Power PATH: Integrated Two-Generation Social Emotional Intervention for Head Start Preschoolers and Their Parents
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper examines whether Power PATH, an integrated classroom and parent social-emotional curriculum, can be successfully implemented in Head Start settings, and whether it leads to significant improvements in child school-readiness and family well-being. Power PATH combines the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (Preschool PATHS) social-emotional classroom curriculum for children (Domitrovich, Greenberg, Cortes, & Kusche, 1999) with the Coping Power parent program (Wells, Lochman & Lenhart, 2008). The curricula each have an existing evidence-base for improving social-emotional functioning in children (Bierman et al., 2008; 2012; Domitrovich & Greenberg, 2007; Morris et al., 2014) and parents (e.g., Lochman & Wells, 2003, 2004; Lochman et al., 2006), respectively. The coordinated parent-child curriculum is designed to: create positive, consistent home and classroom environments; improve child and parent emotional self-regulation and interpersonal skills; and increase natural social supports. While Power PATH does not directly target parent employment or financial income, it is designed to enhance their social-emotional skills and resources, which are foundational to educational and financial attainment.
The large, experimental study is being conducted in collaboration with a community action program that administers Head Start preschools in seven counties in Alabama. The study sample is predominantly Black/African American (75%) and from rural to semi-rural areas. Twenty-six classrooms across nine Head Start centers were randomly assigned (by center) to receive Power PATH or Head Start-as-usual. Initial pilot testing yielded evidence of strong, positive impacts. This paper will present findings from the first intervention cohort (n=117) in the following domains: implementation of Power PATH in Head Start preschools; program effects on children (cognitive and executive function skills, emotional and behavioral self-regulation, stress physiology) and parents/families (parental stress and mental health, emotional self-regulation, executive function, social support, educational and employment status, and financial well-being); and participant perceptions of Power PATH, including its sustainability in Head Start settings. Experimental impact findings will provide compelling evidence of whether Power PATH can serve as a valuable resource for improving low-income parent and child social-emotional functioning in an integrated way.