Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.P.H.

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Julie Baldwin, Ph.D.

Keywords

Early development, Native American, Early intervention, Infant, Children

Abstract

The Getting Ready to Learn (GRTL) program is an early intervention program designed to improve the developmental skills and learning capacity of Native American children in the Northwest Arctic region of Alaska. Early intervention programs have been found to decrease high school dropout rates and increase employment rates, which contribute to better health outcomes in young adulthood. The Northwest Arctic is a remote area that lacks many resources. As such, the people of this region experience various health disparities. The GRTL program was implemented in 7 of the 11 villages in the Northwest Arctic Borough of Alaska (NWABA). The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the impact the GRTL program may have had on the development skills (communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, social-personal skills) of participating children and reading behaviors of participating caregivers. Two survey instruments were used to evaluate the GRTL program.

Specifically, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) measured developmental skills of participating infants and children, and the Parent Questionnaire (PQ) measured caregiver's satisfaction with the program and reading behaviors of caregivers with their child. Interviews with program employees were also conducted to further interpret the results from the surveys. Program employees reported there was significant community support for the GRTL program, and parents were pleased with the program. Parents especially liked having a place that allowed them to focus on their child and believed the atmosphere provided positive socialization opportunities. Key informants also reported barriers to participation, which included harsh weather conditions that limited program participation. The ASQ indicated an increase in the means of development skills on the post-test; although most were not significantly different.

The PQ showed a significant increase in reading behaviors from participating caregivers. Overall, the qualitative results suggest the GRTL program had a positive impact on its participating children and caregivers.

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