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Understanding the Association Between Child Development Screening Results and Race and Nativity Among Early Head Start Enrollees in Allegheny County

Bigelow, Sarah (2020) Understanding the Association Between Child Development Screening Results and Race and Nativity Among Early Head Start Enrollees in Allegheny County. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Poverty and its negative health effects are pervasive in early childhood, affecting nearly one in five children under five, and are particularly stark for children of color and immigrant children. Public health and education efforts to promote equity at this critical stage of development often remain siloed, despite evidence for access to quality early childhood education as a strategy to promote public health for young children and their families.
Methods: This study assessed the enrollment patterns of children at an Early Head Start provider in Allegheny County by race and nativity between February 2019 and February 2020. Additionally, it compared children’s results on a developmental screener six months after program entry by child race.
Results: Analysis of one Early Head Start (EHS) program in Allegheny County (n = 465 enrollees during study period; n = 266 enrolled for at least 6 months) showed that, despite all children meeting EHS eligibility criteria, there are significant differences in children’s family contexts and how they enroll and participate in EHS by race and nativity. For example, immigrant children participate in home-based EHS at a higher rate than their non-immigrant peers (p = <0.001). Analysis of children’s developmental screening scores also indicated a disparity between multiracial children and Black children in personal-social development (OR = 3.14, p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Early Head Start is one program that provides access to quality early childhood education for children living in poverty, who are disproportionately children of color and immigrant children. As such, it provides a promising avenue for integrating equity-based research and pedagogy more fully into its programming. These findings can help EHS practitioners think more broadly about how they interpret the existing demographic data they collect on their enrolled families and what it may tell them about how and why families choose to participate in EHS. Early childhood is a critical stage for prevention and intervention and improving access to quality early childhood education is one component of reducing public health inequities in this stage and across the life course.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bigelow, Sarahsab298@pitt.edusab298
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorGary-Webb, Tiffanytgary@pitt.edutgary
Committee MemberElias, Thistleelias@pitt.eduelias
Committee MemberLibertus, Klausklaus.libertus@pitt.eduklaus.libertus
Date: 9 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 July 2020
Approval Date: 9 September 2020
Submission Date: 23 August 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: early childhood, child development, Head Start, Early Head Start, health equity
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2020 16:57
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2020 16:57


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