Three children huggingThe Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC), a subsidiary of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, is a newly founded research institute, based in the tradition of land-grant universities nationwide and consistent with the University’s Path to Prominence™. The purpose of DIEEC is to improve the quality of early care and education experiences for young children and their families, with an emphasis on high risk children. The DIEEC accomplishes this goal through the design, development, and testing of model demonstration programs and practices in areas such as professional development, technical assistance, and prevention science that lead to policy and programming innovation for the early learning community. In doing so, the DIEEC emphasizes translational research as the underlying mechanism to support the enhancement of quality in early education programs. Just as translational research in the medical community involves the transformation of research arising in the laboratory to the clinic or hospital, translational work in education contexts involves implementing experimental findings in field-based settings such as classrooms and programs. The DIEEC engages in translational research by studying the implementation of evidence-based practices in early learning settings, with a specific focus on  the early education workforce, including teachers, caregivers, and home visitors. Once these practices are tested, the DIEEC staff works with state and national policy makers to shape program development at scale. DIEEC faculty are involved in initiatives focused on applying translational early childhood research at the local, state, and national levels. Some current examples include:

  • Developing and administering Delaware Stars for Early Success, a statewide quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), designed to provide evidence-based technical assistance to child care programs throughout the state and communicate about the availability of high quality child care programs to families and relevant stakeholders
  • Working as part of a national consortium to study implementation of research-based parenting interventions for families facing extremely high risk in the federal Early Head Start program

The DIEEC engages in collaborative work with state agencies, researchers, and foundations, as well as cross-disciplinary work with colleagues in other departments and colleges at the University of Delaware. Current funders include the Delaware Department of Education, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nemours Foundation.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) is looking for undergraduate students interested in gaining applied research experience in early childhood education. This document describes the various projects that students work on in the research lab.  Click here for more information.


Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood – 2012 Project List

DIEEC Ongoing Projects
Incorporating a Parent-Child Interaction Intervention into Early Head Start Home Visiting Services
Delaware Stars for Early Success
Development of a new QRIS measurement tool
Child Care Capacity Building Program
Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Study
Nemours- Supporting Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Social Emotional Development of Young Children:Technical Assistance Project
Nemours- Taking Steps for Healthy Success:A Child Care Learning Collaborative to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
New Directions Early Head Start
Relative Care Training Initiative
Professional Development Project:
Coordination and quality assurance of a statewide, cross-sector professional development system that includes curriculum development, delivery and evaluation
Instructor and technical assurance approval, development and monitoring
Early childhood professional registry system
Workforce data collection

Selected Research and Program Evaluation in Early Childhood

The DIEEC is committed to building upon and integrating best practices into service delivery.  In addition, staff at DIEEC are actively engaged in research that we hope will lead to new answers and strategies to enhance the quality of services in Delaware. Some of the prior research by staff of the Institute include: