Does the Quality of Stimulation and Support in the Home Environment Moderate the Effect of Early Education Programs?


  • Findings reported here are based on research conducted as part of the national Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Contract 105-95-1936 to Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, NJ, and Columbia University’s Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, in conjunction with the Early Head Start Research Consortium. The Consortium consists of representatives from 17 programs participating in the evaluation, 15 local research teams, the evaluation contractors, and ACF. Research institutions in the Consortium include Administration for Children and Families; Catholic University of America; Columbia University; Harvard University; Mathematica Policy Research; Medical University of South Carolina; Michigan State University; New York University; NPC Research; University of Arkansas; University of California at Los Angeles; University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; University of Missouri-Columbia; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington College of Education; University of Washington School of Nursing; and Utah State University. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. This study was supported by a grant from the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Grant 90YR0011).

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert H. Bradley, School Social Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 873701, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701. Electronic mail may be sent to


The current study was designed to investigate how the quality of stimulation and support available to children in the home interacts with participation in Early Head Start to determine children’s development. Data were obtained as part of the national evaluation of Early Head Start (EHSRE), a randomized trial involving 3,001 children and families from 17 program sites. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were used to examine the interaction of EHS with (a) early maternal emotional warmth and (b) provision of a stimulating home environment on children’s development at ages 3 and 5. Findings showed EHS sometimes differentially benefited children who came from households where the levels of warmth and stimulation were lowest. However, there was evidence of other forms of moderation as well.