Lindsay Chase-Lansdale’s Newest Two-Generation Project Focuses on Head Start

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale’s Newest Two-Generation Project Focuses on Head Start

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale

Professor Lindsay Chase-Lansdale’s research has shown that two-generation education — an approach targeting parents and children simultaneously — is a promising anti-poverty strategy for families. With a new federal grant, Chase-Lansdale will investigate the impact of a dual-generation education program that involves Head Start.

Funding for the project, called “Expanding the Cycle of Opportunity: Simultaneously Educating Parents and Children in Head Start,” comes from the Administration for Children & Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In collaboration with the Community Action Project (CAP) of Tulsa, Chase-Lansdale and her research team will study the two-generation program that CAP offers for Head Start and Early Head Start children and their parents.

This program, the Education Pathways Program (EPP), provides education, career coaching and soft-skills training for parents while their children attend Head Start programs. Going beyond the typical scenario of providing referrals for families, the program provides high-quality services for both parents and children within the Head Start context. The goal is to promote the economic self-sufficiency and well-being of low-income families across generations.

During the first year of the five-year project, CAP will strengthen its EPP curriculum based on the latest research. Meanwhile, Chase-Lansdale’s team will launch a study focusing on parent interviews, observations and administrative data. Starting in fall 2014, an effectiveness study involving 300 families randomly assigned to either the EPP program or a control group will examine the impact of EPP on parent and child outcomes.

Overall, the researchers will determine whether the two-generation education program or Head Start alone has a stronger impact on child development. “Findings will have implications for how two-generation approaches influence child development and family well-being and will offer guidance on how to integrate this approach into Head Start programming,” says Chase-Lansdale.

In other studies, Chase-Lansdale is investigating the impact of two-generation programs including CareerAdvance®, offered by CAP. Her research has identified promising outcomes for families. “There is an untapped resource in adding parents’ job training and education to early education centers. Such a program can capitalize on parents’ motivation on behalf of their children as well as their sense of belonging to a community,” Chase-Lansdale notes.  

This study specifically targets a two-generation program that involves Head Start. “The goal of addressing the needs of vulnerable parents and their children together has characterized Head Start since its inception in 1965,” Chase-Lansdale says. “However, few Head Start programs in the nation currently offer intensive education, career preparation and soft-skill services, despite the fact that parents’ own education is central to their children’s school success.”

Chase-Lansdale’s collaborators on the “Expanding the Cycle of Opportunity” project include Teresa Eckrich Sommer and Terri Sabol of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, Hirokazu Yoshikawa of New York University, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Davis Jenkins of Columbia University, Amanda Morris of Oklahoma State University, Christopher King of the University of Texas at Austin, and Jennifer Wittner of Women Employed.

Chase-Lansdale is the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at the School of Education and Social Policy and a faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She is an expert on the interface between research and social policy for children and families, a former American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Science Fellow, and the first developmental psychologist to be tenured in a public policy school in the United States. She specializes in multidisciplinary research on social issues and how they affect families and the development of children, youth, and adults.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/25/14