Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


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Published in Early Education & Development 20:3 (May 2009), pages 482–506; doi: 10.1080/10409280902783475 Copyright © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


Research Findings: This qualitative case study describes early childhood practitioners’ (ECPs) perspectives on their professional development as part of a large federally funded school readiness intervention project as they experienced the processes of professional growth and change in learning skills related to promoting parental engagement in children’s learning and development. A total of 28 ECPs participated in this study over 2 assessment periods across 2 academic years; 12 ECPs were interviewed twice, for a total of 40 interviews conducted and analyzed. Practitioners worked within the context of Early Head Start, Head Start, and Student Parent Programs in local high schools, all located in a midwestern state. The study intended to (a) discover practitioners’ understanding of a parent engagement intervention, including their perspectives on the professional development and supports received; (b) assess how the parent engagement intervention was experienced by ECPs; and (c) discern how self-reported attitudes and behaviors of practitioners toward work with families changed as a function of the professional supports they received. Qualitative analyses of interview transcripts revealed 3 primary themes contributing to ECPs’ experience with and understanding of the professional development model to support parent engagement: Self-Perceived Changes in Confidence and Competence in Enhancing Parental Engagement, Relationships as Supports for Change, and Practice: Time Pressure and Paperwork Woes. Practice or Policy: Lessons learned and implications for the implementation of future professional development models are provided. Findings inform other early childhood professional development efforts being implemented in the context of rigorous, research-based programming, particularly those intending to support parent engagement.