Human Development and Family Studies

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Dr. Cassidy elected President of NAEYC

We are proud to announce that Dr. Deborah Cassidy has been elected President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is the premier organization in the world devoted to research and practice related to early childhood. A President serves a four-year term. This is a tremendous honor and very well deserved. Her candidacy video is available on Youtube. Congratulations, Deb!

Early Childhood Network Launched at UNCG!

The Guilford County Partnership for Children recently announced that Smart Start dollars would be awarded to the Education, Quality Improvement, and Professional Development (EQuIPD) Project. The project, which focuses on professional development for early childhood professionals, is administered through the Birth through Kindergarten program of the Human Development and Family Studies Department.

“Traditionally, early childhood professionals struggle to find the time and resources to get the continuing education and professional development they need,” says Dr. Deborah Cassidy, Principal Investigator for EQuIPD. “Through this program, our faculty will bring six interconnected services directly to teachers and directors in early childhood settings. Together, we’ll implement strategies we know have a direct impact on increasing the quality of early care and education.”

The six activities are focused include creation of formal professional development plans, peer coaching, how to plan appropriate learning activities for children, leadership training, improving working and learning conditions for teachers,, and quality enhancement for early care and education classrooms and homes Faculty in the Birth through Kindergarten program will serve as advisors, consultants and trainers throughout the course of the project.

"The EQuIPD project will address a big gap in our county," said Alice Moore, Interim Executive Director of the Guilford County Partnership for Children. "Research shows that 90% of critical brain development happens in the first five years of a child's life. We must do everything we can to ensure that all our children have high quality early childhood experiences in those first 2000 days, and EQuIPD will help child care professionals become even more effective in delivering the care children deserve."

The project is part of the UNCG Human Development and Family Studies Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network (ECECCN). The Network is an innovative model of early childhood research and education based on the principle of community and university collaborative engagement.  Developed by faculty in the HDFS Department at UNCG , the Network seeks to create and support opportunities for faculty, early childhood practitioners, community members, and families to collaborate with one another in order to influence policy and practice in the early childhood field. The focus of this Community Engagement Network is to use applied research to change and enhance education, to develop new training models, to provide evidence to policymakers.  The ECECE Network also connects classroom practices and research evidence to work collaboratively with community partners to test and develop innovative, state-of-the-art intervention practices.  The ECECEN continues UNCG’s role as a leader in early childhood education research and development in North Carolina and positions the department for academic leadership through such efforts nationally. The new EQuIPD Project is an integral piece of the ECECE Network and will serve as a prototype for how to work collaboratively within a county and state to create true community engagement in scholarship, teaching, and community service.
Mark Fine, Department Chair of Human Development and Family Studies (which houses the BK program) expressed his enthusiasm for the Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network indicating that “the Network is a model for how a  community engaged university should work. Our Department is very excited about the Network and how it will coordinate the research, teaching, and service missions of our BK faculty”.


Natalie Hengstebeck receives Fulbright, Gladys Strawn Bullard Award and RAND Summer Associate position in the same week!


Doctoral student Natalie Hengstebeck, M.S. had an exciting spring semester. She was awarded a competitive position as a RAND Summer Associate to work with Dr. Sarah Meadows at their Santa Monica location where she will conduct policy related research for the Deployment Life Study (a longitudinal, mixed method, multi-informant study of military families). Natalie was also recognized during UNCG’s 2015 Faculty/Staff Excellence Awards Ceremony as the student recipient of the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award for outstanding leadership and service to UNCG. In this picture, she is book-ended by Interim Chancellor/Provost Dunn and Susan Safran, a member of UNCG's Board of Trustees. Finally, Natalie was awarded a Fulbright for the 2015/2016 academic year to study with Dr. Pearl Dykstra, Professor of Empirical Sociology at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam and Vice President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Natalie’s Fulbright research will examine the extent to which public childcare is associated with cross-national differences in parents’ relationship quality and personal well-being in 15 European countries.

Congratulations to Natalie and to her advisor, Dr. Heather Helms.

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