Infant Poverty and the Achievement Gap

Worksite Location
WIC centers in Tompkins, Cortland, and Broome Counties; Cornell Infant Studies Lab: Participant Homes in Ithaca and surrounding areas: and Cooperative Extension County associations working in collaboration with WIC programs
Faculty Sponsor
Gary Evans, DEA
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Marianella Casasola, HD
Field Mentors/Supervisors
We will continue our current collaborations with Cortland, Tompkins, and Yates educators and develop additional collaborations.
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

This project examines the cognitive and socio-emotional development of infants of 12 and 24 months, comparing infants from middle versus low-income families. Our goal is to document the developmental trajectories of these children in the hopes of pinpointing when differences across income groups may emerge and when children of low-income families begin to fall behind their more affluent peers. By the time low-income children begin kindergarten, they are already lagging behind middle-income children in the skills required for academic success. Our goal is to understand when these disparities begin and what factors contribute to their emergence. Collaboration with CCE will help in locating low income families to work with us in our research.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will work to develop synergistic relationships with community agencies to assist in recruiting low-income families (< 1 income to needs ratio) into our study who have a child about to turn 12 or 24 months of age. The student intern will help us develop additional avenues to recruit babies from WIC and other CCE offices as well as continue to work with the CCE offices with whom we are already working.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full time CHE freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.
The student intern must have ample previous experience in conducting research with infants and low-income families. Given the large scope of the project and the many tasks in which infants are tested, the student intern also must have at least 6 to 12 months experience working on our research project. This amount of experience is critical for the student to have sufficient familiarity with our project to explain the project to agency staff and parents. The student intern must also have experience with the protection of data and the rights of human research participants. The student intern must be independent, punctual, and capable of following detailed recruiting protocols.

Benefits and Skills

This internship offers an important opportunity to expand research in the Cornell Infant Studies Lab to the community and to expand our current participant to low-income families. In achieving this goal, the student will gain experience in understanding how university - community research partnerships are developed and maintained. The student will also gain valuable experience interacting with CCE professional staff as well as gain experience and develop skills in discussing research with the public. Areas of learning include: Leadership, insights into county/university partnerships, more in depth knowledge about poverty and children's development.