February 20, 2006

In this Issue:

1. Reaching All Children? Understanding Early Care and Education Participation Among Immigrant Families

Source: George Washington University, Center for Law and Social Policy

Reaching All Children? Understanding Early Care and Education Participation Among Immigrant Families summarizes evidence about the participation of young children of immigrants in early care and education programs as well as relevant demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of immigrant families that likely influence children's participation in early learning programs. The paper was produced by the George Washington University Center for Law and Social Policy as part of the Breaking Down Barriers project to better understand and remedy the barriers to accessing high-quality early education programs that immigrant families face. Topics include the current immigration context; participation among children of immigrants in preschool, center-based care, and kindergarten (including Head Start); and the effect of demographics, limited English proficiency, and immigration status and citizenship on participation in preschool and center-based care. Policy recommendations for state and local administrators of pre-kindergarten and other early care and education programs are also proposed, as are areas for additional research. The paper is intended for use by policymakers and early education professionals in identifying and responding to the needs of immigrant families so that teachers, schools, and early childhood programs are prepared to serve these children. The paper is available at http://www.clasp.org/publications/child_care_immigrant.pdf. A brief that summarizes the paper is also available at http://www.clasp.org/publications/childcare_immigrantfamilies_brief.pdf.

2. Studying and Tracking Early Child Development from a Health Perspective: A Review of Available Data Sources

Source: Child Trends

Studying and Tracking Early Child Development from a Health Perspective: A Review of Available Data Sources presents an analysis of 26 national data sources for their capacity to inform child health policy and practice in their efforts to promote healthy early childhood development. The report, produced by Child Trends with support from the Commonwealth Fund, provides an overview of existing areas of strength, identifies gaps, and makes recommendations for future data development. An appendix summarizing the content of some 26 surveys and administrative databases that can be used to support social indicator data and research on early development is provided. The report is intended for use by federal data-collection staff; health policy planners and practitioners at the national, state, and local levels; and child health researchers. The report is available at http://www.childtrends.org/Files/BBCommonwealthPaper.pdf. An executive summary is also available at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=354865&.

3. Developmental Status and Service Use Among Children in the Child Welfare System.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160(2):183-186.

"This study shows that lack of service use for developmental delay is a significant problem in the child welfare population," state the authors of an article published in the February 2006 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The lives of children in the child welfare system are often characterized by exposure to numerous risk factors for developmental delay, including the direct effects of abuse and neglect, poverty, in utero drug exposure, parental substance abuse, and mental health disorders. Studies have estimated that between 13% and 62% of children entering foster care have developmental delay. However, accurate prevalence data and identification of factors that influence developmental status are lacking, and rates of developmental service use among this high-risk population are rarely described in the literature. The objectives of the study described in this article were to estimate the prevalence of developmental delay and developmental service use among infants and children in the child welfare system and to identify factors that influence developmental delay and use of these services.

The study sample included infants and children ages 0-10 from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) and their caregivers who were reported to the child welfare system because of concern about abuse or neglect. NSCAW is the first publicly available data set to assess the health, development, and service use of a nationally representative sample of infants and children and their caregivers who have come into contact with the child welfare system.

The authors found that:

* Infants and children ages 0-2 represented 46% of the sample (n=1,998), children ages 3-5 represented 19% (n=834), and children ages 6-10 represented 35% (n=1,492). Forty-two percent were white and non-Hispanic, 33% were African American and non-Hispanic, 18% were Hispanic, and 7% were of other races and ethnicities.

* Twenty-four percent of the infants and children were developmentally delayed on at least one measure (cognitive development, language development, or adaptive skills).

* Infants ages 0-2 and children ages 3-5 had higher rates of developmental delay (37% and 33%, respectively), than children ages 6-10 (13%).

* Race, sex, income, type of child maltreatment, and placement status did not have a significant impact on developmental scores or service use.

* Only 38% of the infants and children with developmental delay were using developmental services (20% of infants and children ages 0-2 with developmental delay, 38% of children ages 3-5 with developmental delay, and 57% of children ages 6-10 with developmental delay).

* The authors conclude that "strategies for overcoming barriers to using early intervention services should be implemented."

A PDF download of the artcle can be found at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/160/2/183. The abstract is also available at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/160/2/183.