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Black History Month: Sharing Antiracist Research and Resources in Early Childhood Development

Resource February 25, 2022

As Black History Month comes to a close, the FFYF is taking the opportunity to share new stories and research from partners and allies on how dismantling racism and uplifting the Black community can and must happen both through practice & implementation of existing high-quality early childhood opportunities and through the expansion of innovative policies and investments.

  • The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) is a constant source for research, resources, and advocacy focused solely on the well-being of Black children and their futures. Their latest report examines 10 key actions that the Biden administration can take to begin to deliver on the promise of equitable early learning opportunities for all children, especially those who have been historically marginalized and left behind.
  • The Education Trust and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation interviewed child care providers and state and local chamber leaders across the U.S. to identify opportunities for supporting working families with young children by supporting female providers of color. Many child care providers told us that amid the COVID-19 crisis, they have faced funding challenges, safety and health concerns, and barriers to talent acquisition and professional development. Several providers reported that racial and gender bias has posed challenges within their local business community. Many said they felt less supported than other businesses due to their race. This report describes these challenges and opportunities and offers recommendations for how state and local chambers of commerce can support working families by supporting female providers of color.
  • The Equity Research Action Coalition, POINTS of ACCESS, LLC, and the National Black Child Development Institute have collaborated in creating the Black Child National Agenda because of the urgent need to challenge the negative and stereotypical narrative of Black children, families, and communities and to challenge policies and systems that undermine basic human rights and community wellness. This ambitious agenda for Black children calls for actions to dismantle structural racism and systemic inequities that get in the way of Black children’s success in school and life.

  • A resource from the Children’s Equity Project offers 14 critical priorities and actionable policies that federal and state policymakers can immediately and concretely utilize to advance racial equity in the early care and education system. As the report notes, “any policy agenda to dismantle systemic racism in this country must include bold reforms to the ECE system that concretely address equity in access, experiences, and outcomes.”

  • Research and analysis from Nadiyah Taylor in which she takes her years of experience as an early educator, a diversity consultant, and a professor of child development to answer important questions for teachers, like: How can we make sure our classrooms and learning environments are safe spaces, not sources of more racial trauma for children, employees and families? How can you reflect on your own Blackness as an educator and create space for Blackness in your learning environments? Read more in Centering Blackness in Early Education.

  • A recent post from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) looks at the research on the systemic racism and inequitable punishment Black children experience, even in early childhood education program. “Black children’s behavior is scrutinized and punished more than their peers, even typical child-like behavior. While Black children comprise 19 percent of the preschool population, they represent 47 percent of preschool suspensions.” Read more in “Mitigating the Criminalization of Black Children through Federal Relief.”

  • In “Re-Envisioning Early Childhood Policy and Practice in a World of Striking Inequality and Uncertainty,” Dr. Jack Shonkoff at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child examines how advances in the science of adversity and resilience offer new fuel for more effective strategies to address three particularly pressing needs, including:
    • To expand the longstanding focus of the early childhood ecosystem on poverty and educational achievement to also address the critically important issues of systemic racism and lifelong health.
    • To help shape new approaches to promoting healthy development that are matched to the diverse assets and needs of families raising young children in a wide variety of circumstances and cultural contexts.
    • To stimulate new ideas about how to respond more effectively to specific challenges identified by service providers, clinicians, educators, policymakers, and community leaders across a broad range of contexts.
  • The Alliance for Early Success has developed a Racial Equity and Advocacy resource center, working alongside its allies to better see the structural racism that pervades our institutions—and to intentionally center equity and pursue antiracist policies.

As an organization that advocates for greater federal investment in high-quality early childhood education, FFYF is committed to advancing policy solutions that result in more equitable access to the programs and opportunities that are proven to help children build strong foundations for long-term success in life. The benefits of high-quality programs from birth through age five do not end with one child, but instead extend to the entire family, now and in the years to come.

These early learning programs must, however, be structured in such a way that actually delivers on the promise of high-quality learning and development. Racism and racial bias directly contribute to this and many other shameful statistics, which must be addressed through systemic reforms.

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