I am interested in evaluating Early Childhood Education's (ECE) impacts on various short and long-term outcomes for students and expanding access to quality ECE for all children. I work at the Human Capital Research Collaborative, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Minnesota on studies related to the Child-Parent Center (CPC), a comprehensive PreK-3rd grade program targeted toward socio-economically disadvantaged children in Chicago, US.
I conducted an impact evaluation of the CPC program to estimate its impact on physical and mental health in mid-adulthood and find that CPC preschool participation is associated with significantly lower rates of adverse health outcomes such as smoking and diabetes. Further, evaluating the economic impacts of the program, I find a benefit-cost ratio in the range of 1.35 - 3.66, indicating that the health benefits of the program by themselves offset the costs of the program. Read the study published in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis.
I am working on a two-part study evaluating the effects of preschool participation on parental involvement and its subsequent impact on achievement scores in math and reading in grade three. In the first study, published in the Children and Youth Services Review journal, we find that participation in the CPC expansion program (in four urban school districts in the Midwestern US) was associated with significantly higher parent involvement in school at the end of second grade (ES = 0.19 SD). The second study is currently underway.
I came across the concept of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) during my Master's Capstone project and found the idea very captivating. SIBs allow private payers to fund social programs that improve people's well-being and produce savings for the government in form of reduced public spending.
In my current research, I read about the prevailing racial inequities in maternal health and birth outcomes in the U.S. and found that providing culturally sensitive doula care is one of the possible interventions to help bridge these inequities. However, the doula care initiatives are poorly funded. I worked on a research study suggesting alternative approaches to expanding funding for doula care through innovative financial mechanisms such as Social Impact Bonds (that rely on taxpayers’ savings) and data-driven philanthropic approaches (that solely consider the benefits to low-income communities). These strategies can help fund the expansion of doula services without an initial burden on the public exchequer and help reduce inequities in birth outcomes. This manuscript is currently under the third round of review in the Prevention Science journal as part of a special issue on reducing racial inequities in health.
I am also interested in evaluating various community programs and their impact on people's physical, mental, and economic well-being. I am currently working on a formative evaluation of the Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) program of Hennepin County in Minnesota, US. This program awards mini-grants to individuals with a plan to improve community mental well-being and housing stability. My goal is to evaluate similar innovative programs at various levels of government and help in their replication and scale-up.
I worked on an action research project to implement the RTE Act, which mandates that all private schools admit at least 25% of students from socially disadvantaged and economically weaker groups. In this role, I led a team of volunteers to collaborate with stakeholders spanning government officers, non-profits, academics, and our target beneficiaries. Through year-long fieldwork, I documented the differences in the implementation of the RTE Act in three states (Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Gujarat). I presented the findings to bureaucrats from these states, sharing insights into the best practices that each could emulate from the other. Some of my suggestions were incorporated into the program’s implementation, and the results were also published in a peer-reviewed study in Economic & Political Weekly.