21st Century Community Learning Centers and Literacy Skills
Project Director: Georgia Hall, Ph.D. Funded by: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), researchers at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women are undertaking a study that explores how high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs can promote participants’ literacy development and the role social and emotional learning (SEL) may play in supporting the development of literacy-related skills. The study is being undertaken in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) funded by ESE and MDE that have a demonstrated capacity and track record of providing high-quality afterschool programming over several years. The proposed study is intended to lay the groundwork for the partnership to conduct a series of methodologically rigorous studies that examine the relationship between program quality, SEL skill development, and a variety of school-related outcomes. Information yielded from these studies will assist ESE and MDE in making decisions on how to further develop and support the 21st CCLC grantees to maximize the achievement of a variety of desired youth outcomes associated with youth development and school success while expanding the evidence base for the merit of continued investment in the 21st CCLC program and OST more broadly.

Adolescent Communication with Family and Reproductive Health

Project Director: Jennifer M Grossman, Ph.D. National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

Family communication about sex can reduce risky sexual behaviors, but most studies focus only on the teen-parent dyad. High levels of extended-family involvement in childrearing and sexuality communication, such as with grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings and cousins, and “fictive kin,” especially in Black and Latino families, suggest the importance of assessing this under-studied influence. This mixed-methods study will undertake the first comprehensive assessment of teens’ extended-family sexuality communication and its associations with sexual behavior, and includes extended family perspectives in order to apply quantitative findings to prevention and intervention programs. The study applies an established conceptual model of parent-teen sexuality communication to extended family, which recognizes both direct talk about sex and indirect (less straightforward) sexuality communication, which predict teens’ sexual beliefs and behaviors. The significance of this work lies in its comprehensive focus on the full range of partners in family sexuality communication, assessing whether this communication is helpful or harmful to teens’ sexual health. It contributes to public health by guiding action steps for how extended family influence on teen sexual health can direct inclusion of larger family systems, beyond the nuclear family, into prevention and intervention programs.

The Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse: A partnership to improve outcomes

Project Director: Linda M Williams, Ph.D. Funded by: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice

In collaboration with prosecutors’ offices and mentors from the field, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Wellesley Centers for Women have undertaken research designed to increase knowledge of the criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse (CSA) cases, the characteristics of cases prosecuted, and the factors associated with case attrition. Designed to enhance current and foster new researcher-practitioner collaborations, this research will identify barriers to prosecution of offenders and factors that contribute to successful outcomes while minimizing victim trauma. The attrition of CSA cases from the criminal justice system has been a concern to victims, practitioners, and researchers for decades. This study will document (1) case attrition; (2) the frequency with which CSA cases require the child to testify at multiple hearings, directly confront the alleged perpetrator, and experience harsh crossexamination; and (3) the factors that impact case outcomes. This research will identify factors (details about the alleged incident, victim/ victim family, perpetrator, evidence, prosecutorial decisions) that affect the trajectory and outcomes of cases and will lead to recommendations to improve outcomes for victims and successful prosecution of perpetrators. The results of this study will contribute to scholarly and practice-oriented literature and understanding of CSA case attrition with the goal of increasing access to justice for victims and successful prosecution of perpetrators.

Additional Funding

Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital, received additional funding from the Sidney R. Baer Foundation for “Depression Prevention Dissemination.”

Amy Hoffman, M.F.A., received continued funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for the Women’s Review of Books.

Nancy Marshall, Ed.D., provided Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4, Test de Vocabulario en Imagenes Peabody, and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening data review, analysis, and reporting to Nurtury. Marshall also prepared a Boston Quality Inventory Observation Report for public dissemination for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women received support for training, technical assistance projects and continuing evaluations from Reebok International, Inc.; Foundation for MetroWest; Jacksonville Children’s Commission; Tenacity; United Arts Council of Collier County; The Wallace Foundation; Boston Afterschool and Beyond; American Museum of Natural History; Wyoming Afterschool Alliance; Belle Chase Academy; Capitol Region Education Council; Berks County Intermediate Unit/Pennsylvania Key; Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and the New Jersey School-Age Care Coalition.

The National SEED Project of the Wellesley Centers for Women received gifts from various individuals and supporters.

The Open Circle program of the Wellesley Centers for Women received various gifts from friends and supporters of the social and emotional learning program. Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., with funding from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, performed Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) observations and data collection and provided technical assistance to family child-care providers, center-based programs, and out-of-school time programs. Roberts also made recommendations to refine the Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System based on ERS research, trends in aggregate data from site visits, and other data relevant to help develop Massachusetts policy surrounding quality in early education and child care.

Wendy Robeson, Ed.D., provided Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening PreK training to Nurtury. Robeson and Marshall performed data collection and evaluation for James Bell Associates, Inc., with funding from the Children’s Investment Fund. Nan Stein, Ed.D., continues to provide coaching and technical assistance for the implementation of the Shifting Boundaries Program to the Rape Prevention and Education Programs at the California Department of Public Health. Stein also continues to provide litigative consultant services to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section.