The National Center for Children and Families regularly publishes articles and reports, is cited by the media, and participates in child and family research and policy events with national or international significance. Here we provide a monthly update of our selected accomplishments.
(Note: some publications referenced are available by subscription only.)
In March, Drs. Lynn Kagan and Jeanne Reid, with their colleague, Catherine Scott-Little at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, completed an extensive review of the literature regarding children’s early development and their cultural context. Reviewing over 100 articles, reports, books, and book chapters, the authors describe how theory on the interaction between culture and child development has evolved, identify common patterns in the influence of cultural context on early learning, and examine the multiple manifestations of cultural context within the five developmental domains. They then discuss the implications for early childhood pedagogy and systemic approaches to quality in early childhood education. A copy of the review of the literature can be viewed here: Culture Literature Review Bibliography
In April, Dr. Lynn Kagan attended a meeting at the White House entitled “Early STEM: Bridging Research and Practice.” This meeting was intended to spark a major national dialogue about how STEM can be advanced in all early childhood settings throughout the country as a way of fostering greater opportunities for all children, preparing the country for the future, and promoting educational equity across students.
Center researchers Anne Martin and Margo Gardner published an article in the current issue of Applied Developmental Science testing the claim that “college-for-all” policies — which encourage all high school students to plan for college, regardless of their past achievement — may harm low-achievers, most of whom never attend college or drop out. Using two national data sets, they find that compared to low-achieving high-schoolers who do not plan to earn a BA, those who do go on to have higher earnings and better mental health in early adulthood. Results suggest that expecting to earn a BA is beneficial for all students, even those for whom it may seem unrealistically optimistic.
Anne Martin and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn wrote a chapter in the newly published Wiley Handbook of Developmental Psychology in Practice: Implementation and Impact. The chapter evaluates policies and programs surrounding teenage childbearing in the U.S. in light of our current knowledge base. Martin and Brooks-Gunn also have an article in the current issue of Societies positioning the decline in public and professional attention to teenage childbearing in the context of rising attention to nonmarital childbearing more broadly
A book co-edited by Dr. Lynn Kagan, The SAGE Handbook of Early Childhood Research, was recently published. This handbook includes 31 chapters written by international experts on the methods, theories and applications of research on children in their home, child care, and societal contexts.
Dr. Lynn Kagan was awarded a grant by the National Center for Education and the Economy to understand why American students are not performing competitively on benchmarks of international achievement. This 2-year project will investigate jurisdictional policies, practices, and reforms in six high-performing countries, producing country case studies as well as an integrated cross-country comparison.
The Center just received grant funding to compare UPK programs in three NYC community districts across settings (schools, CBOs) and auspices (DOE, ACS, CCDF, Head Start, private funding). We will examine variation in teacher characteristics, professional development, instructional approach, and program-level structural characteristics. Sharon Lynn Kagan is the Principal Investigator.
Along with Rachel Razza from Syracuse University, Drs. Martin and Brooks-Gunn co-authored an article in the current issue of Child & Youth Care Forum using the Fragile Families Study kindergarten and fifth grade waves. It shows that better approaches to learning in kindergarten is more protective against externalizing problems for children with higher initial levels of competence (fewer problem behaviors), but more advantageous for academic competence for children with lower initial levels of competence.
In October, Dr. Brooks-Gunn delivered the L. Lynn Harris Memorial Lecture at the Department of Pediatrics of the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Brooks-Gunn’s lecture was entitled “Early Childhood Education Programs: Do they reduce SES gaps in achievement?” and was dedicated to Dr. Bettye Caldwell, who was a mentor and inspiration to her and so many in the field.
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn co-authored an article, recently released online at Developmental Psychology, suggesting that the Great Recession is linked to higher rates of behavior problems in boys but not girls. It appears that parents’ uncertainty about the economy rather than local unemployment rates are responsible for this link.
A “two-generation” program serving children and mothers in Oklahoma that is being evaluated by a team of researchers, including Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, has just received a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CAP Tulsa’s CareerAdvance program trains the parents of low-income young children for jobs in the health care industry. See press release here.
Sharon Lynn Kagan was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Child Development to support a planning team to develop a project to promote cultural competence in early childhood classrooms by advancing cultural responsiveness in State Early Learning Standards.
In the current special issue of Infant and Child Development on innovative measures of parent-child relations (vol. 24, no. 3), Center researchers published a report on a new audiotaped measure of mothers’ affect towards their young children. This measure is available in the Fragile Families Child and Wellbeing Study. The article was written by Anne Martin and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn in collaboration with Rachel Razza from Syracuse University.
Research from NCCF is being used by federal policymakers to craft the language of proposed legislation and policies. A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education, a report authored by Jeanne Reid, NCCF Post-doctoral research scientist, and NCCF Co-director Sharon Lynn Kagan, has been used to craft language in the federal bill Strong Start for America’s Children Act 2015 introduced on May 19th, to encourage states to promote socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity in pre-kindergarten classrooms. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed revisions to the federal Head Start program “to better support the ability of programs to serve children from diverse economic backgrounds, given research that suggests children’s early learning is positively influenced by interactions with diverse peers.” A copy of the report can be found at http://www.tcf.org/bookstore/detail/a-better-start.
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Anne Martin presented at the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study 2015 Summer Data Workshop in June at Columbia University. They led sessions on measures of parenting and child cognitive and educational development.
In May, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn presented “Studying Lives Through Time: Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study” at the American Psychological Society Meeting in New York City. She and Dr. Martin also co-authored a presentation given by Rachel Razza about children’s early motor control and early classroom behaviors. Later this month, Dr. Brooks-Gunn will give the Matilda White Riley Lecture in the Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Institutes for Health in Bethesda, MD.
Sharon Lynn Kagan will present at the First Annual International Symposium on Successful Transitions in Early Childhood in Medellin, Colombia on June 25th.
A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education, a report authored by Jeanne Reid, NCCF post-doctoral research scientist, and NCCF Co-director Sharon Lynn Kagan, with Michael Hilton and Halley Potter, was published on April 29th by the Policy and Race Research Action Council and The Century Foundation, and released at a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The report presents the results of a review and analysis of demographic data, current research, and position statements of national early childhood organizations, and calls for concerted attention to the value of classroom diversity in early education. The authors make specific recommendations regarding research, policy, and practice. A copy of the report can be found at http://www.tcf.org/bookstore/detail/a-better-start.
On May 15, 2015 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm, The University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium, of which NCCF is a member, will host a webinar called “The Job You Want—Paths to Academic and Non-Academic Careers” featuring two former NCCF Graduate Fellows, Anna Johnson & Erin Bumgarner:
Anna Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University
* Erin Bumgarner, Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst, Abt Associates
* Terri Sabol, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Human Development and Social Policy School of Education, and Social Policy Faculty Associate, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
* Lindsey Hutchison, Ph.D., Social Science Analyst, Children and Youth Policy | Human Services Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Early Childhood Governance: Choices and Consequences, edited by NCCF co director Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan and NCCF postdoctoral research scientist Dr. Rebecca E. Gomez, was published on March 6th by Teachers College Press. The volume explores the current landscape, emerging trends, and challenges of governance in the field of early childhood education (ECE) in the United States. It features chapters from prominent scholars and practitioners in the field of ECE and is the first to focus specifically on governance and its potential role in policymaking, system development, and field-wide leadership. It is available in hardcover, paperback, and as an e-book from Teachers College Press: http://www.teacherscollegepress.com/new_books.html
Marisa Morin, an NCCF graduate fellow, will be presenting at the International Convention of Psychological Science in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on Friday, March 13. She will be presenting a poster entitled, “The Relationship Between Maternal Religiosity and Parenting Behaviors,” where she examines whether there are associations between mothers’ religiosity at age 3 and their affect towards their child at age 5, whether these associations vary by Christian denomination, and whether traditional views of gender roles moderate the association between religiosity and maternal affect in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.
The current issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly presents the dissertation results from two former Graduate Research Fellows at NCCF. Kate Tarrant’s research investigated Colorado’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Dr. Tarrant asked early childhood care and education center directors in that state about whether and how QRIS improved their program quality. Participants perceived more improvements in structural than in process quality. Erin Bumgarner studied the types of early child care and education that were most advantageous for bilingual Latino kindergarten entrants. For literacy skills, all centers outperformed non-parental, home-based care; Head Start also outperformed parental care. For math, child care centers (but not Head Start or pre-k) outperformed home-based care and Head Start.
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn has joined the Editorial Board for a new journal called Sleep Health, which is being launched by the National Sleep Foundation. The Editor of Sleep Health is Lauren Hale, who has collaborated with NCCF in the past on studies of children’s sleep behaviors.
On Friday, February 6th, Sharon Lynn Kagan and Rebecca Gomez will present at “Seize the Moment: Rise to the Challenge of Pre-K,” an all-day conference at Teachers College focusing on the opportunities and practical challenges New York City faces as it completes its first year of offering 50,000 four-year-olds free, full-day pre-kindergarten. The conference will include sessions on early learning, play, school financing, program quality and parent support. Registration is available here.
Sharon Lynn Kagan attended the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education on December 10th.
An article by Center researchers appears in this month’s issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. This study, which sampled children in Chicago aged 3-15 years old, finds that the behavioral consequences of parent-child physical aggression (PCPA) vary by child age. Past research shows that between early childhood and adolescence, externalizing problems, such as aggression and defiance, decline over time, whereas internalizing problems, such as anxiety and depression, increase. This study finds that the behavior problems following PCPA correspond to age-normative trends. That is, PCPA is decreasingly likely to result in externalizing problems, and increasingly likely to result in internalizing problems, the older the child is. The authors are Elizabeth Riina, a former NCCF Post-Doctoral Fellow now at Queens College; Anne Martin; and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn.
Anne Martin, NCCF Senior Research Scientist, co-authored an article in the current issue (vol.85, no. 5) of Child Development that finds a link between the use of a child care subsidy at age 2 and the later use of Head Start and public pre-k, which are known to be the two highest quality publicly-funded care sources for low-income families. The article was written with two former NCCF graduate research fellows, Anna D. Johnson and Rebecca M. Ryan. This study identifies a previously overlooked consequence of early subsidy use, which has been found to have mixed associations with child care quality and child outcomes in the preschool years. It is important to understand the implications of the federal child care subsidy program because despite its primary function facilitating maternal employment in low-income families, it supports child care for approximately 1.5 million children.
An article co-authored by Pamela Klebanov and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn entitled “Poverty, Ethnicity, and Risk of Obesity among Low Birth Weight Infants” has been downloaded over 670 times since it was published in the May-June issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
Sharon Lynn Kagan, NCCF Co-Director, recently attended an event called “Breakfast of Champions for Early Childhood Development” convened by UNICEF and co-sponsored by the governments of Chile and Rwanda. The objective of this event was to engage world leaders who are committed to ensuring that children not only survive their early years but also thrive during this period.
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, NCCF Co-Director, gave a talk at Harvard University’s Kennedy School entitled, “Early Childhood Educational Programs: Do They Reduce SES Gaps in Achievement?” This talk focused in part on the difficulty of scaling-up – that is, expanding from selected demonstration sites to national programs – in light of a recent policy brief issued by the Society for Research on Child Development called “Investing in our Future: The Evidence Base for Early Childhood Education.”
Dr. Lawrence Steinberg gave a talk to a full house at Teachers College on September 9th about his new book, Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence. He discussed the plasticity of the brain during adolescence, consequences of the declining age at puberty, and opportunities for adolescent growth. Two of Dr. Brooks-Gunn’s classes attended the talks and wrote reaction papers about it.
Archived Press Items
Dr. Pam Klebanov, Senior Research Scientist at NCCF, was recently awarded a seed grant from the Columbia University Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. The study, “Does an Early Education Program for Low Birth Weight Infants Have an Impact Upon Body Mass Index Later in Life?” uses data from the Infant Health and Development Program.
Dr. Brooks-Gunn was awarded funding from the Teachers College Provost’s Investment Fund to pilot-test biophysiological measures of kindergarteners’ attention, stress, and impulse control in conjunction with Dr. Karen Froud, director of the Neurocognition of Language lab and Associate Professor for the programs in Speech-Language Pathology and Neuroscience & Education.
An article by Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and colleagues was featured on the PBS Newshour website. The article demonstrates that the drop in consumer confidence associated with the Great Recession was associated with an increase in the chances that mothers hit their children regularly. The article appears in Child Abuse & Neglect.
A recent article by NCCF researchers Anne Martin and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn — along with Rebecca Ryan from Georgetown University — was profiled in Best Evidence in Brief, a publication by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. The article, appearing in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, suggests that interest and persistence during the toddler years are equally predictive of school readiness at age 5. They are also both influenced by maternal supportiveness between ages 1 and 3. Results suggest that interventions to advance school readiness consider promoting young children’s interest in learning.
An article co-authored by Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was covered by NPR, among other media outlets. Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, researchers found that mothers with the sensitive allele of the DRD2 gene were more likely to parent harshly when there was an economic downturn. When the economy recovered, they were less likely to parent harshly. The study supports the notion that individuals with sensitive genes respond to positive, as well as negative, environmental influences.
NCCF Co-Director Sharon Lynn Kagan Publishes New Book: “Early Childhood Systems: Transforming Early Learning.” In this seminal volume, leading authorities strategize about how to create early childhood systems that transcend politics and economics to serve the needs of all young children. Visit Teachers College Press to learn more and purchase.
NCCF’s Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Erin Bumgarner featured in NYTimes Magazine article: “The Best Nanny Money Can Buy.”
“The single-most important characteristic is the extent to which a nanny is responsive to the child’s mood and interests.” Read the article.
NCCF Co-Director Sharon Lynn Kagan Assists US Department of Education in Announcing Recipients of $500 million in Federal Pre-School Funding. In a conference call with education reporters, Kagan said, “everybody is waking up to the importance of very high-quality programs for all young children.”
Wall Street Journal story: http://on.wsj.com/uqEW0
Washington Post story: http://wapo.st/tjJgZj
CNN.com story: http://bit.ly/sMsHHU
KUOW Radio (NPR, Washington State): http://bit.ly/tHglJ7
TC Today Features NCCF Co-Director Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, “The Eclectic Developmentalist.” Through a wide range of studies, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn has led the way in showing how environments influence the well-being of young people. Click here to read the article.