A multivariate investigation of maternal risks and their relationship to low -income, preschool children's competencies

Marlo A Perry, University of Pennsylvania


Early school success is a national priority, especially for young children living in poverty. Research has drawn attention to numerous biological and social risks that significantly impact the development of skills necessary for early school success. Both biological and social risks are more pronounced among low-income families, placing these children at further risk for poor educational outcomes. Utilizing a developmental-ecological framework, the purpose of the present study was to understand the unique impact of multiple maternal risks across time on ethnically diverse, low-income, preschool children's cognitive skills, pro-social behaviors and behavior problems. Additionally, this study sought to understand the variability of these maternal risks within a low-income population. To this end, data from the national impact evaluation of the Comprehensive Child Development Program (CCDP) was used (N=3,852). A large federally funded demonstration, CCDP was designed to deliver comprehensive services to low-income children and families. Variable-centered analyses demonstrated that maternal education accounted for the most variance in children's cognitive outcomes, while chronicity of maternal depression accounted for the most variance in children's pro-social and problem behaviors. Person-centered analyses revealed eight distinct profiles of maternal risks, demonstrating the heterogeneity of this low-income population. Further, these profiles related differentially to children's preschool skills, indicating that different combinations of maternal risks were associated with varying outcomes for young children. Implications of these study findings for early childhood practice, policy, and future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Early childhood education|Developmental psychology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Perry, Marlo A, "A multivariate investigation of maternal risks and their relationship to low -income, preschool children's competencies" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3295956.