This study examines the impact of parents' social support strategies on their children's school readiness. The study involves three main research objectives: (1) to determine if Head Start children from single-female headed households demonstrate different levels of school readiness as a function of mothers' level of compliance with state welfare-to-work mandates, (2) to investigate the relative impact of maternal involvement in early childhood education and of maternal family and social networks on children's school readiness, and (3) to determine if such maternal protective factors differentially impact children's school readiness as a function of mothers' level of compliance with welfare-to-work standards. Partnerships will be formed with Head Start parents and teachers in order to identify areas of strength and school readiness in children, as well as to identify effective parent involvement and social networking strategies associated with children's development of these capacities. Participants will be 300 children and their mothers drawn from at least 12 Head Start classrooms including 150 children whose mothers work full-time in compliance with welfare-to-work mandates, and 150 children whose mothers do not working outside the home. Children will be divided into two groups depending on mothers' compliance with welfare-to-work mandates. Teachers will be asked to complete the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI), Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale (PLBS), and the Child Observation Record (COR). Parents will complete the Family Involvement Questionnaire (FIQ), Family Support Scale (FSS), and a demographic questionnaire. Statistical analyses will be used to determine differences in school readiness as a function of maternal employment status, the status of each explanatory variable as a protective factor, and the importance of maternal employment status in explaining variance in children's school readiness. Finally, focus groups will be conducted with Head Start parents and staff to assess the relevancy of findings for the Head Start program.
Administration for Children and Families/OPRE Projects