Poster Paper: Encouraging Engagement and Data Informed Decision Making through the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership’s Self-Assessment

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Bentley Ponder, Carol Hartman, Jessie Bruno and Alexandria Williams, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

In 2014 the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) received funding to be an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grantee. As the state agency that oversees child care licensing, Georgia’s Pre-K, the state’s Quality Rated and Improvement System, and houses the Head Start Collaboration Office, the agency was in a unique position to align supports and create a program that raises the quality of infant and toddler care while improving access for families. DECAL’s EHS-CCP model includes the creation of “early education hubs” to provide comprehensive services and the utilization of family child care learning homes to serve Dual-Language Learners whose home language is Spanish.

As a grantee, the agency was able to devote resources to conduct research related to the effectiveness and efficacy of DECAL’s EHS-CCP model. This includes the required annual self-assessment, for which DECAL’s internal research and policy analysis unit, working closely with program leadership, designed a formal process evaluation utilizing a multi-method approach that included conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups with families, hub staff, child care directors, early head start teachers, and family child care learning home providers. The goal was to gauge how well the model is meeting Early Head Start requirements, providing needed comprehensive services to families, and supporting providers with enhanced training and professional development. Results from the self-assessments have been used to improve DECAL’s model.

The proposed poster will detail the research model, key findings, and demonstrate how the research has been used to create continual research-to-policy feedback loops and improve DECAL’s model. This poster will demonstrate how the goals of the partnership to improve quality of infant/toddler care, increase access to high quality services, and strengthen Georgia’s early education system have been met.

Selected Findings:

  1. The self-assessment demonstrates the effectiveness of the Family Child Care Learning Home model to serve Dual-Language Learners, raise quality and improve access. Specifically, the qualitative data arising out of focus groups was overwhelmingly supportive of FCCLHs and the quantitative data coming from the child development standards suggests that children participating in FCCLHs are developmentally on track.
  2. The self-assessment also found that additional dialogue and transparency was needed between the various levels of DECAL’s EHS-CCP model. This is true not only in terms of research findings but also in research design. The response rates for some of the evaluation activities were low. Therefore, DECAL’s research team is continuing to make adjustments to the self-assessment process.

The implications of this research have national significance. This includes providing a model where other states and grantees can utilize internal resources to conduct rigorous research. The findings also demonstrate effective ways that states can support family child care providers and dual-language learners. Finally, the results show how states and grantees can align resources to raise quality and improve access. The importance of this research transcends early education in revealing the ways that research can be used for program improvement and to increase dialogue and create mechanisms that facilitate effective transparency.