|Research Themes: Families
Completed Families Projects
TIME, LOVE, CASH, CARE, AND CHILDREN (TLC3)
Please click here for more information on this project.
FAMILY WORK: THE EFFECTS OF MATERNAL EMPLOYMENT ON SINGLE BLACK MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN
This project examined how poor single mothers manage work and families. Center Co-Director Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh social work researcher Aurora Jackson, the Center is investigating how poor mothers with young children manage the transition to self-sufficiency, especially in low-wage markets. Structured interviews with single black mothers who receive welfare benefits and with former welfare recipients who are employed in low-wage jobs in New York City provide information on job history, child-care use, welfare receipt, other sources of income, maternal role conflict, mental health, coping, and parenting style. While much information has been gathered on the work and family lives of middle-class and upper-class parents, there is limited research on the intersection of work and family lives of low-income parents.
This study provides rich qualitative information to narrow that information gap and provide policy makers with information about the impact of welfare-to-work and child care policies on this specific group of mothers.
Funding Source: William T. Grant Foundation.
As dual-earner families have become a fixture of American society, caregiving patterns in two-parent families are, more than ever, under scrutiny. Analyzing parents' time-use diaries, Center researchers Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Allison Sidle Fulign explored patterns of shared caregiving of children under age three in two-parent families. Focusing particularly on fathers' contribution to the overall time parents spend with their young children, the researchers have found that while fathers spend a fair amount of time playing with children and eating meals with them, they spend very little time providing direct personal care, such as feeding, bathing, and diaper-changing. Moreover, time spent by fathers with their young children is not related to parents' work hours or income but to maternal work hours and maternal income.
This study provides a unique window into the relationship between workforce dynamics and caregiving patterns.
Funding Sources: MacArthur Network on the Family and the Economy; NICHD Family and Child Well-Being Research Network.
STORYTIMES: LANGUAGE AND LITERACY IN THE CONTEXT OF HOME LITERACY PROGRAMS
Emergent literacy has risen to the top of the education policy agenda, spawning greater investigation of the processes by which very young children become literate. Center research scientists Pia Rebello Britto and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, in collaboration with the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), explored the development of language and literacy skills among poor, young African-American mothers and their preschool children, capturing the variety of styles in which mothers read to their children or engage in other language and literacy-related activities and interactions. This study sheds light on the aspects of the family or home environment that influence particular stages of the child's language and literacy development.
The work demonstrates the importance of family environments, confirming the idea of parents as their children's first teachers and informing the current debate about early literacy.
Funding Source: Spencer Foundation.