Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners, 2009-2013
The Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) is a cooperative agreement awarded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The primary goal of the Center is to advance the research field to improve assessment, child care, and education for dual language learners (DLLs) from birth through five years of age.
This new center will pursue a focused agenda of research and national leadership activities that will:
- improve the state of knowledge and measurement in early childhood research on young DLLs and the needs of their families as these relate to children's development, and
- identify and advance the evidence base for the best practices and strategies in early care and education programming to support the overall development of young DLLs and to effectively support their families.
Settings to be considered include early care and education center-based programs, home-based and family child care providers, and Head Start and Early Head Start programs. The Center aims to inform the research agendas of both the Office of Child Care (CCB) and the Office of Head Start (OHS). As such, the research team is expected to be responsive to calls from OHS and CCB for research-based guidance and syntheses of research regarding children who are DLLs and their families to address questions of pressing concern to policy and practice.
Programmatic concerns: ACF is concerned with promoting all children's early development in child care settings and early education programs. The substantial and growing population of DLLs, with its unique and varied issues, introduces new challenges and opportunities to early childhood programs across the country as policymakers and practitioners find they must adjust and adapt their efforts in order to serve this population. The program announcement highlighted several specific programmatic concerns that the Center should address in its work. These include:
- Limited understanding of the barriers to programs and services that families of young DLL children face when considering early care and education programs.
- Limited evidence-base for early childhood strategies. Educators and policymakers are concerned about the challenges of getting all children in the U.S. ready for school; however, there are additional challenges as well as advantages for supporting school readiness among the growing population of DLL children.
- Limited measurement tools for child assessment. Reliable and accurate measurement tools for assessing the development of young children are necessary to enable researchers to identify the best approaches for promoting school readiness. However, most currently available assessments of the developmental progress of young DLLs are problematic and cannot yet provide information regarding comprehensive developmental status or the effectiveness of interventions in early childhood.
- Limited understanding of family level constructs. In addition to child assessments, important family-level variables have not been adequately identified, examined or measured with respect to the DLL population. Questionnaires and interviews with parents, when developed carefully, may allow insight into parental involvement, attitudes towards parenting, perceptions of and satisfaction with their early care and education options. Standardized methods for gathering this information strengthens research efforts to inform early care and education providers.
- Limited understanding of quality across early childhood settings. Valid measures to describe the quality of early childhood settings can guide efforts to improve the early care and education of children. As efforts to assess the quality of early childhood settings and to improve practices based on these appraisals increase, there is a need for more evidence regarding what facets of quality are most significant for supporting school readiness and other areas of development among young DLLs.
- Limited toddler/infant DLL measurement or knowledge. The Center is expected to consider the issues for DLL children from infancy to five years of age. The limitations described above are even more extreme when considering infant/toddler DLLs.
The point of contact is Wendy DeCourcey.