Early Care and Education & Pre-K Education

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Early care and education provide a strong foundation for children's academic success and overall well-being. This focus area has been central to the work of the Institute since its founding more than 50 years ago. One of FPG's first and most influential projects was a longitudinal study of the effectiveness of an early care and education intervention for children from low-income households. This work continues today with research on closing the achievement gap and providing support for dual language learners.

Featured FPG News Story

More than 40 years ago, FPG investigators Thelma Harms and Richard M. Clifford set out to understand what it is young children truly need to succeed. Their time-tested research and extensive observations led to the publication of the ECERS, a research-based instrument to assess the comprehensive quality of early childhood programs for children ages 3–5. Now, a new team of authors will take up the mantle to produce ECERS-4.

Featured Publication

FPG researchers contributed to a study of a large sample of classroom teaching staff at 23 early childhood schools across the U.S. serving children birth to age 5 used survival analysis to investigate both the timing of staff turnover and the characteristics associated with turnover.

Featured Project

The Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA) is funded to support state Part C and Preschool Section 619 programs in developing high-quality early intervention and preschool special education service systems, increasing local implementation of evidence-based practices, and enhancing outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.

Current Projects

The purpose of this project is to support the development of the early childhood practitioners’ ability to care for children and get them ready for kindergarten by improving their capacity for implementation of interventions in primary care settings.
This project will develop an African-centered, culturally responsive practice guide with specific strategies, exemplars, and materials with connected professional learning modules to guide effective implementation. The ultimate and long-term goal is to increase Black children’s social, cognitive, and emotional skills (e.g., racial identity, engagement, learning motivation, regulation), leading to strong academic and social competence and school success.
Through collaboration with national, state and local coalitions and organizations, the Equity Research Action Coalition will identify, track and align strategies to strengthen the focus on protecting, promoting, and preserving the well being, health, wealth, access and experiences of Black families and their families through anti-racist and cultural wealth policy making framework and communication.
This multi-year project, in partnership with Erikson Institute and the University of Delaware, seeks to understand how best to value, compensate, and authentically integrate the family child care (FCC) workforce and approach in future efforts to build and expand more equitable PreK systems. This project will involve focus groups, surveys, and case studies to understand how FCC is being integrated into PreK efforts.
The purpose of the proposed project is to investigate mechanisms through which peer effects in infant and toddler settings operate using innovative computational and statistical methods. The study will involve secondary analyses of the Educare Learning Network National Evaluation longitudinal data to address questions about peer effects.
The purpose of the proposed project is to investigate patterns, factors, mechanisms, and outcomes of Head Start/Early Head Start staff turnover using a range of advanced analytic techniques such as survival analysis, machine learning, Multilevel Cox Regression Model, and Multilevel Survival Structural Equation Modeling. The study will involve secondary analyses of the Educare Learning Network National Evaluation longitudinal data to address questions about staff turnover. As a subcontractor, FPG will be involved in assisting with any required data sharing agreements, creating custom datasets, and assisting with interpretation and dissemination of findings.
The Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA) is funded to support state Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education programs in developing high-quality early intervention and preschool special education service systems, increasing local implementation of evidence-based practices, and enhancing outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.
The extent to which and how early education reduces achievement gaps related to race and income have not been studied extensively in rural areas in the United States, despite clear evidence that these achievement gaps are even larger in the rural United States and high-quality early education is one of the most effective means to promote educational success for all children.
FPG will partner with the North Carolina DCDEE to conduct an evaluation of a pilot implementation of the NC Preschool Pyramid Model (Pyramid Model) in selected private center-based preschool programs where NC Pre-K classrooms are housed. The pilot implementation of the Pyramid Model is an extension of the existing implementation in many NC Pre-K classrooms currently located in public school settings.
The Georgia Pre-Kindergarten Evaluation project provides an external statewide evaluation of Georgia's Pre-K Program, a universal pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds. The project is currently conducting an ongoing longitudinal study of the short- and long-term learning outcomes for children who attended Georgia's Pre-K Program as well as the quality of their preschool and early elementary school experiences from pre-k through fifth grade.
In support of efforts related to Georgia’s Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement (QRLLE), we will collect information on the degree to which the Endorsement helps programs to improve their language and literacy practices, and information to advise next steps in the development and rollout of the Endorsement. This study will involve data collection, analyses, and reporting on the QRLLE related to practices observed during the upcoming school year (2023-24). The study will take place during the 2023-2024 school year and will be divided into three phases: (1) August 2023-September 2023: Preparation of data collection measures, IRB application, data collector hiring, observation refresher training, recruitment and scheduling classroom observations (2) October 2023-December 2023: classroom observations and data cleaning, and (3) January 2023-June 30, 2024: prepare report to summarize quality data and describe QRLLE programs and alignment with the LITTLE Program, convene a national expert panel on language and literacy endorsements, and summarize information gathered about QRLLE programs, endorsements nationally, and recommendations for next steps for the QRLLE.
This collaborative project with ITTI Care at Duke Center for Child & Family Policy will work to integrate trauma-informed care practices within infant-toddler childcare settings by evaluating existing training materials and suggesting revisions as necessary and designing comprehensive instructional strategy and training curricula for both coach-the-coach and direct-to-provider professional development efforts.
This project intends to conduct an independent, unbiased evaluation of the MECK Pre-K program that will be longitudinal in scope, tracking cohorts of MECK Pre-K students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools through 5th grade. Given the longitudinal nature of the evaluation and the need to track multiple cohorts, it is expected that this project will span 10 years. The focus of that evaluation will cover three key areas: program characteristics; program implementation and quality; and student outcomes.
The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) was established to strengthen the capacity of Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care communities to achieve positive, enduring outcomes for the children and families they serve. NCPFCE's goal is to promote exemplary practices for family and community engagement in support of children’s school readiness and healthy development; parent leadership and advocacy; family economic mobility; community partnerships; individualized support for families; and staff-family relationships that are equitable and culturally and linguistically responsive. Researchers will conduct evaluation activities for the Region I FEM Academy, as well as support the ongoing operations and project management tasks. The evaluation data collection will focus on the post-academy phase, including a 6-month follow-up. The findings from the evaluation will be compiled into summary evaluation reports.
This project consists of planning and implementing an evaluation of The Educare Learning Network, a consortium of programs nationwide providing high quality learning environments for at-risk children from birth to 5 years. The evaluation will document the features of Educare and how implementation of the model contributes to program quality and links to child and family outcomes.
The purpose of this project is to establish a data governance system for the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) that supports integrated and consistent information sharing across the Division and with outside stakeholders. The work primarily involves gathering and organizing information to develop inventory spreadsheets of federal and legislative reporting requirements and requests and early childhood data sharing across units/sections within the Division; working with key Division staff to develop a standard operating procedures portfolio for collecting, analyzing, updating, and sharing data with stakeholders outside of the Division; and proposing metrics for all units/sections across the Division to use for publicly shared data.
The following specific activities will be conducted for the purpose of producing the legislatively mandated annual report from Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) regarding the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program: Extraction of data from NC Pre-K administrative databases provided to FPG by NC DHHD/DCDEE. This will occur on a monthly basis. Cleaning of monthly data extracts in collaboration with DCDEE staff. Compilation of the cleaned monthly data extractions into a longitudinal database that preserves the time-specific status of the NC Pre-K system. Analysis of extracted data according to guidance of the legislation requiring annual reporting on the NC Pre-K system. Preparation of the legislatively mandated material in draft report format. Analyses and additions to draft report as directed by DCDEE (within the resources provided by this contract). Ongoing communication with DCDEE regarding report content, progress of work, and requested revisions and edits to report draft resulting in production of a final report.
This study aims to identify unobserved heterogeneity and capture complex patterns of program and classroom characteristics to inform targeted program quality improvement and teacher professional development, and identify program quality features and instructional practices that are beneficial for the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start children’s language and literacy development.
This project will continue a previously established formal research-policy and practice collaboration between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (FPG). FPG will develop structures to initiate working toward the project goals and to develop plans for expanding this work to educate/co-create learning between academia and policy practice in service of career advancement/efficacy.
This project will train school staff who support students using pull-out reading instruction and intervention (e.g., “educators” such as reading specialists, paraeducators, instructional facilitators, tutors) to use Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI, formerly called Targeted Reading Intervention) with two adaptations: 1) a digital version of the traditionally “paper and pencil” intervention (“TRI app”) in a 2) high dosage model whereby educators provide daily reading support to multiple K-3 students not yet reading on grade level.
The main objective of this project is to provide a more nuanced understanding of associations between school characteristics, classroom processes, and students’ language, academic, executive function, and social skills between prekindergarten and grade 1.
This project's purpose is to expand the knowledge on the practices and supports necessary to improve access and participation within STEM learning opportunities for young children with disabilities and intersecting identities.
Early childhood educators (ECE) work with young children with disabilities as well as children from diverse backgrounds to support learning and development. It is critical for ECEs to be adequately prepared to serve children who are linguistically, culturally, and ability-diverse. The purpose of this project is to work with early childhood community college programs in North Carolina to enhance and redesign courses to better prepare ECEs to work with children with disabilities and children from diverse backgrounds.
Research team will consult with Wake County Smart Start (WCSS) to support a WCSS-led participatory research project that will lead to the development of WCSS strategic plan community driven outcomes. Following with their strategic plan priorities of equity, family engagement and leadership and data informed decision making, WCSS would like to develop community driven outcomes through a participatory research project. The project will collaborate and share power with families and community members in the development of outcomes that measure WCSS’ success in meeting their strategic plan goals. The project will be co-designed, co-facilitated and collaboratively analyzed and disseminated by community and family co-investigators.
The Dogwood Health Trust (DHT) Education Strategic Priorities seek to ensure that every child in Western North Carolina has access to early education with nurturing, well-prepared caregivers to prepare them for school and life success. The four goals to meet this outcome include launching landscape studies, improving the early care and education ecosystem, improving K-12 education, and supporting higher education career readiness. The Equity Research Action Coalition at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute will engage in three related strands of work to support DHT’s Education Strategic Priorities. The first strand is engagement in the convening of DHT’s RFP Education Strategy launch, and the second strand is thought and data leadership in an equity-centered academy, followed by an equity-centered report.
The goal of this project is to identify opportunities and barriers to community based organizations, namely civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, The Leadership Conference, the National Urban League, NALEO Education Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), National Congress of American Indian (NCAI) in prioritizing early childhood development including access to high quality and affordable child care.

Publications and Other Resources