Category Archives: Early Childhood Education

The Fiscal Effects of Investing in High-Quality Preschool Programs

Source: William T. Dickens, Charles Baschnagel, Brookings Institution, CCF Briefs, no. 42, April 16, 2009

From the summary:
Randomized treatment-control experiments suggest large returns to investments in prekindergarten education. Several studies consider the social benefits of such investments, but none have considered the full potential gains to government budgets. We embed estimates of the effects of two model programs in a growth model of the U.S. economy to judge the impact they would have on federal, state and local government budgets. Assuming a 3 percent discount rate we find that both programs would pay back in reduced costs and increased revenues in excess of three-fourths of their costs within a seventy-five year budget window. Both programs would eventually reap a positive return for government budgets if policymakers were sufficiently patient.

The State of Preschool 2008

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Dale J. Epstein, Allison H. Friedman, Judi Stevenson Boyd, Jason T. Hustedt, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2008

The 2007-2008 year was one of impressive progress for state-funded preschool education. Overall, state programs made major progress in expanding enrollment and continued to raise quality standards. For the second year running per-child funding increased, reversing the prior downward trend in expenditures. However, despite the modest upward trend in spending overall, fewer states were confirmed as providing sufficient funding per child to meet our benchmarks for quality standards. In current economic circumstances, this shortfall is especially worrisome.

In the United States today, more than 80 percent of all 4-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program. About half of those (39 percent of all 4-year-olds) are enrolled in some kind of public program (state pre-K, Head Start or special education), with the other half enrolled in a private program. Most of the 4-year-olds in public programs attend state pre-K, which enrolls almost a quarter of the population at age 4. Unfortunately, these numbers vary tremendously by state. In Oklahoma nearly 90 percent of the 4-year-olds receive a free public education. At the
other extreme, as few as 10 percent are enrolled in public programs in some states. Private enrollment does not make up the differences in enrollment between these extremes.

Pre-K enrollment at age 3 is much more limited, primarily because public provision is so much lower. Enrollment in private programs is very similar at ages 3 and 4. Only 14 percent of 3-year-olds attend some type of public program, with barely 4 percent of 3-year-olds attending a state-funded pre-K program. Enrollment also varies dramatically by state, but most states serve less than 1 or 2 percent of their 3-year-olds outside of special education and Head Start.

Nurse Home Visits: A Boost for Low-Income Parents

Source: Maia Szalavitz, Time, Monday, March 02, 2009

There’s no doubt that low-income parents — indeed, most new parents — could use a little guidance. In some countries, like France, that guidance is institutionalized. Nurse home visits for all pregnant and new mothers are routine and free of charge, sponsored by the government. In the U.S. the national Nurse-Family Partnership program (NFP) covers about 16,300 families living in poverty in 25 states, but President Obama has said he plans to expand the benefit, extending it to every first-time poor mother in the country — about 570,000 women each year. The President’s stimulus plan includes more than $3 billion in funding for early-childhood-intervention programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start.

Baby Matters: A Gateway to State Policies and Initiatives

Source: ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, 2009

Welcome to Baby Matters: A Gateway to State Policies and Initiatives! Baby Matters is a searchable database that contains resource information on state policies and initiatives that impact infants, toddlers and their families. The policies and initiatives are searchable by category, state, or keyword. A detailed description of each policy or initiative is provided, as well as links to additional related resources

Meal Counting and Claiming by Food Service Management Companies in the School Meal Programs

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-09-156R, January 30, 2009

The federal government spends about $10 billion each year to provide meals to over 30
million students through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. However,
a 2007 study estimated that of this amount, $860 million (8.6 percent) in school year
2005-2006 was paid improperly because of errors in the number of meals counted and
claimed for reimbursement.1 These programs are administered by the United States
Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) through state
agencies that, in turn, oversee local school food authorities (SFA). SFAs that participate
in the lunch and breakfast programs receive federal cash reimbursements through the
state agency for each meal served, and in the lunch program they also receive USDA
commodity donations based on the number of meals served. In return, SFAs must serve
meals that meet federal nutrition requirements and offer meals free or at a reduced price
to students whose family’s income falls below certain thresholds.

The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs

Source: Jean Baldwin Grossman, Christianne Lind, et al., Wallace Foundation, January 2009

From the summary:
Out-of-school time (OST) programs are increasingly expected to be of high enough quality to produce real benefits for children, but until now there has been little information on what such quality programming costs. This groundbreaking report fills that gap, providing a data-filled examination of the costs of 111 diverse, quality OST programs in six cities. The report finds that costs vary widely depending on a range of factors from program goals to times of operation and the ages of the children served. The report is also distinctive because it looks at the full costs of programming, including non-cash contributions OST operators often depend on such as free-of-charge space for programming.

To bring these findings to life, Wallace and the report’s research team also created an online “OST cost calculator” on Wallace’s website to help users calculate the costs of various options for high-quality OST programs. To visit the site – which includes the cost calculator, examples of program costs and options, quality strategies and other resources – click here.

A Renewed Head Start: New Opportunities for Latino Children

Source: Erika Beltran and Amy Goldwasser, National Council of La Raza, December 9, 2008

On December 12, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-134). This was the first reauthorization of Head Start in nearly ten years. Given the growing diversity and rapidly changing demographics across the country, Latino children and families had a lot at stake in the reauthorization process of the nation’s premier early childhood education program. This white paper highlights the new provisions found in the bill which, if well implemented, could significantly improve services for Latino children. Specifically, this paper:

• Provides an overview of issues related to Latinos’ and LEPs’ access to high-quality Head Start programs and services
• Discusses how these challenges are addressed in the new legislation
• Recommends strategies for effective implementation to best meet the needs of Hispanic children

Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2009

Source: Jennifer V. Doctors, Pre-K Now, September 2008

In spite of worsening economic conditions across the country, the majority of states stood firm in their commitment to investing in pre-kindergarten programs, according to “Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2009,” a state-by-state analysis of pre-k funding released by Pre-K Now with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. This year’s “Votes Count” also unveils a new list of the places families would have the best and worst chances of enrolling their children in a high-quality, state-funded pre-k program; ten states make the notable lists.

A Center Piece of the PreK Puzzle: Providing State Prekindergarten in Child Care Centers

Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, November 2007

This report highlights the opportunities and challenges for child care centers providing state-funded prekindergarten programs, and offers strategies for ensuring that child care centers are able to fully participate in state prekindergarten initiatives and offer high-quality early education programs.

Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program: FY08 Evaluation

Source: Education Week, September 16, 2008

A 2-year-old effort to create universal access to preschool in Massachusetts has done little to get more children in programs, a new report says.

The report released last week by the state board of early education and care says efforts have instead provided more than 100 programs with new classroom materials, computers, or teacher bonuses, but have done little to make those programs more affordable to more children. There is still a waiting list of 4,400 children seeking state financial assistance to attend preschool.