The states and cities expanding early education have wrestled with the question of what qualifies as “universal.”
From the summary:
In Europe, rich and poor kids alike are enrolling in early care and preschool programs in large numbers. These accomplishments offer us insights for our collective efforts to strengthen early education in the U.S….
From the summary:
According to GAO’s analysis of nationwide data for an average month in 2011-2012 approximately 8.6 million children under age 13 were estimated to be eligible for subsidies under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program based on policies in their states, and about 1.5 million received them. When compared with all eligible children, those receiving subsidies tended to be younger (under age 5) and poorer (in families below federal poverty guidelines). (See figure.) Some state-by-state variations existed in these and in other characteristics GAO analyzed, such as race, when comparing children eligible for and receiving subsidies.
From the abstract:
This special report summarizes the top policy components 12 of the nation’s top content experts convened by Education Commission of the States prioritized for a high-quality K-3 system.
From the summary:
Access to quality, affordable child care is critical for American working families, and it is a major focus of efforts to bring about more family-friendly workplaces. In this brief, we analyze families’ child care expenses and identify, among families with young children (under age 6) who pay for child care, the share that are “cost burdened,” defined here as spending more than 10 percent of their gross income on child care. Using data from the 2012–2016 Current Population Survey, we present our findings by number of children; age of youngest child; parental characteristics; family income measures; and U.S. region, metropolitan status, and state. Unless otherwise noted, families include only those with children under age 6 who had any child care costs in the previous year…..
• About one in four (26.8 percent, or 1.4 million) families with young children who have child care costs are “burdened” by the cost, spending more than 10 percent of family income on child care.
• Across families with young children, an average of 8.8 percent of family income is spent on child care.
• More than half (52.3 percent) of poor families with young children are cost burdened by child care, compared to 39.3 percent of low income families (those with incomes between one and two times the poverty threshold) and just 13.4 percent of families at or above five times the poverty threshold ($120,180 for two adults and two children in 2015).
• One in five married couples, and two in five single parents with young children and child care expenses, pay more than 10 percent of their income on these costs.
From the abstract:
In this paper, we examine the dimensions and consequences of decentralized social safety net policies. We consider the adequacy of benefits and inclusiveness of receipt for eleven federal-state programs that constitute the core of safety net provision for working age adults and families: cash assistance, food assistance, health insurance, child support, child care, preschool/early education, unemployment insurance, state income taxes, cash assistance work assistance, disability assistance, and housing assistance. In the first part of the paper we examine the extent of cross-state inequality in social provision. We find substantial variation across states; variation that is consistent with policy design differences in state discretion; and at levels equal to or greater than variation across the European countries that have been recognized as having different welfare regimes. In the second section, we turn to an analysis of change over time (1994 to 2014) examining four dimensions of convergence: degree, location of change, direction of change, and scope. We find both decreases (retrenchment) and increases (expansions) of provision, a handful of cases of convergence (decreasing inequality) and divergence (increasing inequality), and a great deal of synchronous change and persistence in the magnitude of cross-state inequalities.
Three new reports from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families offer a fresh snapshot of early care and education (ECE) program use among Hispanic families across the United States. They suggest that Latino families are more willing to enroll their children in ECE programs than ever before. Such programs can help prepare low-income children for kindergarten and future academic success. The briefs in the series include:
– Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Type of Care by Household Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Child Age
– Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Amount and Timing of Hours by Household Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Child Age
– Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Parents’ Perceptions of Care Arrangements, and Relatives’ Availability to Provide Care
Is preschool worth it? Policymakers, parents, researchers and us, at NPR Ed, have spent a lot of time thinking about this question.
We know that most pre-kindergarten programs do a good job of improving ‘ specific skills like phonics and counting, as well as broader social and emotional behaviors, by the time students enter kindergarten. Just this week, a study looking at more than 20,000 students in a state-funded preschool program in Virginia found that kids made large improvements in their alphabet recognition skills.
So the next big question to follow is, of course, Do these benefits last?
New research out of North Carolina says yes, they do. The study found that early childhood programs in that state resulted in higher test scores, a lower chance of being held back in a grade, and a fewer number of children with special education placements. Those gains lasted up through the fifth grade.
Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School
Source: Kenneth A. Dodge, Yu Bai, Helen F. Ladd, Clara G. Muschkin, Child Development, Early View, November 17, 2016
From the abstract:
North Carolina’s Smart Start and More at Four (MAF) early childhood programs were evaluated through the end of elementary school (age 11) by estimating the impact of state funding allocations to programs in each of 100 counties across 13 consecutive years on outcomes for all children in each county-year group (n = 1,004,571; 49% female; 61% non-Latinx White, 30% African American, 4% Latinx, 5% other). Student-level regression models with county and year fixed effects indicated significant positive impacts of each program on reading and math test scores and reductions in special education and grade retention in each grade. Effect sizes grew or held steady across years. Positive effects held for both high- and low-poverty families, suggesting spillover of effects to nonparticipating peers.
From the summary:
For working parents with young children, the task of finding child care can be daunting. Across the country, parents report frustration when trying to find affordable, high-quality child care. While the cost of child care is certainly a barrier to child care access, less understood are the roles of supply and location. This report examines the location of child care centers across eight states, comprising 20 percent of the U.S. population younger than the age of 5, and uncovers another cause driving the child care crisis: 42 percent of children under 5 years of age live in child care deserts.
The term “child care desert” is not currently part of the American lexicon. However, lack of child care supply is a serious national problem that disproportionately impacts rural areas. The Center for American Progress is introducing a working definition of child care deserts, which borrows its terminology from the frequently studied problem of food deserts—what the government defines as communities in which residents do not live in close proximity to affordable and healthy food retailers.1 For the purposes of this study, a child care desert is defined as a ZIP code with at least 30 children under the age of 5 and either no child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers.
Affordable, high-quality and accessible child care is a challenge for many American families. CSG examines the balancing act familiar to many families in the United States–managing work and child care–and how states are working in conjunction with the federal government to improve the process for all families with young children.
Child care is an interdisciplinary policy issue touching education, health, workforce development and economic development. While studies show that early childhood education is important to cognitive development, programs can be relatively expensive, especially for low-income households. Oftentimes, families must make difficult choices between work and reliable child care. In this brief, we look at the demographics of families with children, the legislative landscape for the provision and regulation of child care, and the kinds of care that are available across the country.
Subsequent briefs will explore:
– Affordability. How much does child care cost in each state, before and after subsidies?
– Availability and Access. How many slots are available per child in each state, and how can families find quality options?
– Quality. How are states managing certification requirements, assessing quality and developing the child care workforce?
– Implications for the Workforce. What are the economic costs of child care for families? We take a look at what the cost of child care could mean for parents in the workforce and the innovative ways states are tackling the issue in their communities.