September 17, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 37


The Benefits of Engaging Families in Learning and Development During Prekindergarten and Kindergarten

Strong partnerships between parents and educators support learning and teaching at school, and are especially important for young children as they acquire foundational skills in literacy, math, and social-emotional behavior. The Regional Educational Laboratory MidAtlantic developed a fact sheet based on a model by the New Jersey Department of Education designed to engage families to help students succeed. The resource provides teachers and administrators with resources for building relationships and communicating effectively with families. It addresses equity, feasibility, and accessibility.



ITC@NIEER Data Snapshot Looks at Pandemic’s Impact on Child Care Use among Infants and Toddlers in New Jersey

The COVID-19 pandemic upended child care nationwide, and New Jersey was no exception. The Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center at NIEER surveyed New Jersey parents of infants and children under age 3 about their use of child care in August 2020 and in February and June of 2021. The August 2020 survey also asked about use of child care prior to the pandemic. An ITC@NIEER data snapshot presents estimates of changes in the use of infant and toddler child care over time beginning before the pandemic’s onset. The report was written by ITC@NIEER Project Director Allison Friedman-Krauss, NIEER Senior co-Director and Founder W. Steven Barnett, and Assistant Research Professor Zijia Li. Read it here.

NIEER’s Jennifer Duer Co-authors Journal Article on Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment in Early Childhood Education

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Jennifer K. Duer co-authored a study that identified flaws in states’ early childhood education (ECE) systems due to nonalignment of policies with ECE standards, curricula and assessment, and fragmented oversight among various agencies and institutions.

Duer and her colleagues developed a framework to investigate state policy alignment across two major funding sources, the Child Care and Development Fund and state pre-K programs.

Their descriptive analyses found “potential for confusion around policies for early learning providers and demonstrate largely misaligned or poorly specified policies that are dispersed at the state level,” they wrote.

“We found that very few states incorporated both specific curriculum guidance and early learning standards into their QRISs (quality rating and improvement systems),” noted Duer, along with colleagues Anamarie A. Whitaker of University of Delaware and Jade M. Jenkins of University of California, Irvine. Read the study here.

NIEER Research Fellow Facilitates Webinar on ECE Funding Streams

Lori Connors-Tadros, senior research fellow at NIEER and a collaborating partner on the National TA Center for Preschool Development Grants (PDG) Birth through 5, facilitated a webinar on coordinating early childhood funding streams and share resources on sustaining finance developed the PDG B5 TA Center. Read more here.



The Effect of Early Childhood Education and Care Services on the Integration of Refugee Families

Refugees whose children received early childhood education and care services integrated better into German society than other asylum seekers who arrived between 2013 and 2016, researchers said.

The researchers found “a significant positive effect” of children’s ECEC attendance on their parents’ ability to integrate. This was especially true for mothers. “The size of the estimate is substantial and is particularly strong for improved language proficiency and employment prospects,” wrote Ludovica Gambaro and C. Katharina Spiess of the German Institute for Economic Research, and Guido Neidhöfer of the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research. Read the abstract here.

Teacher and Classroom Predictors of Preschool Teacher Stress

Preschool teacher stress in the classroom was linked to teacher anger, child behavior and the presence of support staff, researchers found. The study involved data on 427 teachers who participated in a professional development intervention in early childhood education.

Researchers Kelsey A. Claybac and Amanda P. Williford of the University of Virginia suggested the findings “can guide future prevention and intervention work to decrease stress and promote teacher well-being in early childhood education.” Read the abstract here.

Does Quality Matter In Determining Child Care Prices? Evidence from Private Child Care Provision in Turkey

The price of child care services in Turkey does not necessarily reflect program quality, and parents can’t gauge how well a program serves their child because that information isn’t made available, researchers in that country found.

“Regression results show that prices are mainly driven by infrastructure quality while human resources and curriculum and materials quality scores that are more likely to have a strong bearing on child development do not have a significant impact on prices,” they wrote.

In Turkey, the costs of child care accreditation and initial setup are high, but there is “very little on-going supervision and no information provided to users on the quality or ranking of these services.”

The study was conducted by Meltem A. Aran and Nazli Aktakke of the Development of Analytics Research and Training Association, and Didem Pekkurnaz of Başkent University. Read the study here.

How Child Mental Health Training Is Conceptualized in Four Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Researchers interviewed 18 professionals in various disciplines on their perspectives for meeting the mental health needs of children in disadvantaged communities in Brazil, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey. Poverty, as well as family and community violence, double the prevalence rate of mental health problems for children, they reported. Between 40% and 50% of children who are refugees, orphaned or living on the street are affected.

“Stakeholders adopted a holistic approach in defining desired outcomes, process of implementation and interventions,” the researchers wrote. “The findings highlight the importance of joined up policy, which should be reflected on the ground through interdisciplinary working and capacity-building.” The authors concluded that “the active involvement of communities and service users is paramount in maximizing and sustaining the impact of evolving interventions and services.”

The study was written by: Panos Vostanis and Michelle O’Reilly of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom; Seyda Eruyar of Necmettin Erbakan University in Turkey; and Sadiyya Haffejee of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Read it here.

Sunshine Circles: Randomized Controlled Trial of an Attachment-Based Play Group with Preschool Students Who are At-Risk

Refugees from war-torn regions and other racially diverse preschoolers who participated in an attachment-based play group intervention “showed greater improvement across several bands of behavior and academic measures than did control classrooms,” researchers found.

The randomized study involved 189 preschoolers in the U.S. participating in Sunshine Circles, which is “designed to assist children in feeling safe at school, develop social competencies, and improve emotional regulation skills,” according to the researchers. The intervention is led by specially trained teachers in the preschoolers’ classrooms.

The study was written by Catherine Tucker and Kay Schieffer of The Theraplay Institute in Chicago, Stephen Lenz of the University of Mississippi, and Sondra Smith of the University of Florida. Read the abstract here.



Research Scientist, Center for Child & Family Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Senior Director of Impact and Evaluation, Denver Preschool Program

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Texas at Austin