Getting Ready: Results of a Randomized Trial of a Relationship-Focused Intervention on the Parent-Infant Relationship in Rural Early Head Start

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The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a relational intervention (the Getting Ready intervention) on parenting behaviors supporting the parent-infant relationship for families enrolled in Early Head Start home-based programming. Two-hundred thirty-four parents and their children participated in the randomized study, with 42% of parents reporting education of less than a high-school diploma. Brief, semistructured parent-child interaction tasks were videotaped every 4 months over a16-month intervention period. Observational codes of parent-infant relationship behaviors included quality of three parental behaviors: warmth and sensitivity, support for learning, and encouragement of autonomy; two appropriateness indicators: support for learning and guidance/directives; and one amount indicator: constructive behaviors. Parents who participated in the Getting Ready intervention demonstrated higher quality interactions with their children that included enhanced quality of warmth and sensitivity, and support for their children's autonomy than did parents in the control group. They also were more likely to use appropriate directives with their children and more likely to demonstrate appropriate supports for their young children's learning. Results indicate an added value of the Getting Ready intervention for Early Head Start home-based programming for families of infants and toddlers.