Evaluation of Community Programs for Early Childhood Development: Parental Perspectives and Recommendations
Objectives Optimal early childhood development is crucial for promoting positive child health outcomes. Community programs supporting child development are available throughout the United States but general parental perceptions of such programs are not well understood. This study aimed to examine parental perceptions of community programs for early childhood development in a semi-urban city of the US. Methods Data were collected from focus groups (n = 4) composed of English-fluent parents from the local community with at least one child aged 0–5 years. After generation of verbatim transcripts, data were analyzed by two independent coders in order to identify themes. Results Parental perceptions were categorized into four areas: (1) Utilization of community services, (2) Helpful aspects of community services, (3) Negative aspects of community services and (4) Parental recommendations for improved resource utilization. Helpful aspects identified included social and economic support, provision of parental education, and developmental screening and medical support. Negative aspects included utilization of standardized assessment tools, awareness of agencies and resources, and access to services. In order to improve resource utilization, parents suggested improved communication with parents and the child’s medical home, transparency, and translation of program information into other languages. Conclusions For Practice Overall, participants felt that community programs that support early childhood development and parenting were helpful. However, community agencies can improve on communication with parents and medical providers as well as translation of program information.
KeywordsChild development Community Focus groups Early intervention Parenting
We would like to thank Rochester Community Baptist Church and The Place for their support in providing meeting places for our focus groups. We would also like to acknowledge Olmsted County Public Health and Early Head Start of Olmsted County for their partnership and collaboration on this project.
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