The Parent-Child Home Program’s Effectiveness with English Language Learners

The Parent-Child Home Program’s research has consistently demonstrated its significant outcomes for children and families, as well as its effective replication in a wide variety of communities and with a range of targeted at-risk populations, including a diverse array of English Language Learners.

A recent study by Dr. Virginia Mann of the University of California-Irvine demonstrates that the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) provided predominantly in a family’s native language (the primary or only language spoken by the adults in the home) prepares children to successfully learn and utilize English once they enter school. The UC-Irvine Parent-Child Home Program replication, called HABLA (Home Based Activities Building Language Acquisition), has been serving families in Santa Ana, CA since June 2000. Dr. Mann’s research on the impact of serving Spanish-speaking families with Spanish-speaking home visitors demonstrates that by working with families in the language in which they are best able to talk and read with their children, the Parent-Child Home Program is successfully preparing children to learn English. Once in pre-kindergarten, Program children scored well above the comparison group of native Spanish-speakers (recruited from the same housing projects as the Program families) on both the K-Seal1 2 and the Pre-School Language Scale 4 (PLS-4). The Parent-Child Home Program participants, at age three, also scored much higher than the children who had not had the Program on the Spanish PLS-3,3 demonstrating much stronger native language skills, a critical component of learning English successfully.4

A recently concluded quasi-experimental evaluation of the Philadelphia Public Schools PCHP site, conducted by Lehigh University, with a comparison sample matched according to PCHP enrollment criteria for age, income level, and residence in targeted regions within the city revealed that the rate of enrollment among the PCHP children, who are largely Latino, exceeds national trends for early childhood education program enrollment for this population of children. PCHP children were also more likely to enroll in early childhood education programs at the age of three than were comparison children in Philadelphia.5

Independent researchers from New York University also evaluated the effects of The Parent-Child Home Program on a group of primarily Latino Program participants in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York when the children reached kindergarten, comparing 68 Program graduates with 48 randomly -selected non-Program children from the same kindergarten classrooms. Comparison group parents were better educated (59% vs. 27% had gone to college), were less likely to be Latino (33% vs. 71%), and worked for pay more hours per week (25 vs. 16). “Despite the challenges of limited English proficiency, low parental education, immigrant status, and poverty, children who had participated in the home visiting intervention were performing similarly to their peers on the majority of measures… Teachers’ reports of children’s early literacy indicated no differences between the intervention and comparison groups, and there was no difference on tests of early literacy administered by research staff” including the Language and Literacy subscale of the Academic Rating Scale, Story and Print Concepts and Color Names and Counting measures from FACES, Kochanska battery.”6

The Parent-Child Home Program had bridged the achievement gap, these Program graduates were as ready for school as children from high income, better educated homes, English-speaking homes.

In a study of the Program’s Seattle sites, conducted by independent evaluator Organizational Research Services (ORS), participation data shows that the Program is reaching its target population of ethnically diverse, low-income families and that the vast majority of families completed the full two-year program (85% of enrolled families). ORS’s research, consistent with past dosage studies of the Program, finds that the Program has optimal effects on families who complete the full two-years. Since 2006, when the study began, 467 families enrolled in Seattle’s Parent‐Child Home Program across four completed cohorts. Almost 90% of enrolled families had an income below the 2010 poverty line; almost 70% of families spoke a language (10 non-English languages were reported) other than English at home, and about 22% of families were African American. Between each data collection point, caregivers exhibited statistically significant increases in the frequency of positive behaviors and interactions on all PACT7assessment items and in their average score across items, providing strong and consistent evidence of enhanced caregiver-child interactions and increases in caregivers’ use of positive parenting behaviors as a result of the Program. By the end of the second year of the Program, over 90% of caregivers exhibited positive parenting behaviors and interactions with an average frequency of “most of the time” or greater. Between the end of the first and second years of the program, children also exhibited statistically significant increases in ratings of their pre-literacy skills on the Teacher Rating of Language and Literacy (TROLL) items.8 These significant increases held true for an overall average score as well as for each of three TROLL subscales: Language Use, Reading, and Print Concepts; all of these domains are critical components of school readiness.9

The results of this evaluation demonstrate the Program’s effectiveness with culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

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1. The K-Seal is a Pearson school readiness measure focused on language development.
2. Mann, V, Sandoval, M, Garcia, L, & Calderon, D. (2009). Using Spanish in the home to promote school readiness in English. In A. Harrison (ed.), Speech disorders: Causes, treatment and social effects (pp. 97-118). USA: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
3. Figuerdo, L. (2006). Using the known to chart the unknown: A review of first language influence on the development of English- as-a-second-language spelling skill. Reading and Writing, 19, 873-905.
4. Manz, P., Bracaliello, C. B., Pressimone, V. J., Eisenberg, R. A., Zuniga, C., & Curry, A. (2011). Examining vocabulary outcomes in home visiting: Preliminary findings and methodological considerations. Unpublished manuscript.
5. Allen, L., Sethi, A., & Astuto, J. (2007). An evaluation of graduates of a toddlerhood home visiting program at kindergarten age. NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Intervention Field 10(1), 36–57.
6. Replication sites are required to collect pre-program and post-program data regarding parent-child interactions and the child’s social and emotional development, using the Parent and Child Together (PACT), a validated assessment provided as part of the Program. The tool consists of twenty items, each of which rates on a 5 point scale the frequency of behaviors considered to be positive parent-child interaction behaviors (parent behaviors).
7. This rating system measures skills critical to the New Standards for Speaking and Listening. TROLL can be used to track chil-dren’s progress in language and literacy development, to inform curriculum, and to stimulate focused communication between parents and teachers.
8. Organizational Research Services (2010). Evaluation of the Parent-Child Home Program/Play & Learn Group Demonstration Project 2005-2010: Final Report. Seattle: Business Partnership for Early Learning.
9. Organizational Research Services (2010). Evaluation of the Parent-Child Home Program/Play & Learn Group Demonstration Project 2005-2010: Final Report. Seattle: Business Partnership for Early Learning.