Baylor School of Social Work Center Receives Grants to Fund National Study of Early Childhood Education in Congregations

Feb. 23, 2006

Dr. Diana Garland, dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University, and Dr. Jon Singletary, director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries, have received two grants totaling nearly $80,000 to conduct the first major national study in 20 years of congregation-based early childhood education and family support.

The Louisville Institute, a Lilly Endowment program for the study of American religion based at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, has committed $40,896. The A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, which funds projects to improve early childhood education and the overall well-being of young children and their families, has committed an additional $35,000 to conduct this yearlong research project.

"Twenty years ago, we knew that congregations provided more than half of all center-based childcare in the United States," Garland said. "Today we think that number may be even higher, and the questions raised are even more pressing."

The study will include developing a national survey instrument to be used in 10 states; in-depth interviews with congregation and childcare staff members in four sites; and a second-level of study with six to eight additional congregation-based childcare agencies. The final report, expected in June 2007, will be available on the School's Center for Family and Community Ministries (CFCM) Web site at www.family-ministry.org, and will be followed by publications and workshops for early childhood educators in congregations.

The CFCM will collaborate on this project with the Baylor University Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development, the Baylor department of family and consumer Sciences, the National Council of Churches, the Search Institute and the North American Association of Christians in Social Work. In addition, the project will have an advisory board consisting of childcare education professionals from throughout the country.

"We believe this research project can bring together the research capabilities of the academy with the wisdom of church leaders about the mission of the church to explore afresh what role, if any, congregations can have in this very important aspect of daily life of young families in their communities," Garland said.

This research will be the first step toward developing the resources and training needed to help congregation leaders and early childhood educators, Garland said. "Our long-term goal is to provide resources cross-denominationally and nationally to support congregation-based family support services," she said.

Find more information about the Center for Family and Community Ministries at www.family-ministry.org; The Louisville Institute at www.louisville-institute.org; and the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation at www.mailman.org .

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