Early Head Start: Survey Sheds Light on Development of 3-Year-Olds (In Focus Brief)

In Focus Brief
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
May 07, 2015
Cheri A. Vogel, Pia Caronongan, Yange Xue, Jaime Thomas, Eileen Bandel, Nikki Aikens, Kimberly Boller, and Lauren Murphy

Key Findings:

  • Three-year-olds in Early Head Start showed improvement over time in terms of their language and social and emotional development, and they are in good health.
  • Families "take up" a large proportion of the services offered.
  • Families that enroll before a baby is born stay in the program longer.
  • The quality of home visits is higher when parents spend more time interacting with their child during the visit and the visit goes according to plan.
  • Overall, ratings of classroom quality, like ratings of home visit quality, are in the mid-range.
  • Greater family involvement in Early Head Start is associated with positive behavioral outcomes for children.
  • The quality of Early Head Start centers is positively associated with children’s language abilities at age 3.

Baby FACES, Mathematica’s descriptive study of Early Head Start, builds on the success of the flagship study of Head Start, the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). Baby FACES, sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to inform national and local decision-making on early childhood programs and policies.

In this summary of results from the third and final report on the study, we offer insight into the experiences and development of 3-year-old children in Early Head Start, and into what predicts family involvement and service quality. The study also reveals key information about how family characteristics, program experiences, and service quality relate to child outcomes.


Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES)


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Cheri Vogel
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Pia Caronongan
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