Two-Generation Programs in Head Start: Three Experimental Studies of Parent and Child Interventions
(Family and Child Policy)
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Merrick II (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Teresa Eckrich Sommer, Northwestern University; Institute for Policy Research
Panel Chairs: Hirokazu Yoshikawa, New York University
Discussants: Amanda Morris, Oklahoma State University
Two-generation programs targeting parents and their children at the same time represent a promising anti-poverty strategy for families, and are gaining momentum across the country (Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 2014). The goal of addressing the needs of vulnerable parents and their children together has characterized Head Start since its inception. Program founders sought to provide parent-oriented programs as well as early childhood education for children in order to reduce social disparities over time (Zigler & Valentine, 1979; Zigler & Styfco, 2004). The Head Start University Partnership: Dual-Generation Approaches grant program of ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation was designed to build an evidence base regarding the role Head Start can play in further promoting school readiness and children’s healthy development by integrating targeted parent and child interventions to improve family well-being. The model programs highlighted in this symposium are at the cutting edge of two-generation research and practice in early childhood education.
The symposium presents findings from three experimental studies that each investigate the impacts of a simultaneously implemented parent and child intervention in Head Start targeted to specific domains of development (e.g. self-regulation, socioemotional skill-building, and English language acquisition) on parents, children, and families. The research includes:
• A study in Oregon of an intervention which addresses attention and self-regulation in preschoolers via (1) a classroom-based program called “Brain Train” and (2) a parenting program aimed at reducing household stress and improving parenting skills. They test whether the intervention will have a positive impact on self-regulation in both children and their parents, as measured by stress physiology and brain function, and yield longer-term improvements in family well-being.
• A study in Alabama that examines the combined impacts of a parent program (Coping Power) and a proven socioemotional classroom curriculum for mostly rural preschool-based children (PATHS). The combined curriculum (Power-Path program) is designed to support positive home and school environments; improve parent and child emotional self-regulation; and increase interpersonal skills and social problem-solving.
• An intervention in Oklahoma that adds a contextualized family literacy English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum for parents to Head Start programming for dual-language learner children. This program is designed to improve parents’ understanding of and involvement in their children’s learning and development while also advancing their language skills. The study tests the influence of the joint parent and child intervention on parenting practices, family processes, and child well-being among immigrant-origin families.
All three studies use common measurements of parenting stress, parental depression, and child and parent executive functioning. Together, findings across the experiments will show a range of approaches to implementing dual-generation programs and provide much-needed specificity in the understanding of how to support specific parenting behaviors that improve the skills of both parents and their children. Results will be discussed with regard to sustainability and replicability within Head Start as well as broader preschool education programs and policies.