Build Back Better Framework’s Historic Opportunity to Strengthen Early Education and the Nation
The Build Back Better Framework offers a historic evidence-based opportunity to transform early education in the United States before the end of this decade. No child care or education proposal, including the national investment in Head Start that began more than 50 years ago, has had more potential to improve the lives of young children.
The Framework’s provisions support child development through two primary pathways. First, it increases access and quality in child care from the earliest years and creates a common, strong foundation for the learning and development of all children with preschool beginning at age 3. As many providers serve the same child with both child care and preschool, concurrently or at different ages, the framework’s child care and preschool provisions are mutually reinforcing. Second, families will receive a large boost in disposable income to support child development as they pay less (or nothing) for child care and preschool while earnings from employment will likely rise. Tax credits and other income supports—especially during early childhood–have been found to improve child development and educational outcomes over the long-term.
This investment in early care and education can transform the lives of millions beginning in early childhood and extending through their adult years, contributing to higher educational attainment, higher workforce productivity, and better health.
This week President Biden visited an example of the high quality preschool program envisioned by the framework in North Plainfield, New Jersey. You can see pictures of this terrific program here. To learn more about the impressive long-term impacts of New Jersey’s program see this recent research article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Babies showing signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who received an at-home intervention for five months had less severe symptoms and reduced odds of an ASD diagnosis in early childhood.
In the study of 89 children in Australia initially assessed at ages 9 to 14 months, and again at age 2 and 3, therapists administered 10 sessions of a social communication intervention with half the children. Parents in the treatment group also were asked to undertake a daily practice using targeted skills with their infant, according to the study.
The intervention “led to a significant reduction in the severity of ASD behaviors when summed over the 2 years between baseline and the study end point at age 3 years.” Read the study here.
Children whose parents read to them at least 11 minutes a day when they were ages 1 and 2 had stronger language and literacy development up to nine years later. The study, involving 3,547 children, found positive associations with literacy measures in Grade 3 (8–9 years) and Grade 5 (10–11 years). Read the study here.
In Uganda, where enrollment in early childhood education programs is low, research found that children enrolled in ECE were more likely to have mothers engaged in reading books, playing, naming, counting and drawing with them.
In a study involving 5,175 children ages 36-59 months, Douglas Andabati of Makerere University in Uganda found that those factors, along with the sex and age of a child, wealth index, and mother’s education “were significantly associated with ECE attendance.”
“There is a need to sensitize parents about the importance of ECE, the critical role they have to play, and how to go about it in the provision of support for learning to their children,” Andabati wrote. He also urged the government to create public ECE centers to provide subsidized care for poor households. Read the abstract here.
Teachers’ use of textual strategies during shared book-reading with preschoolers in rural China was a strong predictor for children’s language skills, according to a new study.
The study by Kunlei He and Yiran Z. Bowman involved 94 children and 10 teachers and was based on coded shared book reading class videos of 10 village-level kindergarten classrooms. Teachers’ approaches were divided into textual and extratextual strategies. Read the abstract here.
Thirty-five of 43 states that responded to a national survey reported having or developing policies to prevent expulsions in early care and education programs. Twenty-nine states had policies to curb expulsions and suspensions at ECE programs and six reported they were developing them. Eight reported little or no discussion about such policies.
Policies include such factors as professional development and early childhood mental health consultation, as well as requirements for data collection. The 26-page report provides recommendations for designing policies that significantly reduce exclusionary practices, and highlights the efforts of five states. Read it here.