Understanding impact: The importance of evidence-based practice.
We understand the early years matters but it is a short window of time that sets the foundation for development and performance across the lifespan. In the first five years of life, the growing science has documented the importance of early relationships and quality experiences that fuel healthy brain development, social-emotional regulation, and allow young children to meet their developmental agenda. Evidence-based practice (EBP) means that we are making an intentional, conscientious choice to implement practices with the best evidence of supporting children and their families.
Within the early childhood field, there is a great deal of EBP research that shows what strategies, models, and services are most impactful in supporting children and families meeting their goals. At the same time, the needs of young children and families continue to evolve thus the research on EBP for our ever-changing participants must continue. This ensure every dollar towards programs will be used as effectively as possible in our shared responsibility to support children, families, and our larger community.
The Research Partners
As the RFS Organizing Partners from District 69 Skokie/Morton Grove and Infant Welfare Society of Evanston came together to provide targeted services to children age birth to five years and their families, they had the incredible foresight to think about research and the importance of understanding the benefits of their services. Subsequently, research partners from six different academic institutions came together to brainstorm how to implement a series of projects that would examine with breadth and depth of potential impact when early prevention services could be provided to the children and families in District 69. Moreover, the seamless student tracking system in District 69 allows for potentially tracking children from birth through the 12th grade. The longitudinal study opportunities with the RFS program makes this one of a kind and something that will have both local and national interest.
Within just two months, this volunteer partnership identified key areas to study and began designing research projects that could provide valuable information on impact at a variety of levels. The studies were designed knowing the partnership would use the findings to serve several important purposes: To support program improvement, to inform workforce development, to inform the larger early childhood field, and to inform early childhood policy. The research partners share a collective understanding that the RFS program offers a unique and valuable opportunity to understand the short-term and long-term impact of 0-5 services. Findings from their collective work will be disseminated broadly and available on this site moving forward.
Areas of Interest
The RFS research partners bring diverse expertise and interests that will allow a deep dive into several research areas that will help us understand the impact of early prevention services at several different levels. We will study the impact on children, their parents/caregivers, family systems, relationships with schools and relationships within communities. Specific areas of interest are:
Preschool and kindergarten readiness
School and community partnerships
Community demographics: What we know about RFS families
Low Income Enrollment