Category Archives: Children

We Can Do Better: Child Care Aware of America’s Ranking of State Child Care Center Regulations and Oversight 2013 Update

Source: Child Care Aware of America, 2013

from the summary:
Nearly 11 million children younger than age 5 spend an average of 35 hours a week in some type of child care setting. State child care licensing requirements govern the health, safety and learning opportunities for these children. State oversight requirements monitor compliance with state policies.

We Can Do Better: 2013 Update is the fourth in a series of reports beginning in 2007 that scores and ranks the states, including the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense (DoD) on 11 program requirements and four oversight benchmarks for child care centers. Child Care Aware® of America’s update found that states have made progress but more progress is needed.

The average score in 2013 was 92 out of a possible 150 points (61 percent of all possible points). Using a standard grading scale, no state earned an A. The Department of Defense earned a B, the remaining top 10 states earned a C. Twenty-one states earned a D and the remaining states 20 failed.
See also:
Executive Summary
Conclusion and Recommendations
Program and Oversight Benchmarks
State Rankings
State Appendix Tables
One Pager
National Press Release

Early Childhood Education as an Essential Component of Economic Development

Source: Arthur MacEwan, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, January 2013

From the abstract:
The economic development impact of K-12 and higher education is widely acknowledged, but the role of early childhood education is often given insufficient attention. At the basis of the role of early childhood education as an essential component of economic development lie two necessities: child care for children whose parents are in the paid labor force, and the increasing importance of well-developed cognitive and social/behavioral skills in the work force. Taken together, these necessities demands that high quality early childhood education is universally available.

Beyond its direct role in economic development, early childhood education is important as a tool to move toward greater social equity. The evidence strongly indicates that children from low-income families benefit substantially, both cognitively and socially/behaviorally, from high quality early childhood education, thus helping to close the achievement and opportunity gap between income groups.

While the goal of universal availability of early childhood education is often recognized, in the United States less than half of three- and four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool programs in the 2008-2010 period. Enrollment in the New England states varies widely, with 62% of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in Connecticut in this period, but only 42% in Maine.

This report argues that it is highly desirable and valuable to society for state governments to support universal early childhood education. In doing so, governments will be putting in place an essential component of economic development, a component that will provide both a long-run foundation for their states’ economic development and an immediate boost to their states’ economic progress. Moreover, they will be providing an important service to families and strengthening equality of opportunity.

Impacts of a Prekindergarten Program on Children’s Mathematics, Language, Literacy, Executive Function, and Emotional Skills

Source: Christina Weiland, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Child Development, Early View, March 27, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Publicly funded prekindergarten programs have achieved small-to-large impacts on children’s cognitive outcomes. The current study examined the impact of a prekindergarten program that implemented a coaching system and consistent literacy, language, and mathematics curricula on these and other nontargeted, essential components of school readiness, such as executive functioning. Participants included 2,018 four and five-year-old children. Findings indicated that the program had moderate-to-large impacts on children’s language, literacy, numeracy and mathematics skills, and small impacts on children’s executive functioning and a measure of emotion recognition. Some impacts were considerably larger for some subgroups. For urban public school districts, results inform important programmatic decisions. For policy makers, results confirm that prekindergarten programs can improve educationally vital outcomes for children in meaningful, important ways.
Study Highlights Significant Benefits of Boston Public Schools Pre-K Program
Source: Clare McCann, New America Foundation, Education Policy Program blog, April 23, 2013

The Hell of American Day Care

Source: Jonathan Cohn, New Republic, April 15, 2013

An investigation into the barely regulated, unsafe business of looking after our children…

…Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do—and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five—spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares like the one run by Jessica Tata. In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian…. A 2007 survey by the National Institute of Child Health Development deemed the majority of operations to be “fair” or “poor”—only 10 percent provided high-quality care. Experts recommend a ratio of one caregiver for every three infants between six and 18 months, but just one-third of children are in settings that meet that standard. Depending on the state, some providers may need only minimal or no training in safety, health, or child development. And because child care is so poorly paid, it doesn’t attract the highly skilled. In 2011, the median annual salary for a child care worker was $19,430, less than a parking lot attendant or a janitor…

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011

Source: Lynda Laughlin, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P70-135, April 2013

From the press release:
Child care costs have nearly doubled in the last quarter century while the percentage of families who pay for child care has declined, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011 released today. The percent of family income spent on child care has stayed constant between 1986 (the first time these data were collected) and 2011, at around 7 percent, for families who paid for child care even though the cost of child care has increased over time….

…Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 (see chart) paid an average of $143 per week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985 (in constant 2011 dollars). The median wage for a full-time child care worker did not increase over the last 20 years. The median wage for a child care worker in 2011 was $19,098, not different from $19,680 in 1990 (in constant 2011 dollars). The percent of families who reported they made a cash payment for child care for at least one of their children declined from 42 percent to 32 percent between 1997 and 2011….

Nurse Staffing and NICU Infection Rates

Source: Jeannette A. Rogowski, Douglas Staiger, Thelma Patrick, Jeffrey Horbar, Michael Kenny, Eileen T. Lake, JAMA Pediatrics, Published online March 18, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
There are substantial shortfalls in nurse staffing in US neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) relative to national guidelines. These are associated with higher rates of nosocomial infections among infants with very low birth weights…. Hospitals understaffed 32% of their NICU infants and 92% of high-acuity infants relative to guidelines. To meet minimum staffing guidelines on average would require an additional 0.11 of a nurse per infant overall and 0.39 of a nurse per high-acuity infant…. Substantial NICU nurse understaffing relative to national guidelines is widespread. Understaffing is associated with an increased risk for VLBW nosocomial infection. Hospital administrators and NICU managers should assess their staffing decisions to devote needed nursing care to critically ill infants….

Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts about Social Security

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Updated November 6, 2012

From the summary:
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. Almost eight decades later, Social Security remains one of the nation’s most successful, effective, and popular programs. It provides a foundation of income on which workers can build to plan for their retirement. It also provides valuable social insurance protection to workers who become disabled and to families whose breadwinner dies.

Fact #1: Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well….
Fact #2: Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living….
Fact #3: Social Security provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American, and its benefits are not means-tested….
Fact #4: Social Security benefits are modest….
Fact #5: Children have an important stake in Social Security….
Fact #6: Almost half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts 14 million elderly Americans out of poverty….
Fact #7: Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income….
Fact #8: Social Security is particularly important for minorities….
Fact #9: Social Security is especially beneficial for women….
Fact #10: Social Security can pay full benefits through 2033 without any changes. Relatively modest changes would place the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond….
Why Minorities Need Social Security More
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Financial Security Project, Squared Away blog, February 7, 2013

Child Welfare: States Use Flexible Federal Funds, But Struggle to Meet Service Needs

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-13-170, January 2013

From the summary:
The four states GAO selected used funds provided under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act for a variety of child welfare services and other activities, and had different strategies for spending these funds. For instance, in fiscal year 2011 Virginia provided funding to all local child welfare agencies to spend on their own priorities, such as parenting classes. New Mexico targeted certain counties for services, such as intensive in-home services for families at risk of foster care.

States nationwide also use other federal funds, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds, as well as Medicaid, for purposes covered under Title IV-B. In the spring of 2011, 31 states reported spending TANF funds, and in fiscal year 2010, 44 states reported spending SSBG funds on these purposes. Some states also claim federal Medicaid reimbursement for activities covered under Title IV-B. One selected state, Minnesota, claimed reimbursement for case management for children at risk of foster care placement in 2011. Funds authorized under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act make up the large majority of federal child welfare funds, but are designated for purposes such as providing room and board payments for children in foster care and subsidies to adoptive parents, and generally cannot be used for child welfare services. However, 14 states have waivers allowing them to use these funds more flexibly to improve child and family outcomes. Among GAO’s selected states, Florida had a waiver allowing it to use some Title IV-E funds for in-home services designed to prevent foster care placement.

Many services, including substance abuse treatment and assistance with material needs, such as housing, are difficult for child welfare agencies to secure due to a variety of challenges. A 2008-2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) survey that sampled children and families in the child welfare system found that many did not receive needed services. For example, an estimated 58 percent of children age 10 and under at risk of emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems had not received related services in the past year. Local child welfare officials in four selected states reported service gaps in multiple areas. Service gaps may harm child wellbeing and make it more difficult to preserve or reunite families. For example, officials from one locality noted 2- to 3-month wait times for substance abuse services. Due to the chronic nature of the disease, delays in receiving services may make it more difficult to reunify families within mandated deadlines. Officials cited factors contributing to service gaps that included provider shortages and lack of transportation. Additionally, officials noted difficulty securing services from partner agencies, such as housing authorities. State fiscal constraints, which affect both child welfare and partner agencies, contribute to such difficulties.

Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway, Current Through August 2012

From the abstract:
This publication provides web addresses for State statutes that are accessible online and lists the parts of the code for each State and territory that contains the laws addressing child protection, adoption, child welfare, legal guardianship, and services for youth. It also provides web addresses for States’ regulation and policy sites, State court rules, Tribal codes, and judicial resources. Information for each State and territory can be accessed on the State Statutes Search page.