Essays in Early Childhood Development and Public Policy Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Jenkins, Jade Vanessa Marcus
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Public Policy
  • A large literature demonstrates the long-term individual and societal benefits of investing resources in children during early childhood because of the powerful influence of the environment during early life on child neurological development. Therefore, early childhood presents an unrivaled opportunity for policy intervention, and is a critical component of child and family policy. This dissertation uses three different types of policy research to examine child well-being between birth and kindergarten. Chapter 1 is a program evaluation of a school-based outreach intervention to identify and enroll uninsured low-income children in publicly funded health insurance programs in North Carolina. Chapter 2 is a state policy evaluation examining how variations in state governance of early child care and education policy affects children's well-being. Chapter 3 is an example of testing and applying theory from economics to examine how parent characteristics and behaviors contribute to child cognitive development throughout early childhood. Each paper is interdisciplinary, implementing different methods for causal inference to address the unique challenges of each approach using statewide and nationally representative child data with several indicators of well-being. In chapter one, there were no significant differences in public health insurance enrollment and preventive care use for kindergarten-aged children between counties that received the outreach intervention treatment from those who did not. However, the findings from the qualitative work in this study may be helpful in implementing other school-based outreach efforts to enroll children in public health insurance. The findings from chapter two indicate that there is a nontrivial positive effect of policy dispersion on children's reading, math, and fine motor skills in kindergarten. Future research in this area should explore the specific mechanisms through which policy governance translates into meaningful differences in children's well-being. The findings from chapter three show that when parents read books, sing songs, and engage in supportive parent-child interactions as early as 9 months of age, this has an important effect on children's reading skills in kindergarten in addition to the effect of maternal education and ability, and family income. These behaviors are important inputs in the development process because they are amenable to policy intervention
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  • In Copyright
  • Henry, Gary
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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