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.

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

Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

qrisThere is a great new resource available for anyone seeking to improve the quality of early care and education programs!

In November of 2014, the Build Initiative in partnership with Child Trends launched a new website to provide comprehensive information about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) across the U.S. Read More

The Truth About Teens

200166564-001Teenagers … amirite!? They’re rebellious, lazy, awkward, and constantly fighting with their parents…or are they? Misconceptions and stereotypes about teens are everywhere – you wouldn’t be alone if you shared some of these perceptions – but the truth is more complicated (isn’t it always?).

Yes, adolescence is a time of dramatic change for everyone. Hormones are pumping, teens start to question their parents’ authority and explore their identity, and are constantly facing new social situations. As we heard from brain development experts at Child Trends’ annual Kristin Anderson Moore lecture a couple weeks ago, we now know that the development of complex skills like critical thinking, reflective thinking, and considered response is not “open and shut” – it doesn’t stop at the end of childhood, but continues throughout adolescence.

But no matter how full of biological, social, cognitive, and emotional change adolescence may be, the research shows that most teens are doing just fine. Read More

Evaluation, Step by Step: The Case of Raising A Reader

039For years, researchers have noted that most of the interventions communities offer children and families—whether mentoring programs, after-school arts and crafts, midnight basketball, tutoring, or teen centers—have little hard evidence behind them.  With few exceptions, these activities haven’t undergone the kinds of rigorous tests we expect from many other things we rely on—medicines, cars, computers—to do what they’re promoted to do. This makes little sense, both because the appropriate research tools are available, and because children deserve better than a-wing-and-a-prayer. A recent Child Trends research report details the trajectory of a promising, low-cost, early education and parent engagement program, Raising A Reader (RAR), that has built an evidence base and is continuing to use research to refine its model. Read More