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Early Head Start and Child Development to Age 5: A Longitudinal Study of Direct and Indirect Effects through Parenting Open Access

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This study investigated the direct and indirect pathways linking Early Head Start (EHS) participation and children's cognitive and social-emotional development at age 5 through parenting practices. In order to empirically test the two-generation program theory, a longitudinal structural equation modeling approach was used to analyze data from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (EHSREP) (n = 2,555), a national RCT of the EHS program. Results from longitudinal structural equation models indicate some significant indirect effects of EHS through parenting to child outcomes at age 5 and demonstrate several significant associations between parenting constructs and child outcomes through the early childhood years. Overall, the findings from this study suggest that investments in parenting among low-income families during the infant and toddler years contribute to gains in child language outcomes at kindergarten entry.

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