|This study explored the participant-based factors identified in Cummings’ (1999) organizational framework of factors associated with the successful implementation of family-based, educational programming, and examined the relationship between these factors and the differential effectiveness of six independent implementations of the Beginning Education Early (BEE) program. The BEE program is a 10 week parenting education and early childhood education program that is conducted through home visitation and targets children between the ages 2-5. The six West Alabama Counties where the BEE program is implemented are characterized by high unemployment, illiteracy, and poverty. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 27 mothers or primary caregivers randomly selected from the families who had participated in the program in each county. The transcribed interviews were qualitatively analyzed to identify themes that had been noted in prior research, as well as any themes not previously noted in the literature, and to determine whether participant-level factors are useful for understanding program effectiveness.
Results indicate that some of the participant–level factors identified in the literature are present in the BEE program data. Attitudes toward program topics, reasons for participation, and perceptions of program staff were the most identifiable themes about which participants talked. Further examination of the data to determine how these factors may be related to program effectiveness across counties, however, found few discernible patterns among the participant-related factors that might predict differences in program effectiveness. Demographic differences was one exception: Counties in which younger, unemployed mothers who had at least one other adult living with them in the household appeared to be more effective in their implementation than other counties.
The implications of these findings for future practice and research with hard-to-reach audiences served by program like the BEE program are discussed. Additional research is necessary that would analyze the factors associated with program effectiveness by examining their interaction across the various levels of the model. Patterns of interactions among factors at different levels of the model should be more visible and predictive of strong and weak program implementations than patterns found at any one level.