Early Head Start University Partnership Grants: Buffering Children from Toxic Stress, 2011-2016

Project Overview

Research over the past decade has produced increasingly compelling evidence about the detrimental effects of stress on neurobiological development, and some researchers have posited that the multiple and chronic stressors that are associated with poverty may help to account for the gap in school performance between poor children and their more advantaged peers. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) awarded six cooperative agreements in September 2011 for "Early Head Start University Partnership Grants: Buffering Children from Toxic Stress." The grants have three goals:  1) to identify the children and families most vulnerable to stress;  2) to augment Early Head Start services with parenting interventions aimed at ameliorating the effects of chronic stress on children’s development; and 3) to advance applied developmental neuroscience.  These grants will implement promising parenting interventions in Early Head Start settings to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable infants and toddlers. Additionally, the six grantees, OPRE staff, and Early Head Start staff from the national office have formed a consortium in which they have identified common measures of risk and protective factors to assess across all of the projects (e.g., SES, poverty, and financial hardship; neighborhood characteristics; maternal depression, anxiety, and substance use; parenting stress).  Results from this research will help build a cumulative knowledge base regarding the role Early Head Start can play in promoting parenting practices that buffer children from toxic stress. The grants were made to New York University, University of Colorado Denver, University of Delaware, University of Denver, University of Maryland School of Social Work, and Washington University.

The point of contact is Aleta Meyer.