Child Development at the Intersection of Early Care and Education and Child Welfare
Meloy, Mary Elizabeth Corrington;
Phillips, Deborah A.;
||Extensive literature supports the notion that young children involved in the child welfare system exhibit a myriad of developmental needs, including developmental delays, and physical and mental health issues. Ample research also demonstrates the potential of high quality early care and education (ECE) programs to improve the wellbeing of other groups of similarly at-risk children. It follows that stable, developmentally appropriate ECE may also have the potential to improve developmental outcomes for children involved in Child Welfare. Yet children involved in this system may also have unique experiences that affect both their use of ECE and its potential impacts. Despite these traditions of research, there is a dearth of research at the critical nexus of these early childhood systems. This study represents the launch of a new program of inquiry aimed at addressing this gap in by providing detailed data about the ECE arrangements experienced by young foster children, factors that predict differing patterns of ECE use within this population, and the developmental outcomes of ECE use. Specifically, it draws upon one national and two state level datasets to address four research objectives: (1) Provide descriptive data on the ECE experiences of young foster children (timing, amount, type) and uncover any differences in patterns of ECE exposure by child or foster parent demographics; (2) Examine the contribution of foster parents' work status, access to public ECE supports, and preferences to patterns of ECE reliance; (3) Explore associations between patterns of ECE use and developmental outcomes for foster children; and (4) Examine all of these questions for the large subpopulation of foster children who also have special needs.
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