Early Care, Early Education, and Home Visiting in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: Design Options for Assessing Early Childhood Needs

OPRE Report 2016-49
Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Apr 25, 2016
Authors
Lizabeth Malone, Emily Knas, Michael Cavanaugh, and Jerry West

Key Findings:

Providing high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood services across the prenatal to age 5 continuum is a critical policy and programmatic issue in the United States, notably among the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population, but scant data are available on the scope of the need for early childhood services or to accurately determine and document the unmet need in AI/AN communities. Toward the goal of informing a national needs assessment in AI/AN communities, three design topics of interest were identified.

  • The three design topics are as follows: Design One will describe the population of AI/AN children and families and their participation in early childhood services based on existing data sources. To the extent possible, this design will provide a broad picture of the programs and providers serving AI/AN children and families at a national level.
  • Design Two will study service organization and delivery systems in AI/AN communities, including the current number of children served and not served, workforce capacity, and cultural resources at the community level and will involve new data collection.
  • Design Three will assess key features needed to support AI/AN communities’ capacity for conducting early childhood needs assessments at the community level and will involve new data collection.
The report documents the process of creating three design topics for an early childhood needs assessment of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and families. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) developed three broad design topics, and Mathematica Policy Research convened a community of learning (CoL) made up of child care practitioners and researchers, Head Start/Early Head Start practitioners and researchers, tribal home visiting practitioners and researchers, ACF federal staff, including representatives from the Office of Child Care, the Office of Head Start, the Office of Early Childhood Development, and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, and research partners from the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center. The CoL met monthly throughout 2015 and provided a range of perspectives on the key decision points about the designs that came up in those discussions. The three design topics are as follows: Design One will describe the population of AI/AN children and families and their participation in early childhood services based on existing data sources. To the extent possible, this design will provide a broad picture of the programs and providers serving AI/AN children and families at a national level. Design Two will study service organization and delivery systems in AI/AN communities, including the current number of children served and not served, workforce capacity, and cultural resources at the community level and will involve new data collection. Design Three will assess key features needed to support AI/AN communities’ capacity for conducting early childhood needs assessments at the community level and will involve new data collection. The report begins with a description of the framework underlying each design topic: the population of interest and the definition of early childhood needs, services, and indicators, followed by details on each of the three design topics. Each chapter addresses the key research questions for the design topic, the population of interest, measurement topics to consider when addressing the research questions, and data sources, including primary data collection or existing data sources available for secondary analysis. The report concludes with a summary of each design topic and future considerations. The goal of this report is to inform the future design of a needs assessment. However, it does not include the details for specific sample designs, data collection protocols or instruments, or analysis plans.