The Early Care and Education Research Scholars (ECERS): Head Start Dissertation 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 provides support for dissertation research conducted by graduate students working in partnership with local Head Start or Early Head Start programs. Many former grantees are leading researchers who continue throughout their career 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:
- conduct rigorous research that has the capacity to inform Head Start/Early Head Start programs, policies, and practices;
- build capacity in the early care and education field by support high-quality dissertation research and student-faculty collaboration and mentorship;
- support active communication, collaboration, and partnership between early career researchers and Head Start/Early Head Start Programs and
- foster the exchange of current research, ideas, and information among research scholars, policymakers and practitioners.
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 for conducting research on 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. Developing successful researcher-program partnerships under the guidance of experienced mentors strengthens the graduate student grantees' 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 can use to improve their services.
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Point(s) of contact: Wendy DeCourcey, Jacquelyn Gross, and Krystal Bichay-Awadalla