Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality

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Early care and education for many children in the United States is in crisis. The period between birth and kindergarten is a critical time for child development, and socioeconomic disparities that begin early in children’s lives contribute to starkly different long-term outcomes for adults. Yet, compared to other advanced economies, high-quality child care and preschool in the United States are scarce and prohibitively expensive for many middle-class and most disadvantaged families. To what extent can early-life interventions provide these children with the opportunities that their affluent peers enjoy and contribute to reduced social inequality in the long term? Cradle to Kindergarten offers a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that diagnoses the obstacles to accessible early education and charts a path to opportunity for all children.

The U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations. Most working families must seek private childcare, which means that children from low-income households, who would benefit most from high-quality early education, are the least likely to attend them. Existing policies, such as pre-kindergarten in some states are only partial solutions. To address these deficiencies, the authors propose to overhaul the early care system, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child. They also advocate increased public benefits, including an expansion of the child care tax credit, and a new child care assurance program that subsidizes the cost of early care for low- and moderate-income families. They also propose that universal, high-quality early education in the states should start by age three, and a reform of the Head Start program that would include more intensive services for families living in areas of concentrated poverty and experiencing multiple adversities from the earliest point in these most disadvantaged children’s lives. They conclude with an implementation plan and contend that these reforms are attainable within a ten-year timeline.

Reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development.
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About the author

Ajay Chaudry is senior fellow at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Taryn Morrissey is Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy at American University.

Christina Weiland is Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Michigan.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa is the Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and a University Professor at New York University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Mar 1, 2017
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Pages
246
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ISBN
9781610448666
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Early Childhood (incl. Preschool & Kindergarten)
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / General
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Hirokazu Yoshikawa
An in-depth look at the challenges undocumented immigrants face as they raise children in the U.S.

There are now nearly four million children born in the United States who have undocumented immigrant parents. In the current debates around immigration reform, policymakers often view immigrants as an economic or labor market problem to be solved, but the issue has a very real human dimension. Immigrant parents without legal status are raising their citizen children under stressful work and financial conditions, with the constant threat of discovery and deportation that may narrow social contacts and limit participation in public programs that might benefit their children. Immigrants Raising Citizens offers a compelling description of the everyday experiences of these parents, their very young children, and the consequences these experiences have on their children’s development.

Immigrants Raising Citizens challenges conventional wisdom about undocumented immigrants, viewing them not as lawbreakers or victims, but as the parents of citizens whose adult productivity will be essential to the nation’s future. The book’s findings are based on data from a three-year study of 380 infants from Dominican, Mexican, Chinese, and African American families, which included in-depth interviews, in-home child assessments, and parent surveys. The book shows that undocumented parents share three sets of experiences that distinguish them from legal-status parents and may adversely influence their children’s development: avoidance of programs and authorities, isolated social networks, and poor work conditions. Fearing deportation, undocumented parents often avoid accessing valuable resources that could help their children’s development—such as access to public programs and agencies providing child care and food subsidies. At the same time, many of these parents are forced to interact with illegal entities such as smugglers or loan sharks out of financial necessity. Undocumented immigrants also tend to have fewer reliable social ties to assist with child care or share information on child-rearing. Compared to legal-status parents, undocumented parents experience significantly more exploitive work conditions, including long hours, inadequate pay and raises, few job benefits, and limited autonomy in job duties. These conditions can result in ongoing parental stress, economic hardship, and avoidance of center-based child care—which is directly correlated with early skill development in children. The result is poorly developed cognitive skills, recognizable in children as young as two years old, which can negatively impact their future school performance and, eventually, their job prospects.

Immigrants Raising Citizens has important implications for immigration policy, labor law enforcement, and the structure of community services for immigrant families. In addition to low income and educational levels, undocumented parents experience hardships due to their status that have potentially lifelong consequences for their children. With nothing less than the future contributions of these children at stake, the book presents a rigorous and sobering argument that the price for ignoring this reality may be too high to pay.

Jo Frost
SILVER MEDAL WINNER, NATIONAL PARENTING PUBLICATIONS AWARDS

From the beloved TV disciplinarian and bestselling author of Supernanny comes an amazingly simple five-step program of Toddler Rules to help parents tame tantrums, prevent bad behavior, and create long-term peace and stability in the home.
 
Jo Frost has always had a natural gift for connecting with kids, and for helping parents navigate milestones with practical know-how and ease. With the success of her hit TV shows Supernanny, Extreme Parental Guidance, and Family S.O.S. with Jo Frost, she’s proven her ability to expertly rein in unacceptable conduct and bring peace and stability to millions of homes worldwide. Now, in this invaluable book, she shows you how to identify and eliminate toddler tantrums, and curb behaviors in other child rearing areas. Frost’s effective five-step program for disciplined parenting addresses such challenges as
 
• Sleep: winning those nightly battles—going to bed and staying there
• Food: what to cook, trying new things, and enjoying meal times
• Play: sharing toys, defusing squabbles, developing social skills
• Learning: listening, language, and development
• Manners: teaching respect, showing examples, and positive praise
 
The key to achieving success with these Toddler Rules is Frost’s proven S.O.S. method: Step Back, Observe, Step In. Complete with troubleshooting tips for living tantrum-free, this welcome, honest, straightforward guide has all you need to help your children grow, thrive, and make family time even more precious.

Praise for Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules
 
“The indomitable Frost shares both her wisdom and experience for parents of toddlers. The five rules . . . are presented in her charming and conversational tone and provide not only a foundation for sanity but sure scaffolding to greater learning and happier parenting. . . . Frost is a favorite with many, and her engaging manner carries into her written work.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Common-sense and practical advice on raising young children by an expert in the field . . . A full chapter devoted to handling temper tantrums is an added bonus for parents in crisis mode.”—Kirkus Reviews


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Ajay Chaudry
In the five years following the passage of federal welfare reform law, the labor force participation of low-income, single mothers with young children climbed by more than 25 percent. With significantly more hours spent outside the home, single working mothers face a serious childcare crunch—how can they provide quality care for their children? In Putting Children First, Ajay Chaudry follows 42 low-income families in New York City over three years to illuminate the plight of these mothers and the ways in which they respond to the difficult challenge of providing for their children’s material and developmental needs with limited resources.

Using the words of the women themselves, Chaudry tells a startling story. Scarce subsidies, complicated bureaucracies, inflexible work schedules, and limited choices force families to piece together care arrangements that are often unstable, unreliable, inconvenient, and of limited quality. Because their wages are so low, these women are forced to rely on inexpensive caregivers who are often under-qualified to serve the developmental needs of their children. Even when these mothers find good, affordable care, it rarely lasts long because their volatile employment situations throw their needs into constant flux. The average woman in Chaudry’s sample had to find five different primary caregivers in her child’s first four years, while over a quarter of them needed seven or more in that time.

This book lets single, low-income mothers describe the childcare arrangements they desire and the ways that options available to them fail to meet even their most basic needs. As Chaudry tracks these women through erratic childcare spells, he reveals the strategies they employ, the tremendous costs they incur and the anxiety they face when trying to ensure that their children are given proper care.

Honest, powerful, and alarming, Putting Children First gives a fresh perspective on work and family for the disadvantaged. It infuses a human voice into the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of welfare reform, showing the flaws of a social policy based solely on personal responsibility without concurrent societal responsibility, and suggesting a better path for the future.

Marybeth Shinn
Marybeth Shinn
Marybeth Shinn
Hirokazu Yoshikawa
Low-skilled women in the 1990s took widely different paths in trying to support their children. Some held good jobs with growth potential, some cycled in and out of low-paying jobs, some worked part time, and others stayed out of the labor force entirely. Scholars have closely analyzed the economic consequences of these varied trajectories, but little research has focused on the consequences of a mother’s career path on her children’s development. Making It Work, edited by Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Thomas Weisner, and Edward Lowe, looks past the economic statistics to illustrate how different employment trajectories affect the social and emotional lives of poor women and their children.

Making It Work examines Milwaukee’s New Hope program, an experiment testing the effectiveness of an anti-poverty initiative that provided health and child care subsidies, wage supplements, and other services to full-time low-wage workers. Employing parent surveys, teacher reports, child assessment measures, ethnographic studies, and state administrative records, Making It Work provides a detailed picture of how a mother’s work trajectory affects her, her family, and her children’s school performance, social behavior, and expectations for the future. Rashmita Mistry and Edward D. Lowe find that increases in a mother’s income were linked to higher school performance in her children. Without large financial worries, mothers gained extra confidence in their ability to parent, which translated into better test scores and higher teacher appraisals for their children. JoAnn Hsueh finds that the children of women with erratic work schedules and non-standard hours—conditions endemic to the low-skilled labor market—exhibited higher levels of anxiety and depression. Conversely, Noemi Enchautegui-de-Jesus, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, and Vonnie McLoyd discover that better job quality predicted lower levels of acting-out and withdrawal among children. Perhaps most surprisingly, Anna Gassman-Pines, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, and Sandra Nay note that as wages for these workers rose, so did their marriage rates, suggesting that those worried about family values should also be concerned with alleviating poverty in America.

It is too simplistic to say that parental work is either “good” or “bad” for children. Making It Work gives a nuanced view of how job quality, flexibility, and wages are of the utmost importance for the well-being of low-income parents and children.

Tracey A. Revenson
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