Child problem behavior and parent factors impacting parent engagement and children’s social competence during Head Start

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily K. Andrews (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Julia Mendez Smith

Abstract: The impacts of poverty on parent and child functioning are far-reaching (Duncan & Brooks-Gunn, 2000). Early childhood education programs have been developed to better support socioeconomically disadvantaged young children and their families, and often seek to engage parents in support of their child’s development. However, parent participation in current preventive programs in early childhood settings is low, and relatively few studies specifically evaluate parents’ intervention engagement as well as how it impacts intervention outcomes (Mendez, 2010). To address this gap, the current study aimed to more closely evaluate parents’ engagement in The Companion Curriculum (TCC), a parenting and home-school connection intervention delivered within Head Start. Specifically, the current study evaluated parents’ behavioral (e.g., TCC attendance, usage of TCC strategies at home) and attitudinal (e.g., TCC satisfaction) engagement as it related to child and parent characteristics as well as children’s end-of-year social competence following the intervention. Participants included 176 predominantly African American (92.6 %) preschool children and their parents and teachers. Parents reported on parent and child characteristics through measures administered by study researchers in an interview format in the Fall. Parents in the intervention condition received all school readiness materials as part of the study and were compensated with a gift card for their participation in the interviews. Teachers completed measures assessing children’s social competence in the classroom in both the Fall and the Spring. Parent attendance was tracked by researchers at each of nine monthly TCC intervention sessions. Parent reported usage of TCC materials at home and satisfaction with the TCC intervention materials were assessed following completion of the intervention in the Spring. Analyses showed no significant relations among the behavioral and attitudinal indicators of parent engagement (e.g., TCC attendance, TCC usage, and TCC satisfaction). Using Structural Equation Modeling, results indicated that child and parent factors were differentially related to indicators of parent engagement. Higher child behavior problems predicted lower TCC attendance and satisfaction and higher parent self-efficacy predicted higher TCC satisfaction only. Additionally, higher parental depression indirectly and negatively impacted parent engagement, as measured by TCC satisfaction, through lower parent self-efficacy. No indicator of parent engagement was found to predict children’s end-of-year social competence following the intervention, after controlling for children’s social competence in the Fall. However, higher levels of child behavior problems were related to lower child social competence in the Fall. Study findings are discussed as they relate to current theory and research on parent engagement in parent-focused prevention programs. Additionally, implications for practice in early education settings for effectively supporting parent engagement among ethnically diverse, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations are considered.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Head Start, Parent Engagement, Prevention Programs
Children with social disabilities $x Education (Early childhood)
Early childhood education $x Parent participation
Head Start programs
Home and school

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