Early Head Start View all reports on this topic

Topic Overview

Since the program was first authorized in 1994, Early Head Start research has examined the program’s implementation, its impacts on children and families, and a variety of special topics such as infant and toddler mental health, fatherhood and child welfare. With a particular focus on partnerships between the research community and local programs and the Office of Head Start, the results of this body of research help to identify and build on program strengths, continuously refine and improve practices, and promote healthy growth and development of low-income children.

Projects on this Topic

  • American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment (AI/AN EC Needs Assessment) Design Project, 2014 – 2017

    The American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment Project (AI/AN EC Needs Assessment) seeks to lay the foundation for understanding the need for early childhood services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  The project outlines a series of designs for future studies that will inform a national assessment of the unmet need for early childhood care, education, and home visiting services (prenatal to age 5) in tribal communities...

  • American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES)

    The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) is a major source of information on Head Start programs and the children and families they serve. Since 1997, FACES has conducted studies in a nationally representative sample of Head Start programs, but has historically not included Region XI, whose programs are designed to serve predominantly AI/AN children....

  • An Exploratory Study: Implications of Immigration Enforcement Activities for the Well-Being of Children in Immigrant Families, 2012-2014

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), in collaboration with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has initiated this project to explore...

  • Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education Project (ECE-ICHQ), 2014-2019

    The goal of this project is to create an instrument to measure implementation and costs of providing ECE services at centers for children from birth to age 5. The project has two focuses:...

  • Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Next Generation, 2015 - 2022

    The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project demonstrated that applying insights from behavioral science to challenges facing human services programs can improve program operations and outcomes at relatively low cost. The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency-Next Generation (BIAS-NG) project continues ACF’s exploration...

  • Child and Family Development Research – Annual Report

    OPRE’s child and family development work includes research and evaluation projects primarily concerned with child care and child welfare. This portfolio additionally examines the culturally diverse experiences of children and families served by ACF programs.

    Research focuses on five major areas, including: Child Care, Head Start and Early Head Start, Child Welfare, Cultural Diversity, Cross-Cutting Early Childhood Research...

  • Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis Project, 2005-2018

    The Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis Project is a contract awarded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation to Child Trends...

  • Child Care and Early Education RESEARCH CONNECTIONS, 2013-2019

    Child Care & Early Education Research Connections promotes use of high quality early childhood research to inform policy and practice. This project offers a free, comprehensive, and up-to-date collection of scholarly research, policy briefs, state and federal government reports, datasets, and instruments from a wide range of disciplines and sources. Interactive tools allow...

  • Culture of Continuous Learning (CCL) Project: A Breakthrough Series Collaborative for Improving Child Care and Head Start Quality, 2016 - 2019

    The purpose of this project is to explore how child care and Head Start programs can improve the quality of services received by young children, while institutionalizing continuous quality improvement activities. The project will design and assess the feasibility of implementing a specific approach to continuous quality improvement (CQI), the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC),...

  • Data Sharing Solutions for Human Services, 2017 - 2022

    ACF supports the development and operation of fully integrated systems to support person-centric service delivery.  Integration implies alignment of legal, policy, program, and technology factors that impact our ability to share information.  If we are successful as a community, interoperability will drive progress in...

  • Development of a Measure of the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT), 2010-2014

    The goal of this project was to develop a new measure that will assess the quality of child care settings, specifically the quality of caregiver-child interactions for infants and toddlers in non-parental care. The new measure is sensitive to the...

  • Early Care and Education Data Archive, 2018 - 2023

    Project Overview

    The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) funds numerous data collection efforts through research studies on a wide-range...

  • Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS), 2018-2023

    Project Overview

    Leadership is widely recognized as an essential driver of organizational performance and improvement, but little is known about its role in driving quality of early childhood programs and outcomes for staff and children. In launching the Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) seeks to fill the definitional and measurement gaps to help the early childhood field understand how effective leaders can improve quality experiences for families in early care and education (ECE) settings.

    OPRE contracted...

  • Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Head Start Graduate Student Research Grants, 1998-2019

    The Head Start Graduate Student Research grant program is designed to build research capacity in and knowledge of effective early childhood interventions with low-income children and families. The grant program does this by providing support for dissertation research conducted by graduate students working in partnership with local Head Start or Early Head Start programs. Many former grantees have become leading researchers who continue to conduct research that informs and improves Head Start/Early Head Start, other early childhood intervention practices, and our understanding of low-income populations.

  • Early Childhood Secondary Data Analysis Project, 2012-2017

    The purpose of this project was to expand the knowledge base on early childhood development and programming by supporting secondary data analysis of archived datasets funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE). Key project tasks included:...

  • Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-System Evaluation Project, 2015 - 2020

    Building on a history of successful partnerships, ACF’s Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care strengthened coordination in 2015 between offices and among training and technical assistance (T/TA) partners to build capacity at the regional, state and local levels to support high quality services for children and families. ACF established the Early Childhood T/TA Cross-System Evaluation Project to answer ACF’s questions about the processes and effectiveness of ACF’s Early Childhood T/TA system, while simultaneously promoting the use of data and evaluation tools for continuous quality improvement of the T/TA System.

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

    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...

  • Early Head Start University Partnership Grants: Buffering Children from Toxic Stress, 2011-2016

    Early experiences influence life-long health and well-being. A growing cluster of research on early adversity, trauma and toxic stress underscores the importance of both reducing stressors on the children and families ACF serves and helping them cope with these experiences. The Buffering Toxic Stress Consortium is...

  • Early Head Start University Partnerships: Building the Evidence Base for Infant/Toddler Center-based Programs, 2015 - 2020

    The overall goal the Early Head Start University Partnerships research grant program is to contribute to the knowledge base regarding how Early Head Start (EHS) and other early care and education programs can promote and improve early child development by supporting both parenting and caregiving. Researchers are working in partnership with one or more EHS center-based programs and/or EHS-Child Care Partnership programs...

  • Head Start Connects: Individualizing and Connecting Families to Comprehensive Family Support Services, 2018 - 2023

    Project Overview

    Since its origins, Head Start has emphasized delivering comprehensive services that align with children and families’ diverse...

  • Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), 1997-2022

    In 1997, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) was launched to provide descriptive, nationally representative information on the characteristics, experiences and development of Head Start children and families, and the characteristics of the Head Start programs and staff who serve them...

  • Head Start University Partnership Grants: Dual-Generation Approaches, 2013-2019

    The overall goal of this year’s Head Start University Partnerships research grant program is to contribute to the knowledge base regarding the role that Head Start can play in promoting family well-being, including health, safety, financial...

  • Hispanic Research Work Group, 2011-2014

    ACF’s Hispanic Research Work Group brings together experts in a wide range of content areas relevant to ACF’s mission to assist ACF/OPRE in identifying research priorities concerning low-income, Hispanic families.

  • Home Visiting Career Trajectories, 2016 - 2019

    The goal of the Home Visiting Career Trajectories project is to examine the state of home visiting careers to understand how people enter the field, the perceived and actual pathways for professional advancement and tenure, and reasons for field attrition. This work aims to address the paucity of data on the home visiting workforce that can be used to learn how to best recruit and retain high quality staff. The project has two purposes. First, it will provide information on the state of the home visiting sector and the career trajectories of home visitors and recommendations on strategies to build a pipeline of high-quality home visitors and supervisors. Second, it will provide information on the professional development system that supports early childhood home visiting, including training and technical assistance supports. To accomplish these goals, the research team will access pre-existing administrative and survey data, as well as collect new quantitative and qualitative data through two surveys and eight case studies.

  • Human Services Research Partnership: U.S. Virgin Islands, 2014-2018

    The Human Services Research Partnership of the U.S. Virgin Islands (VI) will explore issues related to social service needs and public welfare systems in the territory. This cooperative agreement will support a partnership among researchers, local...

  • Human-centered Design for Human Services (HCD4HS), 2018 - 2021

    Project Overview

    Human-centered design (HCD), also known as “design thinking,” is an applied research and design framework for organizational innovation. Though specific definitions vary, HCD typically involves...

  • Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies, 2017 - 2021

    Identifying the competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics) essential to a given profession may help to provide a common language and lens for assessing job performance and provide a clear structure for professional growth and development. The Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies (ITTCC) project will examine existing efforts...

  • Methods Inquiries, 2013-2021

    OPRE plays a central role in advancing understanding and disseminating knowledge about research and evaluation methods and tools that are, or could be, used to enhance knowledge about program and policy effectiveness. The purpose of the Methods Inquiries project is to organize...

  • Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and the National Agricultural Workers’ Survey, 2009-2019

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation worked in conjunction with the Office of Head Start and the Employment and Training Administration to develop, pilot and implement a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Supplement to the National Agricultural Workers’ Survey (NAWS).

  • Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study 2015-2019

    The Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Study is a four-year study that will examine the MSHS programs and practices, and the children and families served by the MSHS program. MSHS provides early childhood support for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The study will examine program practices in multiple domains, including enrollment, recruitment and dual language support. The study will also explore the wellbeing of children and families receiving services...

  • National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), 2010-2015

    The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) documented the nation's utilization and availability of early care and education (including school-age care) in 2012...

  • National Survey of Early Care and Education 2019: 2017 - 2022

    The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) 2019 builds on the data collected in the 2012 NSECE...

  • Network of Infant Toddler Researchers (NITR)

    The Network of infant/toddler Researchers (NitR) consortium brings together leading applied researchers with policymakers and technical assistance providers responsible for overseeing and supporting early childhood programs...

  • Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant & Toddler Care (Q-CCIIT PD Tools), 2015 - 2020

    The Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT) observation tool was developed between 2010-2014 to assess the quality of early care and education (ECE) settings for infants and toddlers in non-parental care—specifically, the support that caregivers provide for the social-emotional, language and literacy, and cognitive development of infants and toddlers. The Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant and Toddler Care...

  • Secondary Analysis of Data on Child Care and Early Education 2015 - 2017

    The eighteen projects funded under the grant program for Secondary Analyses of Data on Child Care and Early Education are conducting  analyses of existing data sets  to answer critical research questions that will inform both policymakers and future research. Topics include associations between subsidy receipt and long-term child achievement, access to early care and education for low-income families, and links between subsidy rates and child care quality...

  • Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series

    In 2013, OPRE commissioned four interrelated reports focused on self-regulation and toxic stress from a team at the Center for Child and Social Policy at Duke University. Since then, that team and other experts have created multiple practice-oriented resources grounded in the initial reports. Together, these reports and resources comprise the ‘Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series.’ The goal of this series is to communicate the potential of a self-regulation...

  • Study on the Status of Dual Language Learners in Head Start and Early Head Start Programs, 2008-2012

    In response to a requirement in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-134), ACF initiated this project in 2008 to develop a report on limited English proficient (LEP) children and their families participating in Head Start...

  • Supporting the Sustainability of the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT) Observation Tool: Q-CCIIT FORWARD, 2018 - 2019

    Project Overview

    The Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT) observation tool is a reliable and valid research-based observational tool that measures the quality of interactions between infants and toddlers...

  • The Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, 2013-2018

    The purpose of the Study of Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-child care) Partnerships is to gain a better understanding of EHS‐child care partnerships aimed at supporting quality improvement, child development...

  • Touchpoints for Addressing Substance Use Issues in Home Visiting, 2017 - 2020

    The goal of the Touchpoints for Addressing Substance Use Issues in Home Visiting project is to generate knowledge about how home visiting programs, including those funded through HRSA’s and ACF's Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, engage and support families around prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance use issues. The project will identify evidence-informed practices for working with families, supporting frontline staff, and building collaborations with referral sources. The project will also identify gaps in knowledge on preventing or addressing substance use issues within the context of home visiting.