Volume 17, Issue 13

Hot Topics

From Darwin to Tasmania

Early learning and childcare workers in Australia this week stayed home – with many parents doing the same out of necessity and solidarity—to demonstrate their value and demand better wages.

Their union, United Voice, is seeking a 30 percent pay raise for the nation’s 108,000 childcare workers from the Federal Government. The one-day strike closed about 320 centers, affecting about 30,000 families, according to news reports.

“This has enormous support,” the union’s assistant national secretary Helen Gibbons said. “From Darwin to Tasmania.”

Childcare workers in Australia with the required certificate earn an hourly wage of about $21.29—above the national minimum wage of $18.29 per hour but only half the average full-time wage of $42.89, according to media reports. And research shows that gap is pushing experienced child care workers out of the classroom. (Dollars are Australian, not US)

Factors contributing to the low wages include traditional wage gaps for women who make up 90 percent of the childcare workforce in Australia, perceptions that working with young children is akin to babysitting or parenting (rather than educating) and a tendency for policymakers to worry more about the financial burdens on families relying on child care than on child care employees, according to researchers.

Similar issues influence the early childhood workforce in the US.

Preschool teachers participated in the recent strike in West Virginia that closed schools for almost two weeks before lawmakers agreed to a 5 percent pay raise. And preschool teachers also are poised to walk out next week along with their K-12 colleagues in Oklahoma—ranked 49th nationwide in teacher pay–unless their compensation is improved.

Preschool teachers particularly suffer from low wages. While most publicly funded prekindergarten programs require teachers to have the same credentials as kindergarten teachers, few require equivalent pay and benefits for pre-K teachers compared to kindergarten teachers.

NIEER’s analysis showed public pre-K programs in 24 states–more than half of the 44 states funding pre-K–have no compensation parity policies for teachers.  Generally, pre-K teachers with a bachelor’s degree or higher can expect to earn $10,000–$13,000 less per year than colleagues teaching slightly older children, even if they work in the same building.

The upcoming State of Preschool 2017 report will detail state preschool teacher salaries per state for the 2016-17 school year.

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

NIEER is rolling out a series of infographics highlighting  key elements of our State of Preschool report. Please share on social media and watch for the new report to be released on our website Wednesday April 18, during the NAEYC Week of the Young Child.

New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

New research on pre-K: surprising findings

A variety of state-funded pre-K programs generally produce broad gains in participating children’s learning, as measured at kindergarten entry, according to NIEER’s study published this week in AERA Open.

However, these positive findings come with some important cautions that—in the context of the broader research literature—suggest two key lessons for policy makers.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Senior Co-Director Ellen Frede and Assistant Research Professor GG Weisenfeld recently analyzed city preschool programs for the CityHealth initiative, supported by the de Beaumont Foundation. The 2017 CityHealth report focusing on 44 cities nationwide will be released in April.

Last year, CityHealth debuted its evidence-based analysis of major US cities implementing policies helping communities thrive and residents lead healthier lives. Cities earned gold, silver, bronze, or no medal, based on the number and strength of policies in areas including preschool (based on NIEER’s analysis), affordable housing, complete streets, earned sick leave, alcohol sales, zoning and clean indoor air.

CEELO Update

In advance of its sixth annual Roundtable for state early childhood specialists, CEELO will be hosting a series of webinars  designed to share expert content that will be a focus of the conference. Webinars are free and open to anyone interested. Topics include:

Equitable Early Learning for All Children | Thursday, April 12, 2018 – 3:00-4:30 Eastern | REGISTER HERE

Early Learning Opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) | Thursday, April 26, 2018 – 3:00-4:30 Eastern | REGISTER HERE

High-Quality Instruction Birth Through Third Grade | Tuesday, May 8, 2018 – 3:00-4:30 Eastern | REGISTER HERE

Advancing the Workforce Teaching Birth Through Third Grade | Wednesday, May 23, 2018 – 3:00-4:30 Eastern | REGISTER HERE

The Roundtable is collaboratively planned by CEELO, NAECS-SDE and national technical assistance partners. Learn more about the 2018 Roundtable here.



In a new study published in The Infant Mental Health Journal, researchers examined the relationships between maternal depression of the mothers of 3-year-old children and executive function and behavior problems of these children when they were 4 years old.  The research was based on a large and nationally representative sample exceeding 3,000 Head Start children.

Analysis revealed that mother-reported warmth (but not mother-child reading) mediated the relationship between maternal depression, children’s executive function, and behavior problems. Researchers suggest that their findings provide a family process model for families whose children are exposed to maternal depression in which warm, sensitive parenting supports children’s emerging self-regulation and reduces the likelihood of early onset behavior problems.


Early care and education (ECE) is not widely utilized by children in the child welfare system (CWS). In a recent study published in the journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, researchers explored the perspectives of child welfare caseworkers, ECE providers, and parents/caregivers on the benefits of CWS-supervised children’s participation in ECE.

Participants perceived ECE as being beneficial for CWS-supervised children, their parents/caregivers, and for caseworkers. Researchers suggest that it’s critical to educate both parents/caregivers and caseworkers on the benefits of ECE to themselves, as well as to children, in order to motivate parents/caregivers and caseworkers to enroll CWS-supervised children in ECE.


In an article published by the International Review of Psychiatry, researchers conducted a review of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) early intervention (EI) literature that focuses on efficacy studies published within the past 15 years. The context for, the timing of, and approaches to intervention are discussed, as well as predictors of treatment outcomes.

Researchers suggest that young children with ASD can benefit from EI and that parent-coaching interventions can be effective in supporting parents to implement child-responsive engagement strategies. Researchers recommend combining parent-mediated and direct clinician-implemented intervention to maximize child developmental gains. Finally, based in the review of the literature, clinical practice recommendations are presented.


Many Head Start programs have been found to serve high-risk children with asthma. In a new study published in the Journal of Asthma, researchers assessed a 5-year, multicomponent Head Start staff asthma education intervention implemented in Baltimore City Head Start programs.

Researchers found the multicomponent intervention program was able to adequately prepare staff to manage asthma in the child care setting. Researchers suggest the results of their study indicate it’s feasible to provide efficacious health skill education into child care provider training.


Research has suggested that while intended to be restful, mandatory naptimes may induce stress in those children unable to sleep. In a new paper released in Scientific Reports, researchers compared mandated/flexible sleep practice by nap/no-nap conditions to examine group difference in stress responses of preschool aged children. Salivary cortisol level was tested at waking, pre-naptime, post-naptime, and bedtime across two days at child care.

Researchers found no significant change in cortisol level from pre- to post- naptime overall. Children who napped under mandatory naptime conditions and those who did not nap under flexible conditions experienced a significant decline in cortisol level prior to bedtime. However, authors report that those who did not nap under mandated naptime conditions did not show a significant reduction in cortisol levels. While researchers suggest naptime is neither stressful nor restful for children in any group under study, they do suggest there are implications for bedtime arousal for those unable to sleep under mandated naptime conditions in this study.


Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University

The Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) at Oklahoma State University invites applications for the position of Instructor/Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The ten (10) month, non-tenure track faculty position supports the HDFS department’s mission of reducing risk and promoting resilience within individuals and families across cultures and generations.

For further information or to nominate a potential candidate, please contact the Search Committee Chair: Amy Williamson, Ph.D.  To apply, visit this website, select Job Listings, then Search Jobs and type in Listing  Number req4605


National Research Conference on Early Childhood

June 25-27, 2018
Arlington, VA

The federal Administration for Children and Families’ 2018 National Research Conference on Early Childhood will be June 25–27, 2018, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.

This conference, presented by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in conjunction with the Office of Head Start, is a leading venue for research on the development, education, and care of young children and their families, and the policy and practice implications of the findings.

Click here for event registration and information. There is no cost to attend the conference although participants should register in advance.

Early Education News Roundup

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Teacher Strikes, Eight States Study, Naptime