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Early Childhood Education Experts

Abt Associates has more than 40 years of experience investigating comprehensive early childhood education (ECE) systems, innovative educational models, and workforce development programs that help young children and families thrive.  

 Abt’s work supports policies, programs, and systems designs that:

  • Identify gaps in family needs in order to build equitable access to affordable, high-quality ECE programs;
  • Strengthen career pathways and professional supports to help early childhood educators advance their careers and  compensation;
  • Improve the quality of children’s learning experiences in programs; and
  • Coordinate systems of early care and education with other programs and policies that promote child and family well-being.

We provide our clients with impact evaluations and logic models, research and public policy reviews, data collection and analysis, needs assessments, and strategic advising for workforce and early childhood systems.

Meet the people who can help you achieve your goals:

Kerry Hofer, Ph.D.
Principal Associate
Kerry Hofer has 20 years of experience conducting rigorous research in early childhood settings. She has in-depth knowledge of large-scale childcare programs, including public state-run prekindergarten programs and Head Start/Early Head Start, as well as more informal care settings.  She has worked with early educational programs and staff across the country.  Kerry has been a key member on several large-scale projects funded by organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health, primarily focusing on analytic techniques with quantitative data. The majority of her research involves rigorous quantitative evaluations of early educational programs and practices targeted at children from impoverished families, focusing on program impact and model delivery. At Abt, she is directing the Early Learning Study @ Harvard (ELS@H), a longitudinal study following a state-representative sample of young children, and is supporting New Profit and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care’s development of a quality improvement initiative focused on program leader support. Prior to joining Abt, she was a Senior Associate at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute. There, she worked on several large-scale federally funded grant projects focused on early education initiative evaluations, including serving as the Lead Analyst on the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Program evaluation, the only randomized control trial of a scaled-up state-funded pre-k program.

Barbara Goodson, Ph.D.
Principal Associate
Barbara Goodson is a nationally recognized expert in research and policy on families and young children. She has more than 40 years of experience designing and conducting large, multi-site implementation and impact studies examining interventions for low-income and dual language learner children and families. Dr. Goodson is an expert on research methodology and measuring ECE environmental quality and the fidelity of implementation of educational interventions. Examples of her work include evaluations of the implementation of Project LAUNCH, a randomized experiment to test the effects of the Comprehensive Child Development Program (CCDP) a two-generation program using home visiting, and definitional and measurement issues in assessing quality in ECE settings. She specializes in the evaluation of preschool-grade 12 interventions and early learning programs, designing logic models and conducting program improvement research to ensure successful implementations.

Adele Robinson, J.D.
Principal Associate
Adele Robinson is a nationally recognized policy advisor on complex legislation, including the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, Higher Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Child Nutrition, and other initiatives. At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, she helped write the 2016 regulations for the Child Care and Development Fund, and the HHS guidance statement on early childhood career pathways, and collaborated with the U.S. Department of Education on guidance and reports to Congress. In addition to federal advocacy, she has assisted states and local stakeholders with implementation and provided strategic advising. She led the public policy work at the National Association for the Education of Young Children for 15 years and, prior to that, she worked in public policy at the National Education Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and the U.S. Senate.

Suzanne Gibbons, MA
Senior Associate
Suzanne Gibbons has 20 years of experience improving outcomes for children and families through early education and care. She has led professional development efforts to strengthen the workforce, designed an early literacy coaching program for Pre-K teachers, and managed strategic initiatives to align programs and services for children from birth through third grade. Suzanne managed a team at the Region 1 Office of Head Start, facilitating data-informed decisions and responsive solutions for daily operations. She also oversaw high-priority initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to her roles in government, nonprofit, and research organizations, she has served as a board member of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and other local and regional early education advisory councils. At Abt, Suzanne contributes to projects ranging from impact evaluation studies to state policy strategic consulting.

Raquel González, Ph.D.
Principal Associate
Raquel González, Ph.D., has over 20 years of experience conducting research and evaluation focused on early childhood development. Dr. González develops and conducts culturally responsive and equitable evaluations aimed at supporting the whole child with a focus on children from birth to five and their families. She brings expertise working with a variety of local and state agencies in California, such as First 5 California, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the San Francisco Foundation. Prior to joining Abt, she she conducted an Outcomes Evaluation Study for First 5 Monterey County (F5MC) that explored systems-level change across four programs, including technical assistance to early childhood educators, care coordination, an Infant and Family Early Child Mental Health training series, and strategic communication. As part of this work, she engaged with key stakeholders, developed reports to inform F5MC’s strategic planning, and presented results to the F5MC commissioners. Prior to joining SPR, she worked at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and led an impact study for First 5 Los Angelese on a home visiting program. She also work on a statewide study of California’s Transitional Kindergarten, as well as on the validation and implementation studies of California’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

Katie Murphy, M.Ed.
Associate
Katie Murphy has 10 years of experience in conducting early childhood and elementary education research and evaluations. Ms. Murphy has worked extensively with state agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations to design and carry out research and evaluation projects of varying sizes and scopes. She is a certified CLASS Pre-K Trainer and also has significant experience training and overseeing large-scale data collection efforts using the Child Observation in Preschool/ Teacher Observation in Preschool (COP/TOP), Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R), Woodcock Johnson Standardized Tests of Achievement, and other standardized classroom observation and direct child assessment measures. Murphy is currently the Project Director of Abt’s evaluation of the New Hampshire Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five and the Deputy Project Director of the Early Learning Study @ Harvard, a longitudinal study following a state-representative sample of young children.

Diane Paulsell, MPA
Vice President, Human Services Portfolio
Diane Paulsell is an applied social scientist with more than 20 years of experience designing, conducting, and overseeing mixed-methods, policy-focused research, including national multi-site studies. Her areas of expertise range from ECE to parenting, family engagement, youth development and family supportive policies and programs, including nutrition. Paulsell comes to Abt from Mathematica, where she led research and evaluation projects for federal, international, and foundation clients and played a lead role in staff development and recruitment and business development. She also advised decision makers (foundations, federal, state and local leaders, and program managers) on the use of evidence to improve early childhood and family support programs and systems. She co-created program logic models and theory of change frameworks with funders and stakeholders to guide program improvement and research and evaluation planning.

Christine Tappan, MSW
Principal Associate – Health, Social & Economic Policy
Co-Director – Global Center on Technical Assistance & Implementation
Christine Tappan guides the advancement of Abt’s cross-cutting portfolio of health and human services technical assistance, capacity-building efforts, and partnerships across the U.S. She has more than 25 years of experience in government, social, and for-profit sectors and primary and higher education. She has focused on building partnerships that use data and analytics to foster learning, capacity building, and collaboration to generate and implement solutions. Christine has led transformational change at key intersections of the social determinants of health – early childhood, economic mobility, housing, behavioral health, child welfare, and juvenile justice – to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes. Before joining Abt, she was Associate Commissioner at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services where she oversaw a broad portfolio including economic services, housing, child support, child care, child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, elder and adult services, and developmental disabilities.

 
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