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Welfare, Children, & Families: a three city study/ cityscape illustration w/ flowers


Longitudinal Survey
-Wave 1
-Wave 2
-Wave 3

Embedded Devt'l Study


Embedded Development Study

In order to improve the breadth and depth of the child evaluations, the Three-City Study includes an embedded development study (EDS). All children in that age 2 to 4 at wave 1 of the longitudinal were eligible for the EDS (N=737). The EDS component incorporates videotaping and coding of caregiver-child interactions, time-diary studies, and observations of child-care settings.

We focused the EDS on preschoolers because children in this age range embark upon developmental paths that, in turn, drive later intellectual, social and physical growth. Researchers are devoting growing attention to the importance of children’s school readiness in the years prior to kindergarten. Mothers also face challenges during this period in providing appropriate warmth, limit setting, and learning opportunities, as well as in meeting the great time demands of caring for preschool children and finding appropriate alternate care.

We gathered detailed, process-oriented measures that provide information not easily collected in standard surveys. The EDS contains three components: (1) an additional home visit with mother and child, which includes videotaped tasks for the child and the mother-child together, as well as an additional mother interview (Wave 1 N=626 for mother interview, 85% response rate; N=587 for videotaped assessments) (2) a visit to the child’s primary care provider (other than the mother), which includes observational ratings of the care and an interview with the childcare provider (of 358 eligible children at wave 1, 249 participated, 70% response rate); and (3) an interview with the child’s biological father (N=272, 37% response rate. Response rates vary depending on father’s household residence status and time since his last visit with the focal child).

Mother interviews, which generally lasted about one hour, provided further information on children’s and mothers’ social networks and relationships, as well as on the mothers’ reports of feelings and experiences related to balancing work and family life. Mothers also reported on their child’s temperament and activities they share with their child. Videotaped assessments of the child and the child-mother tasks, which generally lasted 30-40 minutes, provided ratings of the child’s behaviors, mother’s parenting behaviors, and mother-child interactions.

Father interviews were conducted with the child’s biological father when the mother provided contact information and we were able to locate the father. During hour-long face-to-face interviews, fathers completed a battery of measures focused on four main areas: basic demographic information; psychological functioning and involvement in illegal activities; involvement with the focal child and parenting practices; and ratings of the focal child, providing an additional report to supplement those from the mother and the childcare provider.

The primary nonmaternal care provider also participated in a face-to-face 45-minute interview. Care providers reported on numerous characteristics of the childcare, including the number of hours per week the child is in care, child-staff ratio, fees, caregiver training, and the caregiver-mother relationship. Care providers also provided assessments of the focal child including school readiness and positive and problem behaviors.

The table below describes the measures obtained in the EDS at wave 1.

Measures of Childcare

Topical Area

EDS Instruments

Source of EDS Instruments


Mother report: history of childcare, extent, cost, accessibility, reliability, mother-caregiver relationship, quality of care

Adapted PSID Child Supplement,

Emlen scale

Type Providers Cost Schedule Others

Observational Ratings: quality of childcare setting covering constructs of environment, safety, materials, cognitive stimulation, and staff-child interactions

Harms & Clifford Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised (ECRS-R) and Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS), Arnett Scale of Teacher Sensitivity

Caregiver report: extent of care, caregiver education & qualifications, income, caregiver-mother relationship, parent participation

Adapted PSID Child Supplement, some developed for study

Measures of Family Processes

Topical Area

EDS Instruments

Source of EDS Instruments

Family Structure / background

Father report: HH configuration (2 residences), childbearing history


Father report: involvement & responsibility history, parenting style, father-child activities

Chase-Lansdale, Gordon, Coley, Wakschlag, & Brooks-Gunn, 1999; Shumow, Vandell, Lowe, & Posner, 1998; Developed for Study

Video tasks: quality of mothering, Caregiver-child Puzzle Task

Chase-Lansdale, Brooks-Gunn, & Zamsky, 1989

Wakschlag, & Keenan, 2001

Caregiver report: caregiver-child activities

Developed for study

Roles of parents / parenting figures

Role strain (parenting, work, relationships)

Adapted Greenberger, 1989

Father and kin involvement

Father report: employment, income & training

Challenges to parenting

Quint, Bos, & Polit, 1997, Adapted Fragile Families

paternal commitment

Quint, Bos, & Polit, 1997, Adapted Fragile Families

Mother-partner relationship quality

Mother report: father-figure, maternal grandmother, and grandmother figure involvement & residential histories

Adapted Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 1989;

Chase-Lansdale, Gordon, Coley, Wakschlag, & Brooks-Gunn, 1999

Mother report: mother-partner relationship quality

Locke-Wallace, 1959

Father report: father-partner relationship quality

Locke-Wallace, 1959

Mother & father report: mother-bio-father closeness and conflict

Developed for study

Measures of Parent's and Children's Health

Topical Area

EDS Instruments

Source of EDS Instruments

Mental Health

Father report: internalizing mental health problems (depression, anxiety, somatization, antisocial), risky behaviors

BSI -18 Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 2000) Adapted NLSY: Borus, Carpenter, Crowley, & Dymont 1982

Measures of Child Outcomes

Topical Area

EDS Instruments

Source of EDS Instruments


Father report: positive behaviors

Adapted New Chance; Quint, Bos, & Polit, 1997

CC provider report: positive behaviors

Adapted New Chance; Quint, Bos, & Polit, 1997

Emotional development

Mother report: temperament

EASI Buss & Plomin

Observation: emotional regulation Tasks

Kochanska, Murray, Jacques, Koenig, & Vandegeest (1996)

Puzzle Task: affect, persistence, compliance

Chase-Lansdale, Brooks-Gunn, & Zamsky, 1989

Behavior problems

Father report: internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors

CBCL, Achenbach

CC provider report: internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors

C-TRF, Achenbach

School readiness

CC provider report: school readiness

Developed for study

The mother and care provider components of the EDS were also conducted at wave 2, when focal children were between the ages of 3 and 6. If the focal child was residing with a new primary caregiver at wave 2, that caregiver participated in the EDS interview. The father interview was conducted at wave 1 only. For more information on the EDS, see the user’s guides for wave 1 and wave 2. (The EDS was discontinued at wave 3.)

illustration of grass horizon

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