As investments in early care and education grow, it’s critical that practitioners, policymakers, and parents understand what elements need to be in place to ensure that all children reach their full potential. Just as there are variations in young children’s development, there are also variations in the content, context, and quality of programs. The Foundation for Child Development supports research that attempts to:
- Examine the implementation of early childhood programs in a variety of settings;
- Explain why some program components are effective; and,
- Provide insight into continuous quality improvement.
Simply, this work is designed to understand the basic question of social science research: what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. Our goal is to illuminate the most effective approaches for specific subgroups of children within a variety of contexts. Ultimately, the work informs policies necessary to bring innovative evidence-based approaches to scale.
Our most recent effort is the formation of the New York City Early Childhood Research Network. As part of President Obama’s Invest in US early childhood initiative, the Foundation committed resources to support New York City’s universal prekindergarten program. Over 30 researchers from local institutions of higher education meet with representatives from city agencies to develop early childhood research that can provide continuous and timely feedback to the New York City agencies.
In keeping with the Foundation’s area of focus, all of the studies are intended to provide city officials with a better understanding of relationships among characteristics of early care professionals, program components and supports, and optimal classroom instructional practices. The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York coordinates the work of the researchers and city officials.
Read more about our work in New York City, as well as previous case studies around the country, below.