Recent Highlights from Our Collection

Below are highlights from our most recent acquisitions. Research Connections scans its newest acquisitions, focusing on those from key organizations and journals, to identify resources to feature here.

What is the relationship between global quality and group engagement in toddler child care classrooms?

Exploring the relationship between global quality and group engagement in toddler child care classrooms
Hooper, Alison, 04/01/2017

Toddlers' engagement with their social and physical environment is an important aspect of their experience in early care and education programs. The purpose of this research study was to examine how global quality relates to children's engagement in toddler child care classrooms. Additionally, this study explored how toddlers' group engagement levels vary across classroom contexts, including free play, group activities, meals, transitions, and personal care routines. Thirty toddler child care classrooms participating in a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) were observed using two observational measures. Results indicate that a strong positive relationship exists between engagement and global quality. Group engagement varied significantly by classroom context, with the highest levels of engagement documented during mealtime and free play and the lowest levels of engagement documented during transitions. The findings point to the importance of using multiple measures to understand toddler experiences in group care settings. Further, the variation of children's engagement across classroom contexts suggests that more attention is needed in understanding and supporting teachers in increasing child engagement, especially during classroom transitions. (author abstract)

What are the economic returns from investing in center-based early childhood education programs?

Early childhood education to promote health equity: A Community Guide economic review
Ramon, Ismaila, 01/01/2017

Context: A recent Community Guide systematic review found that early childhood education (ECE) programs improve educational, social, and health-related outcomes and advance health equity because many are designed to increase enrollment for high-risk children. This follow-up economic review examines how the economic benefits of center-based ECE programs compare with their costs. Evidence Acquisition: Kay and Pennucci from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, whose meta-analysis formed the basis of the Community Guide effectiveness review, conducted a benefit-cost analysis of ECE programs for low-income children in Washington State. We performed an electronic database search using both effectiveness and economic key words to identify additional cost-benefit studies published through May 2015. Kay and Pennucci also provided us with national-level benefit-cost estimates for state and district and federal Head Start programs. Evidence Synthesis: The median benefit-to-cost ratio from 11 estimates of earnings gains, the major benefit driver for 3 types of ECE programs (ie, state and district, federal Head Start, and model programs), was 3.39:1 (interquartile interval [IQI] = 2.48-4.39). The overall median benefit-to-cost ratio from 7 estimates of total benefits, based on all benefit components including earnings gains, was 4.19:1 (IQI = 2.62-8.60), indicating that for every dollar invested in the program, there was a return of $4.19 in total benefits. Conclusions: ECE programs promote both equity and economic efficiency. Evidence indicates there is positive social return on investment in ECE irrespective of the type of ECE program. The adoption of a societal perspective is crucial to understand all costs and benefits of ECE programs regardless of who pays for the costs or receives the benefits. (author abstract)

What is the meaning of the word "curriculum" when applied to working with infants and toddlers?

Working toward a definition of infant/toddler curricula: Intentionally furthering the development of individual children within responsive relationships
Chazan-Cohen, Rachel, 03/01/2017
(OPRE Report No. 2017-15). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from

This brief is an effort to explore the meaning of the word "curriculum" when applied to working with infants and toddlers. The idea for the brief emerged from the early childhood community--specifically two groups of applied researchers funded by the Administration for Children and Families, INQUIRE and NITR. [See insert box on page 12 for more information on these groups]. These groups were getting questions from state policy makers and practitioners about the meaning of the term "empirically-based curricula for infants and toddlers," a requirement for many accountability systems. Questions included concerns about how to conceptualize curriculum in the context of working with infants and toddlers--especially how to incorporate this concept in a way that provides sufficient focus on individualization and the supportive and responsive relationships that are the hallmark of infant/toddler care and education. There was concern that use of a curriculum would by definition be developmentally inappropriate for infants and toddlers. There were also questions about how stakeholders should verify the use of a curriculum for this age group. This brief begins a discussion about the meaning of the term when applied to early education and care programs serving families with infants and toddlers, and focuses especially on how the concept of a curriculum can be incorporated into and used in programs in a way that is developmentally appropriate for this age range. (author abstract)

Using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), which factors are associated with reduced expulsion in center-based early learning settings?

Factors associated with reduced expulsion in center-based early learning settings: Preliminary findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)
Trivedi, Pamala, 01/06/2017
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Human Services Policy. Retrieved from

This brief provides new national estimates of recent early childhood expulsion rates in a range of center-based early learning settings using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), indicating how characteristics of early care and education (ECE) centers relate to the likelihood that children are denied services due to behavior. The analysis describes how access to comprehensive services, support for professional development for ECE teachers and staff, funding source (e.g., Head Start, public pre-K, private, etc.), and program sponsorship (e.g., non-profit, government sponsored, for-profit, etc.) relate to recent expulsion rates. (author abstract)

What does research literature reveal about the effects of child care costs and availability on parental employment?

Child care and parent labor force participation: A review of the research literature
Morrissey, Taryn, 03/01/2017

Early care and education (ECE) enables parental employment and provides a context for child development. Theory suggests that lower child care costs, through subsidized care or the provision of free or low-cost arrangements, would increase the use of ECE and parents' employment and work hours. This paper reviews the research literature examining the effects of child care costs and availability on parental employment. In general, research suggests that reduced out-of-pocket costs for ECE and increased availability of public ECE increases ECE attendance among young children, and has positive impacts on mothers' labor force participation and work hours. However, there is considerable heterogeneity in findings. Among U.S. studies that report the elasticity of employment to ECE price, estimates range from -0.025 to -1.1, with estimates clustering near 0.05-0.25. This indicates that a 10 % reduction in the price of child care would lead to a 0.25-11 % increase in maternal employment, likely near 0.5-2.5 %. In general, studies using more recent data or data from non-U.S. countries find smaller elasticities than those using U.S. data from the 1990s. These differences may be due to historical and cross-national differences in ECE attendance, labor force attachment, and educational attainment among mothers with young children, as well as heterogeneity in the methodological approaches and data used across studies. More research in the U.S. using contemporary data is needed, particularly given recent changes in U.S. ECE policy. (author abstract)

How do price subsidies and tax credits care compare as forms of child care assistance

Childcare assistance: Are subsidies or tax credits better?
Gong, Xiaodong, 03/01/2017

We evaluate price subsidies and tax credits for childcare. We focus on partnered women's labour supply, household income and welfare, demand for childcare and government expenditure. Using Australian data, we estimate a joint, discrete structural model of labour supply and childcare demand. We introduce two methodological innovations -- a more flexible quantity constraint that total formal and informal childcare hours are at least as large as the mother's labour supply and the explicit inclusion of maternal childcare in the utility function as a proxy for child development. We find that tax credits are more effective than subsidies in terms of increasing average hours worked and household income. However, tax credits disproportionately benefit wealthier and more educated women. Price subsidies, while less efficient, have positive redistributional effects. (author abstract)

How does the length of child care subsidy eligibility relate to duration of subsidy receipt?

The role of policy and practice in short spells of child care subsidy participation
Davis, Elizabeth E., 01/01/2017

A major change in US child care subsidy policy in 2014 established a 12-month eligibility period for families participating in the child care subsidy program. The primary policy objective of lengthening eligibility periods was to increase the stability of child care. Previous research in a small number of states has shown that families are more likely to leave the subsidy program at the time of eligibility recertification even though they may remain eligible. Using data from the state of Maryland, this article investigates whether longer eligibility periods contribute to longer continuous subsidy receipt and the degree to which local offices follow state guidelines when setting redetermination periods. Using a Cox proportional hazards model and controlling for child, family, and provider characteristics, we show that families were substantially more likely to leave the subsidy program when their voucher was due to expire or they were scheduled to recertify eligibility. We find that the span of time allotted to families before they need to recertify eligibility varied substantially across counties in ways that were not related to child or family characteristics, despite a statewide policy allowing eligibility recertification at 12-month intervals. (author abstract)

What are the predictors of reentry among families who leave the child care subsidy program in Maryland?

Understanding churn: Predictors of reentry among families who leave the child care subsidy program in Maryland
Davis, Elizabeth E., 06/01/2017

Child care subsidies provide an important work support for low-income families, yet children often receive subsidies for only a short period of time and may cycle on and off the program. Much of the research to date on patterns of subsidy participation has focused on the duration of participation, and less attention has been paid to the dynamics of how often and how quickly children return to the program. This paper uses administrative data from Maryland to analyze the patterns of returns to the subsidy program after a break in subsidized care. We find that half of children who exited the program return to subsidy within five years, and most of those return within a few months. Returns to subsidized care are related to family circumstances, type of care, child age, and program policies related to eligibility redetermination. These factors have differential effects on the probability of returning to the same provider or a different provider, which may have important implications for the stability of children's care. (author abstract)

To see a complete list of new research, please view Archived New Research.