Early Childhood Development Staff

Child Trends researchers study young children from birth through early elementary school with a focus on understanding how the experiences children have across different settings promote optimal development and well-being. Our team works with the federal government, state agencies, communities, and foundations on research, evaluation, and policy projects that address important issues for policymakers, practitioners, and families. We are skilled at developing resources and reports that address complex topics in easy-to-understand terms. We are strong thought partners in addressing a range of early childhood issues.

Much of our work fits into five broad categories.

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Tamara Halle

Co-Director for Early Childhood Development and Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan

Tamara Halle conducts research and evaluation studies on children’s early cognitive and social development, early childhood care and education, family and community supports for school readiness, and school characteristics associated with ongoing achievement and positive development.

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Kathryn Tout

Co-Director for Early Childhood Development and Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Minnesota

Kathryn Tout has fifteen years of experience in the design and implementation of research and evaluations related to the quality of early care and education, policy and programs to improve early care and education quality, professional development for early childhood educators, predictors of early care and education selection, early childhood development, best practices in early care and education, and child and family outcomes.

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Kelly Maxwell

Co-Director for Early Childhood Development and Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., School Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Kelly Maxwell has over 15 years of experience in early childhood policy, research, and evaluation. She is known nationally for her policy-relevant research and evaluation focused on helping states improve their early care and education systems. Her research interests include early childhood policy issues, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), school readiness assessment, and evaluation of early childhood initiatives.

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Carlise King

Executive Director, Early Childhood Data Collaborative
Education: M.A., Social Psychology, San Francisco State University

Carlise King is part of the Early Childhood Development research area and Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC). She is responsible for providing research, support, and technical assistance across early childhood research and policy projects to inform the development, implementation, and use of early childhood data systems.

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Sarah Daily

Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Educational Psychology, George Mason University

Sarah Daily, Ph.D., focuses on early childhood research and the role that state public policies and programs play in serving the needs of young children. Dr. Daily’s portfolio of projects focus on quality improvement initiatives and state school readiness practices.

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Dale Epstein

Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Human Development, University of Maryland, College Park

Dale Epstein focuses on the intersection of research and policy and the role that state and national public policies play in the lives of young children and their families. Her research interests include improving the quality of early childhood programs at the state and national levels, evaluating early childhood initiatives, and data system building and analyses.

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Jessica Dym Bartlett

Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Child Study and Human Development, Tufts University; M.S.W., Simmons School of Social Work

Jessica Dym Bartlett conducts applied research on child welfare, child trauma, and other early childhood adversities, with a focus on identifying individual, family, and contextual factors that contribute to resilience among young children and their families.

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Nicole Forry

Senior Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Family Studies, University of Maryland, College Park

Nicole Forry’s research focuses on child care subsidies and tax policies, child care quality, enhancing couple relationships, disparities in children’s development, and implementation and outcome evaluations.

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Weilin Li

Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Education, University of California, Irvine

Weilin Li’s research focuses on evaluation of early childhood programs, fidelity of curriculum implementation, dosage and quality in early care, and advanced statistical methods.

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Rebecca Madill

Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

Rebecca Madill works in the Early Childhood Development program area. Her research focuses on the evaluation of early childhood programs and the identification of factors associated with children’s social-emotional and academic development.

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Manica F. Ramos

Research Scientist
Education: Ph.D., Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Manica Ramos is a developmental psychologist who conducts mixed methods research. Her research focuses on early care and education programs, specifically, parental engagement, assessing the quality of parent-teacher relationships, understanding and measuring cultural sensitivity and parental empowerment, and conducting evaluations of early care and education interventions.

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Rebecca Starr

Deputy Office Director for the Minnesota Office
Education: Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Minnesota

Rebecca Starr has five years of experience designing and implementing projects examining the quality of early care and education settings (including Quality Rating and Improvement Systems), professional development for early care and education providers, and effects on children’s developmental outcomes.

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Amy Blasberg

Research Scientist
Education: M.P.P., Georgetown University

Amy Blasberg works in the Early Childhood Development content area. Her past research focused on the relationships among school readiness, family income, and cognitive stimulation.

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Jennifer Cleveland

Research Operations Manager
Education: M.S.W., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Jennifer Cleveland works with Child Trends under contract with the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota. She has worked on joint projects between the two organizations for nearly a decade, in particular projects examining the quality of early care and education settings.

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Kristen E. Darling-Churchill

Research Scientist
Education: M.P.P., American University

Kristen Darling-Churchill is a senior research analyst with Child Trends' education and early childhood teams. Currently Kristen specializes in qualitative research focused on: early childhood social and emotional development; early childhood developmental screening and assessments; positive child well-being indicator development, in school and community contexts; technical assistance related to measurement of and improvements to conditions for learning in schools (a.k.a. school climate); school discipline policy research and analysis; needs assessment; and resource dissemination strategies. Kristen also serves as Child Trends’ education program area manager, and as a project manager and proposal development lead.

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Sarah Friese

Principal Policy Analyst
Education: M.P.P., University of Minnesota

Sarah Friese works in the Early Childhood Development research area in the Minnesota office. She is involved in a project mapping early childhood data components to guide the creation of an integrated system and an evaluation of an early childhood quality rating system.

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Joy Thompson

Senior Research Analyst
Education: M.A., Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Joy Thompson has a background in applied developmental psychology. To date, her graduate work has involved examining the various interdependent contexts that affect pre-k-12 educational outcomes, including school and home-based interventions, parents’ beliefs and practices, and teacher-child interactions.

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Mallory Warner-Richter

Senior Research Analyst
Education: M.P.P., Public Policy, University of Minnesota

Mallory Warner-Richter is a Senior Research Analyst in Early Childhood Development research area at Child Trends. She has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Concordia College. Her most recent work includes project management for the Midwest Child-Parent Center Expansion project at University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative.

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Van-Kim Bui Lin

Senior Research Analyst
Education: M.S.P.H., Child and Adolescent Health and Development, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Van-Kim Bui Lin works in the Early Childhood Development research area in the Bethesda office. Prior to Child Trends, Van-Kim’s primary research interest focused on the link between early childhood education and health outcomes. Underlying her research, she also examined the effect of culture on these relationships, specifically comparing Caucasian and Asian American populations.

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Danielle Hegseth

Senior Research Analyst
Education: M.S.W., M.P.P., Early Care and Education Policy and Evaluation, University of Minnesota

Danielle Hegseth is a research analyst in Early Childhood Development in the Minneapolis office. She is experienced in data collection and tool design, literature reviews, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and preparation of reports and presentations.

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Margaret Soli

Senior Research Analyst
Education: B.A., Psychology, Macalester College

Margaret Soli works in the Early Childhood Development research area in the Minnesota office. She is involved in several projects examining the quality of early care and education settings and how it affects children’s developmental outcomes.

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