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IES Grant

Title: Expanding the Reach of Evidence-Based Interventions for Improving Social-Emotional Outcomes for Infants in Child Care
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Baggett, Kathleen Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2010 to 2/28/2013 Award Amount: $1,389,897
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A100041

Purpose: Social-emotional competence and development are central to children's overall school readiness and school success. However, knowledge about infant social-emotional development and about evidence-based practices for supporting positive social-emotional outcomes are often lacking among childcare teachers. The goal of this project is to create and test a professional development program aimed at increasing responsive childcare teacher interactions to promote infant social-emotional development. Specifically, this project will develop and test Infant Net for Child Care Teachers (Infant Net-CCT); a program that integrates evidence-based components of the Play and Language Strategies (PALS) program, a cognitive-behavioral skills based intervention, with a web-based delivery technology that can help address barriers that hinder teacher access to effective evidence-based professional development programs.

Project Activities: Infant Net-CCT development will begin with three sets of iterative focus groups consisting of early intervention and early special education administrators, trainers of childcare teachers, as well as childcare teachers and parents of infants with and without disabilities who will provide feedback at all developmental stages. The intervention will then be field tested in a diverse set of 20 childcare settings. Once the Infant Net-CCT program is pilot tested, researchers will provide "visitor" access to the program that will allow key state and national policy stakeholders an opportunity to view selected portions of the program and offer feedback.

Products: Study products will include a fully-developed Infant Net-CCT intervention, and an assessment of its usability (ease of use), feasibility, and acceptability/satisfaction. Evidence will also be provided on the potential impact of Infant Net-CCT on teacher sensitivity and responsiveness and infant social-emotional behavior.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The field test of the intervention will be conducted in twenty diverse child care settings in Oregon and Kansas.

Population: The sample for the iterative intervention development will consist of 48 key stakeholders in early intervention and early childhood special education, including national experts, state policy leaders, teachers, and parents of children with and without disabilities. The sample for pre-post evaluation of the intervention will include a total of 20 childcare teachers, each working with two infants (for a total of 40 infants), one infant selected on disability status (existing disability label or elevated level of risk for disability) and one typically developing infant.

Intervention: PALS, developed by Susan Landry and colleagues, is a cognitive-behavioral, skills-based intervention that has been linked to increased parent sensitivity and responsiveness as well as improvements in child trajectories of social and communication development. In earlier work, members of this research team adapted and tested PALS for delivery via the internet for the purpose of expanding the program to families that are more difficult to reach via traditional modes of delivery. The current effort will focus on the creation of a web-based delivery of PALS to child care teachers.

Research Design and Methods: A continuous, iterative design involving feedback from stakeholders and experts on early social-emotional development will be used to develop and refine the Infant Net-CCT during the first half of the project. During the second half of the project, the research team will conduct two pre-post design evaluations to assess implementation and potential impact on teachers and infants. The first cohort will implement the program, with pre-post measures collected and refinements made based on the data collected for this cohort on Infant Net-CCT usability, feasibility, satisfaction/acceptability, and impact potential. The intervention will then be implemented and data collected from the second cohort.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: Usability and acceptability/satisfaction will be assessed through teacher questionnaires. Teacher knowledge will be assessed through test questions at the end of tutorials and coaches' ratings of teacher knowledge. Teacher implementation will be assessed through observations of caregiver-child interaction and teacher practice videos. Teacher engagement will be measured through electronic tracking of program element completion and coach ratings. The potential impact of Infant Net–CCT will be assessed through observations and questionnaires aimed at teacher behavior and children's social-emotional behavior.

Data Analytic Strategy: The analytic approach will involve qualitative data summaries of stakeholder feedback to inform iterative development efforts, and both qualitative and quantitative analyses of implementation feasibility, usability and satisfaction data, including summaries of open-ended comments and non-parametric analyses of questionnaire results (e.g., rank ordering of intervention components). The research team will also plot individual data points across time and compute slope estimates through linear regression techniques to assess process measures (e.g., teacher engagement feasibility) and impact measures (e.g., teacher responsiveness and sensitivity and children's social-emotional behavior).