The Head Start Graduate Student Research grant program is designed to build research capacity in and knowledge of effective early childhood interventions with low-income children and families. The grant program does this by providing support for dissertation research conducted by graduate students working in partnership with local Head Start or Early Head Start programs. Many former grantees have become leading researchers who continue to conduct research that informs and improves Head Start/Early Head Start, other early childhood intervention practices, and our understanding of low-income populations.
The immediate goals of the grant program are to:
- support the completion of high quality research projects directed at the current concerns of Head Start and Early Head Start programs and policy makers;
- encourage research with Head Start and Early Head Start populations;
- promote mentor-student relationships that provide project supervision in the field and support students' professional development;
- emphasize the importance of developing working research partnerships with Head Start and Early Head Start programs, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the applied research work; and
- support active communication, networking and collaboration among the group of grantee graduate students, their mentors and other prominent researchers in the field.
This research contributes to the knowledge base about the best approaches for delivering services to low-income families and their children. The Head Start population offers a unique opportunity conducting for research that promotes understanding of how to effectively tailor services and interventions for children and families with different characteristics and needs. The grant program also emphasizes the importance of developing true working partnerships with Head Start and Early Head Start programs and other relevant entities within the community, which benefit both the researchers and the programs. Learning how to develop successful researcher-program partnerships under the guidance of experienced mentors strengthens the graduate student grantees' current and future capacity to conduct research relevant to practice and policy. In addition, these partnerships provide the Head Start/Early Head Start programs with data and information they need to improve their services.
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