Educare Randomized Control Trial
National researchers are conducting a randomized control trial of Educare schools in Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha (two schools) and Tulsa. The study was designed to examine the effects of a high-quality, birth-to-age-5, center-based early education program on children’s language, social-emotional skills and parent-child interactions.
Researchers from FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are leading the study and are partnering with researchers from University of Chicago, University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The study consists of a randomized sample of 239 children and researchers compared those children who attended Educare to those who did not. The study is tracking children through age 5 and researchers are continuing to analyze data to determine results as the children grow up.
The first phase of study results were published in Child Development in 2017. The findings show that the high-quality, center-based early childhood education offered at Educare has a positive impact on the development of financially disadvantaged infants and toddlers.
The study found that Educare children after one year of enrollment, at approximately age 2, had:
- Significantly higher English language skills;
- Fewer parent reports of problem behaviors; and
- More positive parent-child interactions than children who did not attend Educare.
The second phase of study results were published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly in 2020. At age 3, assessments of the skills of 202 children remaining in the study revealed significant differences in favor of children in the treatment group.
Some major highlights from the report include:
- Compared to the entire group of children and families who did not participate in Educare, children who attended Educare demonstrated multiple positive learning outcomes including higher language skills, fewer problem behaviors, and stronger early math skills at age 3.
- Positive results related to language and behavior problems were even stronger for DLL children compared to English-only children in Educare.
- When comparing children who attended Educare to children in informal childcare arrangements, Educare children demonstrated higher language, math, and behavioral scores.
- We are thrilled that participation in Educare continues to have a positive impact on children’s and family outcomes at age 3!
The report also recognizes a key finding that demonstrates the efficacy of Educare, and other early childhood champions, in elevating the quality of ALL early childhood education nationwide, especially for children and families from under-resourced communities:
- When comparing children who participated in Educare with only those children who attended other center- or school-based programs, no differences in children’s outcomes were found. This finding indicates that – through the tireless efforts of early education advocates within Educare and beyond – center- and school-based programs serving low-income families are now providing a higher standard of early education.
- The mission of the Educare Learning Network is not only Educare school excellence, but expanded access to and demonstrated value of investing in high quality early childhood education systems. Ultimately, we seek to reduce the socioeconomic achievement gap for ALL low-income or otherwise vulnerable young children and their families.
- As the article states, “Educare school leaders are noted for their community advocacy for programs and policies to help better serve all vulnerable children and families” and we are pleased to see the positive impact of this work in communities with an Educare school. In addition to advocacy, the Educare Learning Network supports the broader field through extensive practice supports including local professional development opportunities and partnerships, and our field-wide professional development series, Educare Best Practices Training. In partnership with other like-minded organizations, Educare has also shown impact at the Federal level, directly contributing to the elevation of Head Start standards that positively impact pre-K programs nationwide.
- Given this finding, we are pleased to see that more low-income children and families are accessing ECE programs that foster positive learning and developmental outcomes. Educare serves as a shining example of how a network of early childhood programs can be agents for positive social impact in their communities.
Importance of the Early Years
Strong language skills, social-emotional skills and parent-child relationships at an early age are all predictive of a child’s future success in school and in life. Unfortunately, children who grow up in poverty often face disadvantages that hamper their development, so by the time they reach kindergarten, they are far behind their peers.
Decades of research show that when children attend a high-quality early learning program, they arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and are more likely to succeed in school, graduate high school and college, and earn higher incomes as adults.
To learn more about the Educare Randomized Control Trial, please read our National Research Agenda for Early Education.