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Meeting the Needs of Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents through Home Visiting

June 29, 2022

Pregnant and parenting adolescents* face the dual challenge of raising a child while navigating their own path to adulthood. Many encounter barriers related to child care, housing, and health care that can limit their job and educational opportunities. Some experience judgment and bias at home and in the community. Despite these setbacks, some adolescents view parenthood as a positive life event that bolsters their sense of responsibility and stability.** Many home visiting models support first-time parents or parents with complex needs. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program identifies women under 21 as a priority service group. More can be done, however, to offer age-appropriate, engaging, and respectful home visiting services for adolescents.This Innovation Roundup Brief highlights home visiting models, affiliates, and initiatives serving young parents' needs:Teen Parent Connection: A Healthy Families America AffiliateFamily SpiritNurse-Family PartnershipShow Me Strong Families (SMSF): A Parents as Teachers InitiativeIt concludes with key service delivery features for consideration by other programs.

Educating English Learners During the Pandemic: Insights from Experts, Advocates, and Practitioners

April 13, 2022

There is a growing body of evidence about the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on English learners (ELs). We sought to capture the complexity of learning conditions for this student population during the COVID-19 pandemic by interviewing 20 EL education leaders. These experts' experiences revealed that while remote learning posed significant challenges to EL education and services, educators improvised, collaborated, and continued to innovate throughout the pandemic. To help EL students moving forward, education leaders on all levels must acknowledge both the struggle and perseverance that shaped their educational experiences during the pandemic.

Big Gifts for Little Learners: Making the Case for Philanthropic Investment From Pregnancy Through Preschool

March 21, 2022

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the wealthiest counties and most generous donors in the country. But how do those individuals choose where to spend their philanthropic dollars?In our 2021 survey of Bay Area donors, which included both affluent individuals and foundations, 40% of respondents said that when considering causes or groups to give to, demonstrated impact would lead them to choose one cause or group over others.In some ways it is surprising, then, that only 15% of donors said they give to early care and learning -- an area with robust research demonstrating positive impact on the children supported (including permanent increases in children's IQ and better health outcomes) as well as on their families and the broader community (e.g., gains in maternal workforce participation).

Redistricting: A Mid-Cycle Assessment

January 19, 2022

As mandated by the Constitution, every 10 years congressional seats must be reapportioned and each state must redraw its congressional map. With the 2021–22 redistricting cycle now well underway, slightly more than half the states have completed the process. Already, this cycle appears to be one of the most abuse laden in U.S. history. There are a few notable bright spots, but in many states, racial discrimination and extreme gerrymandering are once again prolific.Predictably, many of this round's biased maps achieve their skew at the expense of communities of color. Over the past decade, communities of color accounted for nearly all of the country's population growth. But in redrawing boundaries, Republican map drawers, especially in the South, haven't just declined to create any new electoral opportunities for these fast-growing communities; in many instances they have dismantled existing districts where communities of color won power or were on the verge of doing so. This brazen attack is unprecedented in scale. In state after state, Republicans are claiming that they are drawing maps on a "race-blind" basis and then defending the resulting racially discriminatory maps on the basis of partisanship, cynically exploiting the loophole left when the Supreme Court declared that federal courts were off-limits to constitutional challenges to partisan gerrymandering. If courts are not willing to carefully probe the intersection of race and politics, the ruse may just succeed.Democrats have tried to counteract Republican gerrymandering with aggressive line drawing of their own, but the playing field is not level. Republicans control the drawing of 187 congressional districts in this redistricting cycle; Democrats just 75. If, in the end, the cycle does not end up a wholesale disaster for Democrats, this will largely be attributable to three factors: the unwinding of gerrymanders in states like Michigan with reformed processes, court-drawn maps in states where the redistricting process has deadlocked, and litigation in states where state courts, unlike their federal counterparts, will hear partisan gerrymandering claims.However, the story of the 2021–22 redistricting cycle isn't yet written in stone. As bad as many of the maps drawn thus far are, Congress could upend gerrymandering and racial discrimination by passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. If Congress acts quickly enough, it may even be possible to make changes to maps in time for the 2022 midterms. The bill would transform a broken map-drawing process by giving voters powerful new tools to fight both racial and partisan discrimination, including a statutory ban on extreme gerrymandering that would eliminate the loophole states are using to defend racially discriminatory maps. But time is running out. The 2022 primaries soon will be well underway in much of the country, and in short order courts will likely conclude that it is simply too late to make changes to maps for this election cycle.

The Impact of a Poverty Reduction Intervention on Infant Brain Activity

August 25, 2021

Early childhood poverty is a risk factor for lower school achievement, reduced earnings, and poorer health, and has been associated with differences in brain structure and function. Whether poverty causes differences in neurodevelopment, or is merely associated with factors that cause such differences, remains unclear. Here, we report estimates of the causal impact of a poverty reduction intervention on brain activity in the first year of life. We draw data from a subsample of the Baby's First Years study, which recruited 1,000 diverse low-income mother–infant dyads. Shortly after giving birth, mothers were randomized to receive either a large or nominal monthly unconditional cash gift. Infant brain activity was assessed at approximately 1 y of age in the child's home, using resting electroencephalography (EEG; n = 435). We hypothesized that infants in the high-cash gift group would have greater EEG power in the mid- to high-frequency bands and reduced power in a low-frequency band compared with infants in the low-cash gift group. Indeed, infants in the high-cash gift group showed more power in high-frequency bands. Effect sizes were similar in magnitude to many scalable education interventions, although the significance of estimates varied with the analytic specification. In sum, using a rigorous randomized design, we provide evidence that giving monthly unconditional cash transfers to mothers experiencing poverty in the first year of their children's lives may change infant brain activity. Such changes reflect neuroplasticity and environmental adaptation and display a pattern that has been associated with the development of subsequent cognitive skills.

Early Childhood Workforce Index

February 22, 2021

The existing early care and education (ECE) system does a disservice to the educators — largely women and often women of color — who nurture and facilitate learning for millions of the nation's youngest children every day. Despite their important, complex labor, early educators' working conditions undermine their wellbeing and create devastating financial insecurity well into retirement age. These conditions also jeopardize their ability to work effectively with children. As we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, child care has been hailed as essential, yet policy responses to COVID-19 have mostly ignored educators themselves, leaving most to choose between their livelihood and their health. Unlike public schools, when child care programs close, there's no guarantee that early educators will continue to be paid. Even as many providers try to keep their doors open to ensure their financial security, the combination of higher costs to meet safety protocols and lower revenue from fewer children enrolled is leading to job losses and program closures. Many of these closures and lost jobs are expected to become permanent. Over the course of the first eight months of the pandemic, 166,000 jobs in the child care industry were lost. As of October 2020, the industry was only 83 percent as large as it was in February, before the pandemic began.1

Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

Registered Apprenticeships: A Viable Career Path for the Early Childhood Workforce

August 29, 2019

A young child's healthy development requires stable, caring, interactive, and positive relationships with their parents, family members, and other caregivers. These adults help shape a child's earliest experiences, which affects their chances for success throughout life: The emotional and physical health, social skills, and cognitive and linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years are all important for success in school, the workplace, and in the larger community. In today's economy, an increasing number of children from working families are benefiting from relationships with caregivers outside of the home. These individuals have an undeniable impact on shaping a child's successful development, as demonstrated by decades of neurological and child development outcomes. Additionally, these caregivers allow parents to work and go to school to provide for their families. Yet child care workers remain in the near-bottom percentile (second to last) when all occupations are ranked by annual earnings. The average national median hourly wage for child care workers was $10.72 in 2017, falling from $13.74 in 2016. These wages are below the poverty line in nearly every state. More than 50 percent of child care workers, compared with 21 percent of the overall U.S. workforce, were enrolled in at least one publicsupport or health care program.

Funding the News: Foundations and Nonprofit Media

June 14, 2018

The analysis of more than 6,500 grant makers suggests the money they are pumping into journalism-related ventures is neither advancing the media's democratic function nor filling the gap left by rampant newspaper closures.

Equity Starts Early: Addressing Racial Inequities in Child Care and Early Education Policy

December 1, 2017

Child care and early education policies are shaped by a history of systemic and structural racism. As a result, there are major racial disparities in children's access to quality child care that meets their cultural and linguistic needs and enables their parents to work. Early care and education workers are overwhelmingly in low-quality jobs with inadequate compensation. And workers of color are often relegated to the lowest-paid positions.According to research, high-quality child care and early education is critical to children's development and family economic stability, particularly for low-income children and parents. It is critical that children of all racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds have equitable access to quality early childhood programs. Further, such programs should employ a diverse workforce with equitable access to high-quality jobs that include compensation reflecting the importance and difficulty of their work as well as the field's increasing qualifications.Addressing racial inequities in the early childhood system will require increased investments at the state and federal levels and smart policy decisions about expectations for, and delivery of, child care and early education.

California Gold: An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners

November 1, 2017

Young dual-language learners represent 60 percent of the 0-5 population in California, and most of the state's English learners can be found in the early elementary grades. These demographics have compelled state education advocates to coalesce around the need to develop stronger strategies and messages to ensure that the needs of young dual-language learners are considered in pre-K-3rd grade policy. To help advance advocacy on behalf of young dual-language learners in California, the Heising-Simons Foundation funded the development of this advocacy framework.

Climate Change in the Latino Mind

May 1, 2017

This report focuses on a critical demographic in the United States – Latinos. Currently 17% of the U.S. population (more than 58 million people) and the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the nation, Latinos are a fast-growing demographic projected to reach 24% of the population by 2065, while non-Latino whites will decrease from 62% of the current population to 46% in 2065. A 2017 nationally representative survey of 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos investigates their current climate change knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support, behaviors, motivations, and barriers to political action.