School-Based Interventions to Support Both Parents and Children
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In recent decades, a growing body of research has examined the links between schools, children and families. Research suggests that parents can experience indirect benefits from their children’s participation in school-based interventions, particularly when programs combine supports and services for parents with education programs for children (Gardner, Brooks-Gunn, & Chase-Lansdale, 2017; Sabol & Chase-Lansdale, 2015). Efforts to increase parental engagement can further multiply the benefits received by participating children through improving educational quality and enabling parents to support their children's longer-term outcomes (Gelber & Isen, 2014; Barrera-Osorio et al. 2009).
However, there is less understanding of why school-based efforts to support parental engagement and parent outcomes are effective in some contexts but not others. The four papers in this panel examine efforts to support parent and family outcomes through school-based interventions in four distinct contexts. The panel focuses particularly on the mechanisms by which child and family participation in school-based interventions leads to changes in behavior and well-being. The papers in the panel include collaborations with researchers and practitioners, as well as interdisciplinary teams spanning the fields of economics, education, and psychology.
The first paper examines the mechanisms underlying a two-generation human capital program in Tulsa County that pairs a training program in the healthcare sector for parents with Head Start services for children. The authors use quasi-experimental methods to examine the design elements of the program that explain the observed effects on parent’s employment and psychological well-being. The authors identify effective recruitment platforms to support parents’ skill and career development, and foster parents’ social capital.
The second paper examines the impact of a multi-component, classroom-based intervention in Chicago on parents’ psychological well-being and human capital formation. Using the random assignment to the intervention, the authors estimate the program’s impacts on parents’ shorter-term measures of psychological distress and longer-term measures of human capital formation. The authors explore potential mechanisms, including the role of children’s well-being and behavior.
The third paper evaluates a randomized controlled trial of a parental empowerment program in rural Mexico. Parents in the treatment group received information focused on positive parenting practices, the school curriculum, and the administrative roles of the principal. The authors leverage a unique panel survey of parents, teachers, and principals to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the effect of the parental empowerment program on both parent and student outcomes.
The fourth paper examines the costs and benefits of a city-led initiative to provide high-quality preschool in San Antonio. To estimate the benefits of the preschool program, the authors consider a broad array of program outcomes such as children’s third-grade state test scores and special education placement, and the labor-force participation and educational attainment of parents who qualified for after-school childcare services.
Through these four papers, the session provides insight regarding the impacts and underlying mechanisms behind school-based interventions that aim to improve both child and parental outcomes. The findings from this panel can help inform the optimal design of education policies and programs aimed at supporting the lives of low-income families.