Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families

Deborah A. Phillips and Natasha J. Cabrera, Editors

Roundtable on Head Start Research

Board on Children, Youth, and Families

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council

Institute of Medicine

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.
1996



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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families Deborah A. Phillips and Natasha J. Cabrera, Editors Roundtable on Head Start Research Board on Children, Youth, and Families Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council Institute of Medicine National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 1996

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ford Foundation. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 96-68034 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05485-0 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20005 Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, April 1996 Second Printing, August 1996

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families ROUNDTABLE ON HEAD START RESEARCH SHELDON H. WHITE (Chair), Department of Psychology, Harvard University DUANE ALEXANDER, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health W. STEVEN BARNETT, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University DONNA BRYANT, Frank Porter Graham Development Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill CAROLE CLARKE, Center for Education and Manpower Resources, Ukiah, California THOMAS COOK, Center for Urban Affairs, Northwestern University CLAUDIA COULTON, Center for Urban Poverty and Social Change, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University WILLIE EPPS, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville LINDA ESPINOSA, Bright Horizons, Cambridge, Massachusetts EUGENE GARCIA, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley CLAUDE GOLDENBERG, Department of Teacher Education, California State University, Long Beach NOREEN GOLDMAN, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University FERNANDO GUERRA, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, San Antonio, Texas JANE KNITZER, National Center for Children in Poverty, New York City RONALD LALLY, Center for Child and Family Studies, Far West Laboratory, Sausalito, California ELEANOR MACCOBY, Department of Psychology, Stanford University MARTHA MOOREHOUSE, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. GREGG POWELL, National Head Start Association, Alexandria, Virginia SUZANNE RANDOLPH, Department of Family Studies, University of Maryland JACK P. SHONKOFF, Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families HELEN TAYLOR, Head Start Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. VALORA WASHINGTON, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, Michigan HEATHER WEISS, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University CONSTANCE WILLIAMS, Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University EDWARD ZIGLER, Department of Psychology, Yale University ANN L. BROWN (Liaison), Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education RUTH T. GROSS (Liaison), Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine ALETHA C. HUSTON (Liaison), Human Development and Family Life, University of Kansas RAY MARSHALL (Liaison), LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas DEBORAH STIPEK (Liaison), Graduate School of Education, University of California, Los Angeles GAIL WILENSKY (Liaison), Project Hope, Bethesda, Maryland DEBORAH PHILLIPS, Board Director NATASHA CABRERA, Study Director KAREN AUTREY, Project Assistant

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families BOARD ON CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES SHELDON H. WHITE (Chair), Department of Psychology, Harvard University JACK P. SHONKOFF (Vice Chair), Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University JOMILLS H. BRADDOCK II, Department of Sociology, University of Miami DAVID V.B. BRITT, Children's Television Workshop, New York City LARRY BUMPASS, Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin PEGGY DAVIS, Clinical Law Center, New York University FERNANDO A. GUERRA, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District BERNARD GUYER, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Johns Hopkins University ALETHA C. HUSTON, Human Development and Family Life, University of Kansas RAY MARSHALL, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas ROBERT MICHAEL, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago PAUL NEWACHECK, Institute of Health Policy Studies and Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco JULIUS B. RICHMOND, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard University Medical School TIMOTHY M. SANDOS, TCI Central, Inc., Denver, Colorado LISBETH B. SCHORR, Project on Effective Services, Harvard University CAROLE SIMPSON, ABC News, Washington, D.C. DEBORAH STIPEK, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Los Angeles DIANA TAYLOR, Women's Health Program, Department of Family Health Care Nursing, University of California, San Francisco GAIL WILENSKY, Project Hope, Bethesda, Maryland JOEL J. ALPERT (Liaison), Institute of Medicine Council ANN L. BROWN (Liaison), Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education RUTH T. GROSS (Liaison), Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families DEBORAH A. PHILLIPS, Director ANNE BRIDGMAN, Program Officer for Communications DRUSILLA BARNES, Administrative Associate

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families Contents     Preface   ix     Acknowledgments   xv 1   Introduction   1 2   Studying Head Start's Families: General Themes   12 3   Recognizing the Diversity of Children and Families in Head Start   20 4   Examining Community-Head Start Collaborations   29 5   Head Start Families in a Changing Economic Landscape   40 6   Extending the Benefits of Local Innovation   51     References   55 Appendix A:   Excerpts from Two Advisory Committee Reports   57 Appendix B:   Workshop Agendas and Speakers   73 Appendix C:   Other Reports from the Board on Children, Youth, and Families   84

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families Preface Head Start is a comprehensive program serving poor children and their families in several thousand localities in the United States. The program is well known. Public acceptance of it is high. Yet public understanding of what Head Start is and does remains shallow. For many, understanding of the program's accomplishments has been built on intermittent discussions of the findings of a thin thread of controversial evaluation research. But studies of Head Start to date have been limited in quantity and scope. The Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion, reviewing the program's situation in 1993, recommended a long-term research plan for Head Start that places it in the broader context of research on young children, families, and communities, ensures a commitment to ongoing themes, and yet has the flexibility to respond to new and emerging issues (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993). The Roundtable on Head Start Research, under the auspices of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, began a series of discussions of new possibilities and new directions for Head Start research with its first meeting in November 1994. The roundtable had two purposes. First, it sought to find ways to explore more broadly what Head Start has been doing, looking for those aspects of the program that have been understudied. The roundtable also sought new dimensions for Head Start research made possible by recent work in the behavioral and social sci-

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families ences, notably broader disciplinary participation in research on children and families, a growing knowledge base regarding community and family processes, and increased reliance on research designs that use a plurality of methods, including those that are sensitive to and appropriate for local contexts. The roundtable gave special attention to the question of Head Start's effects on poor families. Much testimony and many informal observations say that such effects have been substantial, yet they have been little studied in the past. From a scientific point of view, we are today in a better position to study them than we ever have been before. Second, the roundtable sought to find avenues of research that would help Head Start to recognize and deal with historically new contingencies. The problems of poverty have changed during Head Start's 30 years. The lives of the poor have become more difficult, carried on in the midst of a new climate of violence. Statistics say that the number of single parents has been increasing dramatically. Behind the statistics, quietly, many poor people have been moving away from the one-household, one-family configuration that was fairly standard 30 years ago. Head Start's children are a more mixed group. About 20 percent of them speak a language other than English. Most Head Start centers are now bicultural; a good number are multicultural. Head Start centers must operate differently. They serve the educational, health, and familial well-being of their children, now as always. But centers work in a surround of schools, health care organizations, and social service programs that are constantly changing. When Head Start was created in 1965, there was a movement toward scientific management of domestic programs. One of the hopes of that era was that large-scale, ''summative'' studies of programs such as Head Start could use one or two psychometric indicators and simply and univocally determine whether or not the program was working. The evaluation research of that first generation regularly demonstrated that Head Start graduates showed positive improvements on school readiness tests, achievement tests, and other tests of cognitive skills. Follow-up studies showed that the test score gains faded out by the time the children reached the third grade. In effect, the control children who did not participate in Head Start caught up to the levels of performance of the Head Start participants. A few contended that such fadeouts showed that the initial gains of the children were not quite real. What is conspicuous in this legacy of research is the limited instrumentation used to assess outcomes in comparison with the broad goals that parents, Congress, and administrators have assigned to Head Start.

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families It is unreasonable to expect that one year of a Head Start preschool experience should prove itself by producing benefits indefinitely into the future. There have been studies showing that some preschool programs for poor children—generally better funded than Head Start—have produced detectable positive benefits for their children extending into adulthood, despite the appearance of early fadeout. The findings of such studies are currently being pursued. It is not easy to follow children in longitudinal investigations lasting 12-15 years; such studies are rare and difficult. But the question of what happens to Head Start children at age 4 cannot be completely delegated to exotic studies of dropout rates, delinquency, and drugs in the high school years. We need to look more carefully at the experiences of Head Start children and their families in the preschool years, as well as the near-term consequences of those experiences as the child enters the school years. Beginning in 1988, the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) initiated a series of planning efforts to consider desirable strategies for Head Start research and evaluation. A first ACYF committee (1990), often referred to as the Blueprint Committee, opened the door to a new order of Head Start studies. In its report, Head Start Research and Evaluation: A Blueprint for the Future, the committee took the essential step of recognizing the fundamental pluralism of Head Start's activities and research needs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990): Head Start centers are located in different parts of the country. They serve children of diverse minority groups and children with special needs—handicapped children, migrant children, children of immigrants. Head Start centers differ one from another in important respects because they have to be different. Research addressed to a Head Start center has to consider its population, its methods, and its goals. Head Start centers are not purely and simply preschools. They have responsibilities for providing their children with a positive preschool experience, for work with families, for nutrition, for health screening and referral, and for community action. Studies of whether and how a Head Start center is working have to examine this spectrum of activities. Since Head Start is a pluralistic, decentralized program, individuals at a number of levels have significant responsibilities for steering and guiding Head Start efforts, and new knowledge could and should benefit their work. Those with a legitimate interest in Head Start research include

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families Head Start center directors, families, and people with responsibilities for Head Start's special populations and activities. This is not to say that a proper piece of research on Head Start should say something useful and interesting to everybody. It is to say that people involved with Head Start look at it through different perspectives. There are valid, meaningful, and practically useful questions about Head Start that can be framed from perspectives other than a top-down one. The work of the Roundtable on Head Start Research, discussed in this report, represents an effort to set forward new possibilities for research that can shed light on important but underexplored aspects of Head Start, in the spirit of the Blueprint Committee's report. Members of the roundtable are a distinguished group of individuals drawn from government, universities, medicine, Head Start organizations, family support programs, and private foundations. Collectively, they bring many years of experience with Head Start, research, government, and program management to the table. Discussions at the roundtable's meetings were lively, thoughtful, and deeply searching. The roundtable addressed itself to a series of questions about Head Start as a program, about the circumstances of the poor, and about state-of-the-art behavioral and social science research. Among the issues discussed were the following: The Need to Study Family Dynamics and Development. We often talk about poor children's families as though they exist in two or three static configurations. But children's family circumstances often change as they grow up. Furthermore, there are indications that more complex kinds of household arrangements are emerging among the poor. How should one think about Head Start's work with families and its effects in more complex and adequate terms? New Possibilities for Studying Social and Emotional Development. When Head Start began, a renaissance of developmental psychology was under way, organized around the remarkable studies of children's cognitive development of the Swiss biologist, Jean Piaget. Early discussions of the possibilities of Head Start tended to center on cognitive development as an issue and a goal—although periodic surveys of Head Start center directors indicated that they regarded the social and emotional development of their children as a more important short-term goal. Today, there are many new research approaches and theoretical ideas addressed to children's social and emotional development. Can we use this new work

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families to explore in a more complete way what happens to a child during and after a Head Start experience? Harvesting Local Programmatic Inventions. We know that Head Start as a decentralized pluralistic program exists on the basis of many local programmatic inventions and adaptations. Can we use research to explore and harvest the products of some Head Start centers for the benefit of others—elsewhere in Head Start, in the schools, in day care centers—interested in preschool programs for poor children? Such research would fulfill the hopes of those who, in the early years of Head Start, predicted that it might become a national laboratory of early childhood education. Mental Health Issues in Head Start. The experience of the poor now includes periodic exposures to unpredictable violence. And poor children and members of their families now show emotional reactions to such experiences of a kind that, in adults, would be characterized as symptomatic of post-traumatic stress disorders. Can we use research to find ways to help children, families, and Head Start staff deal with such experiences? These issues are a few among the large number of questions and possibilities discussed by the Roundtable on Head Start Research and reflected in this report. Our goal was not to engage in the preparation of a research program or priorities for Head Start, nor was it to engage in detailed research planning. We sought to open doors and to increase understanding of what Head Start is doing, what it is and is not accomplishing. The report to follow gives an excellent sense of what we found. Sheldon H. White, Chair Roundtable on Head Start Research

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This report represents the collaborative efforts of many individuals, particularly the roundtable members and staff whose names appear at the beginning of the document. All sections of the report benefited tremendously from the insightful remarks provided by the invited speakers at the workshops convened by the roundtable; speakers are listed in Appendix B. The committee expresses its deep appreciation to them. The leadership and contributions of Natasha Cabrera, director of the roundtable, in particular, were essential at every stage of the process, from the initial formulation of the report through its final preparation. The contributions of other members of the staff were also significant. As director of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Deborah Phillips provided invaluable guidance and support to the roundtable. Karen Autrey, project assistant to the roundtable, worked especially hard on this project and on the report. Her special contributions and dedication to the roundtable are gratefully acknowledged. The roundtable also acknowledges the substantial contributions of editor Christine McShane and of Anne Bridgman, communications officer of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families; they improved the appearance and accuracy of the final product immeasurably. This report was funded by the Administration on Children, Youth,

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Beyond the Blueprint Directions for Research on Head Start's Families and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This agency's willingness to finance a roundtable that was charged with envisioning new directions for Head Start research took no small degree of courage and commitment. The encouragement and funding provided by the leadership and staff of ACYF are gratefully acknowledged. Sheldon H. White, Chair Roundtable on Head Start Research

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