The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to explore perceptions of providers and families regarding effects of Birth to Three Programs in rural Illinois. The study began with dissemination of a survey to all active programs receiving funding for Birth to Three through the Early Childhood Block Grant. From those districts meeting the study criteria, five providers and four district families were interviewed. In the fifth district, a focus group provided access to family perceptions. The study addressed: (a) the perceptions of selected project administrators (providers) regarding the effects of program goals and practices to address issues of poverty; (b) the perceptions of families served by Birth to Three programs of current program practices and their effects on their own daily lives; and (c) the public policy implications of the study for addressing the needs of low-income families with young children living in small rural communities.
The findings indicated the service providers are aware of socioeconomic factors and their effects on poor families with very young children. Through home visits they are able to communicate effective parenting skills through activities and build the link between the home and the school that provides a sense of collaboration. Results of family interviews provided evidence that parents were genuinely interested in successful outcomes for their children within the context of the family as a whole. Values that surfaced most frequently were: relationships with the providers, the children and other participants; increased knowledge of child development and parenting strategies; and a sense of personal accomplishment. Creating trusting relationships with providers was indicated to be a first step in developing parents' ability to form and sustain secure relationships with others in the community. Families found interventions helping to build informal supports effective in connecting them to the local community.
Public policy implications include continued pedagogical and financial support of such programs at the local, state and federal levels. Families need information regarding what constitutes quality support services, and we must increase opportunities for adult education, job training, and employment. Recommendations for further research are suggested.
|Advisor:||Lyman, Linda L.|
|School:||Illinois State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||School administration, Early childhood education|
|Keywords:||Birth to three programs, Home visit, Illinois, Poverty, Rural education|
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