An evaluation of an early childhood assessment program and its effect on preschool children

Kiera Anne Layburn, Fordham University


Researchers who study at-risk children have found that there are certain characteristics or “protective factors” that differentiate between children whose long-term development is negatively affected by risk factors and those who are resilient to stressors. Studies of resilient children have identified three of these protective factors as being: the ability to engage in self-control; the quality of initiative; and the capacity to form meaningful attachments. The Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) Program is an early intervention program that aims to identify and strengthen the protective factors of initiative, attachment and self-control in preschool children while reducing the children's behavioral concerns. Until this study, the only studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of the DECA program were conducted by the Devereux Foundation at program pilot sites. The present study evaluated the implementation and initial outcomes of the DECA program at four preschool sites (15 classrooms) in Southern Connecticut. To evaluate the DECA program a pre-test post-test research design was used. Parent and teacher ratings of 93 preschool children's protective factors and behavioral concerns were obtained. Data regarding the implementation of the DECA program at the preschool sites and the staff's impressions of the DECA program were collected using structured interviews. Results of the interviews indicated that many of the aspects of the DECA program were not implemented by most of the preschool sites. Significant differences were found between the preschool sites for several aspects of the program's implementation. Teacher and site coordinator interviews revealed that most did not feel that they had received enough training on the DECA program and all staff reported that the program required too much paperwork and time to be useful. Results of repeated measures ANOVAs revealed a significant (teacher-ratings) and non-significant (parent-ratings) for an increase in protective factors and a decrease in behavioral concerns during the DECA program's implementation. However, hierarchical regression analyses indicated that aspects of the program's implementation only accounted for a significant amount of the variability in the children's scores behavioral concerns (not protective factors). Suggestions for how to make the DECA program a more viable program for use in the preschool setting are discussed.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Preschool education

Recommended Citation

Layburn, Kiera Anne, "An evaluation of an early childhood assessment program and its effect on preschool children" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3159391.