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Learning about Infant and Toddler Early Education Services (LITES): A Systematic Review of the Evidence

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The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funded Mathematica Policy Research and its partners to conduct the Learning About Infant and Toddler Early Education Services (LITES) project. LITES aimed to identify program models to support infant and toddler early learning in out-of-home early care and education settings to inform future research, policy, and program directions at the federal, state, and local levels. LITES included two main components: (1) a systematic review of the evidence base for program models that aim to support infant and toddler early learning; and (2) a scan of the field for program models that are compelling, but currently lack rigorous research examining impacts on children’s outcomes. This report focuses on the LITES systematic review. A second report profiles the 15 models identified in the compelling models scan, including information about model implementation and existing research (Del Grosso et al., 2015).

The LITES systematic review identified 15 program models with 50 eligible studies that examined the impact of an out-of-home model of early learning services on children’s language, cognitive, and/or social emotional/behavioral development. Four of those models showed evidence of effectiveness on children’s outcomes (Abecedarian, Early Head Start, the Infant Health and Development Project, and the Parent-Child Development Centers). LITES joins other ongoing federal efforts in promoting broad awareness and use of evidence-based and high quality practices to help children realize their full potential. LITES differs from other federal systematic reviews in that it is a one-time review and is not associated with funding decisions.