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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

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Let’s start with the evidence. What do we know about the relationship between increasing education requirements and the racial demographics of early childhood teachers? Systematic research on this question is limited, but there are some interesting patterns. Data from center-based child care, a state pre-k program, and Head Start suggest a correlation between teachers’ increased education levels and some decrease in the proportion of African-American teachers, but an increase in Hispanic teachers. One study of individual Head Start programs found that increasing staff’s education levels to a bachelor’s degree was associated with a slight increase in White staff and modest decreases for both African-American and Hispanic staff.

Catch up on equity, family engagement/family voice, QRIS, health and early learning news with this week's research and articles!

Catch up on your health/mental health, equity and early learning news with some weekend reading.

Farm to early care and education (ECE) is a diverse set of activities and strategies that include the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and educational activities implemented to promote health and wellness and enhance the quality of the educational experience. Farm to ECE particularly addresses the need to influence eating behaviors and patterns and learning outcomes in the early years of life. Farm to ECE connects families, providers, and young children in all types of early care and education environments – Head Start, child care including family child care and out-of-school time, pre-K, and programs in K-12 settings -- to healthy local foods and to meaningful educational opportunities focused on nutrition, food, and agriculture.

Our weekly education news digest is ready for you! Find out what staff at BUILD are reading this week.

The need for high-quality early childhood education has never been greater. Decades of research have demonstrated the short- and long-term benefits for children and society of attending a high-quality program. Unfortunately, these programs are out of reach for many families. Tuition rates rival or exceed the cost of college, and high-quality child care spaces are so limited that many families find themselves in “child care deserts.”

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) at the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is very encouraged by the level of engagement in Colorado Shines - the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) - since its implementation in 2015, and is confident that participation will continue to grow.

Our weekly education news digest is ready for you! Find out what staff at BUILD are reading this week.

Trump’s federal spending proposal, released on Tuesday, balances the budget on the backs of children, poor people, and working families. Just a handful of the cuts the New York Times referred to as “unprecedented” include: 29% to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 19% to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), 17% to Medicaid, and 13.1% to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, said that the proposed cuts are, “…both devastating and…completely in opposition to our national interests — investing in children and families and workers.” In fact, the cuts are misguided and cruel – but not surprising.

We need to address what research has uncovered: a person’s zip code has greater bearing on health outcomes and life expectancy than do genes. This is about the impact of access - or the lack thereof - to opportunity. It is also about racism. Research studies have repeatedly documented that psychological stress as a result of racial discrimination contributes to racial health disparities, on top of the the ways in which racial discrimination impacts access to high quality programs and services.

Our weekly education news digest is ready for you! Find out what staff at BUILD are reading this week.

Suspension and expulsion of children from early learning settings has been a subject of intense focus recently. It is indeed a topic worthy of discussion – and in need of sensible solutions. As Walter Gilliam’s seminal research on the topic notes, the rate of preschool children being expelled nationally is triple that of children in K-12. In addition, stark racial and gender disparities persist in expulsion rates.

Our weekly education news digest is ready for you! Find out what staff at BUILD are reading this week.

A partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the BUILD Initiative worked to strengthen collaboration among leaders in museums, libraries, and early childhood systems to increase opportunities for young children and families often identified as high need, particularly those without access to museums and libraries and lacking sufficient early learning and development opportunities.

By Anne Mitchell

President of Early Childhood Research and Co-Founder of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance

The BUILD Initiative paper, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Stakeholder Theories of Change and Models of Practice, by Diane Schilder and Iheoma Iruka with Harriet Dichter and Debi Mathias captures the changing context and the factors influencing QRIS. The recommendations it offers are beyond reproach, with each one providing a concept worthy of its own focus.

By Harriet Dichter
In this blog post, Dichter writes about the latest addition to BUILD’s e-book on the Early Learning Challenge, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. The prologue, entitled Coming of Age: A Review of Federal Early Childhood Policy 2000-2015, is written by Joan Lombardi, an energizing and intrepid force in our country’s early childhood movement, with co-authors and newly-minted policy researchers Jessica F. Harding, Maia C. Connors and Allison H. Friedman-Krauss.

By Susan G. Hibbard
Executive Director, BUILD Initiative

BUILD turned to Dr. Linda Espinosa and Miriam Calderon to find out the extent to which states’ ELDS reflect the current research and address the learning needs of young dual language learners. They examined 23 states’ ELDS for pre-k-aged children to determine the most common approaches for representing dual language learners across a broad set of criteria. Their report, “State Early Learning and Development Standards/Guidelines, Policies & Related Practices: How responsive are they to the needs of young dual language learners?" includes an individual state profile that summarizes how each state is addressing the needs of young dual language leaners, and concludes with recommendations for how states can be more responsive to the needs of dual language learners in their ELDS and other components of their early childhood system.

By Ruth Trombka
Editor and Writer, BUILD Initiative

In December, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute published “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream,” a plan to ameliorate one of our country’s most deeply-rooted problems. The plan is distinctive in that it addresses poverty by simultaneously focusing on issues related to family, work, and education. In this blog post Editor and Writer Ruth Trombka examines what this means for early childhood advocates.

By Dana Friedman
Implementing state pre-k policy is extremely challenging for several reasons.  In many communities where the demographics are changing, underlying racism and xenophobia can turn away non-native English speaking parents seeking to register their children for pre-k because they have not brought with them documentation proving residency. I witnessed this firsthand at a Long Island school in one of the eleven underserved districts where The Early Years Institute works to improve school readiness.  

Joan Lombardi
Director of Early Opportunities LLC

Lombardi explores chapter 8 of Rising to the Challenge. In this chapter, Debi Mathias chronicles the history, trends and innovations that have come to characterize this unique way of thinking about quality. In many ways, QRIS was the heart of the Early Learning Challenge as it was one way to assess a primary goal of a program: to increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged young children enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.  This made the validity of the standards particularly important.