News

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.)

January 2015

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.

December 2014

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.

November 2014

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.

October 2014

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.

September 2014

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

2013

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.

2012

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.