Small Child

Early Childhood Development

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.

Featured Projects

Featured Publications

Parents' and Providers' Views of Important Aspects of Child Care Quality

Mar 2015 | Laura Sosinsky; Tamara Halle; Amy Susman-Stillman; Jennifer Cleveland; Weilin Li

Understanding the match – or mismatch – of parents’ and providers’ perceptions of quality can inform efforts to improve quality, to strengthen family-provider relationships, and to assist parents in selecting child care that fits their child’s and family’s needs. As part of a larger project examining factors that shape parental decision-making, 92 QRIS providers in two states (46 in Maryland and 46 in Minnesota) and 19 parents of young children (ages zero to six) in Minnesota who recently applied for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program were asked their views on what is important to the overall quality of a child care arrangement.

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A Blueprint for Early Care and Education Quality Improvement Initiatives

Mar 2015 | Kathryn Tout; Dale Epstein; Meg Soli; Claire Lowe

As Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) continue to launch and mature across states, questions emerge from stakeholders about how to design and implement effective quality improvement (QI) initiatives that accompany a QRIS. The purpose of this report is to address questions about effective QI initiatives by proposing a blueprint of quality improvement practices and design considerations.

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Linking Head Start Data with State Early Care and Education Coordinated Data Systems

Mar 2015 | Elizabeth Jordan; Thomas Schultz; Carlise King

When linked to other early care and education data systems, data collected by Head Start programs on their children, program services, and workforce can inform key decisions by state policymakers and guide efforts to improve early childhood programs. To better understand some of the challenges, successes, and strategies involved with linking Head Start with state data systems, the Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) contacted and interviewed a sample of Head Start and state early childhood leaders in a dozen states.

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Early Care and Education Choices, Quality, and Continuity for Low-Income Families: New Findings from the Maryland-Minnesota Child Care Research Partnership

Feb 2015 | Kathryn Tout

The purpose of the Maryland-Minnesota Child Care Research Partnership is to collect information about low-income families’ experiences with early care and education for their young children that can be used to improve state policies and practices. Child care subsidies that provide financial assistance to eligible low-income families are a focal topic of the research conducted by the Partnership and a subject of four new research briefs, summarized here.

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