Using “Learn the Signs. Act Early” to Influence the Caregiver and Educator Relationship and Increase Collaboration of Developmental Monitoring in Early Head Start Settings

Academic Article


  • Estimates show that one in six children aged three through 17 in the United States have one or more developmental disabilities. Many early childhood education programs aim to improve early identification of children with developmental disabilities and increase family engagement, specifically Head Start and Early Head Start programs. The present study employed a convergent, parallel mixed-method research design to evaluate the integration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” materials into Early Head Start settings and examine how the use of the materials in the classroom setting influenced the relationship and engagement between caregivers and staff. The quantitative strand of the study employed descriptive statistics to interpret survey data and the qualitative strand of the study used a template approach to analysis for the analysis of focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Participants reported that the materials supported caregiver and staff communication and served as a catalyst for staff to build a deeper rapport with the families. The materials provided a consistent language for parents and staff to use to discuss developmental milestones and helped bridge gaps in communication that were previously present due to differing levels of understanding regarding child development. Additionally, the caregiver engagement with developmental monitoring increased and they were able to track milestones of their respective children alongside Early Head Start staff. Data show there is value in the use of the materials due to the positive affect they have on caregiver and staff relationship and engagement.
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    Author List

  • Taylor E; Clesi C; Houser J; O’Kelley S; Koehler J; Brisendine A