Validating the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters

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University of Delaware
Almost half of all children residing in federally funded shelter programs are under the age of six (Solari et al., 2017). Despite this fact, we know very little about the developmental friendliness of these housing programs. Because young children may be spending a considerable amount of time in the shelter environment, it is important to understand the experiences of young children in shelter. The Self-Assessment (2014) was designed to address both the environmental quality of emergency and transitional housing programs for children aged birth to five, and the shelter program’s ability to make referrals to ECE programs. The current study addressed the psychometric properties of the Self-Assessment by engaging in a mixed methods validity analysis. Findings highlighted the importance of incorporating the perspectives of housing providers in the survey development process. Additionally, findings suggested that the original Self-Assessment did not provide enough flexibility to capture the diversity among housing programs. Based on the findings from Phase I, revisions were made to the Self-Assessment. The current study then assessed the factor structure of the revised Self-Assessment. Findings suggested a two-factor solution for the data. Factor loadings for each of the two factors clearly delineated those Self-Assessment items which were related to linkages to early childhood and family services, and those items related to more material-based ways to improve the shelter environment for young children. The items on the Self-Assessment related to each of these factors can help support housing staff in making critical decisions about how to invest resources to better support young children and their families.
Education, Early childhood, Homelessness, Housing, Validity