This post is written by Amy Fain.
A new research study finds children who have received poor childcare are impacted negatively for many years, even after they leave the low quality care environment. This study looked at 1364 children from varied background and found a similar patterns to their behavior as old as fifteen. The study was started with the growing concern for so many children being cared for outside the home. One interesting fact the researcher found was that poor care impacted the children regardless if the care was provided in their home or outside their home. One important note the researchers did find that the influence of parents and family member were “clearly more important than child care”.
Researchers had speculated that the negative effects of lower-quality care would disappear as the influence of other factors, such as peers, teachers and maturation, overcame the early childhood experience. But in the latest analysis of the data, they discovered that teenagers who had received higher-quality child care were less likely to report engaging in problem behaviors such as arguing, being mean to others and getting into fights. Those who spent more hours in child care of any kind were more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behaviors. And those who received moderately high- or high-quality care scored higher on tests gauging cognitive and academic achievement.
As an early childhood professional I found this research to be very important to support more teacher training, degreed teachers in the classroom and funding to help support the cost of providing high quality early childhood learning environments.
Amy Fain is Professional Development Coordinator at Community Action Project.
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Heritage is shocked, SHOCKED, that someone would want parents to have the option to bring trained professionals into the home to help their children develop. Isn’t there a T.V. show with this theme?
Section 440 of the House bill – Home Visitation Programs for Families with Young Children and Families Expecting Children – would provide grants to states to establish home visitation programs to educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills. The “well-trained and competent staff” will:
…provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains…modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices; [and] skills to interact with their child…
Aside from the obviously questionable role of the federal government in such practices, the vaguely-worded program specifics are troublesome. The home visitation provision dictates that the state will “prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families or a high incidence of child maltreatment.” While the home visitation program is described as “voluntary,” it’s not clear whether it would remain voluntary throughout or just up to the time a parent trainer enters the home.
When you write hyperventilating nonsense about whether the government will force their way into your home against your will so that they can observe your child at play, well, you invite nonsense in your comments. Take it away, Jerry Smith from Oklahoma:
What in the world is wrong with the american people letting congress run their lifes (sic). They cannot run their own lifes (sic). People Please pull your head out, open your eyes up and see what (sic) going on, their (sic) trying to detroy our country (sic) within, call your congressman tell them, there will be changes (sic) 2010, they will lose their jobs if they keep spending our money, they won’t (sic) to control our lifes (sic), so wakeup (sic) people, and call your congressman now, before it’s to (sic) late.
Meanwhile, less panicky people have found such programs increase the health of mothers and their children, increases the level of father involvement, improves mothers’ employment, increases children’s school readiness, and even reduces the use of welfare and food stamps. I thought conservatives wanted “welfare queens” to work, fathers to take responsibility for their children, and families to get off the government dole. Oh, and since it provides parents another educational option, shouldn’t the “school choice” people (and I generally consider myself one) like that? (It might, after all, equip parents with the skills needed to homeschool their children or take greater interest in their educational development.) Guess not.
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Congressman George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has proven himself an avid reader of our little blog! You see, in response to my highlighting of this morning’s Quote of the Day, about how the most important reform in post-secondary education is the advancement of early education, the good Chairman has introduced the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act.
SAFRA will lower the costs of higher education and help more Americans complete college by reforming the federal student program so that the federal government provides student loans directly rather than through private financial institutions subsidized by the tax dollars. (See here for more background.) Basically, the federal government’s Direct Loan Program is more efficient than the private student loan market and so tax dollars are wasted on needless subsidies to these companies – many of whom only exist thanks to the subsidy. SAFRA will eliminate these subsidies and capture the savings for other educational uses, primarily an increase in need-based Pell Grants.
So now we see how this is an important post-secondary reform, but how does it advance early education? Early Ed Watch is on the case:
Miller’s legislation would capture a portion of those savings — $10 billion over 10 years — to fund Early Learning Challenge Grants. [...]
A summary of the bill posted online earlier today says that to win these grants, states would need to commit to build comprehensive early childhood systems that include:
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“The most important ‘post-high school’ education and training reform is a strong early childhood and elementary and secondary education system.”
- From the Council of Economic Advisors report “Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow“
By the way, you are owed a substantive post from me and you shall get it. Get excited!
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The organization Pre-K Now has a blog called Inside Pre-K that shares the stories and experiences of actual pre-K teachers. The advocacy organization already does very good policy work and an excellent daily newsclipping email, and the Inside Pre-K is a very creative contribution to the advocacy world. They should be congratulated on recognizing the saturation in the policy-oriented advocacy world and choosing instead to fill an important gap with personal stories and experiences.
I tell you all that because, despite my praise of their experiential niche, I’m linking to them today because of a very good policy post. J.M. Holland, a Head Start teacher in Virginia, rebuts some tired criticisms of pre-K program effectiveness by marshalling up some evidence I hadn’t seen before:
It is strange that [pre-K critic Chester] Finn would say that only a “few tiny, costly programs targeting very poor children have shown some lasting positive effects.”
A RAND corporation study disagrees and suggests that pre-k positively impacts the impact of every child who attends. RAND suggests that in calculating potential benefit of high quality preschool, high risk students may realize 100% of benefits, medium risk students may realize 50% of benefits and low risk students may realize 25% of benefits. A voluntary universal pre-k system would increase the total number of children realizing benefits that would be passed on to our society as well as provide the most benefit to the students that most need it.
It seems that high SES students would not benefit as much from attending a public preschool program but benefits exist. Affluence does not mean a student is not at risk. In fact, high SES students have been shown to be at greater risk than low or middle SES students for depression and drug use in adolescence, both issues that are positively affected by preschool.
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Rand Corporation evaluated the California pre-school system (pdf) to see how it could be made more efficient and effective at closing the gap in children’s school readiness at kindergarten. It suggests that the strategy depends very much on how you frame the goal:
- “If the goal is to raise student achievement in absolute terms for Latinos and African Americans, without reference to test scores of white students, then the largest absolute gain in test scores for Latinos and African Americans is associated with raising preschool participation and preschool quality for all groups of children—a universal approach. The estimated gain ranges from one-fifth to one-third of the size of the existing score gaps, depending on assumptions.
- “The universal approach would also increase test scores for white children. So, if the goal is to narrow the score gap between Latinos and whites or African Americans and whites, the largest relative gain in student achievement is associated with increases in preschool participation and quality for socioeconomically disadvantaged children, a larger proportion of whom are Latino or African American. With this targeted policy approach, the estimates suggest that the racial-ethnic achievement-score
“However, our analysis indicates that there would be almost no narrowing of absolute or relative achievement gaps from just raising preschool participation for all groups without any change in preschool quality. These results suggest that raising preschool quality is essential if preschool is to be an effective policy lever for addressing achievement gaps.”
That’s interesting. I’ve had a few discussions around CAP about that very choice. Are we trying to raise achievement to some objective threshold of “school readiness”, or are we trying to close the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers? I suppose one way to re-state that is (a) do we want all children to be adequately prepared or (b) do we want all children to have an equal shot at academic success? Depending on how you define your objective, two very different strategies suggest themselves, as the Rand paper illustrates – especially at the state or federal policy level.
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Early Ed Watch, covering the fan-favorites of emerging early childhood research, examines new findings on the “fade-out” effect of early education programs. Studies show that many of the positive academic impacts of a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience fade out over the course of elementary school. Aleksandra Holod and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn investigate why.
Take it away EEW:
The study compared disadvantaged children who attended preschool to disadvantaged children who did not and whose parents were their primary daily caregivers in the years before entering kindergarten. As expected, preschool was linked to higher test scores in reading and math. What’s more, the study showed that those benefits persisted most strongly when low-income children went on to attend relatively low-poverty public schools. The impact was not only significant, but quite large, and appeared for both the reading and math scores of the students in poverty.
That is, if you’re a poor child in a good pre-K program, the experience will only stick with you if you go to a school with fewer poor kids.
Evidence is mounting that high quality early education may be an essential developmental tool for at-risk children, but it’s not enough. The findings add to earlier research demonstrating greater fade-out effects in schools with poor classroom quality and low test scores. If early education sows the seed for cognitive development, a good elementary school seems to be the water that makes it grow.
But what do we do if we can’t control the schools our children enter?
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(Note: I kind of buried the lede here. Make sure you see the second-to-last paragraph.)
The Tulsa World spent the last two days investigating the ratings and inspection process DHS uses for child care and early education providers. DHS has documented 400 violations in routine inspections of 3-star providers in Tulsa County since January 2007. Although DHS does not document cases of providers losing stars as a result of violations, the article implies that DHS is not taking adequate action in response to its own findings. For instance it profiles one center that received 62 violations over the course of two years, lost its national accreditation, but retains its three star rating.
The star system is based on whether a provider has achieved national accreditation. That means a new very high quality center will be classified a “one star” because it isn’t accredited yet, while an older facility whose quality may have dropped since accreditation will remain a “three star”. Not surprisingly, the media often uses these labels as a stand-in for quality, which can be misleading for the reasons just mentioned. The stars are meant to help parents choose quality child care, but they also determine reimbursement rates provided by DHS for subsidized chld care. (A three star facility will receive more money per child than a one star.)
Chid care operators complain that inspections are uneven, with some documenting violations for the slightest inconsistencies (e.g. litter blown into a playground on a windy day), and that DHS does not record actions taken to correct problems immediately. One center’s attorney went so far as to accuse DHS of having a “culture of presuming accusations of a complaint true until the respondent disproves them.”
Those 400 violations across 37 Tulsa County three-star centers sounds pretty alarming – an average of 10.8 violations per center! The article goes on to profile two centers with a combined 234 violations, which makes it seem like that’s typical of three star centers and that there’s a crisis in DHS’s licensing processes. But removing those two yields an average of 4.7 violations across the 35 other centers, which seems pretty reasonable over a two year period that inclues six surprise DHS inspections, particularly given the agency’s alleged propensity to document very minor noncompliance issues. (This is a good example of why it’s very important to report the median number and not the mean average or even just overall figures.)
In a follow-up article published this morning, the paper profiles CAP’s own Good Shepherd, which has gone without violations or complaint since January 2007. (So, too, have Happy Hearts Academy and Bethany Community School.) CAP’s eight accredited centers have received a combined total of less than 20 violations from DHS (mean = 2.5). Of course I have no complaint that our very high-quality centers and excellent staff are featured favorably by the paper, but – contrary to the spirit of the Tulsa World’s investigation – evidence demonstrates that many (and probably most) three-star centers are providing quality care with relatively few violations themselves.
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Early Childhood Watch, an indispensable font of early education research, policy, and commentary, just got back from the conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, and they want to know what you want to know.
Read their blog entry for a list of 10 areas of emerging research and vote on the two that you want to see them discuss. They explore the research and interview the authors for your benefit before the research even gets published. To vote, just post a comment with your articles of choice. (Note to self: pretty nifty way to generate some comments.)
If for some reason you want to help mine win, vote for:
- “Do Elementary School Characteristics Influence the ‘Fade Out’ of Preschool Cognitive Gains?” by Aleksandra Holod and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
- “Early Academic Outcomes for Children in Family Day Care, Center-Based Care and Public Pre-K Programs,” by Jessica J. De Feyter, Henry Tran, Adam Winsler, Louis Manfra, Laura Bolzani Dinehart, Charles Bleiker, and Sabrina Sembiante
Tulsa Initiative is really interested in how we can help sustain the gains made in CAP’s very high quality early childhood programs. We’re focusing on the physical, social, and economic health of our families because we believe these may endow our children with protective factors that help them succeed throughout K-12. But we also want to understand what it is about the educational system that promotes continued success. I hope these two areas of research will contribute to that understanding.
Besides, maybe this is a competition I can actually win, unlike my NCAA tournament pool – where I’ve been stuck in 22nd place since the 2nd round.
Anyway, go help them out and vote your favorites.
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