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Neighborhood Community Risk Influences on Preschool Children's Development and School Readiness

Hanson, Marci J. PhD; Miller, Angela D. PhD; Diamond, Karen PhD; Odom, Samuel PhD; Lieber, Joan PhD; Butera, Gretchen PhD; Horn, Eva PhD; Palmer, Susan PhD; Fleming, Kandace PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3182008dd0

The effects of economic hardship and language isolation in children's neighborhood communities were examined to determine their influence on young children's developmental outcomes on measures of academic and social skills above and beyond child and family characteristics that included home language, disability, gender, and mother's education level. An ethnically and geographically diverse sample of 1006 four-year-old children was studied. Three groups of preschoolers considered at risk for poor school performance participated in this study: children living in poverty, children with identified disabilities, and children whose families spoke a primary home language other than English (English Language Learners). Child disability status was associated with lower achievement on all academic and social variables. Status as an English Language Learner also was associated with lower performance on vocabulary and mathematics measures; few differences were found on social variables. Maternal education level predicted child outcomes in all academic areas and most social variables. However, findings indicated that neighborhood community variables did explain child outcome differences beyond those contributed by child/family characteristics. Neighborhood economic hardship was a significant predictor of children's lower mathematics and letter knowledge academic outcomes and one social skills outcome. Children's residence in primarily English-speaking neighborhoods was associated with higher levels of social participation.

San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California (Dr Hanson); University of Kansas Lawrence (Drs Miller, Horn, Palmer, and Fleming); Purdue University Lafayette, Indiana (Dr Diamond); University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Dr Odom); University of Maryland, College Park (Dr Lieber); and Indiana University, Bloomington (Dr Butera).

Correspondence: Marci J. Hanson, PhD, Department of Special Education, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (

This research was supported by grant RO1HD046091 from the Interagency School Readiness Consortium administered by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

©2011Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.