Panel: Supporting Children by Supporting Parents: Policies to Promote Family Well-Being
(Family and Child Policy)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stetson G (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Elise Chor, Temple University
Panel Chairs:  Meghan McCormick, MDRC
Discussants:  Lisa Gennetian, New York University

The Effects of Using Head Start As a Platform to Provide Education and Training Program for Low-Income Parents
P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale1, Teresa Eckrich Sommer1, Terri J. Sabol1, Elise Chor1, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn2, Hirokazu Yoshikawa3, Christopher King4 and Amanda Morris5, (1)Northwestern University, (2)Columbia University, (3)New York University, (4)University of Texas, Austin, (5)Oklahoma State University

Increasing Attendance at Head Start: A Behavioral Approach
Ariel Kalil1, Susan E. Mayer1 and Sebastian Gallegos2, (1)University of Chicago, (2)Princeton University

Well-documented socioeconomic achievement gaps in early development, academic achievement, and educational attainment limit upward mobility among children born into low-income families (Reardon, 2011). Socioeconomic gradients in parenting have also been identified; low-income parents have fewer financial and time resources to invest in their children and may not provide their children with as much cognitive stimulation as more advantaged parents (Davis-Kean, 2005; Guryan, Hurst, & Kearney, 2008; Hart & Risley, 1995; Kalil, 2015). At particular risk are families with adolescent parents and parents with limited education. Given the central role that parents play in children’s lives, policymakers and program administrators have sought effective strategies to promote positive parenting behaviors as well as parents’ own success in order to influence their children’s outcomes. This panel will examine policies and interventions designed to meet these goals across a variety of low-income populations, using high-quality data and analytic techniques that allow for causal inference.

In “Intervening to Support Adolescent Parents: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” the authors review the evidence on the effectiveness of programs designed to support adolescent parents, a population at risk for limited labor market opportunities and whose children are at risk for negative outcomes. This paper examines a broad set of programs that have been evaluated using rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental methods to draw conclusions about how policymakers can best address repeat pregnancy, contraceptive use, and parents’ educational attainment, with consequences for their children. “Two-Generation Human Capital Interventions for Low-Income Mothers and their Young Children” uses experimental data on Head Start families to test the theory behind two-generation educational interventions designed to promote the achievement of parents and children together. Drawing on the connections between parent and child human capital, such programs have the potential to benefit both parents’ labor market outcomes and children’s development by more than single-generation educational interventions for parents or children (Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 2014). Finally, in recognition of the importance of consistent school attendance among young children (Connolly & Olson, 2012; Ehrlich, et al., 2014), “Increasing Attendance at Head Start: A Behavioral Approach” will present final impact findings from a behaviorally informed parent intervention to reduce chronic absenteeism in Head Start centers. Together, these papers will provide findings on varied strategies to promote positive behaviors among parents which can in turn promote the life chances of low-income children.

The panel’s chair has experience in the evaluation of policies to support low-income children’s academic, behavioral, and socioemotional development. The panel’s discussant has expertise in behavioral interventions designed to support parents’ positive behaviors, drawing on behavioral economics and developmental theory. She is well-suited to lead a discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of the programs under study in this panel, in addition to evaluating the data and methods used by the authors. The members of this panel (chair, discussant, and authors) will contribute to a rich discussion of the use of varied data sources, data types, measures, and analytic techniques to identify effective policies to promote the upward mobility of low-income children by supporting their parents.

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