Current Research in Early Childhood and State Policy

We conduct original program and policy research to understand problems, link policies to wellbeing, and describe the return on state leaders’ investments. Through mixed methods, we balance the use of qualitative and quantitative data to both maintain methodology rigor and highlight the nuance behind the data. This balance helps us describe why programs do or do not work. We perform benefit-cost analyses, data analyses, and impact studies. We help clients understand the implications of our findings, and we help clients translate our findings for a variety of audiences.

New Mexico Child Care Subsidy Evaluation Report

Over the past several years, New Mexico has made historic changes to its child care subsidy policies. These changes make the state a national leader in efforts to provide families with high-quality, affordable child care, while stabilizing the market and enhancing teacher wellbeing.

For the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, we are documenting the changes and exploring the potential impact and how reforms interact through a three-phase research process:

  1. map a timeline of the state’s policy changes
  2. link policy changes to improved outcomes through a comprehensive theory of change
  3. identify available data to measure the impact, as well as data that need to be collected

Articulating the Value of Virginia Child Care Investments

In response to the child care crisis, Virginia invested $309 million in new state and federal funding–almost $275 million from temporary pandemic funding that begins expiring in 2023. Virginia’s investment went toward improvement and expansion of the Child Care Subsidy and Mixed Delivery programs, which provide free and subsidized child care for families with low incomes while allowing families to choose the provider that fits their needs and preferences.

For the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, we are performing detailed policy impact analysis to explore how Virginia’s expansion of affordable, high-quality early childhood care and education impacts:

  1. family resources
  2. child and family wellbeing
  3. child educational outcomes
  4. the state budget

2023 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap

The science of the developing child makes clear what conditions help young children and their families thrive. These optimal conditions inform our eight prenatal-to-3 policy goals. If a policy improves outcomes related to at least one of our goals, we deem that policy effective.

Each year, we:

  1. track emerging causal evidence to identify which state policies are effective
  2. collect data on the health and wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and their parents
  3. track legislative and administrative changes to effective policies

We will release the 2023 Roadmap on October 12 at the National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit. Join us at this free, virtual event!

Texas Basic Needs Support Study

The pandemic caused unprecedented adverse changes for families. In Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services’ Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division responded with increased funding and flexibility for grantees to provide basic needs support to the families they serve. New funding also came from federal legislation.

PEI contracted with the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center to:

  1. study changes to family needs and wellbeing over time
  2. assess the value of PEI’s basic needs support
  3. assess the value of other state and federal resources

This two-year mixed methods study uses administrative data collected during PEI-funded programming and survey data collected from home visiting participants.

Texas Home Visiting Outcomes Study

We are working with Texas PEI as the state evaluation partner to study the implementation and effectiveness of home visiting funded by the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Our current study uses data from ten years of home visiting participants to learn about the longer-term outcomes associated with home visiting participation.

We are conducting a quasi-experimental design study to compare similar families who did and did not participate in home visiting over the same time period. We examine:

  1. the effects of home visiting on perinatal outcomes, including infant and maternal health and parenting
  2. the effects of home visiting on two-year safety outcomes, specifically child welfare involvement

PAPA Integrated Program Evaluation

To teach teens and young adults about the legal and financial responsibilities associated with parenthood, Texas offers the Parenting and Paternity Awareness (PAPA) curriculum. In 2020, the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division (CSD) received a federal Economic Mobility and Responsible Parenting grant to modernize the curriculum, creating PAPA Integrated. PAPA Integrated is offered to first-time parents participating in Nurse Family Partnership (NFP).

The CSD contracted with Dr. Cynthia Osborne and the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center to evaluate PAPA Integrated. Our program evaluation examines the extent to which NFP participants who complete PAPA Integrated demonstrate changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions in responsible parenting and healthy relationship formation.

Assessing the Impact of Paid Family Leave Policies Across the US

We are conducting rigorous policy analyses to understand the impact of paid family leave on child, family, and labor market outcomes across the United States, with a focus on understanding how variation in state implementation decisions, such as wage replacement rates and length of leave, impacts outcomes. Our ongoing work includes studying variation in paid family leave across states, examining the impact that variation in policy choices has on benefits received, and filling gaps in the evidence base on the effectiveness of paid family leave.