Providing children with high quality early learning and development opportunities in the first years of their lives can have lasting consequences for their health and well-being throughout childhood and into adolescence and adulthood. Research has shown that when children face adversity in their early years, policies and programs that provide children with high quality early education and child care can reduce the odds of negative outcomes later in life. The efforts of HHS in the area of early childhood development strive to increase young children’s access to high quality care, promote positive health and development, boost school readiness, and support overall well-being for young children and their families.
Two major HHS programs aim to provide children with access to high quality early learning and care opportunities. The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) provides subsidies to working families with young children to help with the costs of child care. The CCDF program aims to promote family economic self-sufficiency, as well as provide children with access to safe, high-quality child care. In Fiscal Year 2013 CCDF served over 1.4 million children and families. The Head Start program, which includes Early Head Start and the new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, provides high-quality early education and comprehensive services to low-income children ages 0 to 5 and their families, as well as pregnant women. During the 2013-2014 program year Head Start served over 1 million low-income children and their families.
ASPE works in close collaboration with other HHS offices to conduct research and policy analysis that informs these early childhood programs and policies. Additionally, ASPE conducts analysis on a range of other important and timely early childhood topics, including infant and early childhood mental health, home visiting, prevention of preschool expulsion, children experiencing homelessness, the early care and education workforce, and the early education experiences of dual language learners.
New analysis of data from HUD's Family Options Study shows that twenty months after staying in an emergency shelter with their families, young children scored worse in pre-reading skills and had higher rates of overall behavior problems and early development delays compared to national norms for children their age. However, they displayed only small disadvantages in pre-math skills, and for some types of behavioral challenges their rates were similar to national norms.
Exploring the Relationship Between Paid Family Leave and the Well-being of Low-Income Families: Lessons from California
This research report presents the results of a mixed-methods study that drew on California state administrative data and findings from focus groups with low-income working mothers to 1) explore how lower-income parents interact with California's PFL program and 2) better understand the relationship between PFL and key elements of family well-being, especially for economically disadvantaged families.
Factors associated with reduced expulsion in center-based early learning settings: Preliminary findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)
This brief provides new national estimates of recent early childhood expulsion rates in a range of center-based early learning settings using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), indicating how characteristics of early care and education (ECE) centers relate to the likelihood that children are denied services due to behavior. The analysis describes how access to comprehensive services, support for professional development for ECE teachers and staff, funding source (e.g., Head Start, public pre-K, private, etc.), and program sponsorship (e.g., non-profit, gover
Income and Employment Fluctuations among Low-Income Working Families and Their Implications for Child Care Subsidy Policy
This brief explores income and employment patterns of working families, potentially eligible for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) subsidies, over a 12-month period. Analysis of the 2008 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) waves 8 to 11 (early 2011 to early 2012) followed a group of families who were assumed to be “eligible” for CCDF subsidies because they were working and their household income fell below 85 percent of the state median income. The analysis followed this group across a 12-month period, observing their work and income status at four, eight,
A Policy to Provide Child Care Access for All Working Families: Effects on Mothers’ Employment and Caseload
This brief describes the effects of an alternative policy that would expand child care by providing subsidies for children ages three and younger in working families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The alternative policy would also increase the average annual subsidy per child age three or younger from $5,562 (FY2013) to $10,000, permitting families to purchase higher quality child care. We assumed a participation rate of 45 percent (up from 15 percent in 2012).
This study used a rigorous difference-in-differences approach to examine the effect of child care policy on women's labor force participation. The study examined the effects of state-level spending, copayment rates, and income eligibility thresholds on the probability of employment and labor force participation by potentially eligible women (defined as women below 85% of state median income and with children ages 0 through 12).
Research generally has demonstrated the employment benefits of providing child care. However, much of the existing research on child care policies on parental labor force participation was conducted prior to the early 2000s or in non-U.S. contexts. This brief provides policymakers and researchers with new evidence from a study of the effects of child care subsidy policies in the United States on maternal labor force participation and employment.
Report to the Congress Presenting HHS's Response to the Recommendations of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities
This statutorily mandated report to Congress responds for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the many recommendations contained in the March 2016 final report of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Overall, HHS heartily embraces the Commission's vision for a robust response to families in crisis: one that intervenes early to prevent maltreatment and strengthen families whenever possible, but also protects children aggressively as needed.
Differential Response and the Safety of Children Reported to Child Protective Services: A Tale of Six States
Differential response (DR) is an increasingly common model for how child protective services agencies address reports of child maltreatment. Differential response systems seek to be less adversarial than traditional child protective services by separating incoming referrals into two (or more) tracks. Families with low to moderate risk and safety threats (variously defined) are encouraged to accept and use prevention services, an approach referred to as alternative response (AR).
Children Living Apart from Their Parents: Highlights from the National Survey of Children in Nonparental Care
This paper highlights the characteristics and experiences of the approximately 2.3 million U.S. children who live with neither biological nor adoptive parents, but instead live with relatives or non-relatives in foster care or less formal arrangements outside the foster care system. It presents an overview of descriptive results from the 2013 National Survey of Children in Nonparental Care (NSCNC), the first large-scale, population-based, nationally-representative survey to focus on issues specific to this group of children.
Learning about Infant and Toddler Early Education Services (LITES): Summarizing the Research and Gaps on Compelling Models
“The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funded Mathematica Policy Research and its partners to conduct the Learning About Infant and Toddler Early Education Services (LITES) project. LITES aimed to identify program models to support infant and toddler early learning in out-of-home early care and education settings to inform future research, policy, and program directions at the federal, state, and local levels.
This brief provides descriptive information on child care eligibility and receipt. Of the 14.2 million children eligible for child care subsidies under federal rules, 15 percent received subsidies. Of the 8.9 million children eligible for child care subsidies under state rules, 25 percent received subsidies. Poorer children were more likely to receive subsidies than less poor children. Younger children (ages 1-5) were more likely to receive subsidies than older children. Data sources are TRIM microsimulation output and 801 child care administrative data.
Innovation in monitoring in early care and education: Options for states - An ASPE White Paper, in partnership with ACF
Innovation in Monitoring in Early Care and Education (ECE) SettingsOptions for States An ASPE White Paper in Partnership with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
This brief provides descriptive information on child care eligibility and receipt. The brief reports that of the 14.3 million children eligible for child care subsidies under federal rules, only 17% receive subsidies. The population of eligible children is divided into age and poverty categories. The percent of children eligible who receive subsidies is provided for different ages and poverty categories. Characteristics of children who are eligible for subsidies are compared against the subgroup of children who receive subsidies. Data on children eligible under federal and state rules are each provided separately. Data sources are TRIM microsimulation output and 801 child care administrative data.
This report provides an examination of the length of time that low-income families receive government-funded child care subsidies that pay for part or all of the cost of their care arrangements. The figures presented are based on ASPE's analysis of a restricted-use version of child care subsidy administrative data from 35 states. In general, the data presented in this report show that families utilize child care subsidy programs for relatively short time periods i n most states, usually less than a year, but frequently return to the subsidy programs after they exit. They are more likely to enter, leave, or return to the subsidy programs d u ri ng particular times of the year and these usage patterns often coincide with the school year calendar.
This research brief highlights the gains the foster care system has made in safely discharging youth from foster care in a timely manner, particularly those entering foster care for the first time. For nearly two decades federal policies have emphasized the importance of reducing the lengths of stay in foster care and avoiding what is known as " foster care drift'" both by mandating timelines for permanency decisions as well as promoting family-centered practice and expanding federally funded permanency options Practice innovations at the state and local levels - such as differential response programs, improved risk assessments, and family team meetings- have similarly sought to ensure that chi ldren enter foster care only when necessary and that, once in care, effo r1s are made to resolve the issues in the fami ly promptly so that chi ldren may return home or to other permanent placements quickly and safely. The data presented in this brief indicate that progress is being made in most states but work remains to be done. Compared with a decade ago, fewer children are entering foster care, and those that do transition to pennanence more quickly and are less likely to return. These trends may suggest a positive shift to make use of foster care as a safe, temporary haven for children and youth who must be removed from their homes due to compromised safety.
This brief is one in a series exploring issues related to the implementation of evidence-based interventions. It describes several constructs that can be used to describe, monitor, and facilitate implementation. It also describes how to apply these constructs in several ways, including data collection to monitor progress and developing an implementation monitoring plan. The brief explores how much time each phase of implementation is expected to take, and concludes with implications for policy and for supporting practice. This brief is one of three developed as part of the Investing in What Works project, which builds the knowledge and supports that evidence-based programs can use to improve the quality and outcomes of interventions funded through federal investments.
Trends in the Use of Early Care and Education, 1995-2011: Descriptive Analysis of Child Care Arrangements from National Survey Data
The authors would like to acknowledge our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, Ajay Chaudry, for his leadership and vision in the development of this report. The authors would also like to acknowledge Barbara Broman, Ann McCormick, Martha Moorehouse, and Pam Winston for their direction and reviews.
This paper presents a comparative framework of rapid evaluation methods for projects of three levels of complexity: quality improvement methods for simple process improvement projects; rapid cycle evaluations for complicated organizational change programs, and systems-based rapid feedback methods for large-scale systems change or population change initiatives. The paper provides an example of each type of rapid evaluation and ends with a discussion of rapid evaluation principles appropriate for any level of complexity. The comparative framework is designed as a heuristic tool rather than a prescriptive how-to manual for assigning rapid evaluation methods to different projects.
By: Laura Radel and Matthew Bramlett Abstract
By: Pamela Winston Abstract
This research brief examines child poverty in 2010 using both the official poverty measure that the Census Bureau has been using since the 1960’s and the more recent Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). It examines three groups of children – the “core” poor who live in families who are poor regardless of which measure is used, the “lifted out” children who are classified as poor under the official measure but are no longer poor under the supplemental poverty measure, and children who are not poor under the official measure but who are “thrown in” to poverty under the new SPM measure. The brief identifies the core characteristics of each group of poor children and demonstrates what each measure independently contributes to our understanding of child poverty.
Emerging Child Welfare Practice Regarding Immigrant Children in Foster Care: Collaborations with Foreign Consulates
As the number of immigrant children and children of immigrants in the U.S. has grown, child welfare agencies are serving an increasingly diverse spectrum of families, including many with at least one parent or some children who were born outside the U.S. To improve their work with these families, a number of child welfare agencies have in recent years developed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with foreign consulates promoting cooperation in cases involving children who are nationals of another country. This ASPE Issue Brief describes these agreements which currently operate in a handful of jurisdictions and represent an emerging child welfare practice. The issue brief analyzes the content of MOUs or similar documents from 6 states and 5 counties. In addition, interviews with officials responsible for implementing the agreements or policies in three states (IL, NM and WA) provide information about the history and utility of these agreements. Staff in States using these agreements consistently reported that cases involving immigrant families proceed more smoothly when consulates are involved from the early stages of the case. Involving the consulate from the outset can ensure the parents and children are properly represented and can prevent delays in notifying family members of children’s placement in foster care and helps avoid complications related to permanency decisions.
In the Running for Successful Outcomes: Exploring the evidence for Thresholds of School Readiness Technical Report
ASPE Report By: Tamara G. Halle, Elizabeth C. Hair, Margaret Buchinal, Rachel Anderson, and Martha Zaslow Prepared for: Laura Radel Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Abstract