SPARK Ohio: An Early Childhood Intervention Program Description and Evaluation

By Rebecca Fischbein, Thomas DeLuca, Jennifer A. Bryant, Peter Leahy, Diane M. Banks and Deric Kenne.

Published by The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 31, 2016 Free Download

While early intervention programs are designed to address the needs of vulnerable children from the ages of three to five, SPARK Ohio uses a home visitation model designed to prepare children, in cooperation with their parents/caregivers, to transition from home to school academically, physically, and socio-emotionally (e.g., interacting with others). Using cross-sectional data from the Ohio Education Management Information System, multiple regression models estimated the influence of SPARK on Ohio’s kindergarten readiness scores (2012) with variables of interest, including SPARK Ohio and preschool participation. For children entering kindergarten in 2012, 578 participated in the early intervention SPARK Ohio program with families recruited from six counties, twelve districts, and twenty-nine schools across Ohio. After controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and community-level variables, program participants demonstrated statistically significant higher readiness scores for kindergarten literacy relative to their non-SPARK Ohio peers. Readiness was moderated by preschool attendance, with program participants who also attended preschool having the greatest levels of readiness. By using student-level data, we are able to isolate and estimate treatment effects between comparable groups: SPARK Ohio participants and non-participants. This study provides practitioners with empirical results when investigating or proposing early childhood intervention programs and serves as a basic methodological model for early childhood intervention researchers. This study describes an early intervention experience aligned with kindergarten preparation standards that actively engage parents in the learning experience. Participants demonstrated significantly higher kindergarten readiness assessment scores compared to non-participants.

Keywords: Early Childhood, School Readiness, Parent Engagement, Early Childhood Intervention, Home Visitation

The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, Volume 23, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.23-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 31, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 508.185KB)).

Dr. Rebecca Fischbein

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA

Dr. Thomas DeLuca

Assistant Professor, Educational & Leadership Policy Studies, School of Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Jennifer A. Bryant

Graduate Student, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA

Dr. Peter Leahy

Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management,, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA

Diane M. Banks

Research Analyst, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Dr. Deric Kenne

Assistant Professor, The Center for Public Policy & Health, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA