We Grow Together Professional Development System: Implementation with Infant-Toddler Teachers and Caregivers

Publication Date: November 2, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. What tools and supports were accessed by caregivers and PD providers while participating in WGT? What WGT tools did caregivers and PD providers access during implementation? What WGT supports did caregivers and PD providers access while participating in WGT?
  2. How did caregivers and PD providers access WGT?
  3. Which WGT modules were recommended most frequently to caregivers and most frequently used by caregivers and PD providers? Which modules were recommended to caregivers most frequently (and were there differences by setting type or affiliation)? Which WGT modules did caregivers use most frequently (and were there differences by setting type or affiliation)? Which WGT modules did PD providers report using with caregivers most frequently?
  4. What challenges and barriers did caregivers report experiencing when using WGT (and were there differences by setting type or affiliation)?

The quality of infant-toddler care matters for children’s development and long-term outcomes. Half of all infants and toddlers receive care in nonparental settings, such as centers and family child care (FCC) homes. On average, infants and toddlers spend more hours per week in care than preschoolers do. Yet infant-toddler care has been identified as lower quality than care for older children, suggesting that professional development (PD) for caregivers could improve care and interactions. Available research on coaching and PD has focused on teachers for preschool or school-age children, with very few studies examining PD strategies for infant-toddler caregivers.

Purpose

The goal of this brief is to describe the implementation of the We Grow Together (WGT) Professional Development System during a field test conducted in late fall 2018 to spring 2019. WGT is a research-based PD system for caregivers working with infants and toddlers in center-based care and FCCs. As part of WGT, caregivers work with their PD providers using resources delivered through a website. The system supports caregivers in planning and using the WGT practices through relationship- and practice-based coaching. A field test of WGT examined implementation with teachers and caregivers of infants and toddlers and their PD providers in Early Head Start, FCCs, and community-based child care settings.

Methods

Below we describe the measures used and analyses conducted for each research question.

Data collection and measures

This brief includes findings from the WGT background surveys, the WGT feedback surveys, and web use data. Both caregivers and PD providers completed the background survey in fall 2018 (at baseline) and the feedback survey in spring 2019 (after implementation was completed). From November 2018 until April 2019, we collected web use tracking data from the WGT website on both caregivers and PD providers, noting log-in frequency, tools accessed, and length of time spent on the website.

Analyses

The goal of the analyses was to describe the implementation of WGT system. We conducted descriptive analyses by examining frequencies. We conducted significance tests to identify any group differences by setting type (between center-based classrooms and FCCs) and by affiliation (between EHS and community-based settings). Differences reported in the text and exhibits are statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05).

Citation

Shah, H., A. De Mond, S. Monahan, and L. Tarullo. “We Grow Together Professional Development System: Implementation with Infant-Toddler Teachers and Caregivers” OPRE Report #2021-164. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, 2021