What could we be doing differently? What could we do to be smarter? These questions are at the heart of a 5- minute video titled “Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change”. This short video, narrated by Jack Shonkoff, MD, explains the Frontiers of Innovation community’s theory of change for improving outcomes for children and families. It describes the importance of building the skills and capacities of the adults (i.e. parents and caregivers) in a child’s life and strengthening the communities that together form the environment of relationships essential to children’s lifelong learning, health, and behavior.
The For Our Babies campaign similarly advocates for policies that will help support the adults in a baby’s life thereby increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes for everyone, including the baby. For example, the For Our Babies campaign advocates for: affordable prenatal care for all expectant mothers; home visits for all families during the first two years of life by professionals who are trained in parenting, healthy development and counseling; paid parental leave during the first nine months of their child’s life; and affordable high quality infant and toddler care including training, compensation and professional stature for infant and toddler teachers at the same level as K-12 teachers. To quote the video “It’s all about being able to plan for the future…to have a future. That’s why this is so important.”
Click here to watch the video on Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child’s website.
Have you heard that J. Ronald Lally’s latest book For Our Babies: Ending the Invisible Neglect of America’s Infants is available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com? If you haven’t done so yet, I hope you’ll order your copy today. Paperback is available too of course.
For the last forty years, J. Ronald Lally has worked with state and federal agencies to improve services for infants and toddlers in the United States and abroad. In this new book, Lally paints a stark picture of how our babies have been forced to shoulder the fallout of massive societal changes over the past 60 years—changes that have resulted in less access to their parents, longer time spent in child care, and substandard child care and services.
For Our Babies features the resonant voices of American parents speaking of their hopes, worries, and frustrations living in a country with too few parental and child supports. It describes American parents’ general lack of awareness about how little they receive from their state and federal governments compared to parents living in other countries. This important book includes crucial testimony from developmental psychologists, child care providers, health and mental health professionals, economists, specialists in brain development, and early learning educators about how policy and practices must change in the United States if parents are to raise children who will become healthy, productive members of society.
This book is part of the For Our Babies initiative.
NAEYC’s 2013 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development will be held in San Francisco June 9-12th. This year’s theme is “Developmentally Appropriate Practice: The Next Era”. Will you attend? It’s not too late to register. We’d love to see you there.
J. Ronald Lally and Peter Mangione are presenting a featured session on Tuesday, June 11th 10:30-12:30 PM. Their session is titled “Building infant and toddler intellect and language on a social-emotional base: The developmentally appropriate roots of school readiness”. Directly following this session at 12:45PM, J. Ronald Lally will be signing his new book For Our Babies: Ending the Invisible Neglect of America’s Infants in the Exhibit Hall at the Teachers College Press Booth # 117. If you don’t have your copy yet, the book will be available for sale there as well.
We hope to see you there!
The 17th Annual virtual Birth to Three Institute (vBTT) sponsored by the Office of Head Start is a FREE five-week online professional development experience that will run from May 28 – June 27, 2013. This year’s theme is: Nurturing the Foundations for Success with Children and Families.
Each week will focus on one content track related to early childhood education (Inclusive Child Development; Child Health and Prenatal Services; Family and Community Partnerships; Management and Professional Development; Home Visiting and Family Child Care) and will include one plenary webcast and two relating webinars.
During the first week of the Institute, J. Ronald Lally, will present a plenary webcast titled The Foundations for Life and School Readiness Begin in Infancy. This webcast will take place Tuesday, May 28, 2013 • 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EDT. The summary of Lally’s session reads: “Early experiences influence the architecture of our brains. Parents and caregivers, then, have a significant impact on a child’s learning. This plenary talk will address the connection between experiences in infancy and school readiness and how early experiences and social interactions provide the foundation for lifelong learning”.
This plenary webcast will include a 30-40 minute presentation, 30 minute panel response, and a 20-30 minute live question answer session with the presenter. The panel of respondents include: Sarah Merrill, M.S., Office of Head Start; Tweety Yates, Ph.D., National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning; Tarima Levine, Ph.D., National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness; Claudia Quigg, M.ED., National Center for Parent, Family, and Community Engagement.
Participants can register for FREE for each content track or choose sessions separately. Registration will remain open during the five weeks of the conference; however, slots are limited so secure your sessions by registering today on the Office of Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website registration page.
Please join Dr. Lally in his webcast plenary session on Tuesday May 28th 2:00-3:30 EDT. It will be great to “SEE” you there!
Download the final Birth to Three Institute program: FINAL Program.
Yahoo just announced a revised paid parental leave policy. Under the new policy, mothers can take 16 weeks of paid leave with benefits when they give birth to a child. New dads can take 8 weeks. Both parents can take eight weeks of paid leave for new children via foster child placement, adoption or surrogacy. They also will provide $500 in “daily habits reimbursement” for spending on the baby during the first year. The benefits are almost double what were previously available and brings the company’s policies closer to those of its competitors Facebook and Google.
Facebook offers four months paid leave to both moms and dads. Facebook also offers its employees $4,000 in cash to spend on a new baby and $3,000 per year to defray some of the costs of child care.
Google offers up to 22 weeks of paid parental leave to parents who have a child through child birth and seven weeks paid leave to parents who have a child through surrogacy or adoption. Google also offers parents $500 in “baby bonding bucks” to spend on take-out food after a baby is born. Google also has some near-site child care and other back up child care arrangements.
The For Our Babies campaign advocates for nine months of paid parental leave which is more in line with the rest of the industrialized world. Companies like Yahoo, Google and Facebook may not be there yet, but we applaud them for expanding their paid parental leave policies. It’s time others followed suit.
Read more on this NY Times Blog.
More Benefits of Maternity Leave
Two studies out of the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that maternity leave makes economic sense in addition to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies. The findings were part of the “Juggling Work and Life During Pregnancy” study, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and led by Sylvia Guendelman, professor of maternal and child health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The studies found that women who took antenatal leave (leave before the birth of their child) were four times less likely to have a C-section than women who worked up until delivery. The researchers also found that women who took longer maternity leaves after the birth of their child were much more likely to be successful at breast feeding even after returning to work. Both increased breast feeding and decreased C-sections save in health care costs. To read more about the research, click here.
Study Finds Calming Effect of Maternal Holding and Walking
A new research study led by Dr. Kumi Kuroda, who investigates social behavior at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan supports the idea that holding a crying infant can help soothe them. Furthermore the researchers discovered that carrying the baby while walking was more calming to the infant than if the mother sat and held the baby. When the mother picked up and carried the baby while walking, the baby stopped crying, became noticeably calmer with a slower heart rate. While the infant may be crying for specific reason such as hunger, carrying the infant may give the caregiver time to determine the cause of the fussiness and help to keep the caregiver from being frustrated with the crying. Click to read article in the Huffington Post.
Music Supports Development of Premature Infants
A study led by Beth Israel Medical Center in New York found that music can help premature infants by slowing their heartbeats, calming their breathing, improving sucking behaviors, promoting states of quiet alertness and aiding in sleep. Babies receiving music therapy may leave the hospital sooner. In the study 272 premature infants had sessions with two instruments: a gato box (a wooden drum) and an ocean disc (a cylinder containing metal beads), singing and no music. According to Joanne Loewy, the study’s leader and the director of Beth Israel’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, the instruments and lullaby singing style were intended to copy sounds of the womb. Parents were asked to choose a favorite song which was then adapted by the therapists to slow it down if necessary. Both instruments and the singing slowed the infant’s heart rate. Singing aided in producing a quiet alert state, the ocean disc instrument generated the best sleep and the gato box improved sucking behavior. The music also lowered parents’ stress. Recorded music works also, but live music is better because it can be modified to meet changes in the infant’s state. Click to read the NY Times Article.
This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Karen Burch, M.A.
Are you attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA? J. Ronald Lally will be signing his book on Monday April 29th between 11-12pm at the WestEd Booth #800. We hope you’ll stop by and say hello!
Download the event flyer.
Today the President released his 2014 budget proposal, which includes important investments in our nation’s infants and toddlers including:
• $1.4 billion to expand Early Head Start and create Early Head Start/Child Care partnerships;
• $500 million in increased mandatory funding through the Child Care and Development Fund, which would serve an additional 100,000 children;
• $200 million for discretionary grants through the Child Care and Development Block Grant for quality improvement;
• $11 billion over the next 10 years in new funds from a proposed increase in the tobacco tax to invest in extending and expanding home visiting programs;
• $20 million to expand Part C early intervention services; and
• $300 million increase to Promise Neighborhoods funding.
The For Our Babies campaign applauds the President’s commitment to the earliest years of a child’s life as demonstrated in his recent budget proposal.
For more information about this historic proposal, read ZERO TO THREE’s official press statement.
Read the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2014 here.
Screen Time Vs. Social Interaction
In ECE PolicyMatters, Susan Ochshorn writes about how new technology may affect human development. Beginning in infancy, children’s interactions with caregivers encourage intellectual, social and emotional growth. The parent infant relationship helps the infant build trust and encourages the child’s desire to engage in the world. But what happens if we engage more with technology and less with the infant? She found that according to a forthcoming study in Psychological Science, if we don’t exercise our ability to directly interact with other people, we can lose some of our ability to do so. Cultivating interpersonal relationships alters a part of our cardiovascular system and increases the capacity for empathy. Click here to read the blog.
CDC Study Finds Infants Often Fed Solid Foods Too Soon
Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics raised the recommended age to begin giving infants solid food from four months to six months. A new study by the CDC has found that approximately 40% of four month olds and approximately 9% of infants as young as four weeks old were given solid foods. The reasons mothers gave for introducing solid foods earlier than six months included thinking that the infant was hungry, believing that the infant would sleep longer and by recommendation of misinformed health care professionals. Economics is also seen as a factor because solid food is less expensive than formula. Giving solid foods to infants too early can be dangerous due to the infant’s inability to hold their head up well and because their gut bacteria are not ready for solid foods causing diarrhea or gastroenteritis. Pediatricians should educate parents on the signs that infants are ready for solid foods. These signs include putting their hands in their mouth and sitting up.
Investments in Education are Needed at a Much Younger Age
An article in the New York Times states that some economists believe that investments in education are beginning at too late an age. According to economist, James Heckman, the gap in cognitive performance between rich and poor children does not change during the school years and that investments in education should come much earlier in the child’s life. Investments in early education improve cognitive abilities as well as behavioral traits including self-esteem and motivation. Attempts to raise high school graduation rates would be much less expensive if the assistance arrived before a child was six instead of when they became teenagers. In 2008, federal and state governments only spent about $300 per child under the age of 3, while $10,000 was spent per child in kindergarten through grade 12. Early education needs to be considered an essential piece of the education system in order to improve the system.
This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Karen Burch, M.A.
What does research tell us about the early years? How can you nurture a baby’s healthy development? ZERO TO THREE, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics, developed a nice series of handouts for parents and professionals called Healthy Minds that gives some of the answers to these important questions. The handouts, which are available in both English and Spanish, are based on findings from a National Academy of Sciences report that examined research on child and brain development. The handouts are age-specific. Each handout summarizes key findings from the report, gives examples of what’s going on developmentally for that age child and what you can do to promote healthy development. Download the handouts here: