WVU researcher studies rural daycare providers

MORGANTOWN — A WVU researcher who is interested in how features of children’s environment, including the neighborhood and school, affect development, is studying what works — and what doesn’t — in social and educational policies that affect children and families, particularly in rural areas.

“I’m particularly interested in making sure that we are designing policies to promote positive aspects of children’s development and conducting research that informs policies to best support children and families,” Sara Anderson said in a release from WVU Today.

Anderson, an assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Services, hopes to determine whether childcare providers in rural areas experience distinct barriers to accessing professional development opportunities.

Her research will be funded through a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation.

Though the data in the study “Access and Barriers to Professional Development for the Child Care Workforce: Differences Across the Urban-Rural Spectrum,” does not specifically focus on West Virginia, Anderson hopes her findings about rural childcare providers can shed light on the childcare environment in the state.

“We can potentially use this as a springboard for other work in West Virginia in particular,” Anderson said. “There’s a good swath of literature suggesting that childcare workers benefit from professional development, but that they don’t all take it up at the same rate.”

Anderson plans to share her findings with state agencies that administer child development grants.

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