Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

About the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

The Demonstration and Research Center for Early Education (DARCEE)

The Demonstration and Research Center for Early Education (DARCEE) was established as a part of the Kennedy Center in 1966 to serve as a research, training, and demonstration center concerned with improving the educability of young children from low-income homes. This was done through working directly with children in classroom settings and through working with their parents. DARCEE researchers developed and evaluated a model of preschool education for children from low-income families. The DARCEE preschool curriculum was used with developmentally delayed as well as typically developing children.

Later, work in DARCEE shifted from the investigation of behavior in school settings, such as day care centers, toward family behavior in home settings. DARCEE scientists developed and tested a home visiting model designed to teach parents to become programmers of the educational environment of their young children. Parents were taught to select materials and to arrange the home environment to encourage active exploration and to enhance their children's development.

DARCEE was an outgrowth of the Early Training Project directed by Drs. Susan Gray and Rupert Klaus. Their initial success in that program to develop educational methods to offset the progressive intellectual retardation associated with living in poverty was influential in the development of the Head Start program.

In 1980, DARCEE was discontinued, but the research and demonstration activities that were a part of DARCEE continue as a part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's mission.

Dr. Susan Gray showing young children an old bee hive in a classroom

Dr. Susan Gray was a directer of the Early Training Project, which preceded DARCEE. More about Susan Gray and the Early Training Project.

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