School Finance and Governance in California
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Getting Down to Facts is the largest independent investigation ever of how California governs and funds public education. It was commissioned at the request of a bipartisan group of California leaders, including the governor’s Advisory Committee on Educational Excellence, the president protem of the California Senate, the speaker of the California Assembly, the superintendent of public instruction, and the state secretary of education. The purpose of this unprecedented project was to describe California’s school finance and governance systems, identify aspects of those systems that hinder the...
Preschool and K–12 Finance Reform in New Jersey and Texas
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In a PACE Working Paper, Co-Director Bruce Fuller and Joseph Wright offer policy and implementation lessons from two states—New Jersey and Texas—that have moved to advance preschool and K–12 finance reform in tandem. These states have assembled the puzzle pieces in differing ways, but both states are determined to widen access for families who can least afford quality preschool. The policy experiences of these states over the past quarter century yield notable lessons for current policy debate on pre-school and education finance reform in California.
California Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options
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PACE’s statewide survey of 439 directors of community preschools, those funded outside of school districts, inquired about basic facts and their perceptions of long-term issues. Preschool access and quality remain unfairly distributed among California’s diverse communities. Persisting questions examined include how to grow more plentiful and higher quality preschools, and how to ensure a robust balance between organizations run by schools or community organizations. Despite rising interest among policy makers, we know little about how preschool directors themselves understand and evaluate...
Issues, Evidence, and Resources
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Proposition 82 would provide at least $23 billion over the coming decade to enroll about 70% of the state’s four year olds in half-day preschool programs at no direct cost to parents. This brief sketches what’s known about California’s existing network of preschool centers, which children benefit, and the key issues prompted by Proposition 82. PACE’s role—as an independent research center—is to clarify relevant evidence which informs education policy options. In 2005, PACE published a review of enrollment patterns and policy options related to equalizing access to, and improving the quality of...
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development
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Previous research has demonstrated that attending center care is associated with cognitive benefits for young children. However, little is known about the ideal age for children to enter such care or the "right" amount of time, both weekly and yearly, for children to attend center programs. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), this paper asks whether there are optimal levels of center care duration and intensity and whether these levels vary by race or income. The paper considers pre-reading and math skills as measured by assessments administered at the...
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Development Nationwide
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Young children, at least among those from poor families and within the domains of cognitive growth and school readiness, benefit from exposure to preschool or childcare centers. Carefully controlled experiments, exemplified by the Perry Preschool or the Abecedarian Project, have long shown sustained effects on cognitive growth for children from poor Black families. Even beyond these so-called “boutique programs,” larger public initiatives, such as the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, show encouraging results, as do center programs of naturally varying quality spread across different states. What...
PACE Research and Policy Options
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Universal Preschool? Wider Access, Stronger Quality PACE researchers are studying the effects of early care and education in California and nationwide, working with the Language Minority Research Institute. We also are illuminating policy alternatives and evidence that advocates might consider. Universal preschool? Ideals, evidence, and policy options (2005) by Fuller, Livas and Bridges. PACE working paper 05-02. Preschool for California’s children: Promising benefits, unequal access (2004) by Bridges, Fuller, Rumberger and Tran. PACE policy brief 04-9 (technical report also available)...
Ideals, Evidence, and Policy Options
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The evidence is quite clear—after a half-century of research—that many children benefit from quality preschooling in terms of cognitive growth. Over 60% of California’s four-year-olds now attend a preschool center at least part-time. Yet enrollment rates lag behind for children from poor and working-class households—especially those from Asian, Latino, and non-English speaking families. Earlier research also reveals uneven quality among preschools, with middle-class families often confronting low-quality programs and high tuition costs. Recent calls for a universal preschool system are...
Centers and Home Settings that Serve Poor Families
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The effects of center-based care on early development, outside of carefully controlled demonstration programs, appear to be positive, if modest, for children from low-income families. But little is known about variation in the quality of centers and preschools found among low-income neighborhoods. Evidence also remains scarce on the observed quality of home-based care, the settings that most children attend and into which large infusions of federal dollars are now directed. This paper reports on the observed quality of 166 centers and 187 nonparental home settings (including family childcare...
Promising Benefits, Unequal Access
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Parents and policymakers are turning to preschools to better advance the school readiness and broader development of young children. This brief reports on which California children are more likely to gain access to preschool centers—broadly termed center-based programs—and whether attendance yields gains in early learning and social skills. The brief also details sizeable gaps in the development of different groups of children as they enter kindergarten. These findings stem from a comprehensive new study of 2,314 children, representative of all California children entering kindergarten.
Early Learning Effects of Type, Quality, and Stability
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Young children in poor communities are spending more hours in nonparental care because of policy reforms and expansion of early childhood programs. Studies show positive effects of high-quality, center-based care on children's cognitive growth. Yet, little is known about the effects of center care typically available in poor communities or the effects of home-based care. Using a sample of children who were between 12 and 42 months when their mothers entered welfare-to-work programs, this paper finds positive cognitive effects for children in center care. Children also display stronger...
Implementation of Training and Retention Initiatives in the Bay Area
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Nationwide, public attention has increasingly focused on the need for a variety of early care and education arrangements to meet the changing needs of families. The demand for early care and education has grown for families from all socioeconomic sectors, intensifying as participants in welfare-to-work programs enter the workforce, and as work requirements for these programs become more stringent. In addition, research affirming the importance of children’s initial years for their later social and cognitive development has heightened public awareness of and concern for the quality of care...
Year 2 Qualitative Implementation Study (QIS)
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This report on the second year of the implementation of San Francisco County’s CARES program (SF CARES) as a childcare retention–incentive program describes perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders regarding several components of the program’s structure, implementation, and effects. These findings are drawn from focus group data: group interviews were conducted with program planners and funders, program staff, stipend recipients, and other members of the early care and education (ECE) community in San Francisco county. In addition to detailing perspectives on the implementation and...
Year 2 Qualitative Implementation Study (QIS)
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This report on the second year of the implementation of Alameda County’s Child Development Corps (the Corps) as a childcare retention–incentive program describes perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders regarding several components of the program’s structure, implementation, and effects. These findings are drawn from focus group data: group interviews were conducted with program planners and funders, program staff, stipend recipients, and other members of the early care and education (ECE) community in Alameda county. In addition to detailing perspectives on the implementation and...
Year Two Progress Report, 2002–03: Executive Summary
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Beginning in early 2001, First 5 California Children and Families Commission (First 5 California) provided matching funds to county First 5 Commissions in support of programs aimed at improving retention and increasing training and professional development among early care and education (ECE) staff. First 5 California contracted with PACE to assess these programs, evaluating the differential effectiveness of childcare retention incentive (CRI) models developed throughout the state. This 2002–03 progress report highlights findings from the ten CRI programs chosen for in-depth study. Five of...
Bay Area Childcare Retention Incentive Programs Evaluation: Year One Progress Report, 2001–02
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Nationally, more than half of children under the age of five are in nonparental care while their parents work. Research indicates that children benefit from being with well-trained, consistent early care and education (ECE) staff. Sensitive and responsive caregiving—characteristic of staff with a high level of training in child development—is associated with children’s positive cognitive, social, and emotional development. Staff retention is crucial, as frequent turnover impedes the formation of these positive, nurturing relationships and their benefits to children. However, there is evidence...
Year One Progress Report, 2001–2002
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Sensitive and stimulating interactions between children and early care and education (ECE) staff are the basis of high quality care. Furthermore, research suggests that both stability and training within the ECE workforce lead to higher quality interactions between children and their caregivers. Policy initiatives intended to increase the quality of care in centers and family childcare (FCC) homes are based on these assumptions about the importance of a stable and well-trained ECE workforce. In 1999, Alameda and San Francisco counties implemented childcare retention incentive (CRI) programs...
Evaluation Year One Progress: Report 2001–02
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According to accumulating evidence, children benefit when they are served by stable and highly trained center-based staff and caregivers. But we have much to learn about how community colleges and local training organizations can recruit a more diverse early care and education (ECE) staff, provide training in a cost-effective manner, and facilitate job placement. Responding to the unequal distribution of childcare supply across the state and a need for well-trained caregivers, First 5 California approved an initiative to train ECE staff using different project models. The initiative aims to...
Which Families to Serve First? Who Will Respond?
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Several states are extending access to preschool for a widening range of families. Georgia has made dramatic progress toward providing preschool slots for all three and four year old children. Illinois, New Jersey, and New York have taken steps to broaden access, slowed by the economic recession and shifting government priorities. California may be joining these states. Two blue-ribbon panels have urged the state to create a plan for moving toward universal preschool (UPS), focusing first on low-income families. The proposed master plan for education, recently translated into legislation...
Which Families Use Subsidies and Home-Based or Center Care?
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Public spending on childcare and preschool has grown dramatically in recent years, rising nationwide from $6.8 to $14.3 billion between 1995 and 2000. In California, the childcare and early education budget has almost quadrupled, from $800 million in 1996 to $3.1 billion in the current fiscal year. Yet the share of low-income families who actually draw public child care support—for preschool or school-age programs—remains highly variable across states and communities. And little is known about the characteristics of families who are more likely to use child care subsidies, especially after...
The Early Impacts of Welfare Reform for California's Children, 1998–2000
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In 1996, the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which included the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. TANF altered the structure of the welfare system nationwide and prodded millions of welfare recipients into jobs or welfare-to-work activities. California’s reform program, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act, known as CalWORKs, was enacted in 1997. The TANF and CalWORKs welfare reform initiatives included significant changes in the work support systems for parents...
Descriptive Findings from the Child Care Subsidy Interview
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The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and PACE have been involved in an effort to understand the impact of welfare reform and the implementation of the CalWORKs program on childcare supply and demand in California. As part of this project, CDSS and PACE conducted a telephone interview of current and former CalWORKs participants. The survey was conducted in three counties: Kern, Orange, and Santa Clara, and in three languages, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. A total of 1,974 interviews were completed between May 1 and June 30, 2001: 673 (34.1%) in Kern County; 797 (40.4%) in...
California Families See Little Growth in Child Care Centers
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In 1950, just one in six mothers, with a young child under age five, worked in the paid labor force. By 2000, this share had climbed to two in every three mothers. This revolution in the economic and social roles of women has spurred rising demand for childcare. And it’s become clear that youngsters’ participation in quality center-based programs can contribute to early learning and social development. Political leaders at state and federal levels have responded in recent years, dramatically boosting expenditures on various kinds of early education—from preschools and centers to vouchers that...
Findings from the Child Care Providers Focus Groups
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As part of the CDSS-PACE Child Care Planning Project, PACE set out to learn how California’s childcare subsidy system and the CalWORKs program affects licensed and license-exempt childcare providers. PACE also wanted to understand the day-to-day issues facing providers as well as their opinions about the system within which they work. This report represents the findings from this study, and hopefully offers some insight into the lives and experiences of these crucial persons who care for the state’s young children. During the spring and summer of 1999, and again during summer 2000, PACE...
Lessons from San Francisco and Alameda Counties
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California’s public investment in early care and education programs has quadrupled since 1996, rising to almost $3.2 billion annually in the 2000 fiscal year. This sharp climb in political will to expand and improve the quality of childcare has several explanations. First, the steadily climbing employment rate for mothers with preschool-age children—rising from 15 percent in 1950 to over two-thirds in 1997 nationally—has sparked enormous demand for a variety of childcare providers and organizations. Second, federal and state governments, recognizing the potential influence of quality childcare...