Research that Benefits Children and Families—Uplifting Stories

I came across a published research article concerning children or families which I found exciting and thought I should share with my colleagues.

In 2005, Congress established the Responsible Fatherhood (RF) grant program to promote responsible parenting, economic stability, and healthy marriage. RF programs mostly serve nonresident fathers, who do not live with their children, and are intended to assist them in fulfilling their roles as parents, partners, and workers. In 2006, federally funded Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) programs were launched to help individuals improve their relationship skills and their paths toward economic stability and mobility. Both HMRE and RF programs have a shared goal of supporting strong and healthy family relationships in families with low incomes by building co-parent and parent-child relationships skills and promoting economic self-sufficiency (Child Trends, 2021).

In this brief we use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) , focusing on low-income Latino children and their parents, to examine: (1) couple (i.e., couple satisfaction) and co-parenting (i.e., co-parenting conflict) relationships, (2) parenting (i.e., literacy activities, discipline, mealtime routine, mother-child relationship, and the provision of learning materials); and (3) self-sufficiency (i.e., education, household income, and employment). The data on parenting, co-parenting, and couple relationship quality used for this brief are based on mothers’ reports of their own and their partners’ behaviors. We focus on the early childhood years (infancy to kindergarten) because this period is critical for development and poses heightened demands on parents’ time and resources.12,13 And because the early years of children’s lives vary widely among parents in terms of co-parenting and parenting relationships—as well as self-sufficiency—we explore how these domains vary for parents when their children are infants (9 months), toddlers (24 months), preschoolers (48 months), and in or approaching kindergarten (60 months) (Child Trends, 2021).

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that, despite experiencing economic hardship, low-income Latino families with young children who are eligible for federal programs such as HMRE and RF rear their children in their early years in relatively positive and supportive environments. The fact that most low-income Latino children live with both of their biological parents represents a significant strength of these families. Their home environment is characterized by happy relationships between parents and by low levels of conflict in the co-parenting relationship, both of which are likely to benefit children’s development and growth. In these homes, children are exposed to a range of cognitively stimulating activities frequently enough to make a difference in their development of cognitive skills, especially for older children, and are exposed to structured environments that offer them access to a range of educational learning materials. However, infants in low-income Latino families may be less cognitively stimulated than older children, offering an opportunity for targeted interventions. Our findings suggest that programs can build on Latino families’ strengths to provide continued and targeted support that helps these families and children succeed (Child Trends, 2021).

REFERENCES

Child Trends, February 10, 2021.  Programs Can Build on the Strengths of Latino Families with Low

    Incomes to Improve Outcomes. Retrieved from