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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2010 Jan;41(1):70-83. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0050). Epub 2009 Nov 30.

The language and literacy development of Head Start children: a study using the Family and Child Experiences Survey database.

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  • 1Temple University, 110 Weiss Hall (265-62), 1701 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.



This article provides information about the Head Start Family and Children Experiences Survey (FACES). It also presents the findings of a study that capitalizes on the strengths of the data from FACES to investigate the impact of child and family characteristics, speech-language impairment, and the home literacy environment on the language and early literacy outcomes of children from low-income families.


Data from the FACES 1997 cohort were used in this study. Variables included in the analysis were child and family characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, etc.); parent report of speech-language impairment; frequency of home literacy activities; and children's scores on vocabulary, letter-word identification, and early reading assessments.


The results revealed that children's vocabulary abilities in Head Start were affected by maternal education, ethnicity, and the frequency of home literacy activities, and children's letter-word identification abilities were impacted by maternal education and the child's gender and age. Additionally, children's reading abilities in kindergarten were predicted by ethnicity, speech-language impairment, and the home literacy environment, as well as by children's vocabulary and letter-word identification abilities in Head Start.


The findings demonstrate the unique contributions that the home literacy environment and the presence of speech-language impairment during preschool make in children's early reading outcomes.

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