The Tribal Early Childhood Research Center's pilot research and measure development projects are carried out through TRC Communities of Learning and partnerships with tribal early childhood programs and communities to address critical gaps in research
and practice. Community of Learning members help guide pilot research and measure development projects at all phases, including setting project goals, advising on project methodology and implementation, and guiding the dissemination of findings.
Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Community of Learning
The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Community of Learning included American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start program directors and university-based researchers. The Community of Learning formed in response to concerns raised during Office of Head Start tribal consultations about the cultural appropriateness of the CLASS in tribal Head Start programs. To examine this issue, the Community of Learning designed and carried out a survey of Head Start directors whose programs served American Indian/Alaska Native children. The survey asked directors to share their perspectives on the CLASS and its use in their programs.
Barnes-Najor, J.V., Thompson, N.L., Cameron, A.F., Smith, T.M., Verdugo, M.C., Brown, P.L., & Sarche, M. (2020). Cultural and practice perspectives on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System: Voices from American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. doi: 10.1080/02568543.2020.1723749
The Survey of Well-Being of Young Children (SWYC) is a freely available brief parent-report developmental screener for use between 2 and 60 months of age. The SWYC screens for social-emotional, motor, cognitive and language delays, as well as autism and family risk (including parent mental health concerns, substance use, food insecurity, and family violence). The TRC SWYC Community of Learning designed and carried out a study to ascertain the promise and fit of the SWYC for use in tribal early childhood contexts. The SWYC was enthusiastically reviewed given its brevity, availability for free, comprehensiveness, and ease of interpretation – however, concerns were raised about the fit of specific questions in tribal contexts, focus on problems, and need for careful consideration for how information could be used in light of often limited developmental services for young children.
The findings of the SWYC tribal feasibility study: Whitesell, N.R, Sarche, M.C., Trucksess, C. (2015). The Survey of Well-Being of Young Children Tribal Feasibility Study. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36, 483-505. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21526
Study findings also informed guidelines included in the SWYC manual published by Ellen Perrin and Chris Sheldrick
Tribal Child Care Development Fund Plan Report Community of Learning
The TRC Child Care Community of Learning has synthesized data from 232 Tribal Child Care Development Fund Grantee Plans for the first time, offering valuable insight into how tribal CCDF programs plan for program implementation. The TRC hosted a webinar on May 25, 2016 to review the recently completed report, sharing background on the TRC Child Care CoL process, orienting participants to the report, and highlighting ways in which it can be used by Tribal CCDF program directors and staff.
The Tribal Early Childhood Needs Assessment Community of Learning includes tribal Head Start, Home Visiting, and Child Care Development program, evaluation, and research partners who worked closely with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Mathematica Policy and Research (MPR) to develop a set of recommendations for how best to assess the availability of early childhood developmental services relative to the need for those services in urban, rural, and reservation tribal communities across the country. The Community of Learning initiated its work in December, 2014 with an in-person meeting followed by a series of virtual gatherings to collectively reflect on questions, discussion points, and draft materials.
The Community of Learning’s efforts yielded a report entitled: Early Care, Early Education, and Home Visiting in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: Design Options for Assessing Early Childhood Needs, which is at the ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) website. The report summarized 3 “design options” for pursuing a national study of tribal early childhood developmental and service needs. Design One proposed the use of existing data to provide a national picture of AI/AN children and families and the early childhood services they are utilizing. A report of those findings is also available at the ACF OPRE website.
The TRC Early Childhood Needs Assessment Community of Learning is currently pursuing a study related to Designs 2 and 3 of the first report. Design 2 focuses on gathering new qualitative data to study service organizations and delivery systems in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, including the current number of children served and not served, workforce capacity, and cultural resources at the community level. Design 3 focuses on gathering new qualitative data to assess key features needed to support American Indian and Alaska Native communities’ capacity and capacity building needs for conducting early childhood needs assessments. Qualitative data will be used to inform a survey that will be piloted with tribal early childhood programs nationally to gain a more national perspective on tribal early childhood service systems and their capacity and capacity-building needs for serving young children and families.