Research shows that the earliest years of life are a critical period of human development. Young children’s earliest relationships and experiences have a strong influence on brain development and a child’s future health and well-being.
- Quantitative analysis
- Research design
- Parental well-being and self-sufficiency
- Early childhood education programs and systems
- Early Childhood
- Child Development
- Early Childhood Systems
- Systematic Evidence Reviews
- Family Support
- Strengthening Families and Responsible Fatherhood
Jessica Harding studies early childhood education and programs that support at-risk families to promote their children’s development, including through increasing parents’ income, employment, education, parenting skills, and engagement with their children’s education.
As part of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) team, Harding conducts quantitative analyses of Head Start children’s development. For example, she has led analyses to examine whether changes in children’s demographic characteristics explain changes in their outcomes across FACES cohorts. Harding provides technical assistance to grantees and conducts implementation evaluations, including (1) coaching Strengthening Working Families Initiative grantees who support parents facing barriers to training for middle- or high-skilled jobs and (2) working with the National Center on Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to inform its continuous quality improvement. Harding also works on systematic evidence reviews and currently leads a review of programs to support pregnant and parenting adolescents.
Harding joined Mathematica in 2016. Her work has been published in top-tier journals, including the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, Developmental Psychology, and the Journal of Marriage and Family. She received her Ph.D. in applied psychology from New York University.
Building an Equity-Focused Policy Research Agenda in Support of Children’s Health and Well-Being
Many low-income people—often families of color and rural families—lack access to programs that support children’s health, development, and well-being.