Kids in Transition to School (KITS)

Scientific Rating:
2
Supported by Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
High
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Kids in Transition to School (KITS) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Educational Interventions for Children and Adolescents in Child Welfare.

Target Population: Foster children and other children at high risk for school difficulties who are entering kindergarten

For children/adolescents ages: 4 – 6

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 4 – 6

Brief Description

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) is a short-term, intensive intervention designed to enhance psychosocial and academic school readiness in children at high risk for school difficulties. KITS features a two-pronged approach: (a) a 24-session therapeutic playgroup focused on promoting social-emotional skills and early literacy in children, and (b) an 8-session parent workshop focused on promoting parent involvement in early literacy and the use of positive parenting practices. The KITS curriculum is delivered during the summer before and the early fall of kindergarten.


Program Goals:

The goals of Kids in Transition to School (KITS) are:

  • Increase early literacy skills in children in foster care who are entering kindergarten
  • Increase social skills in children in foster care who are entering kindergarten
  • Increase self-regulation skills in children in foster care who are entering kindergarten
  • Increase caregiver involvement in early literacy activities
  • Increase caregiver involvement in schooling

Essential Components

The essential elements of Kids in Transition to School (KITS) include:

  • Implementation of the KITS therapeutic playgroup curriculum with groups up to 15 children and their caregivers. The curriculum features three key components—the teaching and practice of:
    • Essential social skills for kindergarten: reciprocal social interaction (e.g., sharing, initiating and maintaining peer interactions); social problem-solving (e.g., cooperation, problem-solving, conflict resolution); and emotion recognition
    • Early literacy skills necessary for reading: letter names, letter-sound correspondence, phonological awareness, conventions of print, vocabulary, and comprehension
    • Self-regulatory skills (such as handling frustration and disappointment and controlling impulses) and teacher preferred behaviors (such as following multi-step directions, listening skills and attentional focus, sitting appropriately, raising a hand before talking, making appropriate transitions between activities, and using materials appropriately)
  • Implementation of the KITS caregiver group curriculum with groups up to 15 parents. The curriculum includes lessons on helping children to develop their early literacy skills, developing routines around school activities, preparing children for the transition, home-school collaboration, and behavior management skills to handle any issues that arise during the transition.
  • Other components of the program include:
    • Low student to teacher ratio (1:4)
    • High level of encouragement for appropriate behaviors with consistent limits set on inappropriate behaviors
    • Explicit teaching and demonstration of social and self-regulatory skills
    • Activity-based intervention for structured skill practice with high levels of feedback and encouragement that is systematically faded to increase independence
    • Consultation with teachers and schools to facilitate a smooth transition to kindergarten

Child/Adolescent Services

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Social skills deficits, literacy deficits, self-regulation deficits, poor early literacy skills, and defiance
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The caregiver of the child in foster care entering kindergarten attends 8 caregiver group meetings throughout the time the child is in the program.

Parent/Caregiver Services

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Caregiver of a child in foster care with social skills deficits, literacy deficits, self-regulation deficits, poor early literacy skills, and defiance who is entering Kindergarten

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community Agency
  • School

Homework

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) includes a homework component:

Children receive weekly homework assignments designed to increase their fluency in literacy skills by providing additional practice with the letters and letter sounds being learned in the playgroups. Parents are given home exercises after each parent group session to practice the skills being learned in the parent workshops.

Languages

Kids in Transition to School (KITS) has materials available in a language other than English:

Spanish

For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

One room for therapeutic playgroups that can be set up as a classroom. Whiteboard, easels, puzzles, books, art supplies and other materials typical of a kindergarten classroom. One room for caregiver groups. Occasional access to an additional room for playgroup activities conducted outside of the main classroom.

Minimum Provider Qualifications

Playgroup supervisor: A Master’s level education or higher in a clinical or education field. This person should also possess an understanding of behavioral and educational principles, supervisory skills, organizational skills, and a thorough understanding of the treatment model underlying the curriculum.

Playgroup lead teacher: A Bachelor’s degree or at least two years of course work in a relevant field such as early education, special education, education, or psychology, and one year experience working directly with children in the 3-6-year-old age range. Experience following evidence-based curriculum practices. The lead teacher is responsible for the majority of the instruction during playgroups.

Playgroup assistant teachers: Bachelor’s degree or course work in a relevant field such as early education, special education, education, or psychology or related experience working directly with children in an early childhood education setting.

Parent group supervisor: A Master’s level education or higher in a clinical or education field. This person should also possess supervisory skills, organizational skills, and a thorough understanding of the treatment model underlying the curriculum.

Parent group lead facilitator: A Bachelor’s degree or higher in education in a clinical or education field. Experience running support groups and working with high-risk families is preferred.

Parent group co-facilitator: At least two years of coursework or other relevant experience in a relevant field or with foster care populations. Experience running support groups and working with high-risk families is preferred.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Training is provided onsite

Number of days/hours:

5 days for 7 hours a day for playgroup staff, 4 days for 4 hours a day for caregiver group staff

Implementation Information

Since Kids in Transition to School (KITS) is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

Show implementation information...

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Kids in Transition to School (KITS) as listed below:

There is a pre-implementation booklet explaining the main aspects of the program and the resources necessary to implement. There is also a pre-implementation readiness checklist to be completed by potential sites.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Kids in Transition to School (KITS) as listed below:

There is ongoing coaching and technical assistance to help the implementation site become a certified KITS provider.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Kids in Transition to School (KITS) as listed below:

The KITS Logistics Manual provides guidance on how to set up and maintain a KITS program including logistics such as recruitment of families, hiring, and supplies needed for the program.

The KITS School Readiness Group Implementation Manual provides the curricular elements of the program as well as detailed information on the teaching and behavior management processes used within the program. The manual also provides information on the materials needed for the program.

The KITS Parent Group Implementation Manual provides the curricular elements of the program as well as detailed information on the group processes involved in running the groups. Lists of materials and handouts for the groups are also provided.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Kids in Transition to School (KITS) as listed below:

There are observational checklists for both the parent and school readiness groups that cover both curricular elements and teaching and group facilitation processes used within the program. There are also parent-reported measures of fidelity and satisfaction.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Kids in Transition to School (KITS).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "2 - Supported by Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The program must have at least one rigorous randomized controlled trial with a sustained effect of at least 6 months. The article(s) below that reports outcomes from an RCT showing a sustained effect of at least 6 months has an asterisk (*) at the beginning of its entry. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Show relevant research...

*Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., & Fisher, P. A. (2012). Effects of a school readiness intervention for children in foster care on oppositional and aggressive behaviors in kindergarten. Children in Youth Services Review, 34, 2361-2366. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.08.015

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 192

Population:

  • Age — Entering kindergarten in the fall (approximately 4-6 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — 106 European American, 61 Latino, 2 Native American, 2 Pacific Islander, 1 African American, and 28 Mixed Race
  • Gender — 51% Male
  • Status — Participants were children in foster care.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined the effects of the Kids In Transition to School (KITS) program. KITS was delivered during the summer prior to kindergarten entry. Children were randomly assigned to KITS or services as usual. Measures utilized include the Teacher Report Form, the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-Revised: Short version (CTRS:S) and the Child Behavior Checklist/4-16 (CBCL). At the end of the kindergarten year, teachers were asked to report on the children's oppositional and aggressive behaviors in the classroom. Controlling for gender, baseline levels of parent-reported oppositional and aggressive behaviors, and level of disruptiveness in the classroom, children who had received KITS had significantly lower levels of oppositional and aggressive behaviors in the classroom, as compared to the control group. Limitations include concerns about generalizablity due to the limited number of minorities and moderate sample size.

Length of postintervention follow-up: Approximately 8 months.

Pears, C. K., Fisher, A. P., Kim, H. K., Bruce, J., Healey, V. C., & Yoerger, K. (2013). Immediate effects of a school readiness intervention for children in foster care. Early Education and Development, 24, 771-791. doi:10.1080/10409289.2013.736037

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 192

Population:

  • Age — Entering kindergarten in the fall (approximately 4-6 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — 106 European American, 61 Latino, 2 Native American, 2 Pacific Islander, 1 African American, and 28 Mixed Race
  • Gender — 51% Male
  • Status — Participants were children in foster care and their caregivers.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study uses the same sample as Pears et al. (2012). This study presents the immediate effects on school readiness of a targeted, short-term intervention designed to improve children’s early literacy, prosocial, and self-regulatory skills during the summer before kindergarten entry: Kids in Transition to School (KITS). Measures utilized included the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), the Concepts About Print Test, Preschool Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale (PIPPS ), the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 (CBCL), the Child Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ), the Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC), and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence–Third Edition (WPPSI-III). Analyses indicated that the intervention had significant, positive effects on early literacy and self-regulatory skills. Limitations include concerns about generalizablity due to the limited number of minorities, moderate sample size, and possible participant report bias.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., & Fisher, P. A. (2016). Decreasing risk factors for later alcohol use and antisocial behaviors in children in foster care by increasing early promotive factors. Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 156-165. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.04.005

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial (secondary data analysis)
Number of Participants: 192

Population:

  • Age — Mean=9.39-9.43 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 106 European American, 61 Latino, 2 Native American, 2 Pacific Islander, 1 African American, and 28 Mixed Race
  • Gender — 51% Male
  • Status — Participants were children in foster care and their caregivers.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
Note: This study uses the same sample as Pears et al. (2013). This study examines both the direct and indirect (through increases in self-competence) effects of a Kids In Transition to School (KITS) program, intervention designed to promote school readiness in children in foster care on third grade indicators of risk for becoming involved in alcohol use and delinquency (e.g., positive expectations about alcohol use, endorsement of antisocial activities, and associations with deviant peers. Measures utilized included the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 (CBCL), the Monitoring the Future National Survey Questionnaire, the Service Utilization Interview, the Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC), and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence–Third Edition (WPPSI-III). Results indicate that being in the KITS intervention prior to kindergarten entry was associated with having less positive attitudes towards alcohol use and antisocial behavior in third grade, 4 years after children participated in the intervention. Limitations include concerns about generalizablity due to the limited number of minorities, moderate sample size, missing data, and possible participant report bias.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 4 years.

The following studies were not included in rating KITS on the Scientific Rating Scale...

Pears, K. C., Fisher, P. A., & Bronz, K. D. (2007). An intervention to promote social emotional school readiness in foster children: Preliminary outcomes from a pilot study. School Psychology Review, 36(4), 665-673.

Note: Due to differences between the intervention examined in this pilot study and the current KITS intervention, the results of this study was not considered during the rating process. Children were randomly assigned to groups. Children in the intervention group (Kids in Transition to School [KITS]) attended 2-hour playgroups twice a week for 7 weeks in the summer. These playgroups addressed social competence, and emotional and behavioral self-regulation. Children in the comparison group (CG) received services as usual. Foster parents completed assessments 2 weeks before and after the intervention. Teachers assessed the children one month after the start of school. Assessments included the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Teacher Report Form, and Emotion Regulation Checklist. Results showed that the intervention group had increased foster-parent rated social competence and better ratings on measures of self-regulation.

Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Healey, C. V., Yoerger, K., & Fisher, P. (2014). Improving child self-regulation and parenting in families of pre-kindergarten children with developmental disabilities and behavioral difficulties. Prevention Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11121-014-0482-2

Note: As children in foster care were excluded from this study, the results of this study were not considered during the rating process for the Educational Interventions for Children and Adolescents in Child Welfare topic area. This study examined the effects of Kids in Transition to School (KITS) intervention on children’s self-regulation skills as well as parenting and parental involvement in school. Participants were randomly assigned to either the KITS intervention or to the services-as-usual [SAU] group. Measures utilized include the Child Behavior Checklist, Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC), and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Preschool Parent Report (BRIEF-P). Results showed that the intervention had positive effects on children’s self-regulation in kindergarten as measured by teacher and observer reports. Additionally, the intervention significantly reduced ineffective parenting prior to school entry, which in turn affected parental involvement. Limitations include sample represented children who had behavioral difficulties and developmental disabilities and results may not be generalizable to other children, or the entire population of children with developmental disabilities, reliance on self-reported measures, and low rates of parent participation.

References

Pears, K. C., Fisher, P. A., Heywood, C. V., & Bronz, K. D. (2007). Promoting school readiness in foster children. In O. N. Saracho & B. Spodek (Eds.), Contemporary Perspectives on Social Learning in Early Childhood Education (pp. 173-198). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Contact Information

Name: Katherine Pears, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: Oregon Social Learning Center
Website: www.oslc.org/projects/kids-transition-school-kits
Email:
Phone: (541) 485-2711
Fax: (541) 485-7087

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: August 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2012