Recent Highlights from Our Collection

Below are highlights from our most recent acquisitions. Research Connections scans its newest acquisitions, focusing on those from key organizations and journals, to identify resources to feature here.

Can relative child care improve maternal parenting practices in fragile families?

The relationship of relative child care and parenting behaviors in fragile families
Lin, Ching-Hsuan, 11/01/2017

Relative child care is the most common type of child care, especially for low-income and racial/ethnic minority families. This type of child care may provide emotional support but also generate stress. This study examines whether the use of relative child care improves maternal parenting practices. Data from 3475 families in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study were used to examine how relative child care is related to parenting behaviors and how the patterns present among each racial/ethnic and immigrant family. Parenting stress was examined as a potential moderator. Findings suggest that there is a significant relationship between the use of relative child care and parenting behaviors, especially fewer harsh parenting (i.e., physical and psychological aggression) and positive parenting behaviors (i.e., non-violent discipline parenting). Relative child care had positive effects for Black and immigrant mothers, negative effects for White mothers, and mixed effects for Hispanic mothers. Parenting stress moderated the relationship, weakening the positive effects of relative care on harsh parenting, i.e., physically and psychologically aggressive behaviors. The results are expected to contribute to child welfare practice as well as child care research and provide implications for meeting the needs of minority and vulnerable families. (author abstract)

How does the Children's Health Activity Motor Program (CHAMP) support motor skills and self-regulation in Head Start preschoolers?

Effect of the Children's Health Activity Motor Program on motor skills and self-regulation in Head Start preschoolers: An efficacy trial
Robinson, Leah E., 09/08/2016

Self-regulatory skills are broadly defined as the ability to manage emotions, focus attention, and inhibit some behaviors while activating others in accordance with social expectations and are an established indicator of academic success. Growing evidence links motor skills and physical activity to self-regulation. This study examined the efficacy of a motor skills intervention (i.e., the Children's Health Activity Motor Program, CHAMP) that is theoretically grounded in Achievement Goal Theory on motor skill performance and self-regulation in Head Start preschoolers. A sample of 113 Head Start preschoolers ([mean]age = 51.91 [plus or minus] 6.5 months; 49.5% males) were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 68) or control (n = 45) program. CHAMP participants engaged in 15, 40-min sessions of a mastery climate intervention that focused on the development of motor skills over 5 weeks while control participants engaged in their normal outdoor recess period. The Delay of Gratification Snack Task was used to measure self-regulation and the Test of Gross Motor Development-2nd Edition was used to assess motor skills. All measures were assessed prior to and following the intervention. Linear mixed models were fit for both self-regulation and motor skills. Results revealed a significant time x treatment interaction (p < 0.001). In regard to motor skills, post hoc comparisons found that all children improved their motor skills (p < 0.05), but the CHAMP group improved significantly more than the control group (p < 0.001). Children in CHAMP maintained their self-regulation scores across time, while children in the control group scored significantly lower than the CHAMP group at the posttest (p < 0.05). CHAMP is a mastery climate movement program that enhance skills associated with healthy development in children (i.e., motor skills and self-regulation). This efficacy trial provided evidence that CHAMP helped maintain delay of gratification in preschool age children and significantly improved motor skills while participating in outdoor recess was not effective. CHAMP could help contribute to children's learning-related skills and physical development and subsequently to their academic success. (author abstract)

How do use and type of early care and education arrangements relate to young children's risk of foster placement?

Early care and education arrangements and young children's risk of foster placement: Findings from a national child welfare sample
Klein, Sacha Mareka, 01/01/2017

The study reported here builds on the existing literature that suggests that ECE may help the U.S. CWS achieve its objective of reducing child abuse and neglect by exploring ECE's relationship to the system's related objective of reducing unnecessary foster placements. The two studies linking child care subsidies to fewer foster care removals only consider the subset of ECE arrangements funded through government subvention (Lipscomb, Lewis, Masyn, & Meloy, 2012; Meloy, Lipscomb, & Baron, 2015); thus, they overlook the relationship between CWS-involved families' participation in free ECE programs like Head Start and Early Head Start (which frequently prioritize CWS-supervised children for enrollment) as well as privately paid ECE. Furthermore, the current study makes use of a nationally representative sample of children reported to CWS, and so its results are more broadly generalizable. The current study also measures ECE participation in more specific ways than child welfare researchers have previously, taking into account not only whether or not a child received regular ECE services, but also the type of services received (Head Start, other center- or home-based ECE, family/friend/relative care, other ECE, or multiple types of ECE). This paper explores two research questions with respect to children under age five reported to the U.S. CWS for suspected maltreatment: (a) Are those who receive ECE services less likely to be placed in foster care? and (b) Does the type of ECE arrangement that they use affect their likelihood of placement in foster care? (author abstract)

How do children's sleeping patterns in Head Start relate to cognitive and behavioral outcomes?

The sleeping patterns of Head Start children and the influence on developmental outcomes
Schlieber, Marisa, 01/01/2017

Background: Sleep has a significant influence on children's development. The objective of this study was to investigate Head Start children's sleeping patterns and the impact on cognitive and behavioural outcomes. Methods: Using the 2009 cohort of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (N = 2,868), information on sleeping patterns was assessed through parent interviews. Cognitive outcomes were assessed using direct assessments (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-IV, the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test, and Subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson III) in addition to teacher report. Behavioural outcomes were assessed through parent and teacher reports. A multiple regression analysis was performed for each outcome variable. Results: Descriptive findings showed that 89% of children had a regular bedtime at least 4 days per week and that the average amount of sleep per night was 10.41 hr. White mothers were more likely than other racial groups to adhere to a consistent bedtime, and maternal employment predicted less hour of sleep per night. Multiple regression analyses revealed that disrupted sleep had a negative influence on cognitive outcomes, especially in areas of mathematical problem solving, receptive language, teacher-reported literacy behaviours, and approaches to learning. Disrupted sleep was associated with the risk of misbehaviour by increasing teacher and parent ratings on aggressive behaviours, hyperactivity, and withdrawing in addition to decreased scores on overall social skills. Having an inconsistent bedtime negatively predicted expressive vocabulary and teacher-reported literacy behaviours. Conclusions: The findings of this study support the influential role of sleep on children's development. Sleeping through the night and having a consistent bedtime were found to be predictive of many areas of cognitive and behavioural development. Head Start staff can provide the supports to increase parental knowledge on appropriate child sleep practices. (author abstract)

What challenges do farmworker families face in accessing child care services?

Caring for children while working in agriculture--The perspective of farmworker parents
Liebman, Amy K., 01/01/2017

Access to safe, off-farm childcare is often a challenge for farmworkers with young children and is likely to become an increasingly salient barrier as more agricultural workers migrate together with families and as the number of women entering the agricultural workforce increases. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries, and the presence of young children in the workplace puts them at risk. To better understand the current nature of childcare for farmworker families and the challenges to accessing services, this project facilitated in-person surveys with 132 parents in three communities in Florida. A convenience sample that intentionally targeted parents living and working in areas with limited access to Migrant and Seasonal Head Start facilities was used to recruit participants. Most participants reported childcare access as a challenge. They expressed a desire to work in an area based on childcare availability. These findings offer agribusiness leaders important data to consider. They also suggest that industry support of childcare may be an important workforce investment. Findings indicate that high quality, affordable off-farm childcare services could serve as a means for attracting farmworkers to regions currently experiencing labor shortages. Additional research is warranted to explore this subject in diverse geographic areas. (author abstract)

Check out in the Research Connections collection a report on employers' perspective on childcare services for hired farm workers.

How do Head Start teachers perceive instructional mandates?

Policy-based instructional reform in early education: How US Head Start teachers perceive instructional mandates
Jacoby, Jennifer Wallace, 09/20/2017

The goal of this study was to investigate how early childhood teachers reported responding to the instructional mandates they received. To answer our research questions, we completed semi-structured interviews with 20 early childhood teachers and coded their responses. The participating teachers were recruited from a large Head Start agency in the United States. We found that Head Start teachers reported feeling caught between two competing priorities: the priority the program placed on compliance with instructional routines and the priority the teachers placed on addressing children's social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Essentially, teachers perceived that they must demonstrate compliance to the program's instructional mandates first and foremost. Furthermore, they perceived that the program's instructional coaches were monitoring their compliance with the mandates. As a result of this workplace context, the Head Start teachers reported that they did not feel permitted to alter the program's required instructional procedures. The implications for policy and research are discussed. (author abstract)

How does public prekindergarten program quality vary by children's race and income, within and across states?

Will public pre-K really close achievement gaps? Gaps in prekindergarten quality between students and across states
Valentino, Rachel A.,
Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Center for Education Policy Analysis. Retrieved from

Publicly funded pre-K is often touted as a means to narrow achievement gaps, but this goal is less likely to be achieved if poor/minority children do not, at a minimum, attend equal quality pre-K as their non-poor/non-minority peers. In this paper I find large "quality gaps" in public pre-K between poor/minority students and non-poor/non-minority students, ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 SD on a range of classroom observational measures. I also find that even after adjusting for several classroom characteristics, significant and sizable quality gaps remain. Finally, I find much between-state variation in gap magnitudes, and that state-level quality gaps are related to state-level residential segregation. These findings are particularly troubling if a goal of public pre-K is to minimize inequality. (author abstract)

How do disadvantaged preschoolers' achievement gains compare in universal and targeted state public prekindergarten programs?

Does universal preschool hit the target? Program access and preschool impacts
Cascio, Elizabeth U., 03/01/2017
(NBER Working Paper No. 23215). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from

Despite substantial interest in preschool as a means of narrowing the achievement gap, little is known about how particular program attributes might influence the achievement gains of disadvantaged preschoolers. This paper uses survey data on a recent cohort to explore the mediating influence of one key program attribute -- whether disadvantage itself is a criterion for preschool admission. Taking advantage of age-eligibility rules to construct an instrument for attendance, I find that universal state-funded prekindergarten (pre-K) programs generate substantial positive effects on the reading scores of low-income 4 year olds. State pre-K programs targeted toward disadvantaged children do not. Differences in other pre-K program requirements and population demographics cannot explain the larger positive impacts of universal programs. The alternatives to universal and targeted state pre-K programs also do not significantly differ. Together, these findings suggest that universal preschools offer a relatively high-quality learning experience for low-income children not reflected in typical quality metrics. (author abstract)

To see a complete list of new research, please view Archived New Research.