About FLP

This study began when the children were first born in 2003-2004. The project was funded through the federal government’s National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD).  It is the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind in the world. The project is currently funded through a series of grants from the NICHD, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to follow children through 8th grade.

The Family Life Project began as a five year collaboration between The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Pennsylvania State University, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The focus of this large longitudinal study is on children and families who live in rural areas. Existing research provides information on children living in large, urban environments but there is relatively little knowledge on children from smaller cities, towns and rural counties. The overarching goal of the project is to develop an understanding of the unique ways community, employment, family economic resources, family contexts, parent-child relationships and individual differences influence development and competencies in children. The Family Life Project team brings together researchers with expertise in education, medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography and human development. The hope is that the data we collect will support children and families in the future by helping to create programs which promote school readiness, healthy families and other initiatives to foster family and child well being.

The Family Life Project (FLP) is a representative sample of every baby born to a mother who lived in one of six poor rural counties, 3 in North Carolina and 3 in Pennsylvania.  The FLP oversampled for poverty in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and oversampled for African American in North Carolina.  The 1292 children and their families have been carefully followed since birth.

Families participate in a series of home visits, childcare visits, school visits and phone calls throughout the child's life. During the home visits, caregivers are interviewed, video-recorded in their homes, and asked to engage in activities such as playing and reading with their children. Childcare and School visits include interviewing the caregiver and observing the child in his or her school setting. Yearly assessments are done in schools to measure child achievement and adjustment. Regular contact is made by phone to document important changes in family life.

To date, the Family Life Project has been a huge success in that we’ve collected very valuable data. In addition, home visitors and families alike enjoy the home visits. Our families and children have been amazing and we are grateful for their continued participation.

Also, community members have contributed their knowledge and expertise during every phase of the project thus far and it is our hope that they will continue to do so, as we wholly recognize that input and support from the community is integral to the success of our study.