Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Understanding Transgender Youth

There are a lot of things about your child.

Your child is tall.

Your child is athletic.

Your child is good at math.

Your child is artistic.

Your child is transgender.

Your child is curly-haired.

Your child is easy-going.

The recent apparent suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn has been highlighted in the news, and is indicative of the kind of turmoil some youth face when the gender they know themselves to be doesn’t match the gender associated with the biological sex of the body they were born into. Parents and other adults often lack the resources needed to help support youth as they come to terms with this aspect of their identity. Read More

Quality Connections, Quality Experiences – New Assessment Tools Help Families and Care Providers Build Foundational Relationships

fptrq logo 8_1As an early childhood researcher who studies family engagement in Head Start programs, I never tire of stories about how a relationship between a parent and an early care provider transformed a child’s life. Consider the parent who is struggling with a child’s overactive behavior, and the teacher provides suggestions on how to create new family routines to provide a more structured environment. Or a case where a child witnesses a violent car crash, and parents and teachers join together to provide consistency and support to alleviate the child’s trauma. I have heard teachers describe how parents have offered insights regarding their children, such as a favorite game or story used to soothe a child, and these tips have strengthened the teacher-child relationship. Central to these stories is the connection and collaboration between the adults in the home and in the early educational program, providing the foundation for the preschool child’s enhanced learning and growth.

Unfortunately, we have little empirical research on precisely how parents and teachers develop quality relationships, and how these relationships lead to quality experiences for children. The release of new measures of family and provider relationship quality, developed by Westat  and Child Trends and funded through the Office of Head Start and Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, offers an exciting opportunity to understand the components of quality relationships between family members and early care and education providers, with the eventual goal of informing the process of family engagement efforts during early childhood. Read More

2015 Resolution: Focus on Prevention Measures for Child Safety and Health

Childhood and prevention-—think immunizations, brushing teeth, car seats-—seem like natural partners. But the data show we could be doing a lot better. As we start the 2015 year, it is a good time to think about how greater focus on prevention measures can improve child safety and health. Read More

New measures help build relationships between families and early care and education providers

fptrq logo 8_1_smallJust before my daughter’s first day of pre-school, I was invited to participate in a home visit with her new teachers. On the day of the visit, both teachers arrived, with their arms literally wide open. After a round of hugs, they sat down in my living room and asked what my “hopes and dreams” were for my child’s education that year. They were not kidding. As I laid out each goal, they described the things I could do to help my daughter achieve them. They then discussed their families, their educational backgrounds, their interest in becoming teachers, and in turn, asked about our family and educational experiences. As we started my daughter’s first day of school with excitement and trepidation (all mine), I was grateful for the trust and confidence I had established in the teachers.

My experience is not isolated; many parents and families have strong relationships with their childcare provider or child’s teacher. We know now that high-quality relationships between parents and childcare providers and teachers can have a positive effect on parents, children, and families in several ways. However, until recently, we have not had comprehensive tools for measuring the quality of these relationships. Thanks to the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) project, there are five new measures that will allow us to do just that. Read More

Child Care Gets Boost with New Law while Early Childhood Workforce Wages Wane

Two recent announcements portray both progress and challenges when it comes to providing high-quality child care and early learning for our nation’s children.

First, the good news. Congress recently passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, which reauthorized the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) for the first time since 1996. There are two purposes of CCDF: (1) to promote families’ economic self-sufficiency by making child care more affordable, and (2) to foster healthy child development and school success by improving the overall quality of early learning and afterschool programs. The new law makes statutory changes in the following areas: Read More