The Phoenix, Arizona Early Head Start program is a family-centered program providing early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services for low-income pregnant women and families with children ages birth to three. Analyses were conducted of program and participant data and program processes from Year 3, the second full year of implementation. The program components evaluated were: (1) child development, promoted through weekly home visits, site-based socialization activities, and weekly play groups; (2) family development services, provided by family support specialists to develop effective, supportive relationships, especially with fathers; (3) staff development, incorporating a multi-disciplinary approach reinforced by a relationship-based supervision model; and (4) community building and collaboration, including connections with Phoenix's program for young fathers and other family-focused initiatives.
Evaluation findings suggest that the program is on the right track. Among the program's successes are the launch of all planned child development activities, increased services by and access to the child development/disabilities specialists, and progress made through the male involvement component. The program continues to face challenges, including increasing staff skills in child development and parent-child relationships, helping young parents adjust to dealing with toddlers, reducing disruptive effects of staff turnover, and making the program and participants visible and vital to other family-centered community endeavors and to policy makers. Recommendations for future operations were derived from the evaluation findings. (Contains 49 references.)