2016 Independent Evaluation: Sixpence is effective in preparing more children at risk to succeed in school and life.

The presence of even a single developmental hazard in the life of an infant or toddler can undercut their chances of arriving at kindergarten ready to learn and thrive.  More than 60% of the children served by Sixpence faced three or more risk factors, and more than 40% were subject to one or more incidences of serious trauma.  These represent severe, cumulative challenges to children’s healthy cognitive, social/emotional, mental and physical development. 

Despite these challenges, evaluation data shows that Sixpence continues to be effective in helping more parents guide the early development of their youngest children, and improve their chances to achieve in the classroom and beyond. 

Every year, Sixpence-funded programs participate in a rigorous evaluation conducted by independent researchers the Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC. The process involves a diverse array of statistically valid instruments to measure children’s developmental outcomes, parent/family outcomes and program quality.

The composite results of the 2015-16 program evaluation continue to indicate that Sixpence is delivering on its promise to better position young children for success in school and beyond.

Children's outcomes

  • Social/Emotional: Children’s abilities to form healthy attachments, manage impulses and emotions and respond appropriately to social cues play a fundamental role in their preparedness to learn in a classroom environment. 95% of the infants and toddlers served by Sixpence met or exceeded age-appropriate skill levels [TS GOLD assessment]. During the evaluation year, Sixpence children showed statistically significant improvement across multiple social-emotional subscales, exceeding national averages in each by 1 to 9 points [Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA)].
  • Language and Literacy: Communication, vocabulary and early literacy skills emerge in the first three years of life and are recognized predictors of later academic success. On average, Sixpence children met age-appropriate expectations in Language (87%) and Literacy (80%) [TS GOLD assessment].  Toddlers in particular showed statistically significant vocabulary gains. While more infants and toddlers overall struggled with language production, comprehension and vocabulary, 30% to 46% still met or exceeded program goals despite the influence of critical risk factors in their lives [McArthur Bates CDI, PPVT-IV assessments].
  • Cognition and Mathematics: Sixpence evaluations measure children’s ability and motivation to focus attention on tasks, demonstrate mental flexibility, employ symbolic thinking, recognize shapes and patterns, analyze spatial relationships and demonstrate the elements of basic numeracy.  The majority of Sixpence children met or exceeded age-appropriate developmental expectations in Cognition (92%) and Mathematics (73%) during the program year [TS GOLD assessment].
  • Physical and Health: Children met or exceeded program goals for nearly every rating scale measuring access to a medical home, appropriate car seat usage, regular check-ups and healthy prenatal habits. The immunization rates of Sixpence children was 12% above the statewide average. 95% of Sixpence children met age-appropriate expectations for physical balance and fine and gross motor skills [TS GOLD assessment]. 

Parent/family outcomes

  • Parenting Skills: Multiple assessments showed that Sixpence parents on average excelled in their ability to build strong, nurturing relationships with their infants and toddlers. While parents encountered more challenges in promoting early learning and demonstrating child development knowledge, most approached the program quality benchmarks in these areas [Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS), FRIENDS Protective Factors Survey (FPS)].
  • Prenatal Care: 94% of pregnant Sixpence mothers received consistent prenatal care (compared to 75% of other Nebraska mothers), and the vast majority carried their children to full term, abstained from unhealthy behaviors and initiated breast feeding.
  • Parent Education and Confidence: During the evaluation year, 69% of mothers participating in Sixpence obtained or were actively working toward their high school diploma. Most parents strongly agreed that Sixpence improved their understanding of child development (90%) and overall parenting practice (98%).

Program outcomes

  • Family Engagement Programs: Sixpence Family Engagement service quality remains consistently strong. 82% of the family engagement professionals exceeded rigorous quality standards in understanding and responding constructively to family needs, and encouraging positive parent-child interactions. Nearly all participating families (94%) demonstrated strong motivation and interest in the skills and practices modeled during family engagement visits [HOVRS-A+ v2.1]. 
  • Center-Based Programs: Sixpence centers scored in the highest range (94%) for responsive care giving and emotional and behavioral support—a 9% gain from the 2014-15 evaluation.  Most, but not all center-based programs (64%) met or exceeded high quality benchmarks in engaged support for learning, indicating an opportunity for improvement [ITERS-R, CLASS assessments].