CEED and Educational Psychology Partner to Research Impacts of Early Care and Education on Children with Special Needs

Amanda Sullivan, associate professor in Educational Psychology, and Amy Susman-Stillman, director of Applied Research and Training in the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED), are collaborating on two grant-funded projects aimed at examining whether early childhood care and education programs positively impact children with special needs.

Sullivan is principal investigator, collaborating with Susman-Stillman and assisted by graduate student Elyse Farnsworth from Educational Psychology, on a project funded by a CEED SEED grant that aims to understand how early childhood special education (ECSE) preschool classroom environments and services for high-performing children differ from those for low-performing children, and which preschool ECSE services are associated with positive outcomes at kindergarten entry. The goal is to identify key practices and environmental conditions that facilitate successful transitions for children with disabilities in order to promote practice and policy change at the local and national level to improve the effectiveness of pre-3 ECSE.

Sullivan is also principal investigator and Susman-Stillman co-principal investigator, again assisted by Elyse Farnsworth, on a related project funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This project is using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to look at the nature and impact of child care subsidy use in low-income families who have children with special needs. These families represent a substantial proportion of the general population under age 5, and poverty has been shown to increase risk for developmental delays and disabilities, as well as negatively impact school readiness. The child care subsidy program is intended to help low-income children access high quality care, but little is known about whether the program is benefiting young children with special needs. The goals of this project are three-fold: first, to provide nationally representative data on subsidy use and impact in low-income families who have children with special needs; second, to compare the type and quality of care received by children with special needs who do and do not receive subsidies; and third, the educational outcomes for those children who do receive subsidies.

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