Supporting Sprouts

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Posted on September 21, 2021 by childrenslearninginstitute



Principal Investigators:

Ursula Johnson, Ph.D.

Bethanie S. Van Horne, Dr.PH.


Cathy Guttentag, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Janelle Montroy, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Jeffrey Williams, Ph.D.

Funding Agency:

Administration for Children and Families

Description of the Project:

Understanding how to provide children with an early foundation in school readiness skills is critical, as many states estimate that half of their students arrive at kindergarten already far behind where they need to be to have a good chance at succeeding in school. Children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds consistently perform significantly worse than children from higher SES backgrounds. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to adapt two research-based parent and teacher interventions, Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) or (ePALS)Strategies for Early Education and Developmental Success (SEEDS)and Beginning Education: Early Childcare at Home (BEECH), to examine the benefit to low-income infants’ and toddlers’ language, cognitive, and social-emotional development as well as self-regulation skills.

We will determine whether raising the quality of parent and teacher responsive behaviors across both the home and Early Head Start (EHS) center-based classroom settings result in an added benefit to children’s learning and development, compared to no intervention in either setting. In the first year, we will adapt the interventions for the EHS center-based setting and for a hybrid delivery format with collaboration from EHS staff and families. Across years 2 – 4, 55 classrooms will be randomized to receive PALS and BEECH vs “business as usual” practices. Three hundred thirty three (333) consented children will be randomly selected and assessed. In year 5, we will analyze data, write reports, and develop a sustainability kit to support future EHS center-based programs and child care centers to easily implement the interventions in their settings.

While the research evaluated outcomes when both SEEDS and PALS were implemented simultaneously in the home and Early Head start environments, child care centers and Early Head Start centers can choose to implement one component (SEEDS or PALS) or both depending on the needs of their teachers and families. This program was developed at the Children’s Learning Institute/UTHealth Houston.


Participants will include 55 Early Head Start classroom teachers and 330 Early Head Start parent-child dyads.

Research Sites:

Houston and San Antonio, Texas