Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal

The goal of my research program is to strengthen understanding about how key contexts support learning and socioemotional development during the transition to school and the elementary school years. My research places an emphasis on ethnically diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged children, because these children tend to be underrepresented in developmental research, although they are overrepresented among those targeted by programs and policies. Grounded in bioecological models that conceptualize child development as the result of reciprocal interactions between individuals and the multiple environments in which they are embedded, my research focuses on the influences of child care, home, school, and social policies on development during early and middle childhood. Theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from multiple disciplines, including psychology, education, economics, and sociology, guide my research in four primary areas. The first focus area aims to strengthen our understanding of the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on children’s development. The second explores the effects of early childhood education and care (ECEC) on children’s development. The third considers school, family, and child factors that enhance trajectories of academic achievement and socioemotional development during elementary school. The fourth examines the well-being of children and families following the implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) program. In each of these areas, I strive to conduct research that will inform the development of policies and programs aimed at improving the life chances of children and families.