Promoting Parents' Social Capital to Increase Children's Attendance in Head Start: Evidence From an Experimental Intervention

Teresa Eckrich Sommer*, Terri J. Sabol, P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Mario Small, Henry Wilde, Sean Brown, Zong Yang Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Improving children's attendance is a high priority for Head Start and other early childhood education programs serving low-income children. We conducted a randomized control trial in a major northern city to evaluate the impact of a low-cost intervention designed to promote parents' social capital as a potential influence on children's attendance in Head Start centers. The intervention assigned children to treatment group classrooms based on (a) neighborhood of residence (geography condition) or (b) the geography condition plus the opportunity for parents to form partnerships in support of their children's attendance, or to control group classrooms according to Head Start guidelines only. We did not find impacts on average attendance throughout the year. However, the intervention did lead to increased attendance during the winter when average center attendance was lowest. There were no impacts on fall or spring attendance. Follow-up exploratory analyses of focus groups with parents and staff suggested that parents' level of connection and trust, self-generated partnership strategies, and commitment to their children's education may be factors by which parents' social capital expands and children's attendance improves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-766
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Research on Educational Effectiveness
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017

Keywords

  • Head Start
  • children's attendance
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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