Subject: Studies in the News 04-69 (October 25, 2004)

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Studies in the News for
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Children and Families Commission

Contents This Week

Introductory Material EDUCATION
   Minnesota's educational achievement gap
   Fiscal benefits of early childhood education
   Children's communication and early education
   Wisconsin's early care/education program
   Early education and care in Ireland
   Investment in early childhood education
   State budget and spending on preschool education
   Preschool assessments
   Cultivating health coverage for California's children
   Asthma in California by legislative districts
   Research on Native American children
   Early childhood measures profiles
   Maternal exposure to solvents
   Infant mortality in San Francisco
   Sleeping, breathing and mental development
   Infant mental health
   State initiatives to reduce nonmarital childbearing
   Maternal and infant health disparities
   Dads as breastfeeding advocates
   Early childhood visitation initiatives
   Home visiting programs and rapid repeat birth prevention
   Indicators of child, family and community connections
   Airborne fungi and low income children
   Breast-feeding and asthma
Introduction to Studies in the News

Studies in the News: Children and Family Supplement is a service provided to the First 5 California by the California State Library. The service features weekly lists of current articles focusing on Children and Family policy. Prior lists can be viewed from the California State Library's Web site at

How to Obtain Materials Listed in SITN:

  • When available on the Internet, the URL for the full-text of each item is provided.

  • California State Employees may contact the State Information & Reference Center (916-654-0206; with the SITN issue number and the item number [S#].

  • All other interested individuals should contact their local library - the items may be available there, or may be borrowed by your local library on your behalf.

The following studies are currently on hand:



The Education Achievement Gap: Minnesota's Embarrassment. By Minnesota Public Radio. (Minnesota Public Radio, St. Paul, Minnesota) September 27, 2004.

["This series on the achievement gap explores the latest research on very young children's brain development and the benefits of early education programs for disadvantaged youngsters. According to Brandeis University professor Jack Shonkoff, the performance gap between children at risk and those not at risk surfaces as early as 18 months of age on standardized tests and just gets greater." ASCD SmartBrief Newsletter (September 28, 2004) 1.]

Racial Learning Gap Defies Easy Explanation or Solution. By Tim Pugmire. 4 p.:

The Cost of Minnesota Racial Achievement Gap. By Dan Olson. 4 p.:

Roots of Gap Based in Race, Class, Culture Differences. By Brandt Williams. 4 p.:

Can Early Ed Close the Gap? By Lorna Benson. 5 p.:

Closing the Gap: One School's Approach. By Tim Pugmire. 7 p.:

[Request #S4216]

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Exceptional Returns: Economic, Fiscal, and Social Benefits of Investment in Early Childhood Development. By Robert G. Lynch, Washington College. Prepared for Economic Policy Institute. (The Institute, Washington, DC) 2004. 54 p.

Full Text at:

["This study demonstrates that providing all 20% of the nation's three- and four-year-old children who live in poverty with a high-quality early childhood development program would have a substantial payoff for governments and taxpayers in the future."]

[Request #S4217]

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"How do Children Tell Us about Their Childhoods?" By Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson. IN: Early Childhood Research and Practice, vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 2004) pp. 1-17.

Full Text at:

["Quality in early childhood education today is very much related to communication and interaction; therefore, children's narratives or opportunities to tell their stories become central to quality. A child's ability to tell stories or express his or her opinions or perspectives is dependent on whether the child has relationships with other children and the teacher. A rich experience for each child is also a necessary foundation for the child to be able to tell others about his or her own perspectives."]

[Request #S4218]

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The Status of Early Care and Education in Wisconsin. By Jeannine Love and others, Institute for Women's Policy Research. (The Institute, Washington, DC) 2004. 32 p.

Full Text at:

["The growing need for quality early care and education programs calls for an increased effort on the part of the federal government and the Wisconsin state legislature to move toward developing a universal, voluntary prekindergarten system that will provide all of Wisconsin’s families with access to a dependable, safe, and nurturing system of care and education for their preschool-aged children. This report outlines the need for such care by working parents and by children in the early stages of development, discusses the benefits of such care for children, and provides an overview of the programs that currently exist. The report presents national and state data on the availability, quality, and cost of early care and education programs, and provides policy recommendations for an overall expansion and improvement of Wisconsin’s early care and education programs, putting the state on a path toward high-quality, voluntary, universal early care and education."]

[Request #S4219]

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OECD Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland. By the Department of Education and Science. (The Department, Dublin, Ireland) July 2004.

["Invited by the participating countries, OECD expert teams evaluate each country’s policy, programs and provision for children from birth to compulsory school age. Prior to the review, participating countries publish a background report describing current policy and practice, and outline the challenges that ECEC policy faces in the coming years. After the expert review, the OECD publishes a country note that discusses the issues observed, and suggests solutions and recommendations for the consideration of the competent authorities. Ireland was the first country to host an OECD review team visit as part of the second round of reviews. It was also the first country to invite a short review, focusing on access, quality and co-ordination." Child Care Resources and Research Unit (October 1, 2004) 1.]

Background Report. By Carmel Corrigan. 110 p.:

Country Note. By OECD. 120 p.:

[Request #S4220]

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"Keeping Faith With Our Children: Why Early-Childhood Education is the Best Investment We Can Make." By Edward M. Kennedy. IN: American Prospect Online. (November 2, 2004) 2 p.

Full Text at:

["Education for all is a defining value of our country, and living up to it takes more than lip service. It takes dedication, hard work, and financial commitment. It means working in partnerships to create the best federal, state, and local policies to increase educational opportunities for all. The article stresses the need to invest in early education to improve student achievement, minimize learning disabilities and emotional disorders, and ensure that children arrive ready to learn on the first day of school, graduate from high school, attend college, and excel in the workforce."]

[Request #S4221]

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Quality Pre-Kindergarten for All: State Legislative Report. By the Trust for Early Education. (The Trust, Washington, DC) September 2004. 22 p.

Full Text at:

["This legislative report of all 50 states finds that even in tough fiscal times many states recognize the importance of investing in young children. While 15 states increased spending on pre-kindergarten, 17 states did not increase spending and 7 states actually decreased their budgets."]

[Request #S4223]

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Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach. By Ann S. Epstein and others. Preschool Policy Matters. Issue Brief No. 7 (National Institute for Early Education Research, New Brunswick, New Jersey) July 2004. 12 p.

Full Text at:

["This brief examines assessment of learning among preschoolers and the trend toward increased standardized testing of young children. It offers definitions and applications of assessment concepts and policy recommendations essential to a balanced approach."]

[Request #S4238]

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Cultivating Health Coverage for California's Children. Summit Findings Report: What was Achieved & the Path Forward. By Maura Harrington, Loadestar Management/Research, and others. Prepared for the Community Health Councils. (The Councils, Los Angeles, California) 2004. 77 p.

["California has one of the highest rates of uninsured in the nation, with a reported 6.3 million uninsured children and non-elderly adults. It is estimated that 1.3 million children in California are eligible for, but not enrolled in, state-funded programs. Given the growing budget deficit and proposals to reduce enrollment, shift costs and restrict eligibility, this summit convened over 80 stakeholders to critically examine health coverage issues." NOTE: Cultivating Health Coverage ... is available for 3-day loan.]

[Request #S4224]

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Asthma Among California's Children, Adults and the Elderly: A Geographic Look by Legislative Districts. By Carolyn A. Mendez-Luck and others, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. (The Center, Los Angeles, California) September 2004. 8 p.

Full Text at:

["This brief highlights the geographic variations in asthma rates among all Californians for state legislative and Congressional districts. Asthma symptom rates were estimated by applying a small-area methodology to multiple data sources, including the 2001 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2001), 2000-2002 Current Population Surveys, and the 2000 Census."]

[Request #S4225]

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American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Health, Development, and Education Research. By Patricia Cahape Hammer and William G. Demmert Jr., IndianEduResearch.Net. ERIC Digest Special Edition. EDO-RC-03-012. (IndianEduResearch.Net, Charleston, West Virginia) December 2003. 9 p.

Full Text at:

["Few scientific studies have focused on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) infants, toddlers, and young children. This Digest reports on the limited research base that has been created since the late 1980s on issues specific to young AI/AN children. Most of these investigations have taken place in the education assessment and health domains."]

[Request #S4226]

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Early Childhood Measures Profiles. By Lisa J. Bridges and others, Child Trends. (Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC) October 2004. 404 p.

Full Text at:

["This project produced a compendium of early childhood assessments commonly used to measure domains of development, including language and literacy, cognition, mathematics, social-emotional competency, and approaches to learning. Various types of ongoing observational assessments were also included. A profile of each assessment includes the purpose of the measure, key constructs, administration, and reliability information. The purpose was to provide information on the current state of the field in the assessment of child outcomes, particularly in large-scale and intervention studies."]

[Request #S4227]

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"Child Neurodevelopmental Outcome and Maternal Occupational Exposure to Solvents." By Dionne Laslo-Baker and others. IN: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, vol. 158, no.10 (October 2004) pp. 956-961.

["Children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to common workplace chemicals scored lower on tests measuring language skills, attention, and memory researchers said. Exposed children performed at a lower level than control children in subtests that measure short-term auditory memory, general verbal information, and attention." Reuters News Service (October 6, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S4228]

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"Too Young To Die: The Health Care System's Prescription for Saving the Country's Sickest Babies Isn't Working; Part One: Life's Toll; Part Two: Toxic Legacy; Part Three: Fighting Back; Part Four: Flawed System; and Part Five: Saving Babies." By Erin McCormick and Reynolds Holding. IN: San Francisco Chronicle (October 3-7, 2004) Various pagings.

["The health care system’s prescription for saving the country’s sickest babies isn’t working. Newborns are more likely to die in the United States than in almost any other industrialized nation. San Francisco’s rate of infant deaths is the lowest among U.S. cities, but in the Bay Area’s disadvantaged neighborhoods, babies die as often as those in much poorer countries." San Francisco Chronicle (October 3, 2004) A16.]

[Request #S4229]

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"Neurocognitive Outcomes in Sleep-Disordered Breathing." By Carl E. Hunt and others; "Sleep-Disordered Breathing Symptoms are Associated With Poorer Cognitive Function in 5-Year-Old Children." By Daniel J. Gottlieb and others; and, "Cardiorespiratory Events Detected by Home Memory Monitoring and One-Year Neurodevelopmental Outcome." By Carl E. Hunt and others. IN: Journal of Pediatrics, vol. l45, no. 4 (October 2004) pp. 430-432; 458-464; 465-471.

["Children who have problems breathing during sleep tend to score lower on tests of mental development and intelligence than do other children their age, according to these two studies. The first study found that at one year of age, infants who have multiple, brief breathing pauses (apnea) or slow heart rates during sleep scored lower on mental development tests than did other infants of the same age. The second study found that 5-year-old children who had frequent snoring, loud or noisy breathing during sleep, or sleep apneas observed by parents scored lower on intelligence, memory, and other standard cognitive tests than other children their age. They were also more likely to have behavioral problems." NIH News (October 7, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S4222]

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Infant Mental Health: Nurturing the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children. By Ross Thompson, University of California, Davis, Jane Knitzer, National Center for Children in Poverty, and Sandra Adams, Center for Prevention and Early Intervention. National Conference of State Legislatures Web-Assisted Audioconference. (NCSL, Denver, Colorado) October 1, 2004. Video and charts.

Full Text at:

["An emerging issue for state legislators across the country is ensuring that young children’s mental health needs are addressed. Research shows that nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers are essential beginning at birth for healthy child development. What is the legislative role in promoting good infant mental health and supporting healthy relationships for very young children? What policy and funding challenges and opportunities face our policymakers in supporting effective infant mental health services and programs? This audioconference will introduce the issue of infant mental health as it relates to children’s social and emotional development and relationship building and also will highlight one state’s strategy to promote positive infant mental health."]

[Request #S4230]

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An Update to State Policy Initiatives to Reduce Teen and Adult Nonmarital Childbearing. By Richard Wertheimer and Angela Papillo, the Urban Institute. New Federalism: Issues and Options for States Policy Brief A-66. (The Institute, Washington, DC) August 2004. 10 p.

Full Text at:

["A 50-state survey of state policies and programs to discourage teen and nonmarital childbearing conducted by Child Trends in 2001 analyzes changes since the 1999 and 1997 surveys. State efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and early childbearing changed little between 1999 and 2001 with one exception. More states reported school-based abstinence education in 2001 than in 1999. Although states focused less effort on nonmarital pregnancy prevention than on teen pregnancy prevention, states are emphasizing welfare caps, improved access to contraceptive service, programs encouraging unmarried pregnant couples to marry, and youth development or young adult education programs. The brief includes tables that identify the teen and nonmarital childbearing programs in place in each state."]

[Request #S4231]

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Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health: Are We Making Progress? Lessons from California. By Susan Egerter and others, University of California, San Francisco. Prepared for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (The Foundation, Washington, DC) 2004. 29 p.

Full Text at:

["This brief focus on maternal and infant health disparities in California, but the findings have national relevance. One of eight births in the United States occurs in this diverse state, and California's economic, demographic, and policy experience often reflect or foreshadow the experiences of other states. This analysis of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health was conducted using two statewide representative maternal surveys linked with birth certificates. Changes were examined in three key indicators of maternal and infant health and health care -- pregnancy intention, timing of prenatal care initiation, and breastfeeding -- in California during the 1995-1997 and 1999-2001."]

[Request #S4232]

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"Dads as Breastfeeding Advocates: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial of an Educational Intervention." By Adam J. Wolfberg and others. IN: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 191, no. 3 (September 2004) pp. 708-712.

["The authors developed a breastfeeding class for expectant fathers in which fathers could test their beliefs about breastfeeding and then experiment with the message of the class, which was that men can be advocates for their partner and the health of their newborn by facilitating their partner's decision to breastfeed." Maternal and Child Health Alert (October 15, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S4215]

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Cuyahoga County Early Childhood Initiative Evaluation Report: Welcome Home and Early Start. By Deborah Daro and others. (Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois) 2004. 105 p.

["This evaluation of Cuyahoga County Ohio’s Early Childhood Initiative examines two home visitation programs -- Welcome Home, a one-time visit for all first time and teen mothers and Early Start, an extended program for parents in need of ongoing assistance -- and their potential impact on teen mothers."]

[Request #S4233]

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"Hawaii’s Healthy Start Home Visiting Program: Determinants and Impact of Rapid Repeat Birth." By Samer S. El-Kamary and others. IN: Pediatrics Electronic Pages, vol. 114, no. 3 (September 2004) pp. e317-e326.

Full Text at:

["This article assesses the impact of home visiting programs in preventing rapid repeat births (RRB). The study focuses on Hawaii's Healthy Start Program, widely replicated paraprofessional home visiting model for families at risk for child abuse and neglect. While the authors found no program effect on RRB mothers overall, they believe lack of program effects can be traced to the program's design and implementation system." MCH Alert (September 10, 2004).]

[Request #S4234]

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Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Connections. By Laura Lippman. (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC) 2004.

["Family indicators typically include measures such as family structure, employment and poverty status, and benefit receipt. These indicators do not fully portray how families function as a unit and as part of society. This chart book begins addressing this issue. The chart book presents illustrative examples of how currently available data can be used to generate indicators of the social context of families, and assesses the need for additional data and measures in several domains. A selection of important areas for further development are discussed in the Companion Volume of Related Papers."]

Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Indicators: Chartbook. 106 p.:

Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Connections: Companion Volume of Related Papers. 86 p.:

[Request #S4235]

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[The following studies, reports, and documents have been ordered or requested, but have not yet arrived. Requests may be placed, and copies will be provided when the material arrives.]



“Airborne Fungi in the Homes of Children with Asthma in Low-Income Urban Communities: The Inner-City Asthma Study.” By George T. O'Connor, Pulmonary Center, Boston University School of Medicine, and others. IN: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 114, no. 3 (September 2004) pp. 599-606.

[“Mold-sensitive children with asthma living in urban communities across the U.S. are exposed to airborne fungi in indoor and outdoor air. The concentrations of fungi are higher in homes with dampness problems, cockroach infestation, and cats. The indoor-outdoor difference in the concentration of airborne fungi may provide a valuable metric for investigations of the role of fungal exposure as a risk factor for asthma.”]

[Request #S4236]

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"Breast-Feeding Reduces the Risk of Asthma During the First 4 Years of Life." By I. Kull and others. IN: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 114, no. 4 (October 2004) pp. 755-760.

["The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of breast-feeding on asthma and sensitization to airborne allergens among children up to 4 years of age. A birth cohort of 4089 children was followed. Exposure data were collected at 2 months and 1 year of age. The total dose of breast milk was estimated by combining periods of exclusive and partial breast-feeding. Outcomes data were collected at 1, 2, and 4 years of age. The response rate at 4 years was 90%, and 73% participated in a clinical investigation, including blood sampling for analysis of specific IgE and lung function testing. The study found that breast-feeding reduces the risk of asthma during the first 4 years of life."]

[Request #S4237]

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