Parent-Child Home Program – Seattle, WA

Teaching parents how to teach their toddlers: Seattle-area program yields lasting benefits, By Neal Morton, December 21, 2016, Seattle Times: “Nearly a decade before Seattle voters agreed in 2014 to subsidize a preschool program for the city’s families, a small, pilot effort for even younger children debuted in 106 living rooms across King County. Organizers approached parents with a simple sales pitch: Did they want help preparing their children for school? If so, the Parent-Child Home Program would send trained visitors to spend 30 minutes with them twice a week, demonstrating how to get the most educational value out of playing and reading with their 2- and 3-year-olds.  The visitors brought a book and a toy to use in each visit, which the families kept for free.  The hope was that these short, frequent sessions, spread over two years, would keep many poor children from falling far behind richer peers before they even started kindergarten…”

Early Childhood Education

A Nobel Prize winner says public preschool programs should start at birth, By Emma Brown, December 12, 2016, Washington Post: “Nobel Prize winner James Heckman’s research has played an important role in establishing that high-quality public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds can more than pay for itself over the long term, as low-income children who attend are more likely to live productive lives. It’s an economic argument that has persuaded lawmakers from both parties to support early education initiatives.  Now Heckman has released new research showing that the return on investment is even higher for high-quality programs that care for low-income children from infancy to age 5…”

Head Start Programs

  • Head Start is underfunded and unequal, according to a new study, By Joe Helm, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “Head Start, the federal program that provides education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families, is not adequately funded and is administered so differently from state to state that children do not benefit equally, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research…”
  • Head Start’s state-to-state gaps noted in most comprehensive report card yet, By Ellen Powell, December 14, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Head Start just received its first nationwide report card – and improving consistent quality is at the top of the agenda.  In the most comprehensive study of the program yet, ‘State(s) of Head Start,’ released Wednesday, researchers from the National Institute for Early Education Research, at Rutgers University, looked at data on Head Start programs from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories. The study calls for a revived discussion of how Head Start can serve all children in poverty. Increasing funding is a significant part of that conversation, the study’s authors say, noting that programs cannot serve all children – and serve them well – with their current limited resources…”
  • Is Head Start working for low-income latino kids? Depends on the state, By Suzanne Gamboa, December 14, 2016, NBC News: “Quality preschool can greatly benefit low-income children and families, yet the three states with the greatest numbers of Latino residents fell below national averages on enrollment and other measures in a state-by-state report of Head Start programs. On some measures, though, the states beat the national average. The evaluation by the National Institute for Early Education Research, NIEER, and Rutgers Graduate School of Education found great inconsistency among states in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, products of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…”

Kindergarten Readiness Gap

  • Study: Poor kindergartners are catching up, By Lauren Camera, August 26, 2016, US News and World Report: “After decades of exponential growth in the gap of kindergarten academic readiness between poor students and their wealthier peers, that fissure is finally closing.  Between 1998 and 2010, the difference in kindergarten readiness between high- and low-income children narrowed by 10 percent to 16 percent, according to a study published Friday in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.  Previously, that academic achievement gap between poor and wealthy children had grown by about 40 percent since the 1970s…”
  • Low-income kindergartners are closing the achievement gap, reversing a decades-old trend, By Emma Brown, August 26, 2016, Washington Post: “Low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the academic gap with their affluent peers and reversing a decades-old trend, according to research released Friday.  The good news surprised researchers, who had expected to see school-readiness gaps growing — particularly given the broad societal trends of increasing income inequality and economic segregation…”

Child Care Workers

Child care expansion takes a toll on poorly paid workers, By Patricia Cohen, July 12, 2016, New York Times: “Carmella Salinas has worked steadily for 14 years as an early-childhood-education teacher, taking care of 4- and 5-year-olds at the nonprofit Family Learning Center in the hardscrabble community of Española, just north of Santa Fe, N.M. Even so, she rarely earns enough to cover all her bills, and has more than once received a disconnection letter from the water, gas or electric company. A few months ago, she arrived home with her 10-year-old son, Aaron, to find the electricity shut off.  ‘But Mom,’ she recalled Aaron saying, ‘don’t they know it’s your birthday?’  While the scramble to find affordable child care has drawn a lot of attention, prompting President Obama to label it ‘a must-have’ economic priority, the struggles of the workers — mostly women — who provide that care have not…”

Childhood Literacy

Where books are all but nonexistent, By Alia Wong, July 14, 2016, The Atlantic: “Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar familywill hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all,are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words.  This disparity is well-documented. It’s the subject of myriad news stories and government programs, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ initiative, all of which send the message that low-income parents should talk and read to their children more. But these efforts to close the ‘word gap’ often overlook a fundamental problem. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent…”

Pre-Kindergarten – Indianapolis, IN

Indy pre-K shatters goals, setting up funding fight in 2017, By Brian Eason, March 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “A pilot program offering prekindergarten scholarships to low-income families in Indianapolis is shattering expectations, but not entirely in a good way. The good news, relayed last week at a City-County Council committee hearing, is that just one year into the five-year program, the public-private partnership already has secured $33.2 million of its $50 million goal. The bad? That initial goal will only pay for less than a third of the demand…”

Early Childhood Experiences

  • Only in America: Four years into life, poor kids are already an entire year behind, By Roberto A. Ferdman, December 17, 2015, Washington Post: “Wealthy parents aren’t just able to send their kids to top pre-schools—they can also purchase the latest learning technology and ensure their children experience as many museums, concerts and other cultural experiences as possible. Low-income parents, on the other hand, don’t have that opportunity. Instead, they’re often left to face the reality of sending their kids to schools without having had the chance to provide an edifying experience at home.  That might sound foreboding if not hyperbolic, but it’s a serious and widespread problem in the United States, where poor kids enter school already a year behind the kids of wealthier parents. That deficit is among the largest in the developed world, and it can be extraordinarily difficult to narrow later in life…”
  • Class differences in child-rearing are on the rise, By Claire Cain Miller, December 17, 2015, New York Times: “The lives of children from rich and poor American families look more different than they have in decades.  Well-off families are ruled by calendars, with children enrolled in ballet, soccer and after-school programs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. There are usually two parents, who spend a lot of time reading to children and worrying about their anxiety levels and hectic schedules.  In poor families, however, children tend to spend their time at home or with extended family, the survey found. They are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods that their parents say aren’t great for raising children, and their parents worry about them getting shot, beaten up or in trouble with the law…”

Achievement Gap

  • Achievement gap in D.C. starts in infancy, report shows, By Michael Alison Chandler, December 10, 2015, Washington Post: “The District is a national leader in providing universal access to preschool for 4- and 5-year olds, an investment designed to improve school readiness and narrow a a rich-poor achievement gap that is apparent by kindergarten.  But, according to a new report produced by Child Trends and commissioned by the Bainum Family Foundation, the achievement gap starts much earlier — in infancy — and the city isn’t prepared to deal with it…”
  • Black students struggling more in Michigan than other states, according to report, By Jonathan Oosting, December 10, 2015, MLive.com: “African-American students are further behind their peers in Michigan than in most other states, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  African American students are disproportionally impacted by shortcomings in the national education system, according to the report, which points to ongoing struggles to improve outcomes for minority students and close achievement gaps…”
  • Minority students make gains, but achievement gap remains, By Mary Niederberger, December 10, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “While there has been some improvement in academic achievement among African-American students since the early 1990s, overall performance levels remain critically low nationally, and Pennsylvania’s results fall below national averages. That information was contained in the report ‘The Path Forward: Improving Opportunities For African-American Students,’ released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the NAACP…”

Early Childhood Education

The most powerful thing we could give poor kids is completely free, By Emily Badger, November 3, 2015, Washington Post: “Dana Suskind, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Chicago, performs cochlear implant surgeries every Tuesday on children as young as 7 months old who were born deaf. When she activates the tiny device in their inner ears for the first time, often to the startled expression of the children and tears from their parents, she celebrates each child’s ‘hearing birthday.’ This is the moment, Suskind once believed, when she set each child on the path to understanding words, then speaking them, then reading them, then thriving. Perform the surgeries early enough and you can give children the ability to hear while their malleable brains are still developing, feeding off the language around them. Several years ago, though, Suskind realized some children who’d received the surgery continued to struggle anyway. She describes in her new book, ‘Thirty Million Words,’ one little girl from a poor family who could still barely speak by the third grade. ‘When I looked at her lovely face,’ Suskind writes, ‘it was hard to say whether I was seeing the tragedy of deafness or the tragedy of poverty…'”

Early Childhood Education

States agree on need for ‘preschool,’ differ on definition, By Sophie Quinton, September 4, 2015, Stateline: “Kari Leonard is a mom of five, but on a typical weekday a visitor might find 10 young children in the living room of her Saint Peter, Minnesota, home. The children at her child care center, who are mostly preschool age, might be playing with blocks, or doing a craft project, or listening to a song as Leonard plays it in a foreign language.  Her business could benefit from the state’s recent decision to spend $104 million over the next two years on early learning scholarships for low-income children. Because her program is highly rated by Parent Aware, a nonprofit that evaluates early education programs, she can enroll scholarship recipients.  Policymakers in Minnesota, like many across the country, have been impressed by studies that show early education can improve a child’s life and save taxpayers money over the long term. But while there’s a growing consensus on the value of preschool, states disagree on where the programs should be based, who should run them, or how the government should support them…”

Early Childhood Education

The education gap among America’s youngest students, By Aimee Picchi, June 17, 2015, CBS News: “An education disaster is in the making, and it’s starting before children even reach kindergarten. Poor American kids are arriving at kindergarten with lagging academic and ‘noncognitive skills,’ such as self-control and approaches to learning, when compared with children of high-income families, according to a new report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Those education gaps have grown increasingly noticeable in more recent generations, which may be due to demographic shifts in the American population, such as more children being born into poverty and more growing up in single-parent households…”

Early Childhood Education

Programs aim to boost preschool educations for low-income children, By Teresa Watanabe, May 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “In the isolated desert town of Lake Los Angeles, Maria Olegine visits one home after another, bringing life-changing information to mothers and their young children. In one home last month, she greeted 11-month-old Angie Rios with wide smiles and high fives. ‘Helloooo Angie! Cinco, five!’ She gave Angie a fabric house, a toy horse and bright stackable plastic donuts, keeping up a running patter of vocabulary and complete sentences. ‘This is a little house. Tengo un caballo. I have a little horsey!’  Angie’s mother, Maria Delfina Zuniga, said Olegine’s lessons on how to develop her child’s vocabulary and motor skills through daily reading and play have made a big difference. Angie has already mastered several words — far ahead of her older children when they were at that age — children she did not regularly read to before kindergarten…”

NPR Series on Early Literacy

  • Nonprofit fights illiteracy by getting books to kids who need them, By Lynn Neary, December 29, 2014, National Public Radio: “When it comes to learning to read, educators agree: the younger, the better. Children can be exposed to books even before they can talk, but for that a family has to have books, which isn’t always the case. There are neighborhoods in this country with plenty of books; and then there are neighborhoods where books are harder to find. Almost 15 years ago, Susan Neuman, now a professor at New York University, focused on that discrepancy, in a study that looked at just how many books were available in Philadelphia’s low-income neighborhoods. The results were startling…”
  • Talk, sing, read, write, play: How libraries reach kids before they can read, By Lynn Neary, December 30, 2014, National Public Radio: “Literacy begins at home — there are a number of simple things parents can do with their young children to help them get ready to read. But parents can’t do it all alone, and that’s where community services, especially libraries, come in. On a recent morning, parents and children gathered in the ‘Play and Learn’ center in the Mount Airy Library in Carroll County, Md. Jenny Busbey and her daughter Layla were using the puppet theater to go on an imaginary adventure. There are play-and-learn centers in all of the Carroll County libraries…”
  • Vocab tech for toddlers encourages ‘anytime, anywhere learning’, By Lynn Neary, December 30, 2014, National Public Radio: “When the children’s television show Sesame Street first hit the air in 1969, many were deeply skeptical that you could use TV to introduce very young children to the basics of reading and math. But the experiment proved to be a remarkable success; Sesame Street has reached several generations of toddlers with its combination of educational content and pure entertainment. And now, Sesame Workshop is using new technology to reach the next generation. These days, a toddler is just as likely to meet Big Bird for the first time on a tablet or smartphone as on TV, says Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop…”

Full-Day Preschool

  • Full-day preschool better than part-day, study shows, By Lauren Fitzpatrick, November 28, 2014, Chicago Sun-Times: “Children who went to full-day preschool at one of Chicago’s Midwest Child Parent Centers had higher attendance, lower chronic truancy and were generally better prepared for kindergarten than children who attended only part of the day. That’s according to a new report published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association from the Human Capital Research Collaborative which studied about 1,000 children enrolled during the 2012-13 school year, the first year the Collaborative helped organize full-day programs in Chicago…”
  • Full-day preschool prepares kids better for kindergarten, Minnesota study concludes, Associated Press, November 26, 2014, The Oregonian: “A new study at the University of Minnesota found that child participants who attended all-day preschool were better prepared for kindergarten than those who didn’t. Early childhood education advocates say the results show Minnesota should invest more in preschool programs. They say the move could help narrow the achievement gap between white and minority students in Minnesota…”

Child Care Subsidies

Child care subsidies for low-income parents approved after years of cuts, By Diana Dillaber Murray, November 19, 2014, Oakland Daily Tribune: “For the first time in 18 years, Congress has approved funding to help ensure parents of some of the 11 million of the youngest children in low-income working families can afford child care. Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act 2014 Tuesday in a bipartisan vote. About 6 million children of the 11 million children in child care are babies and toddlers…”

Child Poverty and Health

More than half of Cleveland kids live in poverty, and it’s making them sick, By Brie Zeltner, September 30, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Census data released last week revealed a sobering truth about the conditions that face children growing up in Cleveland: more than half of the city’s kids—54 percent– live in poverty, the second highest rate of any big city nationally. As bad as that sounds, what’s worse is what it means: not only does poverty make it more difficult to secure stable, safe housing, nutritious food and quality, affordable daycare so that parents can work, but the daily stress kids endure under these conditions takes a huge toll on their mental and physical health, experts say. The kids pay this toll—in the form of asthma, diabetes, behavioral problems, truancy and failure in school. We pay it too, in higher healthcare costs as they become sicker adults, in the cost of incarceration for juvenile and then adult offenders, and in the lost productivity that results when such a large number of children cannot achieve. Some studies estimate that cost at roughly half a trillion dollars, or 3.8 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), a year…”

Child Well-Being and Race

  • N.J. study warns of continuing struggle for black, Latino children, By Monsy Alvarado, April 1, 2014, The Record: “White, Asian, African-American and Latino children in New Jersey scored higher than the national average across racial and ethnic backgrounds in several key indicators that measure a child’s chance at success in school and in life. But the data in a report, for release today by a national advocacy organization, reveal deep disparities within the state’s racial and ethnic groups in areas including fourth-grade reading proficiency, eighth-grade math skills, high school and college graduation rates, and poverty levels. White and Asian children in the Garden State continue to score better than their Latino and black counterparts in several of these areas…”
  • Minority kids don’t fare as well as whites in Utah, By Kristen Moulton, March 31, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “Minority children fare worse in Utah than their white counterparts, but there are plenty of challenges — poverty, and poor access to health care and education — to go around, according to a new national study. The study, ‘Race for Results: Building a Path of Opportunity for All Children’ is being released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count project. For nearly two decades, the foundation has joined with Voices for Utah Children to research the well-being of Utah children. The new study, however, is the first time there’s been a close look at how children fare by ethnic group, said Terry Haven, deputy director for Voices for Utah Children…”
  • Report: Well-being of African-Americans in Michigan among worst in nation, By Charles E. Ramirez, April 1, 2014, Detroit News: “The well-being of African-American children in Michigan is among the worst in the nation, according to a report to be released today. The Kids Count report found only Mississippi and Wisconsin fared worse than the Wolverine state, based on 12 criteria, including normal birth weights, education of parents and the number of children living at or above poverty…”
  • No state worse than Wisconsin for black children, says new national study, By Mike Ivey, April 1, 2014, Capital Times: “For African-American children seeking a better future, no state looks worse than Wisconsin. A new national report shows that children of color face enormous barriers to educational and financial achievement — with Wisconsin ranking last in the disparity between white children and their non-white peers. White children growing up in Wisconsin ranked 10th among the states in an index measuring 12 key indicators at various stages of life, including home situation, educational skills and income. But Wisconsin ranks 50th for black children, 37th for Asian children and 17th for Latino children, according to the study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation titled ‘Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children…'”

Social Impact Bonds

Results-based financing for preschool catching on, By Adrienne Lu, March 21, 2014, Stateline: “Six hundred 3- and 4-year-olds are attending preschool in Salt Lake County and Park City, Utah, this year thanks to an innovative financing model that is catching the attention of government officials and lawmakers across the country. Under ‘results-based financing,’ also known as ‘pay-for-success’ or ‘social impact bonds,’ private investors or philanthropists provide the initial funding for social programs that are expected to save taxpayer dollars down the road. If the policy goals are met and the savings materialize (according to third-party evaluators), the investors receive their money back with interest. However, the government doesn’t have to pay out more than it saves…”