Early childhood education continues to be a high priority across the nation. Total public funding at all levels now exceeds $30 billion annually (Council of Economic Advisers, 2016), which amounts to a doubling of investment over the past two decades (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1999), while public-private sector initiatives, such as Pay for Success, have also helped expand access (Temple & Reynolds, 2015).
Providing better quality and more intensive public education for children from poor and at-risk backgrounds can significantly increase their chances at ending the cycle of poverty.
Research conducted on a long-term data set from some of Chicago’s most-challenged neighborhoods has found that four to six years of educational interventions in a child’s life ended up producing enormous benefits by the time the children made it into early adulthood.
Data show that only half of all children in the United States are ready for school when they enter kindergarten, and that learning gains from early childhood programs are often lost as children get older. A new book co-edited by Judy Temple, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative, explores the features of successful early education programs and the ways to sustain their benefits long-term.
Although substantial investments in early childhood intervention have continued, whether gains are sustained past kindergarten for routinely implemented programs is a critical research need. HCRC researchers performed a re-analysis of data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study to investigate the effects of program duration from preschool to 3rd grade on school outcomes and whether the effects differ by gender.
Food is an integral part of survival. What happens when there is not enough food for
children? How does that affect their development, specifically their learning? Dr. Matthew Kim
discusses research on food security and its effect on children and education.
Matthew Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics, University of Saint Thomas
The increasing prevalence of childhood and adult obesity has led to a high priority on the identification of innovative approaches to prevention. Given that the prevalence of adult obesity has doubled over the past 3 decades and currently affects 40% of U. S. adults, comprehensive and multi-level efforts beginning in early childhood are increasing recommended as the one of the most impactful and cost-effective. However, few if any routinely implemented programs have demonstrated they lead to sustained reductions in childhood obesity, let alone into adulthood.
Out-of-school activities have provided many multi-faceted benefits to children and their development. Children from middle-income families have greater participation in out-of-school enrichment activities than do children from lower-income families. Douglas Hartman and Teresa T. Swartz discuss research done by KIDS throughout the metropolitan area on the relation between social inequality and youth activities.
Douglas Hartmann, Ph.D. - Professor, Department of Sociology
Teresa T. Swartz, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Quality in early childhood programs has been a longstanding priority in policy and practice. Identifying the contribution of specific elements of high quality or effective learning experiences (ELE) is critical in scaling effective programs to population levels.
Strengthening early education means doing what works for all children. This is the vision of the Minnesota Early Learning Council and is directly supported in the World’s Best Work Force statute. The unifying goal is that all children will be ready for school at kindergarten entry.
The new year provides an opportunity to accelerate progress in early education. Minnesota has high aspirations. The World's Best Work Force statute states that by 2020 all children will be ready for school.
Although Gov. Mark Dayton has championed early education with the new voluntary pre-K program for 4-year-olds and other investments, Minnesota remains far short of the 2020 goal and continues to lag other states in access to high quality programs.