Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies: Massachusetts Family Child Care Study, 2005-2007 (ICPSR 31581)
Published: Dec 13, 2011
The Massachusetts Family Child Care study is a two-year evaluation, conducted by Abt Associates Inc, the Manpower Development Research Corporation (MDRC) and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), of the impacts of the LearningGames program on providers and children in family child care. LearningGames is designed to train caregivers to stimulate children's cognitive, language, and social-emotional development through a set of 200 simple games that encourage intensive, one-on-one interactions as a platform that allows the adult to engage the child in meaningful conversation, to listen to the child and respond to the child's questions and actions, and to scaffold and build on the child's growing skills at using and understanding language. The goal of LearningGames is to increase the frequency of rich language interactions between caregivers and children due to the importance of oral language development in children's understanding of words and concepts, in their ability to become competent readers, and in their long-term academic success and of the role played by rich language stimulation in promoting children's development. This evaluation of LearningGames examines the effectiveness of the program in changing the behavior of the family child care providers and the developmental outcomes for the children who are cared for by providers trained on LearningGames.
Baseline data were collected in the summer of 2005 with follow up observations taking place in the fall of 2006 and again in the winter of 2007. Of the 55 family child care provider networks in Massachusetts, 16 were sampled, resulting in 1,250 children enrolled in 353 study homes, though the study suffered a heavy overall attrition rate of 58 percent.
The data are provided in four data sets, one file containing data on the providers, a baseline observations file and two annual follow ups. The provider file (2005 Provider Data), includes data on: the provider's years of experience in family child care, their reasons for working as a family child care provider, what they would change about their job, what they believe is their responsibility for the children, their educational background, their age, sex, and race, the languages that they speak at home, the languages that they speak with the children in their care, and the types of materials that they read. Due to the descriptive sensitivity of the variables, this dataset requires a signed user agreement to access. All other datasets are publically available. The observation files include data from several measures: the QUEST Caregiver Rating Scale (subset of items), the Arnett Caregiver Interaction Scale, the revised Snapshot of Activities (from the OMLIT), the Read-Aloud Profile (from the OMLIT), and the TALK.The data include: the amount of time the provider shows interest in what children say or do, whether or not the provider seems to enjoy children, the average number of activities observed, the amount of read-alouds where the provider relates the book to group activities prior to reading the book, and whether or not the provider encourages children to do activities on their own.
FundingUnited States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (Contract Number: 233-01-0015)
Subject Termscaregivers child care child development curriculum evaluation early childhood education educational policy infants native language preschool children toddlers
Geographic CoverageUnited States Massachusetts
Dataset one of this study, 2005 Provider Data, is restricted from public access. All other datasets in the study are publically accessible.
Access to the restricted dataset requires a signed User Agreement. To obtain the file(s), researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of the Restricted Data Use Agreement, found via ICPSR's online Restricted Data Contracting System, by clicking the "apply online for access to the data" link above.
Time Period(s)2005 -- 2007
Date of Collection2005 (Spring), 2006 (Fall), 2007 (Fall/Winter)
Data Collection Notes
Observations of the homes were conducted at three times over the intervention period: at baseline (spring 2005), after one year of implementation of LearningGames (fall 2006), and after two years of implementation (fall/winter 2007). The impact analyses focused on the winter 2007 observations, which represented the end of the intervention. At this time point, all treatment group providers remaining in the sample had been in the study for more than two years, and treatment providers had received at least 24 months of systematic training support on LearningGames from the network home visitors. (The range of exposure varies somewhat, depending on the month providers received their initial training.)
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the impacts of an early childhood education program on providers and children in family child care. The program -- LearningGames -- is designed to train caregivers to stimulate children's cognitive, language, and social-emotional development. This evaluation of LearningGames examines the effectiveness of the program in changing the behavior of the family child care providers and the developmental outcomes for the children who are cared for by providers trained on LearningGames. The two major research questions for the study include: (1) did LearningGames have significant positive impacts on the developmental support provided by providers to the children in care, and (2) did LearningGames homes have significant positive impacts on developmental outcomes for the children in care? The goal of the evaluation was to provide information that states and local communities can use to inform their decisions about the use of child care subsidy and child care quality improvement funds.
The study was a randomized cluster design, with family child care providers assigned to treatment or control. Children were clustered within provider, so that all children in treatment homes had an opportunity to receive LearningGames and all children in control homes received their provider's regular program. The study is intended to be an effectiveness study, in that the impact of LearningGames was studied under typical or real-world conditions. That is, LearningGames was implemented in the family child care homes the same way it would have been in the absence of the study: staff from the family child care networks provided most of the training on LearningGames and providers were expected to integrate LearningGames into their regular program. Further, although the study tried its best to achieve high fidelity of implementation across all treatment providers through training and ongoing support, variation in implementation was expected. Since the study was being conducted under real-world conditions, providers had control over whether and how well they implemented the components of the intervention.
Of the 55 family child care provider networks in Massachusetts, 16 were sampled. Within each network, individual providers were eligible for the study if they had been in operation for at least two years, were caring for at least one child under the age of 36 months, and were willing to comply with the requirements of random assignment. These criteria were intended to produce a sample of providers who were relatively stable, and therefore more likely to remain in operation over the two-year study period, and who cared for children who were young enough that they might be expected to remain with the provider for at least two years and could have extended exposure to LearningGames. A total of 1250 children enrolled in 353 study homes were sampled, representing almost half of all affiliated family child care homes and a little more than one-third of the state's family child care providers who care for children supported by subsidies.
Family child care providers, and the children in their care, who operate within state contracted child care networks, care for one or more children under the age of 36 months and had been in operation for at least two years.
Unit(s) of Observationfamily child care provider, children
Data Type(s)experimental data, observational data, survey data
Mode of Data Collectioncoded on-site observation
Response RatesOf the 55 family child care provider networks in Massachusetts 16 responded.
Original Release Date2011-08-25
2011-12-13 Updating the user agreement.
2011-09-16 Updating the user agreement.
2011-09-14 The metadata description and the User Guide were updated to reflect the restrictions on the first dataset. The Codebook for the first dataset was made publicly available. A User Agreement was included in the study downloads.
The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.
This study is provided by Child Care & Early Education Research Connections.