Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Study (Baby FACES), 2007-2020

Project Overview

The Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Study (Baby FACES) continues a series of ongoing descriptive studies aimed at maintaining an up-to-date, extensive knowledge base to support Early Head Start policies and programs. Building on the findings from the Survey of Early Head Start Programs, and similar in design to the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), Baby FACES aims to inform program planning, technical assistance, and research at the national level by:

  • Providing descriptive information about the quality, frequency, and intensity of Early Head Start services;
  • Describing the characteristics, qualifications, and professional supports provided to staff working with Early Head Start families;
  • Identifying key characteristics, strengths, and needs of families served in Early Head Start;
  • Learning how Early Head Start children and families are faring in key areas of child and family well-being; and
  • Exploring associations between the type and quality of Early Head Start services and child and family well-being.

In 2007, a contract was awarded to Mathematica Policy Research to design and conduct the first Baby FACES. The study employed a longitudinal cohort design with a representative sample of 89 Early Head Start programs in 2009. It followed approximately 1,000 children in two age cohorts: (1) a perinatal group of pregnant mothers or newborn children under 3 months of age in Spring 2009, and (2) a group of infants about 1 year old in Spring 2009. Data were collected annually, in the spring, until children left or aged out of the program (at age 3) through annual interviews with parents, teachers, home visitors, and program directors; direct child assessments; video-recorded parent-child and assessor-child interactions; and weekly service logs.

In 2015, a contract was awarded to Mathematica Policy Research to build on and extend the lessons learned from Baby FACES 2009 with a new round of the study. The second round of Baby FACES aims to meet the same overall goals as the first round, as well as to address some methodological constraints in Baby FACES 2009. Specifically, the new Baby FACES will use a repeated cross-sectional research design with a nationally representative sample of programs, centers, classrooms, home visitors, and children of all age groups enrolled in Early Head Start. Data collection will occur in the Spring of 2018 and Spring of 2020. It will include interviews with parents, teachers, home visitors, center directors, and program directors; assessment of children’s development via parent- and staff-report; assessment of parent-child relationship quality (via parent-report in 2018, observation in 2020); in depth observational assessments of Early Head Start center-based service quality (in 2018); and in depth observational assessments of Early Head Start home-based service quality (in 2020).

The point of contact for this project is Amy Madigan.

  • Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) Design Options Report

    Published: December 2, 2015

    This report summarizes lessons from the design of the first round of Baby FACES (2009) and describes ways that future descriptive studies of Early Head Start may be designed to build on past work and address information needs for research, policy, and practice. It includes a discussion of the methodological strengths, limitations, and challenges experienced in Baby FACES 2009.

  • Measuring Infant/Toddler Language Development: Lessons Learned About Assessment and Screening Tools

    Published: July 17, 2015

    Using data from the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES), this brief explores how well several parent- and staff-reported language screening and assessment tools perform in a low-income Early Head Start population. Specifically, the brief examines the reliability of the tool or the ability of the tool to produce scores that are stable regardless of when the tool is administered, where it is administered, and who administers it. It also explores the validity...

  • Early Head Start Home Visits and Classrooms: Stability, Predictors, and Thresholds of Quality

    Published: June 29, 2015

    Using information collected as part of the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES), this report and accompanying brief provide a descriptive picture of classroom and home visit quality in Early Head Start. Baby FACES captures classroom and home visit quality using two observational measures: Classroom Assessment Scoring System, Toddler Version and the Home Visit Rating Scale-Adapted measures. Specifically, the report and brief examine average levels of quality...

  • Toddlers in Early Head Start: A Portrait of 3-Year-Olds, Their Families, and the Programs Serving Them

    Published: May 28, 2015

    This report describes findings from the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES), a longitudinal study in 89 Early Head Start programs around the country. Baby FACES follows two cohorts of children through their time in Early Head Start, starting in 2009, the first wave of data collection. The Newborn Cohort includes pregnant mothers and newborn children (194 are in this group) and the 1-year-old Cohort includes children who were approximately 1 year...

  • The Faces of Early Head Start: A National Picture of Early Head Start Programs and the Children and Families They Serve

    Published: May 4, 2015

    This practitioner-friendly booklet, Friendly Baby FACES, presents data from all three waves of Baby FACES, but primarily focuses the 1-year-old cohort at the second wave of data collection. The booklet explores program features and services, family characteristics, and children’s development at age 2. Specifically, Friendly Baby FACES explores the following questions... 

  • Imputing Attendance Data in a Longitudinal Multilevel Panel Data Set

    Published: April 9, 2015

    This report is geared toward a research audience and presents results from a series of analyses aimed at figuring out the methods for handling missing data that generate the most accurate estimates of child care center attendance. This topic is important given that proper linking of child care dosage to developmental outcomes requires accurate data on attendance. However, if a fair amount of data is missing, the accuracy of attendance estimates may be compromised. In order to address...

  • Toddlers in Early Head Start: A Portrait of 2-Year-Olds, Their Families, and the Programs Serving Them

    Published: February 19, 2015

    This report describes findings from the second wave of data collection for the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. Baby FACES is a longitudinal study in 89 Early Head Start programs around the country. Baby FACES follows two cohorts of children through their time in Early Head Start, starting in 2009, the first wave of data collection. The Newborn Cohort includes 194 pregnant mothers and newborn children...

  • Children in Early Head Start and Head Start: A Profile of Early Leavers

    Published: November 20, 2014

    This brief explores the child- , family- , and program-level factors that may be associated with whether children leave Early Head Start or Head Start before their eligibility ends. The brief utilizes data from the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) and from the 2009 cohort of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2009). Analyses show that most families who enrolled stayed for as long as they were eligible. However, some families left...

  • Observed Quality and Psychometric Properties of the CLASS-T in the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey

    Published: June 5, 2014

    In this technical brief, we report on the use of the Toddler Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS-T) in the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES). We begin by providing a brief overview of the Baby FACES study, including its methodology and approach to data collection. Next, we provide a descriptive snapshot of quality in center-based settings drawing on observations conducted in Early Head Start classrooms serving 2- and 3-year-old children in Baby FACES...

  • Baby FACES 2009: Learning As We Go: A First Snapshot of Early Head Start Programs, Staff, Families, and Children, Volume II: Technical Appendices

    Published: February 15, 2011

    We designed the Baby FACES sample to be representative of the population of Early Head Start programs at the…

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