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Study Detail

Love, J., Kisker, E., Ross, C., Schochet, P., Brooks-Gunn, J., Boller, K., et al. (2001). Building their futures: How Early Head Start programs are enhancing the lives of infants and toddlers in low-income families. Summary report. Report to Commissioner’s Office of Research and Evaluation, Head Start Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, and Department of Health and Human Services. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.

Program(s) Reviewed: Early Head Start-Home Visiting (EHS-HV)

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
HighRandomized controlled trialLowEstablished on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status; Established on many relevant outcomesNoneNone

This study received a mixed rating. Outcomes from the 24-month parent interview have low attrition and receive a high rating, except parent’s overall health and maternal depression outcomes, which were assessable at baseline but did not demonstrate baseline equivalence and were not controlled, and therefore rate moderate. Outcomes from the Parent Services Interview had low attrition, but baseline equivalence for race/ethnicity and SES was not established on the analytic sample, so these outcomes rate moderate. Outcomes from the Child Assessment (Bayley) and Parent/Child Interactions have high attrition and were not assessable at baseline, so those outcomes receive a moderate rating.

Study Characteristics

Study Participants This study relies on data from a randomized controlled trial of 17 Early Head Start (EHS) programs that began in 1995. Seven of the programs served clients through a home-based option (though other clients in other EHS options also received home visits) and are the focus of this report (EHS-HV). The study randomly assigned 1,385 families, who applied to those 7 programs, either to receive home-based EHS or a comparison condition. This study included outcomes reported for the 2-year-old follow-up (other years of follow-up are reported in separate studies). For this follow-up, 966 parents (500 inEHS-HV and 466 in the comparison group) provided data for parent interviews. Among parent interview participants, 45 percent were white, 25 percent were black, and 27 percent were Hispanic. One in four parents had more than a high school education, and one in 10 were in families living above the poverty line; one-third to one-half of families were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or Food Stamps.
Setting The study was conducted in 17 EHS programs throughout the United States, including 7 programs with home-based options, which are the focus of this report. Four programs were located in urban areas, and three programs were located in rural areas. The seven programs represented a mix of implementation timing; one early implementer had all EHS-HV elements in place by 1997, and three later implementers had all elements in place by 1999; three programs did not have all elements in place by 1999. The early-implementing program had fully implemented both child and family development services early and continued to have those services in place in 1999.
Home Visiting Services EHS-HV services are intended to be delivered to study families via weekly home visits. Seventy percent of families in these programs received weekly visits during at least one of the first two follow-up periods, and 26 percent received such services throughout both periods. Over the first two years, families in the home-based option received an average of 71 visits. Typical home visits are at least one hour long. Topics for home visits included child growth and development, child play activities, housing issues, and parent-child communication.
Comparison Condition Control group families could not receive EHS-HV services, but could receive other services available in their community.
Staff Characteristics and Training Not specified
Funding Source Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation team (CORE)within ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), and the Head Start Bureau in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF)
Author Affiliation None of the study authors are developers of this program model.


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