Source: National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation, December 2007
Despite increasing demands for evidence-based early childhood services, the evaluations of interventions such as Head Start or home-visiting programs frequently contribute more heat than light to the policy-making process. This dilemma is illustrated by the intense debate that often ensues among dueling experts who reach different conclusions from the same data about whether a program is effective or whether its impacts are large enough to warrant a significant investment of public and/or private funds.
Because the interpretation of program evaluation research is so often highly politicized, it is essential that policymakers and civic leaders have the independent knowledge needed to be able to evaluate the quality and relevance of the evidence provided in reports. This guide helps prepare decision-makers to be better consumers of evaluation information. It is organized around five key questions that address both the substance and the practical utility of rigorous evaluation research. The principles we discuss are relevant and applicable to the evaluation of programs for individuals of any age, but in our examples and discussion we focus specifically on early childhood.
Source: Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein, New Labor Forum, Vol. 17, Issue 2, Summer 2008
Once known as “the invisible workforce,” the nation’s 1.4 million home health care aides and 1.8 million home child care providers are changing the face of organized labor. These frontline caregivers meet the personal needs of those requiring assistance, from children, to the elderly, to the disabled. Disproportionately African American, Latina, and immigrant women, these low-waged workers seized national attention in 1999 when 74,000 Los Angeles home health care aides voted to enter the SEIU, pulling off the largest successful union drive since the sit-down strikes of the Great Depression. Six years later, nearly 50,000 Illinois home child care providers followed in their footsteps. In less than a decade, hundreds of thousands of home-based care workers have entered into coalitions with parents, senior citizens, and disability activists. They poured into SEIU, AFSCME, and AFT, but also responded to community organizing efforts of ACORN, local grassroots groups, such as Brooklyn’s Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, and occupational associations, such as Milwaukee’s Providers Taking Action.
Source: Gina Adams, Monica Rohacek, Kathleen Snyder, Urban Institute, May 14, 2008
From the summary:
Subsidies in the form of child care vouchers that help parents pay for child care in the setting of their choice are an important support for low-income families. Providers willing to accept children with vouchers, and to provide high quality services, are a linchpin of the child care voucher system. Yet we know relatively little about the experiences of child care providers with the voucher system, and the policies and practices that most affect them. This comprehensive report looks at the experiences of child care centers and licensed family child care homes with the voucher subsidy system in five counties around the country in 2003-04. Using a blend of quantitative data from a telephone survey of a representative sample of providers and qualitative data from site visits, this report examines the experiences of providers in serving children who receive vouchers and in working with voucher agencies; identifies the key features of the child care voucher program, policies, and implementation that most affect providers; and highlights specific policy strategies that can help the voucher system better meet the needs of providers. The paper is one of several being produced as part of the Urban Institute’s Child Care Providers and the Child Care Voucher System project.
Child Care Vouchers and Unregulated Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care
Child Care Centers, Child Care Vouchers, and Faith-Based Organizations
Source: National Institute for Early Education Research
From press release (Pew Charitable Trusts):
State-funded preschools served over one million children last year, yet public pre-K was unavailable for most 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the annual survey released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The State of Preschool 2007 ranks all 50 states on the percentage of children served and spending per child. It also compares the number of quality benchmarks each state meets for the 2006-2007 school year. The survey found that enrollment, quality and state spending per child increased.
Yet, 12 states offered no state-funded preschool education and others faltered in their commitment to the quality of their early education programs. The report showed that nationally less than half of all 4-year-olds were enrolled in government-supported preschool education programs and one quarter received no preschool. For 3-year-olds the situation was worse, with only 15 percent enrolled in public programs and 50 percent receiving no early education.
Children from wealthy families can attend expensive private preschools while the federal Head Start program and most state-funded preschool education is targeted at lower income families.
Full Report (PDF; 8.4 MB)
State Profiles (PDFs)
Source: Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, WBAI’s Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report, March 7, 2008
From the summary:
Domestic workers to tell their stories – of their pains, their pride and their efforts to organize. Women of color, from around the world work as domestic workers. Most are employed without a living wage, health care, and basic labor protections.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Fertility & Family Statistics Branch, 2008
From the press release:
Relatives regularly provide child care to almost half of the more than 19 million preschoolers, according to tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Fathers and grandparents were the primary relative child care providers.
The series of tables, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005, showed that among the 11.3 million children younger than 5 whose mothers were employed, 30 percent were cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent during their mother’s working hours. A slightly greater percentage spent time in an organized care facility, such as a day care center, nursery or preschool. Meanwhile, 25 percent received care from their fathers, 3 percent from siblings and 8 percent from other relatives when mothers went to work.
The tables provide data on child care arrangements of preschoolers and grade-schoolers by various demographic characteristics of the employed mother. They also profile children who care for themselves on a regular basis and examine the size of weekly child care payments made by selected characteristics of the family.
Weekly Child Care Costs 1985-2005
Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-221, February 12, 2008
In February 2005, GAO issued a report that raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) oversight of about 1,600 local organizations that receive nearly $7 billion in Head Start grants. GAO was asked to report on (1) ACF’s progress in conducting a risk assessment of the Head Start program and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data from its annual Program Information Report (PIR) survey of grantees, (2) efforts to improve on-site monitoring of grantees, and (3) how data are used to improve oversight and help grantees meet program standards. For this report, GAO surveyed a nationally representative sample of Head Start program directors and interviewed ACF officials. GAO also reviewed ACF studies on the validity of PIR data and conducted tests of data from the 2006 PIR database.
Source: Diane DePanfilis, Clara Daining, Kevin D. Frick, Julie Farber, Lisa Levinthal, Children’s Rights, National Foster Parent Association, University of Maryland School of Social Work, October 2007
In October 2007, Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association and the University of Maryland School of Social Work released the first-ever nationwide, state-by-state calculation of the real cost of supporting children in foster care. The report reveals widespread deficiencies in reimbursement rates across the nation–and major disparities among the states–and proposes a new standard rate for each state to use in fulfilling the federal requirement to provide foster parents with payments to cover the basic needs of children in foster care, including food, shelter, clothing and school supplies.
• Summary Report
• Technical Report
• Press Release
• Individual State Fact Sheets
• The survey on how states currently set rates
• Interactive map
Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, Issue Brief, September 2007
The analysis, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed, compares child care assistance policies in 2007 to 2006 and 2001 in four key policy areas: reimbursement rates for providers, income eligibility, waiting lists for assistance and copayment requirements. States have made some progress since 2006 in the areas of income eligibility and waiting lists, the report found, but less progress was made in copayments, and almost no progress was made in reimbursement rates. Most states also continue to be behind where they were in 2001.
Source: Kristin Smith and Reagan Baughman, Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire, Policy Brief no. 7, Summer 2007
One in every two direct care workers and one in every three child care workers live in a low-income family (below 200 percent of the poverty line), and many live in poverty. Hourly wages for the caregiving workforce are low and many lack health insurance. Despite work, these families struggle to make ends meet. Our society depends on the care work of many paid professionals-direct care and child care workers-to help meet the daily needs of our children and the elderly. To stem turnover and provide quality services to young children and the elderly, job conditions among the direct care and child care workforce must improve, and increasing wages is a promising place to start.