Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

Study: With more U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, schools will see impact, By Maureen Downey, July 17, 2017, Atlanta Journal Constitution: “A new study by researchers at Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin looks at the rise in U.S. children — including a spike in white kids — living in poor neighborhoods since the Great Recession. That increase affects education, say researchers, because children in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty start school less ready to learn…”

Poverty and Brain Development

How poverty affects the brain, By Carina Storrs, July 12, 2017, Nature: “In the late 1960s, a team of researchers began doling out a nutritional supplement to families with young children in rural Guatemala. They were testing the assumption that providing enough protein in the first few years of life would reduce the incidence of stunted growth. It did. Children who got supplements grew 1 to 2 centimetres taller than those in a control group. But the benefits didn’t stop there. The children who received added nutrition went on to score higher on reading and knowledge tests as adolescents, and when researchers returned in the early 2000s, women who had received the supplements in the first three years of life completed more years of schooling and men had higher incomes…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Report: NJ kids have more access to health care, early education options, By Kelly Kultys, May 22, 2017, Burlington County Times: “Children in New Jersey were better off in terms of access to health care, school enrollment and family economics, according to the 2017 NJ Kids Count report from the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. The report found the percentage of uninsured children was down, while incomes and enrollment were up. But it also raised concerns about disparities in the juvenile justice system and the number of children being treated for substance abuse…”
  • N.J. kids are doing better these days, and Obamacare is one big reason, By Susan K. Livio, May 22, 2017, NJ.com: “Kids Count, the annual report measuring the health, safety and well-being of New Jersey’s 2 million children, shows there is cause for optimism as fewer children live with unemployed parents, lack insurance and and rely on welfare. And one big reason, authors say, is that kids have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

Intergenerational Poverty

How poverty changes the brain, By Tara García Mathewson, April 19, 2017, The Atlantic: “You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory. When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways…”

Early Childhood Education – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Educare helps low-income preschoolers learn by connecting with parents, By Rachel Morello, April 12, 2017, Milwaukee Public Radio: “Close your eyes and picture a preschool classroom. What do you see? Chances are what you envision is probably pretty close to what you’ll find in an Educare classroom.  Educare is an early childhood program that targets children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, who come from low-income families. It’s an offshoot of Head Start, one of the most prominent, publicly-funded early childhood programs in the country…”

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…”

Child Poverty and Malnutrition

Stunting and poverty ‘could hold back 250m children worldwide’, By Sarah Boseley, October 4, 2016, The Guardian: “Nearly 250 million young children across the world – 43% of under-fives – are unlikely to fulfil their potential as adults because of stunting and extreme poverty, new figures show.  The first three years of life are crucial to a child’s development, according to a series of research papers published in the Lancet medical journal, which says there are also economic costs to the failure to help them grow. Those who do not get the nutrition, care and stimulation they need will earn about 26% less than others as adults…”

Child Care Subsidies – Louisiana

The state-budget cuts trapping poor parents, By Della Hasselle, September 29, 2016, The Atlantic: “Over the summer, Kinsley, then 19 months, was just starting to develop her vocabulary. Sometimes her mom, Christian Gobert, laughed about it, because the word Kinsley knew best was ‘no.’  But jokes aside, the New Orleans mother worries about her child’s language development, which she says is slower than some of her daughter’s peers…”

Poverty and Brain Development

How poverty affects the brain, By Erika Hayasaki, August 25, 2016, Newsweek: “The video tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan who at 15 survived being shot in the head by the Taliban while riding a bus in 2012. ‘I want to get my education, and I want to become a doctor,’ she says, adding that the Taliban throw acid on some people’s faces and kill others, but ‘they cannot stop me.’  A 15-year-old boy watching the clip on a laptop inside the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute seems unmoved by Yousafzai’s story—his face is blank, his shoulders slumped. An interviewer asks how it makes him feel…”

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…”

Poverty and Brain Development

Evidence grows of poverty’s toll on young brains, By Abigail Becker, July 6, 2916, USA Today: “Five-year-old Naja Tunney’s home is filled with books. Sometimes she will pull them from a bookshelf to read during meals. At bedtime, Naja reads to her 2-year-old sister, Hannah. ‘We have books anywhere you sit in the living room,’ said their mother, Cheryl Tunney, who curls up with her girls on an oversized green chair to read stories.  Naja and Hannah are beneficiaries of Reach Out and Read, an early intervention literacy program that collaborates with medical care providers to provide free books when families come in for check-ups…”

Poor Quality Housing and School Readiness

Bad housing—not just due to lead poisoning– tied to lower kindergarten test scores, By Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner, April 21, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland kids who live in– or even near– poor quality housing are more likely to perform worse on kindergarten readiness tests, according to a recent studyby Case Western University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Lead poisoning, as in many other studies, was a major contributor to the poor test performance. About 40 percent of the more than 13,000 Cleveland Metropolitan school district children included in the study had records of a high blood lead level before arriving in kindergarten. But it’s not lead poisoning alone that’s hurting these kids. Children in the study with no record of lead poisoning who lived in or near bad housing scored lower on the kindergarten tests than their peers who lived in better housing…”

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…”