The West Coast Poverty Center (WCPC) presents…
“A Contributing Role of Parental Investments in Early Learning to Head Start Impacts on Children’s Language & Literacy”
Soojin Oh Park | Education, University of Washington
Monday, January 23rd, 12:30-1:30 with Q&A until 2:00
Peterson Room, Allen Library (Room 485)
Abstract: Head Start was designed to combat disadvantages in early learning and development faced by children in poverty, and to reduce income-based opportunity and achievement gaps between haves and have-nots. However, the national Head Start Impact Study (HSIS) found that an offer of one year’s attendance in the Head Start program had
small impacts on children’s language and literacy. More interestingly, the HSIS reported that an offer of program attendance produced larger impacts among Latino Dual Language Learners (DLL,) but the question remains why these particular children benefitted from the program more than did their English-speaking peers. Additionally, the evaluation did not investigate whether changes in parenting practices mediated these program impacts on children’s learning. In this presentation, I argue that a study of the key mechanisms through which the program impacted child outcomes remains central to understanding why Head Start improved children’s language and literacy. A central aim of my research was to contribute to the body of early childhood research and inform policy directions and program development by: (a) investigating whether Intent-To-Treat (ITT) effects on early child language outcomes were mediated through parent-child language-and-literacy activities, and (b) conducting multi-group comparisons to test whether the impact of these mediational pathways differed by the child’s DLL status. I conclude with findings and important directions for how early childhood programs can improve parental investment in early learning for diverse groups of children, and explanations for why mediated effects differed by language status.