Early Childhood

Research Core

Hallie E. Ford Center

Faculty in this core focus on optimizing children's development and well-being in families, early care and educational settings and communities.

Core Leadership

Current project summaries from within the core

Principal Investigator

Megan McClelland (Oregon State University)

Co-Principal Investigators

Tominey, S. L. (Oregon State University), Geldhof, G. J. (Oregon State University), Schmitt, S. A. (Purdue)


Hatfield, B. (Oregon State University), Li, T. (Oregon State University), & Mashburn, A. (Portland State University)




Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.


This project will test the initial efficacy of Red Light, Purple Light (RLPL), a self-regulation intervention that was developed as part of an IES grant. Researchers will examine if access to one of two versions of RLPL, (self-regulation [SR] or SR+ math/literacy [SR+]), compared to a wait-list control (WLC) condition relates to gains in children's self-regulation, math, and literacy skills in preschool and six months later.


PI: Shauna Tominey, Ph.D.
Funding: Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation, Oregon Department of Human Services

The Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC) is a partnership between four philanthropic foundations and Oregon State University. OPEC strives to increase access to and normalize participation in parenting education programs for families with children of all ages across the state of Oregon and in Siskiyou County, California. OPEC provides an infrastructure for a network of parenting education "Hubs" that coordinate local and regional parenting education services. Faculty and staff at Oregon State University support OPEC through technical assistance and strategic planning; professional development, including the annual Oregon Parenting Educators Conference; and research and evaluation.

PI: Megan Pratt, Ph.D.
Funding: Oregon Department of Education, Early Learning Division, with support from federal Child Care and Development Funds (2016-2019)

The Oregon Child Care Research Partnership brings together state child care agencies, child care resource and referral, child care practitioners, and university-based researchers to define, create, and disseminate research on child care dynamics to decision-makers at the national, state, and local levels. The Partnership also manages the Oregon Early Learners Facts & Findings Website, where reports and summaries of the partnership work is shared.

Co-PI: Megan Pratt, Ph.D., Co-PI: Bridget Hatfield, Ph.D.
Funding: Oregon Department of Education, Early Learning Division & Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families (2018-2022)

This project implements four research studies to assess the effect of Oregon’s implementation of new policies in response to the CCDBG Act of 2014, with a special focus on home-based child car. Study one uses administrative data to document changes in who is served, stability of subsidy receipt and provider arrangement, and quality of care. Study two uses administrative data to document changes in characteristics of home-based providers; and studies three and four are comprised of two randomized control trial (RCT) studies evaluating the effectiveness of enhanced Professional Development/Support initiatives for home-based child care providers. Specifically, these RCT test the effectiveness of focused family child care networks and a new mode for supporting licensed exempt, non-relative providers in becoming listed.

Co-PI: Megan Pratt, Ph.D.
Collaborators: Dr. Michelle Taylor (California State University Long Beach), Dr. Natalie Wilkens (Arizona State University)
Funding: Brady Education Foundation (2017-2019)

Using a randomized control trial (RCT) study design, this project is evaluating the effectiveness of Books Can...©, a public library-developed, interactive parent-child program designed to support preschoolers social and emotional development. Impacts are being evaluated in terms of changes in parent knowledge, perceptions of libraries, and behavior, as well as children's self-regulation and language development. This project addresses the value of community-based program offerings, particularly at the public library, as a way for parents to develop knowledge and skills important for helping children enter formal schooling ready to learn.

PI: Megan MacDonald & Monique Udell (MPI model)
Funding: NIH/ NICHD

The proposed research will improve our understanding of a ‘one health’ approach to physical activity interventions for adolescents with developmental disabilities through the development and evaluation of a novel, imitation-based, intervention with the family dog. This intervention is designed to increase daily physical activity, quality of life and social wellbeing in adolescents with developmental disabilities, even after the program has been completed. This research will improve public health by evaluating new areas of animal assisted intervention aimed at improved developmental trajectories for adolescents with developmental disabilities, directly addressing the research goals of the One Health initiative.

PI: Shannon Lipscomb, Ph.D.
Funding: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2015-2019
Award number: R305A150107

Roots of Resilience is a professional development program to help early childhood teachers promote resilience with children impacted by trauma. Early childhood trauma poses a serious threat to the well-being of children, families, and communities. With the majority of children attending early care and education prior to kindergarten, the opportunity to help them start school ready to succeed is profound. Roots of Resilience provides professional supports (workshops, online course, video-based coaching) to help early childhood professionals nurture resilience in themselves, and in the children and families they serve. Initial results indicate that Roots of Resilience is feasible for teachers, and helps them to use trauma-responsive practices and to feel confident that they are making a difference in children’s lives. Additional research is underway.

Co-PIs: Shannon Lipscomb, Ph.D. and Brianne Kothari, Ph.D.
Funding: United Way of Deschutes County 2018-2021

Through a partnership between TRACEs of Central Oregon, Oregon State University-Cascades, and Better Together of the High Desert Education Service District this project launched shared measurement of resilience throughout Central Oregon. TRACEs partners are engaged in shared measurement across sectors such as health, education, and social services. The goals are to use shared measures to understand our communities, continuously improve conditions to nurture resilience, track progress, and celebrate successes.

Co-PIs: David Rothwell, Ph.D. and Bruce Weber, Ph.D.
Funding: Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Oregon's refundable earned income tax credit (OEIC) is equal to 8% of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In 2017, Oregon introduced a unique supplement to the OEIC that provided an additional 3% of the Federal EITC to families with children under the age of 4. This project uses Current Population Survey data to estimate the impact of the OEIC on poverty among children and young children. The project also tests the effects of alternative tax credit rates on childhood poverty. Results from this project are expected to inform ongoing policy discussions.

PI: Megan McClelland, Ph.D.
Funding: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2015-2019
Award number: R305A150192

This four-year project will revise an existing measure of self-regulation (the HTKS) for use as a school readiness screening tool for children from at-risk backgrounds. The existing HTKS is a predictor of school achievement for diverse groups of children. However, English language learners (ELLs) and children from low-income background have not performed well on the measure. The research team will develop and validate a revised version of the measure to assess self-regulation skills of preschoolers who are at risk.

PI: Megan McClelland, Ph.D.
Funding: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2015-2019
Award number: R305A150196

The purpose of this project is to develop and evaluate the promise of a self-regulation intervention designed for use with children from low-income backgrounds with the goal of promoting the development of school readiness skills. Math and literacy content will be embedded into self-regulation based activities to explore the added benefit of academic content on the development of self-regulation skills.

Megan McClelland, Ph.D.

Funding: Bezos Family Foundation, 2015-2016

The research team will develop a mobile app to facilitate the delivery of games and activities that have been developed to help children practice how to stop, think and THEN act.  These previously developed games and activities have been shown to be effective in two randomized control trials and were designed to promote self-regulation skills in young children.

Megan McClelland, Ph.D.

Funding: Families and Work Institute; W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2015-2016

The primary aim of this project is to assess the impact of a Mind in the Making (MITM)-based intervention that targets teachers, preschool-age children, and parents. The intervention is designed to promote the healthy development of children’s executive function skills. Participating teachers and parents will receive training in the Seven Essential Skills Modules from MITM and circle time games (Tominey & McClelland, 2011).

Megan McClelland, Ph.D., Megan MacDonald, Ph.D., Shannon Lipscomb, Ph.D., Molly Kile, Sc.D.

The present study focuses on the effects of flame retardants on children's school readiness. Given concerns that chemical exposures early in life may translate into adverse neurological, motor, cognitive, and social development (e.g. school readiness competencies) we recruited nearly 100 children aged 3 to 5 years of age that will allow us to i) identify factors that contribute to children’s exposures to flame retardants by sampling household dust, ii) examine the effectiveness of a wristband worn by children to measure personal exposure to household chemicals, and iii) investigate relations between children’s exposure to flame retardants and school readiness competencies, including neurodevelopment and social development. By incorporating measures of a child’s early care and social environment, we will examine the effect of these factors in modifying the effect of chemical toxicity.

News articles on core research


  • OSU-Cascades researchers test program to help traumatized children
    Online and video course gives teachers the skills needed to work with troubled children. Read full story.
  • Keeping Kids Safe
    Preventing house fires is important, especially in families with children, but there is growing evidence that flame retardant materials used broadly in furniture, electronics, and even toys, may create a new health threat.
  • Tests for Kindergartners on Their First Days in School
    Students who start kindergarten equipped with certain skills and knowledge are far more likely to be strong readers in grade three and beyond. Key traits include basic counting skills, the ability to follow directions and take turns, and familiarity with letter sounds and simple words.
  • Simon Says Don't Use Flashcards
    Parents who want to stimulate their children’s brain development often focus on things like early reading, flashcards and language tapes. But a growing body of research suggests that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school.
  • Simple self-regulation game predicts school readiness
    Early childhood development researchers have discovered that a simple, five-minute self-regulation game not only can predict end-of-year achievement in math, literacy and vocabulary, but also was associated with the equivalent of several months of additional learning in kindergarten.


Stories on core research and programs

  • Giving kids a head start
    OSU researcher Bobbie Weber says the quality of early childhood care can affect the trajectory of an entire life.