Monthly Archives: October 2009

Study Shows Impact of Early Education on School Success

DSC_0052A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics offers more proof that early care and education experiences are a critical part of future school success. Findings showed: 

  • Children who participated in regular early care and education arrangements the year prior to kindergarten scored higher on the reading and mathematics assessments than children who had no regular experience in early care and education the year prior to entering kindergarten.
  • Children who participated in regular early care and education arrangements the year prior to kindergarten scored higher on the fine motor skill assessments than children who had no regular early care and education the year prior to entering kindergarten.
  • About four out of five (83.2 percent) participated in a regular non-parental early care and education arrangement the year before kindergarten.

 The U.S. Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study is helping researchers paint a picture of children from birth through their kindergarten year. Participants are representatives of the approximately 4 million children born in 2001 in the United States. Researchers began regularly collecting information when the children were just 9 months old. It is being used to better understand children’s:

  • early development;
  • home learning experiences;
  • experiences in early care and education programs;
  • health care, nutrition, and physical well-being; and
  • how early experiences relate to their later development, learning, and success in school.

Download the full report.

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Filed under Child Care, Early Childhood, Research, Uncategorized

Are Stimulus Dollars for Child Care Making it to Working Parents?

Eleven states currently report that they have not drawn down any funds provided by the federal government in the stimulus package to help working parents pay for child care. (Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which was counted as a state), according to CLASP.

Child care subsidies make quality child care more affordable, support the healthy development of children and help low-income parents access the child care they need to go to work or to school to support their families.


Clasp, 2009.

Parents cannot go to work without quality child care for their children. This was part of the rationale for including child care assistance in the stimulus plan. It’s time to get the dollars to the parents who desperately need them.

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Have you heard the one about the eggplant?

The Foundation for Child Development has published a new report: How Do Families Matter? Understanding How Families Strengthen Their Children’s Educational Achievement.

A short excerpt follows:

eggplantWhen Phyllis Hunter, former director of reading for Houston’s public schools, talks about the importance of parents to their children’s education, she begins with a tale of three mothers and an eggplant in a supermarket.

The first mother wheels her shopping cart down the produce aisle, where her Kindergartner spots an eggplant and asks what it is. The mother shushes
her child, ignoring the question.

A second mother, faced with the same question, responds curtly, “Oh, that’s an eggplant, but we don’t eat it.” 

The third mother coos, “Oh, that’s an eggplant. It’s one of the few purple vegetables.” She picks it up, hands it to her son, and encourages him
to put it on the scale. “Oh, look, it’s about two pounds!” she says. “And it’s $1.99 a pound, so that would cost just about $4. That’s a bit pricey,
but you like veal parmesan, and eggplant parmesan is delicious too. You’ll love it. Let’s buy one, take it home, cut it open. We’ll make a dish together.”

Hunter’s parable makes clear why an attentive, engaged parent is one of life’s greatest academic advantages.

Download the report.

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N.C.’s Teen Pregnancy Rate Hits 30-Year Low

North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell to a 30-year low in 2008, according to new data released last week.  Teenage girls in North Carolina had 217 fewer pregnancies in 2008 than in 2007. 

Experts are crediting evidence-based prevention strategies, like The Anson County Partnership for Children’s Adolescent Parenting Program, for some of the decrease.  Evidence-based approaches are rooted in behavioral research and have been evaluated for proof of their effectiveness.

The Adolescent Parenting Program was created to reduce the number of repeat teen pregnancies, which account for approximately 30% of teen pregnancies each year. The program increases the self-sufficiency of young mothers, and has a multi-generational impact by improving the long-term health and success of both mother and baby. Twenty-nine sites in 27 counties have implemented the program and less than 2% of participants had a repeat pregnancy. Due in part to this initiative, Anson County’s teen pregnancy rate fell by 32.9% in 2008. 

“North Carolina has been smart to leverage investments from the General Assembly and the Centers for Disease Control to bring proven pregnancy prevention strategies to North Carolina,” says Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) Executive Director Kay Phillips. “This new data shows that we are headed in the right direction, and that we must keep pressing forward so that more communities can benefit from these tools.”

Chatham County has reduced their teen pregnancy rate by 26% by leveraging both state and private funding to host Plain Talk, a nationally recognized and replicated promising program. Used for the past four years by nonprofit Chatham County Together, Plain Talk is a neighborhood-based initiative that teaches adults how to communicate effectively and comfortably with youth about health and personal responsibility.

“Keeping these programs strong – and offering them in more communities – is crucial to maintaining a positive trend in our pregnancy rates,” said Phillips. “We must not let these programs get lost as state and local dollars get harder and harder to come by.”

The data, compiled by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), show that 58.6 out of every 1,000 teen girls ages 15 to 19 became pregnant in 2008. The new rate reflects a 7% decrease from the 2007 rate of 63 per 1000 girls.  A small portion of this decrease can be attributed to a change in the way the state demographer calculates total population.

Teen pregnancy rates in North Carolina have consistently decreased since 1991 following a spike in the late 1980s. Pregnancy rates fell across all age, racial and ethnic categories, as well as in all but 25 North Carolina counties. Abortion rates also decreased in all categories.

While teen pregnancy rates declined across the board, significant disparities still exist between racial and ethnic groups and between rural and urban residents. The pregnancy rate among white teens was 47.8 per 1000 girls, while the corresponding rate for minority teens was 77.7. The rate specifically for Hispanic teens was 147.5. North Carolina’s underserved rural counties typically saw higher rates of teen pregnancy.

For additional information:

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina:

NC DHHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives:

2008 Pregnancy Statistics: or

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Pediatrician Explains Infant Crying

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time. It is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. The Period of PURPLE Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months. There are other common characteristics of this phases, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE. All babies go through this Period it is just that during this time some can cry a lot, some far less, but they all do go through it.

Dr. Ronald Barr, Developmental Pediatrician and World Expert on Infant Crying, explains the Period of PURPLE Crying Program.

More information available at the Period of Purple Crying website.

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Will the Crying Ever End?

Learn more at The Period of Purple Crying website.

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Period of PURPLE Crying: Keeping Babies Safe


We are all familiar with the sound of an inconsolable crying baby. But what we may not realize is that long-lasting bouts of infant crying in the first few months of life are a completely normal part of infant development.

Fortunately, knowing that this crying is normal may save lives. Crying is the number one trigger of shaken baby syndrome, a type of early child abuse that occurs when a person shakes an infant. Shaken baby syndrome can cause blindness, brain damage, or even death. It is one of the leading causes of child abuse deaths in the United States, claiming an estimated 1,400 lives each year.curve-earlycry-eng

Most parents and caregivers do not know that inconsolable crying is normal and healthy, or that it will come to an end. Caregivers may feel frustrated or stressed when an infant won’t stop crying. Although these are normal feelings, overwhelmed caregivers may shake a baby out of frustration.

But shaken baby syndrome is also preventable. And North Carolina is leading the way with a new shaken baby prevention program called the Period of PURPLE Crying®: Keeping Babies Safe in North Carolina. The Period of PURPLE Crying® is a unique statewide program that aims to reach every new mother, father, caregiver, friend and relative in the state of North Carolina. By sharing knowledge that infant crying is a normal stage of child development, The Period of PURPLE Crying® hopes to save lives and reduce cases of shaking in North Carolina by 50 percent over five years.

PURPLE teaches that crying is normal.

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is a product of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, designed by Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician and leading infant crying researcher, and Marilyn Barr, the founder and director of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Through education and media outreach, the center hopes to correct common misunderstandings of infant crying, emphasize its normalcy, and provide coping strategies.

Research has shown that most people do not understand infant crying. In 2007, for example, four-fifths of people interviewed in North Carolina strongly believed that “good” parents should be able to soothe their crying babies. Only one-third knew that babies could cry for up to five hours a day and still be perfectly healthy. Often, people equated crying with sickness.

cryingbabymomIn actuality, increased infant crying is a scientifically substantiated, normal part of infant development. The letters in the acronym “PURPLE” explain the reality of infant crying.

  • Peaks: Crying peaks at two to three months of age and ends at four to five months.
  • Unexpected: Crying is often unexpected.
  • Resists soothing: Infants may be resistant to soothing.
  • Pain-like Face: Infants may appear to be in pain.
  • Long-lasting: The crying is usually long-lasting.
  • Evening: Crying occurs most frequently in the evening.

The program uses a variety of materials to share the PURPLE message. Parents and caregivers learn techniques to cope with their normal feelings of frustration, guilt, and potential anger. They learn ways that sometimes soothe a crying baby, from comforting and carrying to walking and talking. And they are advised to put the baby down in a safe place for a short time and walk away to calm down if they become too frustrated.

At the same time, caregivers are reminded to visit a doctor or nurse to learn if there are other medical issues that could be contributing to the crying.
And perhaps most importantly, parents and caregivers learn that they are not alone in their feelings. Prolonged crying occurs regardless of gender, race, culture, or parenting style. Some infants will cry more than others; some will be soothed easier than others. But eventually, the crying will end, and the infants will grow into healthy children.

North Carolina leads the way nation-wide
The Period of PURPLE Crying® in North Carolina is the largest and most comprehensive shaken baby prevention program in the country. It is educating North Carolinians in three ways:

  • Hospital education of parents of newborns. Nurses and doctors at 86 hospitals in North Carolina are showing the DVD to all new parents and discussing possible ways to soothe a crying baby. Parents are given a DVD and booklet to take home and share with others who will care for their infant. By the end of 2012, the parents of more than half a million newborns will have heard the PURPLE message.
  • Message reinforcement. PURPLE will be reinforced to parents during pre-natal visits and well-child visits at physicians’ offices and community health centers.
  • A media campaign. PURPLE will be shared through a mix of radio advertising, print advertising, social media, and a Web site (
    Parents and caregivers are not the only people who should hear about PURPLE. The advertising materials are designed to reach people who influence caregivers, such as relatives and friends. At the hospital, parents of newborns will receive a copy of the brochure and DVD to take home to babysitters, friends, and relatives.
    By raising awareness of infant crying, The Period of PURPLE Crying® can help parents and caregivers in North Carolina have more realistic expectations of infant crying. This may reduce the frustration that can lead them to shake or hurt their babies—and ultimately, save lives.

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