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Early-Years Column

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Disadvantaged children from low- and lower-middle-income families are less likely than those from wealthier families to attend early-childhood programs that are center-based, a new study shows.

The study by the National Center for Education Statistics, which is based on a survey of the parents of 5,091 3- to 5-year-olds, also shows that preschoolers whose mothers do not have a high school education are less likely to attend center-based programs, as are those born to a mother who first became pregnant as a teenager or those from large families.

Hispanic children are less likely than whites to attend center-based programs, a trend the report links to the generally lower education levels of Hispanic mothers. Black children and children with disabilities are more likely than others to be in center-based programs after controlling for other factors.

The report suggests that the quality of centers at-risk children attend does not vary according to income, at least in terms of child-staff ratios and group sizes. But the authors say better measures and more data from providers are needed.

Information on how to order the report, "Access to Early Childhood Programs for Children at Risk,'' N.C.E.S. 93-372, is available from the U.S. Education Department by calling (800) 424-1616.

Forty early-childhood experts journeyed to Reggio Emilia, Italy, this month for a two-week seminar on the city's pre-primary program, which has been hailed for involving children in projects that spur creativity and critical thinking. (See Education Week, Nov. 25, 1992.)

The Council for Early-Childhood Professional Development, a Washington-based group that administers the Child Development Associate credentialing program, has launched a "Reggio Children U.S.A.'' project that helped to coordinate the seminar.

A symposium in Washington this week, meanwhile, will address the methods of Reggio Emilia and the theories of Howard Gardner of Harvard University on multiple intelligences. It is sponsored by the National Learning Center at the Capital Children's Museum.

A new guide offers tips for teaching safety and curbing injury among children. Copies of "Is It Safe? Injury Prevention for Young Children'' are available for $17.95 each from ETR Associates, P.O. Box 1830, Santa Cruz, Calif. 95061-1830; (800) 321-4407.

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