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Cradle to Kindergarten

A New Plan to Combat Inequality

Ajay Chaudry, Taryn Morrissey, Christina Weiland, Hirokazu Yoshikawa

Publication Year: 2017

Early care and education for many children in the United States is in crisis. The period between birth and kindergarten is a critical time for child development, and socioeconomic disparities that begin early in children’s lives contribute to starkly different long-term outcomes for adults. Yet, compared to other advanced economies, high-quality child care and preschool in the United States are scarce and prohibitively expensive for many middle-class and most disadvantaged families. To what extent can early-life interventions provide these children with the opportunities that their affluent peers enjoy and contribute to reduced social inequality in the long term? Cradle to Kindergarten offers a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that diagnoses the obstacles to accessible early education and charts a path to opportunity for all children.
 
The U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations. Most working families must seek private childcare, which means that children from low-income households, who would benefit most from high-quality early education, are the least likely to attend them. Existing policies, such as pre-kindergarten in some states are only partial solutions. To address these deficiencies, the authors propose to overhaul the early care system, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child. They also advocate increased public benefits, including an expansion of the child care tax credit, and a new child care assurance program that subsidizes the cost of early care for low- and moderate-income families. They also propose that universal, high-quality early education in the states should start by age three, and a reform of the Head Start program that would include more intensive services for families living in areas of concentrated poverty and experiencing multiple adversities from the earliest point in these most disadvantaged children’s lives. They conclude with an implementation plan and contend that these reforms are attainable within a ten-year timeline.
 
Reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development.
 

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

About the Authors

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

The authors are grateful to Michael Laracy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (grant 215.0334) and the School of Public Affairs at American University for generous support toward the development of this book. Ajay Chaudry would like to thank Peter Edelman and the Georgetown University Law Center, Sherry Glied and New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, and the Russell Sage Foundation for providing writing homes over the course of this project. Hirokazu Yoshikawa would like to thank New York University and the NYU Abu Dhabi Research Institute for partially supporting his time working on this book....

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-18

About twenty minutes south of the gleaming edifices of downtown Seattle, in a neighborhood surrounded by industrial warehouses, two-year-old Benji is growing up in the house his parents, Bill and Brooke Caldwell, bought a few years earlier with visions of starting a family. Their small, low-rise, ranch-style house is typical of the housing stock in this affordable, working-class residential enclave. Bill and Brooke’s home sits less than a quarter-mile from the middle school where they first met, and a half-mile in the other direction of where they first started dating their senior year of high school....

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2. Paid Parental Leave

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pp. 19-40

The first weeks of life are vital for the formation of strong, lifelong bonds between children and the most important caregivers in their lives: their parents. Newborns need consistent, sensitive, and responsive caregiving in their earliest days if they are to forge strong, loving relationships. This early period of care is often cut short for many families in the United States, however, because parents need to return to work to continue to earn income....

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3. Affordable, High-Quality Care and Education

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pp. 41-70

The period in children’s lives before they enter public education has historically received little public investment, despite the developmental importance of these early years. During the very period when brain development is most sensitive to environmental influence, the cost of out-of-home care is at its highest, and largely borne by families without public support. In addition, the quality of the care available during this period is at its lowest, especially for disadvantaged families. As a result, a great many working parents struggle to find and afford high-quality, nonparental early care and education, particularly for infants and toddlers. For many children, the lack of...

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4. Universal Preschool

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pp. 71-100

Preschool* education in the United States today has reached a crossroads. Evidence has mounted over several decades that high-quality early education enhances children’s cognitive and socioemotional capacities and readiness to learn. American families and the public at large clearly recognize the importance of early learning and value it, as witnessed by the increase in private preschool enrollment by families with the resources to pay and the high support for preschool in public opinion polls and ballot box initiatives. The majority of young children now attend some preschool before they start kindergarten....

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5. A New Head Start

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pp. 101-126

The policy components proposed in the previous three chapters would help to better meet the early needs of most American children so that many more are ready to learn and succeed when they reach kindergarten. But what about the most disadvantaged? A critical pillar in our comprehensive approach is targeted, intensive, and early support for children in the most disadvantaged circumstances. Those born into the most concentrated, long-term poor communities experience some of the most severe educational and economic inequality.1 Assuring high-quality early care and education may not be enough to enable this group to reach their full potential, particularly those whose parents may not be working consistently enough to benefit...

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6. Conclusion: No More Tinkering at the Edges

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pp. 127-150

In chapter 1, we introduced two families whose struggles in providing for their young children’s care and learning were emblematic of our country’s inadequate infrastructure for early care and education. In both Benji’s and Adrienne’s families, the parents were unable to access and arrange the early care and education that they wanted for their children’s development, and the limited supports left them unable to adequately meet their work and family needs. Both families would have fared much better under our proposed approach to integrated early childhood policy, as presented in chapters 2 to 5. Benji’s parents would have had twelve to sixteen weeks of paid parental...

Appendix: Estimates and Assumptions for Investments in the Components of Our Proposed Plan

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pp. 151-162

Notes

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pp. 163-188

References

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pp. 189-220

Index

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pp. 221-230


E-ISBN-13: 9781610448666
E-ISBN-10: 1610448669
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871545572
Print-ISBN-10: 0871545578

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2017

OCLC Number: 968151194
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cradle to Kindergarten