June 18, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 24

HOT TOPICS
A newly published toolkit co-authored by NIEER’s Dr. Lori Connors-Tadros provides state leaders resources on governance for effective early childhood systems. Early Childhood Governance: A toolkit of curated resources to assist state leaders is available on the Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five website. It offers an overview of governance, including varying approaches and models. The toolkit then goes deeper, addressing governance structures and examining different aspects of governance in states. The toolkit’s online resources are free. View it here.
NEW NAEYC Child Care Survey: Take It Today!
Early childhood educators, will you take a few moments to complete the newest NAEYC survey on the ECE field, available in English and in Spanish? Your responses and your voices make a huge difference in helping policy makers and the public understand the continued urgency of the challenges you face, how relief is helping, and how much more is needed. As an added “thank you!” for your time and expertise, your completed survey could win you a $50 gift card. This survey will close at midnight ET on Wednesday, June 30, so get your responses in today. And thank you all, for everything you do.
PRESCHOOL MATTERS TODAY
The head of South Carolina First Steps, the state’s public-private early childhood initiative, explains the 4K+Siblings program enacted during the pandemic in an interview with NIEER and the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers. 4K+Siblings encouraged pre-K enrollment by providing parents child care subsidies for their other children. South Carolina First Steps Executive Director Georgia Mjartan also outlined how First Steps partnerships work. The Q&A, part of an ongoing series, is available here.
ECE RESEARCH
Researchers surveyed more than 1,100 early childhood education (ECE) and early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers about their experiences with providing online instruction in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 41% of ECE teachers and 33% of ECSE teachers reported that they received no training in providing remote learning, the researchers reported. When stay-at-home orders took effect in March 2020, “there was no precedent for providing online instruction to young children from birth through the age of five,” they noted.
The survey found that “both types of professionals spent more time planning and communicating with families than providing instruction to children.” They did, however, find statistically significant differences “in activities provided, how time was spent, and training received by professional role.” The study, conducted by Elizabeth A. Steed and Nancy Leech of the University of Colorado Denver, is available here.
Preschoolers in an intervention to increase physical activity during outdoor play sessions engaged in higher moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and spent significantly less time being sedentary than children in the control group, researchers reported. The study also found that preschoolers were “significantly more active in the first 10 minutes outdoors compared with remaining time.”
“Findings support scheduling more frequent outdoor play sessions in childcare to increase physical activity participation among young children,” wrote Canadian researchers Brianne A. Bruijns and Patricia Tucker of Western University in Ontario, Leigh M. Vanderloo of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and Brian W. Timmons of McMaster University in Ontario. Read the abstract here.
Researchers scaled up a toddler school readiness intervention that proved effective in a smaller study, and found positive effects on early skill development. The randomized study involved 2,170 Danish toddlers (at least 18 months old at pretest) in 255 child care centers. Children in the treatment group went through a curriculum targeting language and math development over 20 weeks. Teachers developed activities, but received supportive tools “to help them be more explicit and intentional in their interactions with children.”
The study was conducted by Dorthe Bleses, Peter Jensen, and Anders Højen, of Aarhus University in Denmark, Pauline Slot of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Laura Justice of The Ohio State University. Read it here.
Greater intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, low levels of physical activity and high birth weight were “significant predictors” of being overweight or obese among Florida preschoolers who qualified for a federal nutrition subsidy.The study involved 197 children ages 3 to 5 participating in the Broward County Special Supplementation Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Sixty-eight percent of the preschoolers were overweight or obese. Only 15% of parents/guardians of overweight children and 43% of obese children identified their child as too big, the authors noted.
Screen time did not differ much by weight category, but children with normal or low weights were more physically active than others. The study was conducted by Andrea Charvet of Keiser University and Fatma Huffman of Florida International University. Read it here.
A 30-minute, self-paced online training increased child care providers’ knowledge and awareness of California’s healthy beverage policy, but didn’t significantly increase adherence to it, researchers found.
The study involved 76 child care providers split into three groups: two groups took the training, one of which received six months of technical assistance. Participants who received technical assistance did not fare better than those who took the training without it, the researchers noted.
The study was conducted by: Danielle L. Lee, Kaela Plank, Christina E. Hecht, Hannah R. Thompson and Lorrene D. Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute in California; Marisa Neelon of the University of California, Oakland; Abbey Alkon of the University of California San Francisco; and L. Karina Díaz Rios of the University of California Merced. Read it here.
OPPORTUNITIES
The U.S. Department of Education has released two notices inviting applications (NIAs) for Mid-Phase and Expansion-Phase EIR projects. The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The deadline for notice of intent to apply is June 28 and deadline for application submissions is July 7. More information regarding the FY 2021 EIR Competition is available at the program website.
EVENTS
Historic Crisis, Historic Opportunity: Using Evidence to Mitigate the Effects of the COVID-19 Crisis on Young Children and Early Care and Education Programs
Webinar on Monday, June 21, at noon EDT
Researchers across the country have completed more than 300 studies assessing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on young children and their families, early childhood educators, and early care and education (ECE) programs. Scholars conducted a review and synthesis of studies to understand how the pandemic has affected young children’s educational experiences and, ECE programs, and the ECE workforce.
Findings, as well as evidence-based, equity-centered policy solutions, will be discussed during a webinar Monday, starting at noon EDT. The conversation will also address the American Rescue Plan. The event will be hosted by the Urban Institute and the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Register here.