Secondary Analysis of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation (EHSRE) Study

The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation (EHSRE) project is a longitudinal evaluation study involving 17 of the first federally funded EHS sites across the nation serving low-income families and children. The following criteria was used to determine eligibility for inclusion in the EHSRE project:

  • Family poverty level
  • Family included a child who is 12 months old or younger on the date of application or a pregnant woman
  • Family was willing to participate in either the program or the control group
  • Family should have had no participation- prior to enrollment, for three months or longer in a similar early childhood intervention program.

Data collection was conducted from 1996-2001 when children were 14, 24, and 36 months old with mother-child dyads via direct child assessments, observations, and interviews.  Fathers were interviewed and observed when children were 24 and 36 months old. Areas of focus included parent-child relationships, child and family functioning, and home environment. Data were also collected on family services used at 6, 15, and 26 months after families were enrolled and at the time of exit from the program.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory proposes that a child develops within the context of multiple systems, which interact to form the child’s environment. Using this theory as a broad framework, we use EHSRE data to examine children’s development in a variety of parenting contexts (parents’ stress, depression, and parent-child interactions) across time and across multiple developmental domains (language, social-emotional, cognitive).

Some questions we have answered include:

  1. Does mothers’ and fathers’ parenting stress at 24 months affect the developmental outcomes of children at 36 months? (1)
  2. Does parenting stress have the same effect on the language, cognitive and behavioral development of boys and girls? (1&2)
  3. Does EHS protect language development from parenting stress or promote language development despite parenting stress? (2)
  4. Do the impacts of EHS on language in the context of parenting stress vary by child gender? (2)
  5. Are the effects of risks and stresses mediated through parent-child interaction characteristics? (3&4)
  6. Is the cognitive development of children in poverty protected by Early Head Start? (4)
  7. Do early symbol skills, including gestures and language, support the development of social skills such as engagement of others, comprehension of social concepts, and self-regulation ? (5&6)
  8. Is the relationship between language and self-regulation the same for boys and girls? (6)

Questions we are currently working on include:

  • Do children’s characteristics and behaviors influence the trajectory of their mothers’ depression?
  • Do children’s early gestures for negation (head shake) and affirmation (head nod) influence their self-regulation skills?
  • Does parents’ engagement in pretend play with their toddlers influence children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional skills?
  • What types of research questions about behavior and interactions are best addressed by coding systems and which are best addressed by rating systems?

Publications & Presentations

Peer-Reviewed Publications

(1) Harewood, T. (2010). The effects of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting stress on the developmental outcomes of children at 36 months in a low income sample. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

(2) Vallotton, C. D. Harewood, T., Ayoub, C. C., Pan, B., Mastergeorge, A. M., & Brophy-Herb, H. (in press). Boosting girls and buffering boys: The protective and promotive effects of Early Head Start for children’s language skills in the context of parental stress. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2011.03.001

(3) Ayoub, C. A., Vallotton, C. D., & Mastergeorge, A. M. (2011). Developmental pathways to integrated social skills: The roles of parenting and early intervention in raising healthy children. Child Development, 82, 331-345.

(4) Ayoub, C.A., O’Conner, E., Rappolt-Schlictmann, G., Vallotton, C. D., Raikes, H., & Chazan-Cohen, R. (2009). Cognitive skill performance among young children living in poverty: Risk, change, and the promotive effects of Early Head Start. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 289-305. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2009.04.001

(5) Vallotton, C. D., & Ayoub, C.A. (2009). Symbols build communication and thought: The role of gestures and words in the development of engagement skills and social-emotional concepts during toddlerhood. Social Development, 19, 601-626. NIHMSID: NIHMS132788; doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00549.x

(6) Vallotton, C. D., & Ayoub, C.A. (2011). Use your words: The role of language in the development of toddlers’ self-regulation. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 169-181. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.09.002, NIHMS[235616]

Read the summary at HowBabiesLearn.Com

Presentations

Mastergeorge, A., Ayoub, C., Masyn, K., Vallotton, C.D., Decker, K.B., Thompson, D., Su, C., Saneski, E., Zientek, A., & Scott, M. (April 2, 2011). Comparison of Quantitative Methods for Measuring Effects of Parental Sensitivity and Cognitive Stimulation on Toddlers’ Vocabulary. Bienniel Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Harewood, T., Brophy-Herb, H., & Vallotton, C. D. (April 1, 2011). The Effects of Fathers’ Parenting Stress on Children’s Developmental Outcomes at 36 Months in a Low Income Sample. Bienniel Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Harewood, T., Vallotton, C. D., Ayoub, C., Pan, B., Mastergeorge, A., & Brophy-Herb, H. (March 31, 2011). Boosting Girls and Buffering Boys: Protective and Promotive Effects of Early Head Hart for Child Language. Bienniel Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Ayoub, C., Vallotton, C. D., & Chazan-Cohen, R. & VonEnde, A. (July 3, 2010). Longitudinal examination of maternal depression in low income women from pregnancy through the first ten years of parenthood. In L. Boyce (Chair) Transitions in Primary Relationships: Children’s early language and regulatory development over time in the contexts of Maternal Depression and Parenting. 12th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany, June 29 – July 3, 2010.

Vallotton, C. D., Ayoub, C., Masyn, K., & Mastergeorge, A.M.  (July 2, 2010). Parents’ strategies to support toddlers’ language development: A comparison of measurement tools for quantifying parent-child interaction qualities. 12th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany, June 29 – July 3, 2010.

Vallotton, C. D., Mastergeorge, A.M, & Ayoub, C. (July 2, 2010). Effects of maternal sensitivity and intentional teaching on entwined developmental domains: Differences in mechanisms in an early intervention context. 12th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany, June 29 – July 3, 2010.

Mastergeorge, A.M., Ayoub, C. & Vallotton, C. D. (July 2, 2010). Differential Effects of General and Parenting-Related Stress on Parent-Child Interaction in Early Head Start and a Comparison Group. 12th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany, June 29 – July 3, 2010.

Ayoub, C., Vallotton, C. D., & Chazan-Cohen (June, 2010). Maternal Depression: A longitudinal examination of low income women from pregnancy through the first four and a half years of parenthood. In R. Chazan-Cohen & C. Ayoub (Chairs), Mental Health and Parenting. 10th National Head Start Research Conference, June 21-23, 2010.

Vallotton, C. D., Mastergeorge, A.M., & Ayoub, C. (June, 2010). Parenting strategies to support early development: Early sensitivity and later cognitive stimulation support toddlers’ language. In T. Cristofaro & A. Guerra (Chairs), Family Supports for Language, Literacy, and Narratives. 10th National Head Start Research Conference, June 21-23, 2010.

Learn more about the EHSRE at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)