Promoting the Social and Emotional Well-Being of Head Start and Early Head Start Education Staff through the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) Program

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Posted on February 10, 2022 by childrenslearninginstitute



Principal Investigator:

Yoonkyung Oh, Ph.D.


April Crawford, Ph.D.

Funding Agency:

Administration for Children and Families

Description of the Project:

This project to the Head Start University Partnership: Building the Evidence Base for ECE Workforce Well-Being Topic will conduct a blocked cluster randomized-controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the efficacy of the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) program for improving Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) teachers’ social and emotional well-being, classroom process quality, and children’s social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes. CARE is unique and innovative in that it specifically targets malleable teacher social-emotional skills applying mindfulness-based approaches and emotion skills training to create positive classroom environments that are emotionally supportive, well-organized, and cognitively stimulating. Our interest in CARE reflects:

  • decades of research demonstrating the importance of classroom environments for children’s learning and development
  • increasing prevalence of teacher stress, burnout, and related psychological symptoms and high turnover rates among HS/EHS teachers
  • growing body of evidence indicating that teacher stress, burnout, and turnover have adverse impacts on children’s social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes
  • evidence of CARE efficacy in the context of elementary schools

The theory of change that guides the CARE program hypothesizes that improvements in teacher social and emotional well-being lead to more positive classroom interactions, better organization of classroom activities and behaviors, and more effective instructional implementation. Such improvements in the quality of classroom process are hypothesized to result in improved child outcomes.

We have three broad goals:

  1. Adapt and refine CARE to meet the needs and circumstances of HS/ESH programs we are partnering with. The contextualized and well-adapted CARE program will increase implementation quality and improve participants’ uptake of CARE program components.
  2. Conduct RCT with three specific aims:
    1. evaluate the main impacts of CARE on teacher social-emotional well-being outcomes (psychological distress, mindfulness, adaptive emotion regulation, perceived job stressors and job confidence), classroom outcomes (emotional support, classroom organization, and learning support), and child outcomes (externalizing and internalizing problems, school engagement, and teacher-child relationships
    2. explore for whom and under what conditions CARE may work better
    3. examine the hypothesized mediating mechanism by which CARE may yield its effects on child outcomes.
  3. Develop a plan to sustain and replicate CARE after the completion of the project.


The RCT will be carried out in HS/EHS centers recruited from five HS/EHS programs located in three largest metropolitan areas in Texas (Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas). We will recruit 60 Head Start and Early Head Start centers, 300 teachers and their classrooms (~5 per center), and 1,500 children (~5 per classroom).

Want to join the project? Click the button below and view our webpage and consider joining our study.


Research Sites:

Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, Texas