Friday, November 9, 2012: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Salon B (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Organizers: Cheri Vogel, Mathematica Policy Research
Moderators: Kathleen McCartney, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University/Department of Psychology
Chairs: Kimberly Boller, Mathematica Policy Research
Brain development research over the last 20 years has provided convincing evidence that there are periods in early childhood that are critical for establishing positive developmental trajectories (Shore 1997). More recent research on the role of toxic stress early in life indicates that chronic childhood stress can alter brain development, increasing chances for lifelong negative consequences (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/topics/science_of_early_childhood/toxic_stress_response/). Evidence of the effectiveness of long-term impacts of intensive interventions for young children has been used to argue for increased investment in the earliest years of children’s development (Heckman 2008). Taken together, these research strands help explain why children living in poverty are likely to fall behind their more advantaged peers (poverty is itself a chronic stressor) (Halle et al. 2009), and why early intervention is critical. Developmental lags are measurable early—appearing as early as 9 months old (Halle et al. 2009). Early delays translate to an achievement gap that result in lower school performance, higher rates of teen pregnancy, and a perpetuated cycle of poverty.
Compared to preschool interventions, there are few existing, evidence-based interventions designed to enhance the development of infants and toddlers, particularly those from families who lack resources to provide developmentally stimulating environments. This panel will present findings from studies of four types of interventions that include a national two-generation program for low-income pregnant women and children, the new federally funded home visiting program for low income pregnant women and children, a curriculum for child care providers to develop sensitive relationships with children in their care, and a comprehensive center-based model for early education.
Early Head Start is a national two-generation program for low-income pregnant women and children up to age 3. The Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) is the first nationally representative study of the program. In addition to measuring child outcomes, it also collected data on the quality of services and amount taken up by families. This paper describes the study design and findings about the amount and quality of care provided, amount of services received, and models that identify predictors of these Early Head Start experiences.
The second paper describes the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program funded through the Affordable Care Act and the evaluation designed to study its impacts.
The third paper will describe an evaluation of a training program and curriculum for early childhood care providers. The Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) is informed by brain development research that emphasizes early relationships as the foundation for healthy child development. In a rigorous evaluation researchers examined effects on children’s outcomes and on classroom quality.
The last paper is on a model early childhood education program. Educare schools operate full day and full year serving at-risk children from birth to age five. It describes results of a longitudinal study of more than 2,000 Educare children in 13 schools and the design of a randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy of Educare.