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- Published: 2021
- How do Early Head Start services support the development of infants and toddlers in the context of nurturing, responsive relationships?
- What is the quality of responsive services provided by teachers and home visitors in Early Head Start?
Early Head Start provides a comprehensive array of services for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers. This includes child development services, child care, parenting education, case management, health care and referrals, and family support. In 2018, Early Head Start served more than 166,000 children and families (Office of Head Start [OHS] 2019).
The Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) 2018 provides a wealth of information about Early Head Start programs, center-based or home-based services, teachers and home visitors, and the children and families they serve. Specifically, Baby FACES 2018 describes the children and families participating in Early Head Start, the services they receive, and the staff who serve them. It also describes how programs support staff to ensure the provision of high-quality services and how the quality of those services relate to the well-being of children and families.
This report shares key information about the study, including the design, methods, and findings. The tables in this report give an overview of the data collected in Baby FACES 2018, and describe the Early Head Start program and center services and staff, the families served by the program and how children and families are doing in important areas of child and family well-being, and the evidence of responsive relationships in Early Head Start. These data can inform program planning, technical assistance, and future research.
Key Findings and Highlights
The following are key findings of the study:
- Families served by Early Head Start are ethnically and linguistically diverse. The median family household income in the past year is about $23,000. Nearly 40 percent of families have medium or high levels of demographic risk. In spite of those challenges, families and children are faring well and managing their stress. Parents report positive relationships with their children and are responsive and sensitive to their child’s needs.
- Early Head Start teachers and home visitors are well educated and experienced. Most teachers (63 percent) and home visitors (80 percent) have at least a college degree and infant/toddler experience (9 years for teachers and 6 years for home visitors).
- Early Head Start teachers and home visitors receive professional development and support from the programs. Most teachers and home visitors (70 percent or more) have participated in a wide range of professional development activities (including individual or group supervision meetings and classroom/home visit observations with feedback) and received training on a variety of topics. A majority of teachers (66 percent) and home visitors (56 percent) have coaches, and most of them meet with their coaches at least once a month.
- Generally, Early Head Start classrooms are in the mid-range of quality. On average, however, Early Head Start teachers provide stronger support for children’s social-emotional development (with means ranging from 4.2—5.4 out of 7) than for their language and learning (with means ranging from 3.0—3.8 out of 7). Teachers say they have positive relationships with infants and toddlers. Teachers and parents also report positive relationships with each other.
- On their visits to the homes of Baby FACES families, home visitors are more likely to address child development (84 percent) and parent-child interactions (66 percent) than they are to cover more general topics. Almost all families (96 percent) in home-based services had received two or more home visits over the preceding four weeks, with about half of the families receiving four or more visits. Parents and home visitors believe they have strong working relationships with each other.
Baby FACES 2018 selected nationally representative samples of Early Head Start programs, centers, home visitors, classrooms, and teachers, and also sampled the families and children they serve. All samples were in the Office of Head Start Regions I—X.
We collected cross-sectional data in spring 2018, conducting parent surveys by phone, holding in-person interviews with the teachers and home visitors, and giving in-person or web surveys to center and program directors. In addition, parents and teachers or home visitors rated the language and social-emotional development of the children in the sample. Observers conducted two different classroom quality measures for each sampled classroom/teacher.
The tables in this report are nationally representative estimates of key characteristics of Region I-X Early Head Start programs and centers; teachers, home visitors, and classrooms; and families and children enrolled in spring 2018. We weighted the descriptive statistics (means and percentages) to represent the total population at each of these levels.
Xue, Y., Baxter, C., Jones, C., Shah, H., Caronongan, P., Aikens, N., Bandel, E., Cannon, J., Schellenberger, K., Defnet, A., Vogel, C., and Atkins-Burnett, S. (2021). Early Head Start Programs, Staff, and Infants/Toddlers and Families Served: Baby FACES 2018 Data Tables. OPRE Report 2021-92. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Baby FACES:
- Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey.
- Cross-sectional data:
- Data collected at a single point in time.
- Office of Head Start Regions I–X:
- Includes all Head Start programs except Migrant programs and American Indian/Alaska Native programs.
- Demographic risk:
- Risk factors include: Teen mother, less than high school education, receipt of public assistance, single parent, and not employed or in school or training.