August 20, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 33

HOT TOPICS

New Resource: Supporting Prenatal-to-Three with Federal Funds

The National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers published a new resource on how states and localities can use the nearly 30 federal relief funds to support the well-being of infants, toddlers, and families. Supporting Prenatal-to-Three with Federal Relief Funds includes strategies to expand, improve, and make more accessible early care and education, family support, and maternal and infant/toddler health services.

“The unprecedented relief funds present an enormous opportunity for early childhood leaders to increase equitable access to high-quality programs and services — particularly now, when racial inequities, job losses, and evictions are rampant,” according to a summary on the BUILD Initiative website. The featured prenatal-to-three strategies identified were selected from the actions of 30 state and local prenatal-to-three coalitions funded by Pritzker Children’s Initiative. Read more here.

 

CSCCE Data Snapshot Shows California’s Early Educators are “Well Positioned” for Transitional Kindergarten Jobs

The Center for the Study of Childcare Employment released a data snapshot highlighting key findings from a recent survey of center-based and transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers.

New Data Shows Early Educators Equipped to Teach TK” reported that California has thousands of early educators — most of whom are women of color — who are well positioned to fill new TK jobs. The data snapshot noted that the state also has thousands of family child care providers who work with preschool-aged children.

California is in the process of transforming TK into a universal preschool program for all 4-year-olds by 2025. The changeover is expected to create the need for an additional 8,000 to 11,000 lead TK teachers, according to the report.

The authors stressed the importance of ensuring TK expansion doesn’t exacerbate existing inequities for the ECE workforce. The report provides five recommendations for California agencies and leaders to close the equity gap.

 

NIEER ACTIVITIES

Including Family Child Care in State and City-funded Pre-K Systems: Opportunities and Challenges

A new report by NIEER’s GG Weisenfeld and Ellen Frede examined the policies and provisions of state-funded pre-K in Family Child Care homes (FCCs) in 24 states and several cities. The report explored the potential opportunities and challenges derived from an analysis of current state policies and the FCC literature base, and made recommendations for state/city leaders considering inclusion of FCCs in their pre-K programs. Weisenfeld and Frede concluded: “it is highly likely that FCCs can effectively support children’s learning and development, but more research needs to occur to better understand the conditions necessary to support and advance those outcomes.” Their research was supported by Home Grown, a national collaborative of philanthropic leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to home-based child care. Read the report here.

 

Best Practices in Early Learning Governance and the Impact on the Workforce

NIEER Senior Research Fellow Lori Connors-Tadros recently conducted a webinar on best practices in early learning governance for the National Council on State Legislatures. Connors-Tadros shared the findings of the recent report, Effective State Offices of Early Learning: Structural Features, Enabling Conditions, and Key Functions in Four States, and discussed the lessons learned from this study that could inform the governance of early learning in other states. Clayton Burch, superintendent of the West Virginia Department of Education, discussed how a strong partnership between state agency staff and legislators led to the implementation of high quality universal pre-K with a shared governance model.

 

ECE RESEARCH

Systematic Review of Occupational Therapy Interventions to Enhance Cognitive Development in Children 0–5 Years: Part 2, At-Risk Due to Environmental Factors and Promoting Cognitive Development

Evidence-based occupational therapy practices were found to enhance cognitive development, executive functions and pre-academic functions in young children, according to researchers’ review of 27 studies. The evaluation focused on interventions for children at-risk from environmental factors and those intended to promote cognitive development in children from birth to age 5.

“Occupational therapy practitioners working in home and preschool programs can use these evidence-based interventions to enhance cognitive development, executive functions, and pre-academic functions performance for young children,” the researchers wrote. The study was written by: Jayna Niblock of Blank Children’s Hospital in Iowa;  Gloria Frolek Clark; Taylor Crane Vos of Mercy Medical Center in Iowa; Deborah Lieberman of the American Occupational Therapy Association in Maryland; and Elizabeth G. Hunter of the University of Kentucky. Read the abstract here.

 

Teachers’ Beliefs about Children and Children’s Literacy Development: The Mediating Role of Responsive Teaching

Researchers found the effects of teachers’ child-centered beliefs on children’s literacy development were fully mediated by responsive teaching. The study involved 656 4-year-old  preschoolers and their 59 head teachers. It was written by Bi Ying Hu of the University of Macau, Peishan Huang of Dongguan Polytechnic, Shuang Wang of East China Normal University, and Timothy Curby. Read the abstract here.

 

 

Early School Suspensions for Children with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Children exposed to adverse experiences were nearly twice as likely to be suspended from school than students who were not, researchers found. The more exposures children had to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the higher the odds they would be suspended, they reported.

The study involved 15,109 children born between July 2003 and June 2004 enrolled in a West Australian government school between 2009 and 2012. During that four-year period, 378 of the children were suspended — 60% of whom had ACEs. The increased odds of being suspended existed even in cases where the bad experiences occurred before they enrolled in school, the authors noted.

“Our findings highlight a clear target for child-focused public health policy,” wrote Megan F. Bell, Rebecca Glauert, Jeneva L. Ohan, David B. Preen, and Donna M. Bayliss of the University of Western Australia. Read the study here.

 

Quality Improvements in State Prekindergarten Benefit Fourth Grade Academic Outcomes

Quality benchmarks used in pre-K programs improved fourth graders’ academic outcomes in math and language arts, a study found. Researcher Zhiling Meng Shea of the University of California, Irvine used NIEER’s information on universal quality benchmarks of state pre-K programs along with other national datasets to estimate the effects of pre-K quality on seven cohorts.

Higher quality pre-K programs “produced benefits for different types of students in elementary school,” Shea wrote. The results showed “positive associations between improved pre-K benchmarks and ELA scores for Hispanic students, and between pre-K quality and math scores for Asian students.” Read the study here.

 

A Systematic Literature Review Regarding Computational Thinking and Programming in Early Childhood Education

A review of research found that age was an important factor in learning computational thinking during early childhood. The study also found that unplugged applications topped plugged-in ones because they provided concrete experiences. Computational thinking and programming abilities did not differ based on gender, according to author Kaan Bati of Hacettepe University in Turkey. Read the abstract here.

EVENTS

NAEYC 2021 Annual Conference, Nov. 6-9

OPPORTUNITIES

Director, Early Childhood Equity Initiatives, The Policy Equity Group