Poster Paper: Parents, Child Care, and Community Services: Who Uses Services and What Services Do They Use?

Saturday, November 9, 2013
West End Ballroom A (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Anamarie Auger, University of California, Irvine
One goal of many early childhood interventions, including Head Start and Early Head Start, is to promote child development through the provision of quality child care and preschool. But another is to improve children’s developmental outcomes by changing parenting practices and the home environment (e.g., Brooks-Gunn, Berlin & Fuligni, 2000; Love et al., 2005; McGroder & Hyra, 2009; Puma et al., 2010). Much research focuses on services offered to parents and the effect of these services on parents and children (e.g., Brooks-Gunn et al., 2000; McGroder & Hyra, 2009); however, little is known about whom uses services and supports offered or referred by child care programs and which specific services and supports are utilized. Research examining take-up of program services from a welfare-to-work intervention finds that usage of services are not universal and that a multitude of factors are associated with take-up (Gibson & Weisner, 2002). Few studies extend this work to examine which specific characteristics of participants are related to program service usage and the types of services or supports used. Additionally, much of this work is with volunteer or community samples, and little of it has been replicated across multiple data sets.

The proposed study aims to address the gap in the literature by examining three national data sets that span across the income spectrum, to see which characteristics of parents are related to usage of services provided from child care and preschool programs, and what types of services families use. Specifically, the study seeks to understand the characteristics of parents who use supports and services offered by child care programs by answering: (1) What characteristics of parents predict usage of supports and services offered through the child care center and the community? (2) What types of services and supports do parents use? To address these research questions three national data sets (Head Start Impact Study, National Evaluation of Early Head Start, and NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development) will be analyzed. Each contains rich data on child care, community services, and parenting practices. These questions aim to further the field’s understanding of the needs of families whose child is enrolled in center-based care. By understanding the types of parents who use services offered through or referred by a child care center, centers can better target their resources towards the most used services and/or their recruitment efforts to those families not already actively engaged.