Tag Archives: child care

Week of the Young Child Family Fun in the Park Fest to be held April 19th

This week is the Week of the Young Child, and in Maryland, the MDAEYC — Montgomery County Chapter is hosting a Family Fun in the Park Fest to celebrate!  The Park Fest will be held at Cabin John Regional Park on Sunday, April 19th, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.  Families with young children are invited to come out and join us for some fun hands-on activities, including sensory play experiences, craft projects, and face painting.  The park is located at 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817.  The Park Fest will be held near the playground. Flyer for Week of the Young Child Park Fest

The Week of the Young Child runs from April 12th- 18th this year, and is an annual celebration to focus attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to recognize early childhood education programs that serve their needs.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the world’s largest early childhood education association, hosts this celebration each year.  Local communities around the nation are hosting events celebrating young children this week.

MDAEYC — Montgomery County Chapter is a membership organization of early childhood education professionals who live or work in Montgomery County, Maryland.  You can follow the Montgomery County Chapter on Twitter or Facebook.  We hope to see you at the Park Fest on Sunday!

Family Fun in the Park Fest Flyer in PDF

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Filed under early childhood education, Maryland, Montgomery County

State Action for Kids: in Nebraska, New Mexico, Virginia, and Maryland

State legislative sessions are underway around the country, and advocates are busy at work seeking policy wins for children.  Here are updates on several state policy advocacy efforts this week:

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Filed under child policy, early childhood education, foster care, Maryland, minimum wage, Nebraska, New Mexico, state policy, Virginia

Study of North Carolina Pre-K and Child Care Explores Community Effects, Finds Improved Reading and Math Scores

Recently published research on the community-level effects of pre-K (More at Four) and child care (Smart Start) in North Carolina finds that both programs led to increases in reading and math scores in third grade.

  • North Carolina third graders had higher reading and math scores in counties that had received more funding for Smart Start and More at Four when the children were younger.
  • The estimated effects of Smart Start and More at Four investments were equal to test score gains of about four months of third grade reading instruction and two months of math instruction.  Notably, these results are for all children in the community, not just children who participated in either early childhood program.
  • While the authors did not do a full benefit-cost analysis, they note that the benefits in math and reading gains outweighed the program costs.  The expected savings from reduced instructional costs for children whose community received Smart Start or More at Four funding was at least equal to the cost of those programs.

Community-level effects – the concept of spillover:  One really interesting aspect of this study was that the researchers assessed the outcomes of children at the county level, including children who participated in the preschool or the child care initiative as well as children who did not.  The authors note that this approach allows them to measure the potential spillover effects of the program; that is, children living in the county but not participating in the program may also be affected indirectly, by other students’ participation in the program.  In theory, spillover could be positive or negative.  Positive spillover effects could occur in the elementary school classroom, for example, with a larger proportion of classmates arriving at elementary school ready to learn, enhancing the learning environment in that classroom.

More study details:  The article by Duke University researchers Helen Ladd, Clara Muschkin, and Kenneth Dodge and published in the Winter 2014 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, examined the effects of two North Carolina early education initiatives:  Smart Start, the comprehensive child care and community services initiative, and More at Four, the state-funded preschool initiative.  The study used county-level program spending data matched with children’s birth records for children born between 1988 and 2000 and their third grade test scores to look at changes in test scores that took place after the introduction of More At Four and Smart Start in those counties.  The differences in when counties invested in these initiatives across the state allowed the researchers to assess the impact of More At Four and Smart Start on children’s math and reading performance.  To address other potential differences over time in counties which could also affect children’s math and reading scores, the researchers included statistical controls for related variables, a common and appropriate technique.

The numbers behind the basic benefit-cost results reported in the study were:  math and reading test score gains of two to four months translate into cost savings of $1,700 and $3,400 per child in the community (based on per-month costs out of a 10-month school year, which was $8,500 per child in North Carolina).  This was compared to program costs for More at Four and Smart Start of $1,100 per child in the community for each program.

Another benefit of measuring community-wide effects is that the authors were able to avoid a common potential problem in research studies that do not randomly assign people:  selection bias.  Selection bias is the potential bias that is created in a study based on how participants are chosen, such as when people self-select into the “treatment” being studied.  In this case, the treatment is preschool or child care, and the children whose parents sent them to public preschool may be different in meaningful ways (such as child health, family income, or parent education level, to name a few) than the children whose parents did not send them to preschool.  The differences observed between kids in preschool and those not in preschool may be due to preexisting differences between those groups of kids, rather than due to the experience of preschool itself.  Since this study examines outcomes for all children in the county, those participating and not participating in the preschool and child care initiatives studied, the researchers avoided this self-selection problem.

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Filed under early childhood education, research for policy, state policy

To Support Reading By Third Grade, Start With Babies

At last week’s virtual #Rally4Babies, policy leaders, government officials, and celebrities all showed support for increased investments in services to help the nation’s infants and toddlers get the right start in life, including Early Head Start, quality child care, and home visiting.  The event, hosted by ZERO TO THREE and a number of other organizations, was held via rally4babies screen shotGoogle+ hangout, and participants around the country could join up on-line to watch.

Among the statistics cited to make the case for the importance of starting early was the dramatic difference in vocabulary between more and less advantaged children by age three.  Economically advantaged children know 1,100 words by age three, but economically disadvantaged children know only 500 words by that age.  This word gap is stark, with economically advantaged toddlers having twice the vocabulary of toddlers in poverty.

This statistic comes from a classic study by Hart and Risley, published in 1995.  If you are unfamiliar with the study, it is worth a look, providing a rich, detailed data set that documents how different trajectories in language development begin and unfold.  (Here are two articles summarizing its key findings:  an excerpt from their book, and Todd Risley’s article).  This study observed 42 families for an hour each month for nearly 2 1/2 years, recording the interactions between children and parents, yielding over 1300 hours of interactions that were then carefully studied and coded.  The study started when babies were 7 to 9 months old and followed them until they turned three.chart vocabulary gap

We know that the goal of having children reading at grade level by the third grade is a hot policy topic, and a policy priority supported by 19 governors, according the the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.  The dramatic vocabulary gap documented by Hart and Risley shows just how critical the earliest years are for laying the foundations of language learning and literacy.  Hart and Risley’s team followed up on children’s language skills in third grade and found that children’s vocabulary at age three was indeed a strong predictor of later vocabulary and reading in third grade.

To reach the goal of on-target third grade reading, start with babies.  As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the Rally4Babies, we need to get out of the catch-up game. It is much harder to help children catch up who have already fallen behind in their vocabulary and pre-reading skills; it is so much more effective to provide a rich and supportive environment for learning from the start.  Those supports include high-quality early learning and home visitation services for at-risk children and families.

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Filed under early childhood education, Early Ed Quality, federal policy, home visiting, Uncategorized