Playing With Daddy: Social Toy Play, Early Head Start, and Developmental Outcomes.

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Lori A. Roggman
Lisa K. Boyce
Gina A. Cook
Katie Christiansen
DeAnn Jones.
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Research on fathers in Early Head Start (EHS) has provided an opportunity to study fathers from low-income families. We examined father-toddler social toy play in relation to EHS enrollment, fathers' psychosocial well-being, and children's developmental outcomes in a sample of 74 father-toddler dyads. Overall, our results show that father-toddler social toy play was more complex among fathers in an EHS program than among those in a comparison group. Greater complexity in father-toddler social toy play predicted better cognitive and social developmental outcomes for young children, especially in the program group, but it was limited by fathers' psychosocial well-being in the comparison group and by time availability in the program group. Nevertheless, the impact of EHS on father-toddler play suggests that an early intervention that targets father involvement can influence positive father-toddler interactions in ways that enhance early development. (Author abstract)

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