Exploration of Integrated Approaches to Supporting Child Development & Improving Family Economic Security

Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Exploration of Integrated Approaches to Supporting Child Development & Improving Family Economic Security Cover

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  • Published: 2017

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. What is the range of programs that aim to meet the needs of low-income families (parents and children) through intentionally combined sets of activities?
  2. What does it mean for programs to be high quality, intensive, and intentional in their service delivery?
  3. What is the state of the research on programs that provide economic self-sufficiency programs to adults while serving children up through age 12, and what are options for future research on such programs?

The Exploration of Integrated Approaches to Supporting Child Development and Improving Family Economic Security project investigated the design and evaluability of approaches to alleviating poverty that address the needs of low-income parents and children. The project examined programs that deliberately combine services that are intended to support both child development and parental economic security. Recent advances in implementation science and other fields of research provide key insights for new programs that may prove more effective than similar programs designed in the 1980s and 1990s. The project was funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Northwestern University.

Purpose

The project provided ACF, program designers, researchers, and other stakeholders with information to consider for future investments in programs intended to meet the needs of both children and parents. It involved several activities:

  • Consultation with experts informed a targeted literature review and a scan of currently operating programs.
  • Mathematica identified and described program models gleaned from diverse programs across the country and field work with four compelling programs.
  • Mathematica and its consultants from Northwestern University developed conceptual frameworks to inform ACF’s future work on a program that, by design, integrates services for low-income adults and children.

Key Findings and Highlights

Findings of the project included:

  • Contemporary programs tended to originate as child-focused programs or were designed to serve parents and children together. Their service models blended multiple offerings for parents and children to meet the needs of individual families.
  • The conceptual framework developed for integrated parent and child services depicts integrated service delivery and expected outcomes for parents, children, and in the home environment in both the short and long term.
  • The literature review indicated that quality and intensity may need to be at high levels for programs to have an impact on parent and child outcomes.
  • The partnership framework, which is built on theory and discussion with implementation experts and practitioners, shows how partnerships tend to evolve through stages of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration.
  • Given the developing state of the field and limited empirical evidence, more research is needed both on how best to implement integrated parent and child programs and their level of effectiveness.

Methods

The project activities included:

  • A targeted literature review, scan to identify programs operating as of January 2016, consultation with experts, and field work to learn more about selected programs;
  • Development of conceptual frameworks to inform program design and research;
  • Assessment of existing research on programs that provide economic security services to adults along with services to children up through age 12; and
  • An assessment of opportunities for future research and evaluation on such programs.

Glossary

CCDF:
Child Care and Development Fund
CDA:
Child Development Associate credential
CSBG:
Community Services Block Grant
DC PCSB:
District of Columbia Public Charter School Board
EHS:
Early Head Start
ESL:
English as a Second Language
ESOL:
English for Speakers of Other Languages
OST:
Out-of-school-time programming (after school or in the summer) for school-age children
QED:
Quasi-experimental design for an effectiveness study
RCT:
Randomized controlled trial, a design for an effectiveness study
Current as of: