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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy Trial of Carescapes: Promoting Social Development in Home-based Child Care
Center: NCSER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Rusby, Julie Awardee: Oregon Research Institute
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2009 - 2/28/2013 Award Amount: $2,727,926
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A090044

Purpose: Social competence is critical to the development and adjustment of preschool-age children and is linked to later school success. Child care provides an opportunity for young children to develop relationships with other young children, and has the potential to facilitate the development of children's social competence. The quality of the child care environment may have lasting impacts on children's social development, yet many child care facilities fall short of providing an optimal environment. This is particularly the case for family child care settings, in which care is provided by a nonrelative in a caregivers' home. Compared to center-based care, the quality of care in child care homes varies greatly. Evidence supports positive relations between the quality in center-based child care and social outcomes, but much less is known about the relation between quality of care in home-based child care settings and young children's social competence.

This research team will test the efficacy of the Carescapes program "Promoting Children's Social Competence." This video-based training program was developed to improve home-based child care providers' practices and the quality of the child care environment and, in turn, to facilitate children's social development and prevent the escalation of behavioral difficulties that interfere with learning. This research will be the first randomized efficacy trial to investigate the extent to which training promotes positive caregiver practices in family child care and can enhance children's subsequent social outcomes.

Project Activities: Approximately 120 child care homes will be randomly assigned to immediate intervention or waitlist control conditions. Approximately 360 preschool-age children within these child care homes will also be recruited. Assessments of the child care environment, caregiver practices, and child behavior will occur at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and 24 months after the intervention. Individual children who are at risk for developing conduct problems will be followed up into kindergarten.

Products: This efficacy trial will result in evidence about: (1) intervention effects on caregiver practices and the child care environment; (2) intervention effects on child outcomes; and (3) child care and child variables that moderate immediate outcomes and maintenance of intervention effects. The results will be presented in published articles.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This efficacy trial will take place in four counties in Oregon, and will include rural, suburban, and urban communities. Participating child care homes will be located in low-income neighborhoods.

Population: Participants will be home-based child care providers and preschool-age children (ages 2 to 6) who attend the child care. Children will include those who present challenging behaviors and are at risk for developing behavioral disorders.

Intervention: Carescapes is a video-based training program designed for caregivers who provide child care in their homes. It is comprised of a set of three modules: (a) setting up the child care environment to promote social development, (b) proactive practices for managing children's behavior, and (c) understanding and dealing with challenging behavior. The training will be delivered in a set of three interactive workshops delivered a month apart. Each workshop will last three hours and will include training videos developed with previous IES grants. The program includes a manual that illustrates the main ideas from the video-based training, examples of activities that facilitate social skill development, handouts for parents about fostering social skills, and instructions for developing a behavior support plan for children who present challenging behaviors. On-site consultation visits and a "booster" workshop session will also be provided.

Research Design and Methods: The study is a group randomized trial involving a longitudinal nested design in which approximately 360 preschool-age children are nested within 120 child care homes, and individual children will be followed up into kindergarten. The child care environment and caregiver practices, and overall behavior and social skills of attending children, will be assessed via direct observation. The behavior, social skills, and temperament of at-risk target children will be assessed by caregiver, parent, and teacher reports at baseline, post intervention, and at later follow-up.

Control Condition: Participating child care homes will be randomized to either receive the training and consultation immediately (immediate intervention condition) or to wait and receive the training later (waitlist control condition). Caregivers in the waitlist control condition will receive the set of three workshops and will get a copy of the Carescapes manual after the follow-up assessments have been completed.

Key Measures: Measures of caregiver practices (e.g., positive attention, effective behavior management, and responsivity) will be collected via caregiver self-report and observer ratings. Observation measures and child care provider surveys will be used to assess the child care environment (e.g., in terms of enrichment and organization).

Measures of child behavior (e.g., aggression, social skills, and temperament) will be collected via direct observation, and caregiver, parent, and teacher reports. School readiness measures assessing school adjustment and social competence will be collected from kindergarten teachers.

Data Analytic Strategy: A mixed-model analysis of covariance will be used to test condition differences of pre-test and post-test outcomes, and multilevel random coefficients analysis will test repeated measures across time. The research team will model trajectories across time within individuals and, for child measures, nest those individual trajectories within sites. They will test whether improved caregiver practices and environments, as a result of the Carescapes program, mediate the effects of condition on child outcomes. Specific moderation hypotheses will also be tested.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Rusby, J.C., Jones, L.B., Crowley, R., and Smolkowski, K. (2013). Associations of Caregiver Stress With Working Conditions, Caregiving Practices, and Child Behavior in Home-Based Child Care. Early Child Development and Care, 183(11): 1589–1604. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.742992

Rusby, J.C., Jones, L.B., Crowley, R., and Smolkowski, K. (2013). The Child Care Ecology Inventory: A Domain-Specific Measure of Home-Based Child Care Quality to Promote Social Competence for School Readiness. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(4): 947–959. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.02.003

Rusby, J.C., Jones, L.B., Crowley, R., Smolkowski, K., and Arthun, C. (2013). Predictors of Home-Based Child Care Providers' Participation in Professional Development Workshops and Coaching. Child and Youth Care Forum, 42: 439–455. doi:10.1007/s10566–013–9209–y