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Recent Highlights from Our Research and Policy Library

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.

How are family child care providers' perceived professional support and personal stress associated with their responsiveness towards children's social-emotional challenges?

Family child care providers' responsiveness toward children: The role of professional support and perceived stress
Jeon, Lieny, 01/01/2018

Approximately 7 million 0- to 5-year-old children attend family child care, which is a non-parental, paid care provided in a child care provider's home in the U.S. Despite the importance of family child care providers' role in supporting young children's development, studies on family child care providers' responsiveness for children in their care are lacking. This study investigates whether family child care providers' perceived professional support (i.e., professional resources and connectedness with children's families) and perceived personal stress are independently and jointly associated with their responsiveness towards children's emotional and social challenges. Survey data were collected from 888 family child care providers in 40 states in the U.S. We found that when family child care providers have more professional resources, they utilize less negative guidance. Further, when family child care providers have more positive connectedness with children's families, they utilize more positive guidance. Family child care providers' perceived personal stress was significantly associated with their responsiveness towards children's negative emotions. Examining interactions between perceived professional support and personal stress, we found that perceived professional support was positively associated with family child care providers' responsiveness only when their stress level was low. The study emphasizes a need for providing targeted interventions for family child care providers to support their professional development as well as psychological wellbeing. (author abstract)

Are the vocabulary skills of children who learned Cantonese as a home language and English as a second language predicted by the amount of each language used at home?

Effects of home language input on the vocabulary knowledge of sequential bilingual children
Cheung, Shirley, 01/01/2018

The current study examined whether the vocabulary skills of sequential bilingual children who learned Cantonese as a home language (L1) and English as a second language (L2) were predicted by the amount of L1 and L2 used at home. Ninety-two preschool children who learned Cantonese as L1 were recruited from a Head Start program. The amounts of L1 and L2 used at home were measured using parent questionnaires. Mixed patterns of L1 and L2 use were found across family members and home activities. After controlling for time spent in preschool, regression analyses showed that the amount of L1 and L2 used by individual family members, with the exception of older siblings, was not significantly linked to children's vocabulary skills. In contrast, the language used during some home activities such as dinner and book reading significantly predicted children's vocabulary knowledge. Implications for family involvement in facilitating children's vocabulary development are discussed. (author abstract)

What are the lessons from a community-wide approach to the kindergarten transition in its first year of implementation?

A community effort to support the transition from pre-K to kindergarten
Spain, Angeline, 07/01/2018
Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. Retrieved from

Researchers at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (Chapin Hall) and the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium) studied the first full-year implementation of PKTP in 2016-17. This report provides an overview of PKTP's approach as a transitions program; describes implementation fidelity, successes, and challenges; and characterizes teacher and family reports about their experiences with this effort to create coherence across the schools and centers in Altgeld-Riverdale. Studying this model offered an opportunity to add to a new and growing knowledge base about implementation efforts to improve kindergarten transition experiences. (author abstract)

Can dramatic pretend play games improve young children's emotional control?

Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children
Goldstein, Thalia R., 07/01/2018

Pretense is a naturally occurring, apparently universal activity for typically developing children. Yet its function and effects remain unclear. One theorized possibility is that pretense activities, such as dramatic pretend play games, are a possible causal path to improve children's emotional development. Social and emotional skills, particularly emotional control, are critically important for social development, as well as academic performance and later life success. However, the study of such approaches has been criticized for potential bias and lack of rigor, precluding the ability to make strong causal claims. We conducted a randomized, component control (dismantling) trial of dramatic pretend play games with a low-SES group of 4-year-old children (N = 97) to test whether such practice yields generalized improvements in multiple social and emotional outcomes. We found specific effects of dramatic play games only on emotional self-control. Results suggest that dramatic pretend play games involving physicalizing emotional states and traits, pretending to be animals and human characters, and engaging in pretend scenarios in a small group may improve children's emotional control. These findings have implications for the function of pretense and design of interventions to improve emotional control in typical and atypical populations. Further, they provide support for the unique role of dramatic pretend play games for young children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at: (author abstract)

What is the impact of full-day versus half-day prekindergarten on children's school readiness?

The effects of full-day pre-kindergarten: Experimental evidence of impacts on children's school readiness
Atteberry, Allison, 07/01/2018
(EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 64). Charlottesville: University of Virginia, EdPolicyWorks. Retrieved from

This study is a randomized control trial of full- versus half-day pre-kindergarten in a school district near Denver. Four-year-old children were randomly assigned an offer of half-day (four days/week) or full-day (five days/week) pre-k that increased class time by over 600 hours. The offer of full day pre-k produced large, positive effects on children's receptive vocabulary skills (0.267 standard deviations) by the end of pre-k. Among children enrolled in district schools, full-day participants also outperformed their peers on teacher-reported measures of cognition, literacy, math, and physical development. At kindergarten entry, children offered pre-k still outperformed peers on a widely-used measure of basic literacy. The study provides the first rigorous evidence on the impact of full-day preschool on children's school readiness skills. (author abstract)

What evidence-based programs can support young children's social-emotional learning?

Special issue: Advancement of evidence-based programs for young children with social and emotional learning difficulties
Hemmeter, Mary Louise, 09/01/2018

A special issue of the journal School Mental Health, focusing on interventions designed for supporting young children's social-emotional learning

What are the American public's preferences for universal versus target preschool approaches?

Public preferences for targeted and universal preschool
Greenberg, Erica, 01/01/2018

For the past half century, debate over income-targeted and universal approaches to American preschool policy has divided advocates, policymakers, and practitioners. This is the first paper to inform the debate with evidence from public opinion. It begins with the design and fielding of a nationally representative poll of preferences for targeted and universal preschool (N = 1,000). This poll yields rich data with which to assess the causes and correlates of support for each approach. Results indicate that preschool preferences are conditioned by financial self-interest and egalitarian values and that a savvy policymaker should not necessarily endorse universal over targeted preschool. In fact, Americans facing the possibility of tax increases to fund public preschool and those who prioritize equality of opportunity prefer a targeted approach. (author abstract)

What does the domestic and international research literature tell us about the effects of universal early care and education programs on children's outcomes?

Do children benefit from universal early childhood education and care?: A meta-analysis of evidence from natural experiments
Huizen, Thomas van, 01/01/2018

This study examines the effects of universal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) on child development and children's later life outcomes. Using meta-analytical techniques, we synthesize the findings from recent studies that exploit natural experiments to identify the causal effects of universal ECEC arrangements. We use 250 estimates from 30 studies conducted between 2005 and 2017. Our meta-regressions include estimates on a wide variety of children's outcomes, ranging from (non-)cognitive development measured during early childhood to educational outcomes and earnings in adulthood. Overall, the evidence on universal ECEC is mixed. Age of enrollment is not a major factor in explaining the impact. Some evidence indicates that more intensive programs produce more favorable outcomes. Program quality matters critically: high quality arrangements consistently generate positive child outcomes. Publicly provided programs produce more favorable effects than privately provided (and mixed) programs. Furthermore, there is no evidence of fading out. The gains of ECEC are concentrated within children from lower socioeconomic families. (author abstract)

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