhattan Institute, February 2021)

NIEER co-Director W. Steven Barnett took to task a think tank’s critical assessment of universal pre-K and early child care. The Manhattan Institute in February published a policy brief contending that early education for children, while benefiting “deeply disadvantaged students,” may have a negative impact on other children.

Barnett noted: “With universal pre-K and child care back on the national political agenda, increased scrutiny of these proposals is expected and welcome.” However, his  review published this month by the National Education Policy Center, found problems with the Manhattan Institute’s methods and conclusions that limit its usefulness. “The brief raises warnings about potential unintended negative consequences that are warranted, but omissions of research and unjustified assumptions make it a misleading and inadequate policy guide,” Barnett wrote in the executive summary. “The complexity of early care and education does not lend itself to simple policy prescriptions. A more meticulous review of the literature relying on fewer preconceptions might have led to more nuanced conclusions.” Read Barnett’s review here.

ECE RESEARCH

Preschool and Kindergarten Impacts of the Midwest Expansion of the Child–Parent Centers in the Saint Paul Public Schools

Young children who participated in a family-based intervention program had significantly higher levels of language and literacy proficiency in both preschool and kindergarten than their peers, researchers found. The study involved the Saint Paul Public School District, which is part of the Midwest Child-Parent Center (CPC) Expansion. The CPC provides comprehensive educational and family support services to economically and educationally disadvantaged children.

“At the end of kindergarten, 61.0% of CPC participants met the district’s literacy benchmark compared to 47.4% for the comparison group,” researchers wrote. They reported performance gains of nearly half a year.

The CPC program “shows evidence that it can be effectively scaled and that the program yields impacts in preschool and kindergarten that exceed the usual early childhood programming in Saint Paul,” authors Arthur J. Reynolds, Brandt A. Richardson, and Sangyoo Lee of the University of Minnesota concluded. Read the abstract here.

Early Childhood Teachers’ Self-efficacy and Professional Support Predict Work Engagement

Early childhood teachers’ self-efficacy and professional support predicted greater work engagement. That’s according to a study involving 50 early childhood teachers across a variety of home- and center-based settings in Oregon.

Researchers concluded that “supporting early childhood teachers with what they need to do their job effectively and feel that they can make meaningful differences in children’s lives may help them to engage in their work with passion, dedication, and positive energy.”

The study was conducted by Shannon T. Lipscomb, Kelly D. Chandler, Caitlyn Abshire, and Brianne Kothari of Oregon State University, and Jamie Jaramillo of Oregon Social Learning Center. Read it here.

Early Childhood Professional Well-being as a Predictor of the Risk of Turnover in Early Head Start & Head Start Settings

Early Head Start/Head Start administrators, professionals with college and graduate degrees, and those with over 20 years of experience had the highest levels of professional wellbeing, researchers found.

The study involved a nationwide sample of 1,076 Early Head Start/Head Start professionals, and investigated risks of turnover in early childhood education settings. Turnover is a concern because it disrupts two factors key to quality in early childhood education: consistency in relational-care systems and stable environments, researchers wrote.

Community belonging, safety and security, and professional identity were identified as key factors of professional well-being by researchers Kate I. McCormick of State University of New York at Cortland, and Mary B. McMullen and Melissa S.C. Lee of Indiana University Bloomington. Read the abstract here.

Unhealthy Diet Is Associated With Poor Sleep in Preschool Aged Children

Preschool-aged children who consume more fast food and soda have poorer sleep quality, according to a study. However, results also showed that eating healthier foods did not encourage better sleep per se.

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers Jennifer F. Holmes, Christine W. St. Laurent, and Rebecca M.C. Spencer also looked at parenting practices, finding that ineffective strategies correlated with more soda drinking and less consumption of fruits and vegetables. The study involved 383 children, from 30 months of age to 5 ½ years old.

Shorter nighttime sleep was associated with more frequent fast food and soda consumption, they found. Children who ate more fruits and vegetables had shorter naps.

“Encouraging healthier dietary choices and educating caregivers on ways to reinforce such habits may be means to improve child sleep quality,” the researchers wrote. Read the study here.