Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics & Finance

First Advisor

Kwan Yong Lee


This study examines the channels that Early Head Start (EHS) influences cognitive development in toddlers and successful parenting skills. I use a fixed effects model, incorporating individual fixed effects and time fixed effects, with longitudinal panel data from the EHS Research and Evaluation Project. By employing these methods and running separate regressions on a pooled, control and treated group, I find that when parents nightly read to their child, Bayley Mental Development Index (MDI) and Home Observation for Measurement of Environment (HOME) scores increase. When parents engage in play interactions with their child, I uncover a positive influence on child development rather than parenting. Specifically, for the treated group, reading nightly provides a 1.91-point increase in the MDI, the child’s cognitive development score, and a 0.54-point increase in the HOME score, which measures the influence of the home environment on school readiness. A one-point increase in the parent-child play scale yields a 1.63-point increase in the MDI, while producing a non-differential effect on HOME scores for the treated group. My study is unique and contributes to existing work by displaying which parental strategies influence both child and parenting outcomes since the parenting outcomes and implications for parent-child play had previously been ignored in the early child intervention literature.