Differences in the early care and education needs of young children involved in child protection
There is increasing attention being given to better coordinated early care and education (ECE) and child protection systems across the nation, as children with child protection involvement are at risk for a range of negative outcomes that have been improved through high quality ECE in other populations. However, there is little empirical evidence to demonstrate what types of ECE experiences are needed for children involved in the child protection system in order to improve their developmental outcomes. This study compared the developmental status in the year prior to kindergarten of low-income children with and without child protection involvement who were enrolled in a range of ECE settings, all of which were rated highly by a state quality rating and improvement system. Using secondary data from a large Midwestern state child protection system and a local ECE evaluation, findings demonstrated that children with child protection involvement were performing more poorly than their low-income peers without child protection involvement on measures of receptive vocabulary, math reasoning, and teacher ratings of anger/aggression and anxiety/withdrawal, but not on ratings of social competence. Growth was made in receptive vocabulary and social competence for all children and there was no significant interaction between group and time for any child outcome measure. These data suggest that children with child protection involvement continue to manifest academic and social difficulties despite attending high quality ECE programs. Implications for improving the early educational opportunities for children with child protection involvement and suggestions for future research are discussed. (author abstract)
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