We Grow Together: Supporting Change in Caregivers’ Beliefs, Knowledge, and Practices Concerning Infants and Toddlers

Publication Date: October 19, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. Were there differences in caregivers’ knowledge and beliefs about caregiving, development, and practice from fall 2018 to spring 2019?
  2. Were there differences in caregivers’ self-efficacy from fall 2018 to spring 2019?
  3. Were there differences in the quality of caregiver-child interactions from fall 2018 to spring 2019?
  4. Was amount of participation in WGT related to differences in the quality of caregiver-child interactions?

We Grow Together (WGT) is a research-based professional development (PD) system for caregivers working with infants and toddlers in center-based care and family child care homes. As part of WGT, teachers and caregivers work with their PD providers (mentors, coaches, supervisors) using resources delivered on an interactive website. Caregivers are supported 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, family child care, and community-based child care settings.

Purpose

This brief describes differences in beliefs, knowledge, and practices of infant and toddler caregivers from fall 2018 to spring 2019 — before and after implementation of WGT.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Caregivers reported a change in their ability to be effective in providing care for infants and toddlers (i.e., self-efficacy) from fall 2018 to spring 2019.
  • Caregivers reported a change in their beliefs about children’s language development from fall 2018 to spring 2019. This is consistent with information about the modules in which caregivers and PD providers chose to spend the most time.
  • Caregivers participating in WGT improved in their support for social-emotional development from fall 2018 to spring 2019 as measured by the QCIT observation tool. EHS caregivers demonstrated improvement in both Support for Social-Emotional Development and Support for Language and Literacy Development.
  • The number of WGT pages opened (i.e., dosage) was related to the overall quality of caregiver-child interactions, as measured by the QCIT.

Methods

In 2018-2019, Mathematica conducted a field test to examine the implementation of WGT. The field test included 271 caregivers paired with a total of 168 PD providers across Early Head Start and community-based centers, as well as family child care homes. The field test made use of intentional sampling so that the study included a diverse sample of caregivers with a range of qualifications and professional experiences from 10 geographical areas spanning 14 states and the District of Columbia. Caregivers and PD providers worked together using the WGT resources for up to 4 months.

To answer the research questions in this brief, we conducted several analyses for the full sample and examined the results for the primary research questions by subgroups. To determine whether there were differences from fall 2018 to spring 2019 in (1) caregivers’ knowledge and beliefs about caregiving and development; (2) self-efficacy; and (3) quality of caregiver-child interactions, we examined the means, standard deviations, and range of responses, and then conducted t-tests of means. To examine whether participation in WGT related to differences in the quality of caregiver-child interactions, we ran regression models of WGT website use and caregiver report of their PD provider’s support of their professional effectiveness predicting the quality of caregiver-child interactions (overall QCIT and three domain scores in different models), controlling for a number of characteristics.

Citation

Nguyen, T., S. Atkins-Burnett, S. Monahan, and L. Tarullo. “We Grow Together: Supporting Change in Caregivers’ Beliefs, Knowledge, and Practices Concerning Infants and Toddlers.” OPRE Report #2021-154. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, 2021.