Our goal is to generate dynamic theories of change, measure complex social processes, and analyze data with advanced statistical techniques to produce innovative, functional scholarship aimed at improving the lives of children living with economic hardship.


Children experiencing economic hardship face a number of obstacles to later life success. These obstacles have grown over the last decade, particularly since the Great Recession. The United States trails most of the industrialized world in terms of upward social mobility, and it is increasingly difficult for young children to escape from the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Contributing to this dynamic is the fact that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have lower achievement at school entry compared to their advantaged peers.

Early childhood interventions represent an extremely promising strategy to reduce poverty and promote long-term wellbeing. Local, state, and federal policymakers allocate billions of dollars each year to early childhood interventions, and momentum is accelerating across the country. The substantial investment in young children will only lead to lasting change if the early childhood interventions target the skills that matter most for children’s short- and long-term development.

To inform these policy issues, our research explores the multiple and interconnected processes that influence young children’s lives, ranging from (a) individual trajectories and micro-level classroom interactions; to (b) family and home experiences; to (c) broader school and neighborhood contexts. The DEEP lab works to advance the measurement and study of intrapersonal experiences to support the modeling of complex psychological and social processes among families, schools, and children to inform social policy.

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