Early Head Start Research to Practice, 2003-Current

Project Overview

This web page pulls together research briefs from across Early Head Start research projects. Information includes findings on the implementation of programs, program impacts on children and families, and other information on special topics.  The research briefs suggest ways for Early Head Start to build on its strengths to become even better in the future. We invite you to review and use these materials. Hard copy materials can be obtained from the Head Start Knowledge and Information Management Services at puborder@headstartinfo.org or you may call 1-866-763-6481.

Early Head Start was first authorized in 1994. At that time rigorous research and evaluation efforts were begun, in parallel to the implementation of the new program, offering two-generation services beginning before birth and extending until children are 3 years of age. The first research project (The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project) focused on program impacts and early implementation, later projects studied special initiatives (e.g., The Early Promotion and Intervention Research Consortium; Early Head Start Fatherhood Initiative (http://mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/creatingpaths.pdf), Pathways to Prevention, Enhanced Home Visiting, Oral Health Initiative, Child Welfare Initiative, and The Cultural Responsiveness and Dual Education Project), the most recent studies have sought to describe this program as it has expanded to over 700 programs (Performance Measures for Head Start Programs Serving Infants and Toddlers, The Survey of Early Head Start Programs, and the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey or Baby FACES). These projects have produced a sizable body of literature about the program, its effects and about the development of low income children in their life contexts.

It is critical to disseminate findings to the practice community in order to inform continuous program improvement efforts. The Advisory Committee on Services for Families with Infants and Toddlers, which designed the Early Head Start program, stated that, “Evaluation of Early Head Start is essential for determining the effectiveness of the initiative and for advancing our understanding about which services work best for different families under different circumstances…the Advisory Committee believes that the Secretary must approach evaluation not just as a mechanism for producing summary statistics and reports about the changes in child and family development as a result of these new efforts, but as a tool for individual programs so that they can continuously refine their practices.” The information on this Early Head Start Research to Practice web page is one effort to fulfill this vision.

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