This two-year fellowship investigates the key factors in family and school settings that promote the well-being and development of economically disadvantaged children. Young children's school success is a product of children's abilities and environments over time, including parents'educational attainment, opportunities for learning at home, and more formal early education settings.51-54 High quality early childhood education programs for low-income children are linked to higher school readiness, academic achievement, and productivity in adulthood.4-6 In addition, parents'own education levels are associated with children's school success and later outcomes.7,8 Yet, virtually no studies have examined the simultaneous pathways between parents'education, and children's early childhood education experiences and development. In addition, very few studies have examined the influence of changes in parents'education on young children's developmental trajectories. This proposal is guided by an innovative theoretical model that focuses on the synergistic relations among increases in parents'education, early childhood education, and children's learning.
Aim 1 explores the effect of parents'educational advances on children's development.
This research aim uses the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which is not only nationally representative, but also includes three waves of data collection across ten years for both parents and children. This longitudinal design allows an examination of whether the estimated effects of parents'educational attainment differ as a function of developmental timing.
Aim 2 is designed to address whether children's positive experiences in high quality early childhood education settings influence their parents'own educational attainment. The proposed study employs data from the Head Start Impact Study (HSIS) that randomly assigned 4,442 children to Head Start or a control group. A unique aspect of the design of Aim 2 is that it uses the exogenous variation generated by the random assignment as an instrument to examine the causal influence of children's learning on parents'educational advances from preschool to first grade.
Aim 3 tests the robustness of the full theoretical model in the context of a newly developed two-generation intervention, Career Advance(R). Career Advance(R) provides low-income parents with education while their children are enrolled in early childhood education programs.
Aim 3 uses data from the CAP Family Life Study- an ongoing, quasi-experimental, longitudinal study of Career Advance(R). The rich measurement in CAP Family Life Study provides an unprecedented opportunity to test the hypothesis that parents'educational attainment leads to improved child outcomes and examine whether family and early childhood education contexts elucidate possible mechanisms by which effects occur. In addition to the theoretical innovation in the proposed research plan, this proposal takes advantage of advances in statistical techniques that strengthen causal modeling. Collectively, these studies provide insight into the utility of targeting policies to improve parents and children's education simultaneously.

Public Health Relevance

Children growing up in low-income families face a number of obstacles to school success and healthy development over the life course, a public health issue that has become more exacerbated since the Great Recession. Policies for low-income families have operated in silos, targeting improvements in either early childhood education or parents'educational opportunities. Surprisingly, little research has addressed the synergistic links between parents'and children's education over time. This proposal examines the intersecting roles of parents'educational attainment and early childhood education in promoting children's school success.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Griffin, James
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Other Health Professions
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United States
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