Curriculum VitaeView CV
I am an applied child development researcher with a particular focus on early childhood policy and practice. My program of research involves three related lines of work: (1.) research with caregivers and children on parent-child interactions in low-income families, (2.) research with children and early care and education providers to investigate outcomes of public early childhood programs and school readiness, and (3.) research aimed at understanding the implications of state and federal early childhood policies. My work addresses questions about “what works best for whom” and the conditions under which services or programs are effective, rather than simply documenting that early childhood programs have an overall benefit.
The Starting at Home project, described in this UDaily article, is a key example of my research on caregiver-child interactions. This was a multi-year study with HDFS colleagues where we incorporated a promising parenting intervention into Early Head Start. Home visitors were trained to deliver the intervention as part of their ongoing services to families. This work was carried out as part of a nationwide research consortium with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although data collection is complete, I continue to develop numerous manuscripts and presentations to widely share our findings. These include analyses of how intervention effectiveness differs based on child temperament and how neighborhood characteristics predict families’ perceptions and wellbeing.
State-funded pre-K programs have been a main focus of my research on child outcomes and school readiness. I led large-scale evaluation studies of state pre-K programs in Arkansas and New Mexico. My recent article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly looks at the overall effectiveness of the New Mexico Pre-K program as well as outcomes for children who are members of different racial/ethnic groups. Findings from this study raise questions about how to promote more equitable outcomes for all children and are highly relevant to national conversations about universal prekindergarten.
A third aspect of my work involves analyzing and contextualizing state policies related to availability of public preschool, pre-K program standards, and early childhood finance strategies. Earlier in my career, I was project manager for the first five editions of the State Preschool Yearbooks for the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). These annual reports have been widely used by state and federal policymakers and continue as a definitive source of information on state pre-K policies. A current collaboration involving research on state policies involves providing my pre-K expertise in a study of suspension and expulsion standards in early childhood programs.
My research, teaching, and service are closely interrelated. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on topics such as Child and Family Policy, Research Methods, and Early Childhood Administration, Leadership, and Advocacy. I regularly mentor doctoral students in the HDFS Ph.D. program, including a student supported by a prestigious federal Child Care Dissertation Grant. I also serve as Research Director for the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) and work closely with undergraduate and graduate students in that capacity. The DIEEC provides direct services to children and families as an Early Head Start grantee and to early care and education providers by operating Delaware’s quality rating and improvement system. Both provide primary contexts for DIEEC research. In addition, I continue a longstanding relationship with NIEER as a Senior Research Fellow. I also currently serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.