March 11, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 10


Joint Statement on Early Childhood Development and the Ukraine Crisis

A coalition of early childhood development networks released a statement of support for children and families affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The organizations, the Early Childhood Development Action Network and Early Childhood Peace Consortium among them, urged governments and donors to direct funds to families struggling to keep their children safe.

Two million children under age 5 live in Ukraine. According to the statement, only about 3 percent of total development aid given to crisis-affected countries and 2 percent of humanitarian funding go toward providing quality early years support to young children and their caregivers.

“The instability and resulting wounds and trauma that are being inflicted on children and families living in Ukraine, and who are now refugees, are tragic, and without any intervention will be long lasting from generation to generation” the authors concluded. “The global community must act now.” Read the full statement here.

Measuring the Quality of Early Learning Environments

Measuring the quality of early childhood education programs can be challenging, as there are many frameworks used to define and assess quality, and equity is not always considered. Measuring the Quality of Early Learning Environments, a resource released this week, outlines a vision for early childhood measurement rooted in key principles for quality, the Principles of Ideal Learning.

The report by the Trust for Learning was guided by a workgroup of early childhood measurement experts, including NIEER Senior co-Director Ellen Frede. Part 1 focuses on how policy decisions on what is measured, how it is measured, and how the information is used can address or exacerbate inequities within ECE programs and systems. Part 2 covers how the Principles of Ideal Learning align with existing quality measures.

BUILD will host a two-part webinar series responding to this report and another resource released by the Trust for Learning. The first, Envisioning our Ideals – A Holistic Vision of Quality in ECE, will take place on Tuesday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The second, Measuring Up to Our Ideals – A New Vision for Equitable Quality Measurement, will take place on Thursday, March 31 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. Register for both here.

Civil Rights Principles for Early Care and Education (ECE)

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and 46 other civil rights and education organizations, released the Civil Rights Principles for Early Care and Education (ECE) this week. The coalition outlined 10 principles for policymakers to consider to ensure an ECE system that is equitable for all children — particularly those who have historically been marginalized.

Read a description of the 10 principles here.

IDEA Alliance Federal Policy Agenda Survey

Start Early, in collaboration with other early childhood organizations, is seeking input from early childhood providers, parents, and families on a survey meant to inform a federal policy advocacy agenda focused on equity and inclusion for young children with disabilities and developmental delays in early childhood systems. They invite providers, parents and families to share their experiences on the survey, linked here, by March 18.


Exploring Pathways Linking Early Childhood Adverse Experiences to Reduced Preadolescent School Engagement

Preschoolers’ exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) linked to lower-quality teacher-student relationships and more externalizing problems in kindergarten and third grade, researchers found. ACES also linked through poor kindergarten teacher-student relationships to higher internalizing problems in third grade, leading to fifth grade school disengagement.

The study involved 556 children from low-income families recruited from Head Start preschool classrooms. Written by Meghan E. McDoniel of Stanford University in California and Karen L. Bierman of Pennsylvania State University, it is available here.

Teacher Attunement to Preschool Children’s Peer Preferences: Associations with Child and Classroom-Level Variables

​​Preschool teachers were found to be less attuned to the peer preferences of younger children and those with disabilities in their classroom. Teacher attunement is a teacher’s ability “to recognize the classroom social dynamics, including social positions and roles in the group.” Increased teacher attunement is theorized as an important component to providing emotional support in the classroom.

The study involved 1,415 children, including 108 with disabilities, from 86 preschool classrooms in Portugal. The authors said the results suggested a need for professional development focused on understanding the fundamental aspects of peer relationships. Read the study here.

Domain-specific Skills, But Not Fine-Motor or Executive Function, Predict Later Arithmetic and Reading in Children

A study involving 569 Australian children at ages 5 and 6 found executive function and fine motor skills were “much less powerful predictors” of math and reading achievement than were domain-specific skills such as number knowledge and phoneme awareness. Domain-specific skills “may be the most advantageous targets of interventions to enhance academic performance in the early years of schooling” the researchers in Australia wrote. They added the study “casts doubt on the usefulness of motor skills as a target for intervention to support academic performance, at least after school entry.” The study was authored by Stephanie A. Malone of Griffith University, and Verena E. Pritchard and Charles Hulme of Australian Catholic University. Read it here.

Short-Term Direct Reciprocity of Prosocial Behaviors in Japanese Preschool Children

Young children were likely to demonstrate prosocial behaviors to other children after being the recipient of prosocial behavior themselves, researchers in Japan found. The observational study found that 5- and 6-year-olds are likely to quickly establish direct reciprocity, or the return of a prosocial behavior to an individual who has displayed one. 

“This is the first evidence to demonstrate direct reciprocal exchanges in response to peer’s behavior in natural interactions with their peers,” wrote authors Mayuko Kato-Shimizu of Osaka Seikei University, Kenji Onishi of Nara University of Education, Tadahiro Kanazawa of Osaka University, and Toshihiko Hinobayashi of Aino University. Read it here.


Funding Notice From the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) 

Two new 2022 funding opportunities for early childhood dissertation research are now open! The Early Care and Education Research Scholars grants support doctoral dissertations researching issues related to Head Start and child care. Both grant programs support work that informs policy and practice decisions and solutions, particularly for underserved/understudied populations, and that uses the most rigorous research methodology.

The full announcements for Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Head Start Dissertation Grants and for Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Child Care Dissertation Grants are hyperlinked.