An Assessment of a Home-Visiting Intervention on Rural, Low-Income Children's School Readiness
Schull, Christine Pegorraro
Anderson, Elaine A.
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School readiness is an important educational success indicator for children and communities, and an equally important educational goal after research revealed that nearly half of all children are not ready for kindergarten because they have not acquired the appropriate necessary pre-literacy, and social competencies (Rimm-Kauffman, Pianta, & Cox, 2000). Rural children are at particular risk given that isolation, poverty, and limited parental educational attainment levels are associated with difficulty learning and getting ready for school (Perroncel, 2000). The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a home visiting program on school readiness in a population of low-income, rural children in Garrett County, MD. Children (n=164), who entered the Healthy Families Garrett County program in 1999 or 2000 shortly after birth and completed the school readiness assessment upon kindergarten entry in 2004 or 2005, were selected along with their families. Path analyses were used to examine the relationships among frequency, intensity, and duration of the home visiting intervention, and home safety, parental knowledge of infant development, and school readiness. All variables, (1) home visiting frequency, (2) home visiting intensity, (3) home visiting duration, (4) parental knowledge of infant development, and (5) home safety were considered to be paths leading directly to the enhanced outcome of school readiness in this low-income, rural sample. Path analyses revealed that: (1) Duration of home visiting had a positive, direct effect on home safety; (2) Duration of home visiting had a positive, direct effect on parental knowledge of infant development, (3) Home safety had a positive, direct effect on school readiness in the composite and all tested subscales (personal and social, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, physical health and development); and 4) Duration has an indirect effect on school readiness through home safety. Recommendations include maintaining program duration, implementation of new parental knowledge or home environment measures, and continued emphasis on home safety and collaboration with local agencies for impacting school readiness.