Only four states require their Head Start preschool programs to meet certain benchmarks recommended by child experts: keeping class sizes under 20 students, and below eight students for infant classrooms; and keeping certain adult-to-child ratios.
According to a report released this month by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Children in Poverty, Connecticut is one of these states, along with North Dakota, Oregon and Vermont. Head Start is a federally-funded preschool program that serves children from low income families.
These benchmarks have been recommended routinely by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.
“Smaller group sizes and fewer children per teacher help keep children safe and allow more frequent interactions between teachers and children. These features set the stage for higher quality adult-child interactions, a key predictor of children’s learning in early care and education settings,” the report’s authors wrote.
But it wasn’t all good news for Connecticut’s child care programs. According to the report, the state meets only two of the seven measures that “support quality early care and education.” Policies that the report recommends, but not yet adopted in Connecticut, include linking child care contracts and reimbursements to quality programs.
Connecticut last month applied for $37.5 million through the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program that would help the state pay to transform child care programs into educational preschools.
Report: Investing in Young Children.