Research Services

Child360 houses an award-winning Research and Evaluation team that specializes in evaluating the components of the early learning landscape, leading all the way up to—and including—child outcomes. Research studies are designed, conducted, and interpreted by the team, and include a refined focus on the early care and education workforce, coaching models, family engagement methods, child development, and curriculum-related topics.

The team also prepares data reports to meet grant and licensing requirements. They maintain several databases which inform and support the back-office services for ECE facilities; child measurement tools, such as DRDP and ASQ; and quality rating tools for providers, such as the Quality Continuum Framework Tier ratings.

Our unique approach to Research and Evaluation supports the innovation behind the early learning industry and helps pave the way for ongoing growth. Each member of the team has their own niche and expertise, and brings to the table a unique set of skills allowing them to address your specific needs.


Meet Our Team

Rosa Valdés

As Director of Research and Evaluation, Rosa Valdés oversees a team of researchers who conduct studies and evaluations focused on Child360’s programs, and the overall benefits and outcomes of high-quality early learning. These projects have a general focus on child outcomes, the early care and education workforce, Child360’s coaching model, family engagement, child development, and curriculum-related topics. She and her team also prepare data reports to meet grant requirements and for internal departments’ progress monitoring.

She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She brings more than 25 years of interdisciplinary research experience to the department, having previously worked at LAUSD as a researcher and manager in the Program Evaluation and Research Branch, and at UCLA’s National Center for Research, Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing as a researcher.


Melissa Barnhart

Longitudinal Outcomes, Child360 & LAUP Programs

Melissa Barnhart has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Developmental Psychology, from UC Riverside. She joined Child360 in March 2014. She has a honed-in focus on the longitudinal outcomes of the LAUP Outcomes Study. She also advises the management of our large databases. She worked previously as a quantitative researcher for LAUSD, the California Charter School Association, and the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. Currently, she is working on a study to determine the effectiveness of online coaching.


Drew Barrett

STEAM in Early Education

Drew has a Master of Science degree in Child Development from the University of La Verne. He joined Child360 in January 2014. His recent work includes the evaluation of the evolving platform of STEAM in Early Care and Education, as well as Child360’s STEAM program. His research methodology includes qualitative and quantitative approaches, and he has previous experience in working with children on the autism spectrum.


Claudia Benavides

Quality Improvement in the Quality Movement

Claudia has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA. She joined Child360 in 2013. She is currently developing a system for improving data quality at California State Preschool Program sites, including data related to the qualifications of teachers and site directors as related to the California Quality Continuum Framework. Her previous work includes an evaluation of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. Claudia has worked in the field of education research for over 15 years.


Lydia Dong

Workforce and Professional Development

Lydia has a Master of Arts degree in Education (Social Research Methodology) from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from UCLA. She joined Child360 in 2012. Lydia’s work has focused on the formative, summative and developmental evaluations of Child360’s workforce & professional development efforts, including training and advisement models. Lydia’s emphases include qualitative research, GIS analyses, and data visualization. She also serves as co-editor of R&E’s publications.


Donna Escalante

Family and Community Engagement

Donna has a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Psychology and Technology from USC, as well as a Master’s in Education from USC. She joined Child360 in January 2013. As Senior Research Analyst, she works on the evaluation of Child360’s Best Start Communities in the area of community and family engagement.


Mariel Kyger

Early Literacy and Development, DLLs

Mariel has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology from UCLA, and specializes in Developmental and Cognitive Psychology. She joined Child360 in October 2013. Since then, she has authored and edited briefs and articles on the benefits of preschool, early literacy, and other aspects of early childhood education and development. Her recent research projects have included a family engagement intervention to address the income-based word gap in early childhood, a quantitative analysis of child outcomes from LAUP’s preschool programs, and an evaluation of job satisfaction and wellness among preschool teachers and directors. Currently, she is helping to develop a set of resources that will support and inform Child360’s quality improvement coaching program.


Grecya Lopez

Educational Program Evaluation, Workforce

Grecya has a Master of Science degree in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration from USC’s Rossier School of Education, as well as a GIS Certificate from the UC San Diego Extension. Grecya joined Child360 in May 2012. Her recent work includes a study of Child360’s coaching model as well as various evaluations of Child360’s workforce programs. Grecya supervises research assistants and junior researchers; she also coordinates monthly reports on provider services, collection of student data and provider feedback, and network-wide quarterly reporting to First 5 LA. Grecya has over 16 years of experience in educational program evaluation.


Alex Zepeda

Specialized Child360 programs

Alex has a Master of Public Health degree from UCLA. She joined Child360 in December 2006. Among her projects, she directs an evaluation of Child360’s Program Leadership model, which describes the implementation and outcomes of Program Leadership Consultation, the Directors’ Institute, and Provider Network Meetings. Other recent projects include program evaluations of health and wellness programs, which focused on obesity prevention among preschool-age children. Prior to her tenure at Child360, Zepeda worked for the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities.



If you’d like to learn more about our research and evaluation services, please email services@laup.net or call 213.416.1335.