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Examining the complex relationships of early intervention on language and psychosocial development in families facing multiple risks with a focus on children of Hispanic immigrants

Abundant research has shown that poverty has negative influences on young child academic and psychosocial development, and unfortunately, disparities in school readiness between low and high income children can be seen as early the first year of life. The largest federal early care and education intervention for these vulnerable children is Early Head Start (EHS). To diminish these disparate child outcomes, EHS seeks to provide community based flexible programming for infants and toddlers and their families. Given how relatively recent these programs have been offered, little is known about the nuances of how EHS impacts infant and toddler language and psychosocial development. Using a framework of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) this paper had 5 goals: 1) to characterize the associations between domain specific and cumulative risk and child outcomes 2) to validate and explore these risk-outcome associations separately for Children of Hispanic immigrants (COHIs), 3) to explore relationships among family characteristics, multiple environmental factors, and dosage patterns in different EHS program types, 4) to examine the relationship between EHS dosage and child outcomes, and 5) to examine how EHS compliance impacts child internalizing and externalizing behaviors and emerging language abilities. Results of the current study showed that risks were differentially related to child outcomes. Poor maternal mental health was related to child internalizing and externalizing behaviors, but not related to emerging child language skills. Although child language skills were not related to maternal mental health, they were related to economic hardship. Additionally, parent level Spanish use and heritage orientation were associated with positive child outcomes. Results also showed that these relationships differed when COHIs and children with native-born parents were examined separately. Further, unique patterns emerged for EHS program use, for example families who participated in home-based care were less likely to comply with EHS attendance requirements. These findings provide tangible suggestions for EHS stakeholders: namely, the need to develop effective programming that targets engagement for diverse families enrolled in EHS programs. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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