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- Qualitative research
- Data collection and analysis
- Study design and implementation
- Implementation science
- Quality Improvement
- Early Childhood
- Early Childhood Systems
- Quality Measurement
- Training and Re-employment
- Family Support
- TANF and Employment Issues
- Human Services
Gretchen Kirby has extensive experience studying the implementation and outcomes of programs and policies in early childhood, child care, and employment programs for low-income people. Her work focuses on measuring quality, implementation, and costs in early care and education programs. Previous research examined evaluations of the TANF and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs.
Currently, Kirby directs a project to assess the cost and implementation of high quality early care and education for the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation and is the principal investigator for a descriptive study of the structure and characteristics of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) in the nine Round 1 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge states for the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education. She also directed the Child Care Quality Rating System Assessment Project that collected and organized descriptive information on QRIS through a compendium and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data to inform QRIS development, refinement, and evaluation through an in-depth study and secondary data analysis. Kirby is a member of INQUIRE, a group of researchers focusing on issues pertaining to QRIS to advance the field and inform policy and practice. For nearly two decades, she also played key roles on many studies of TANF, WIA, and the coordination between the two programs. Most recently, she designed a network survey for the Institutional Analysis of American Job Centers for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and will serve as a senior site visitor for that study.
Kirby has used her knowledge of implementation science to structure data collection protocols and analyses for studies in early care and education, pregnancy prevention, and employment and training. She also developed review guidelines for implementation studies for DOL’s Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research.
Kirby, who joined Mathematica in 1998, holds an M.P.P. in public policy from Georgetown University and has held previous positions at Child Trends and with the U.S. Peace Corps.
Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS)
The Early Care and Education Leadership Study seeks to fill definitional and measurement gaps in order to help the early childhood field understand how effective leaders can improve quality experiences for children in early care and education settings.
Exploring Measurement of Performance Outcomes and Work Requirements in Programs Promoting Economic Independence (EMPOWERED)
The purpose of this study is to conduct a cross-cutting examination of the use of performance measures, work requirements, and child support requirements among human services programs that include a focus on promoting self-sufficiency.
Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education
The goal of the project is to create an instrument to measure implementation and costs of providing ECE services in centers that serve children from birth to age 5. The project focuses on measuring each center’s efforts to support quality ECE and the costs of operating the center.
States Increase Number of Highly Rated Early Education Programs, but Higher Ratings Aren’t Linked to Better Outcomes for Children
States that received grants under the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge initiative increased the percentage of early childhood education programs that participate in a quality rating system and achieve top rating levels.