Federal and state investment in the welfare of young children is not keeping pace with need, according to a November report from the Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, and the National Center for Children in Poverty.
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The report reviews poverty rates and other risk factors including unemployment of parents, low parental education, teen mothers, and residential mobility. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have child poverty rates of 25% or higher, while at least 10% of young residents live in extreme poverty in 29 states and DC. In 48 states and DC at least 11% of young children experience multiple risks.
Although funding for Head Start and Early Head Start did increase between 2006 and 2012, the study found, the growth of poverty among children has “left large numbers of children unserved.” In addition, 57,000 children recently lost access to Head Start due to sequestration cuts. Currently only 42% of preschoolers eligible for Head Start are enrolled, and only 4 percent of eligible preschoolers are in Early Head Start.
A second CLASP report, also released in November, looks at the needs of dual language learners. Early learning experiences have “significant and enduring consequences for later academic achievement and life success,” researchers found, “and these effects are even stronger for low income children” than for middle-class children. But practice around the country does not yet reflect important findings in early childhood education. The report includes recommendations for parent engagement and other areas of early childhood education.