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Study Detail

Love, J., Kisker, E., Ross, C. M., Schochet, P. Z., Brooks-Gunn, J., Paulsell, D., et al. (2002). Making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers and their families: The impacts of Early Head Start. Volumes I-III: Final technical report [and] appendixes [and] local contributions to understanding the programs and their impacts. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau.

Model(s) Reviewed: Early Head Start–Home-Based Option (EHS-HBO)

Additional Sources:

Love, J. M., Kisker, E. E., Ross, C., Raikes, H., Constantine, J., Boller, K., et al. (2005). The effectiveness of Early Head Start for 3-year-old children and their parents: Lessons for policy and programs. Developmental Psychology, 41(6), 885–901. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.41.6.885

Raikes, H. H., Chazan-Cohen, R., Love, J. M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2010). Early Head Start impacts at age 3 and a description of the age 5 follow-up study. In Childhood Programs and Practices in the First Decade of Life: A Human Capital Integration. Reynolds, A.A., Rolnick, A.J., Englund, M.M, and Temple, J.A., eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 99-118.

Roggman, L. A., Boyce, L. K., Cook, G. A., & Hart, A. D. (2002). Making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers and their families: The impacts of Early Head Start. Vol. 3, Local contributions to understanding the programs and their impacts. Washington, DC: Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation.

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 Parent Services Interview have low attrition and typically receive a high rating (though some outcomes that were assessable at baseline and not controlled receive a moderate rating). Outcomes from the Child Assessment (Bayley) and Parent/Child Interactions have high attrition, but baseline equivalence is established and those outcomes receive a moderate rating. Outcomes from the 36-month parent interview have high attrition, but baseline equivalence was established so they generally rate moderate, although outcomes on maternal health and male/father presence were assessable and not controlled, and therefore rate low.

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-HBO). 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 3-year-old follow-up (other years of follow-up are reported in separate studies). For this follow-up, 950 parents (502 in EHS-HBO and 448 in the comparison group) provided data for parent interviews. Among parent interview participants, 46 percent were white, 25 percent were black, and 26 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 welfare (AFDC) or Food Stamps.


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-HBO 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-HBO 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-HBO 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 model.


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