July 23, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 29


NIEER Fact Sheet: Would parents enroll children in a free, high-quality preschool this fall?

Eighty-one percent of parents recently surveyed indicated they would be either very or somewhat likely to enroll their children in a free, high-quality pre-K this fall despite lingering concerns about the pandemic.

Such an enrollment rate would be a substantial increase over recent rates of preschool participation and suggests strong demand for and perceived value in free high-quality pre-K among parents.

Download NIEER’s Fact Sheet here.

Descriptive Data on Head Start Children and Families from FACES 2019: Fall 2019 Data Tables and Study Design

A new descriptive data report from the Administration for Children and Families provides “information at the national level about Head Start programs, centers, classrooms, and the children and families they serve”.

The data report provides insight into children’s characteristics, family backgrounds, and home environments, children’s cognitive and social-emotional skills and physical health and disability status. Read the report here.

National Research Conference on Early Childhood 2022

The Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) National Research Conference on Early Childhood 2022 (NRCEC 2022) will be held June 27-29, 2022, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.

The goals of NRCEC 2022 are to:

  • identify and disseminate research relevant to young children (birth to 8 years) and their families;
  • encourage collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to build the evidence base for policy and practice; and
  • foster discussion of research priorities, gaps, and needs.

For updates on NRCEC 2022, including the forthcoming Call for Presentations, join the NRCEC mailing list here.


Poll: The Covid-19 Pandemic Continues To Negatively Impact New Jersey Parents And Child Care

New Jersey parents are getting back to “normal” child care use for children under age 3, with some exceptions, according to a new online survey by The Fairleigh Dickinson Poll, with support from The Nicholson Foundation. Nearly 2 in 3 (65%) indicate their child under 36 months is in some sort of formal child care, somewhat below pre-pandemic levels.

The study finds:

  • almost half (45%) indicate care is provided by a relative,
  • 26 percent have their child in a child care center/day care or preschool,
  • 9 percent say a non-relative is providing home-base care, and
  • a third (35%) indicate their child is not currently in any type of child care, including 41 percent of those with household incomes below $50,000.

“This survey finds parents’ use of child care for infants and toddlers is returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, some have not returned to work and continue to worry about whether it is safe for their youngest children to return to child care,” said Dr. W. Steven Barnett, NIEER’s founder and senior co-director. “New Jersey has a unique opportunity to invest stimulus dollars in ways that support parents’ access to quality infant-toddler care.”

The COVID pandemic continues to impact parents of infants and toddlers. Sixty-four percent of those with a child in formal care reported that the child was out of child care at some point since January 1, 2021, due to the COVID pandemic, with the average time missed at 5.9 weeks.

The pandemic also has taken a toll on parents’ mental health, as nearly two-thirds (63%) indicate their child being out of care for the time period added ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ to their stress level. Only half (55%) indicated their stress returned to normal once their child returned to child care.

“The pandemic’s impacts on child care and its unpredictability is predictably stressful for many parents,” said Dr. Allison Friedman-Krauss, assistant research professor at NIEER. “I hope that the increased realization of the importance of child care to families and work brought about by the pandemic will result in much needed change.”

Seventy-seven percent of New Jersey parents employed pre-pandemic indicate that their job had been in some way impacted. A third (34%) saw their hours reduced, 19 percent had their wages reduced, while 14 percent report having lost their job, including 26 percent of Black parents and 21 percent of those with household incomes below $50,000. Sixteen percent have decided to leave the workforce and become stay-at-home parents.

“A post-pandemic economic boom will put pressure on labor markets, and employers may find it increasingly difficult to attract the workers they need,” said Dr. Barnett. “If New Jersey invests wisely in expanding options for quality child care, including raising child care reimbursement rates if needed to recruit providers, the state’s parents, businesses and treasury will benefit in the long run.”

Read the survey results here.


Emotion Knowledge, Social Behavior and Locomotor Activity Predict Math Performance in Preschool Children

Researchers found that “emotion knowledge, locomotor activity, social behaviour, and academic-mathematic performance are interrelated in 706 French preschool children aged 3 to 6”. They note that “the increase in academic-mathematic performance is explained by the increases in emotion knowledge and social behaviour and, in turn, children with a greater comprehension of emotions tend to have better locomotor skills and higher academic-mathematic scores”.

The study was conducted by Thalia Cavadini, Sylvie Richard, and Edouard Gentaz of University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; and Nathalie Dalla-Libera, Savoie Department, Minister of National Education, Paris, France. Read the study here.

Measuring Early Childhood Educators’ Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior–Related Self-Efficacy: A Systematic Review of Tools

A new study “aimed to compare all existing tools that quantitatively measure physical activity and sedentary behavior–related self-efficacy of pre- and in-service ECEs [Early Childhood Educators]”. Researchers report that due to the “low number of studies that tested validity and reliability of their self-efficacy tools, the lack of consideration for barrier self-efficacy, and the paucity of tools that fully encompassed physical activity, sedentary behavior, and outdoor play considerations for ECEs, future research is needed to validate a new, reliable tool”.

The study was conducted by Monika Szpunar, Brianne Bruijns, and Patricia Tucker of University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. Read the study here.

Associations between Social Skills, Inattention, and English Vocabulary Skills of Preschool Latinx Dual Language Learners

Researchers found that “children with higher English receptive vocabulary skills at the beginning of preschool had higher overall social skills and fewer inattention problems midway through preschool”. Additionally, they found that “children with higher overall mid-year social skills had higher expressive vocabulary skills at the end of preschool, and children with fewer mid-year inattention problems had higher receptive and expressive vocabulary skills at the end of preschool”. Researchers suggest that “targeting emergent English vocabulary, social skills, and inattentive behaviors is important for academic and social development among preschool Latinx DLLs”.

The study was conducted by Rebecca J. Clayton, Milena A. Keller-Margulisa, and Jorge E. Gonzalez of University of Houston, Houston, Texas; and Sascha Hein, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Read the study here.

What’s in a question? Parents’ Question Use in Dyadic Interactions and the Relation to Preschool-Aged Children’s Math Abilities

When parents and children “were observed interacting with a picture book, grocery store toys, and a puzzle for about 5 min each, and children completed math and spatial assessments”, researchers found that “parents’ use of high-CD (cognitive demand e.g. comparing, predicting) questions was associated with children’s spatial skills, standardized math scores, and vocabulary skills …” Researchers suggest that “domain-general questions that vary in CD (low and high) are differentially related to children’s math and language abilities, which can inform the ways in which parents engage in early learning opportunities with their children”.

The study was conducted by Shirley Duong, Heather J. Bachman, Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, and Melissa E. Libertus of the University of Pittsburgh. Read the study here.


Assistant Research Professor in Dual Language Early Education Policy

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education is seeking a Non-Tenure Track Assistant Research Professor in Dual Language Early Education Policy. Please join our multi-disciplinary group of researchers and policy experts to conduct and communicate research designed to stimulate policymaking and improve educational opportunities for dual language learners (DLL). Our research informs policy and practice to support high-quality, effective early childhood education (ECE) from infancy through the primary grades. We collaborate with a network of local, state, national, and international leaders to design, conduct, and disseminate rigorous research, evaluation, and policy analysis. Additionally, we provide policy-related and research-informed technical assistance to policy and practice decision-makers. Work with us to use your ECE conceptual knowledge, your expertise in supports for DLLs and your research knowledge to partner with elected and appointed officials, ECE leaders and philanthropic partners to improve young children’s learning, development and well-being.

Apply online here.