Highlighted publications

Disrupting inequitable family-professional decision-making in EC/ECSE: Alternate possibilities through the humanist frame

Hancock, C. L., & Morgan, C. W. (2024). Disrupting inequitable family-professional decision-making in EC/ECSE: Alternate possibilities through the humanist frame. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. Advance online publication.


Family-professional partnerships

Though families are recognized as educational decision-makers for their children, inequitable family-professional partnerships persist in early childhood and early childhood special education (EC/ECSE), particularly for marginalized families. In this article, we argue that to promote equitable decision-making and best meet the needs of young children from birth through age five and their families, EC/ECSE professionals can reframe family-professional partnerships through an alternate lens to disrupt and transform entrenched power dynamics. To this end, we first introduce two perspectives of knowledge and power, functionalism and humanism, and discuss how they contribute to decision-making in EC/ECSE. Then, we present a model to examine power and apply the model to contrast decision-making rooted in functionalist and humanist framings. To conclude, we provide recommendations for policy, research, and practice through the humanist frame.

Promoting educational equity for migrant children in China

Yu, M. (2024). Promoting educational equity for migrant children in China. In P. Downes, G. Li, L. Van Praag, & S. Lamb (Eds.),The Routledge International Handbook of Equity and Inclusion in Education (pp. 389-400). Routledge.


Educational equity
Migrant children
Minjian society

Situating within the context of migrant communities’ social and political struggles in urban Chinese cities, this chapter aims to demonstrate the mobilization in migrant communities as community members and activists work to provide educational opportunities for migrant children. Although excluded from the urban public realm for decades, migrant communities in China’s large urban cities never stopped their mobilization toward providing education for their children and making their voices heard. Grassroots migrant organizations function as centers of collective actions that address the needs of the community and counter the deficit notions of migrant children and their families, by illuminating the powerful ways that community members and activists utilize various forms of community cultural wealth. The spaces created as a result of the collective actions encouraged the formation of a sense of solidarity among migrant children, their families, as well as activists from outside the communities. These activities not only challenged the stereotypes of migrant children and their families but also provided opportunities to mobilize people from outside the communities to support migrant children’s education.

Community-Based Education and Child Development Work for Migrant Children in China: A Multi-dimensional Citizenship Approach

Yu, M. (2024). Community-Based Education and Child Development Work for Migrant Children in China: A Multi-dimensional Citizenship Approach. Chinese Sociological Review.


Community-based education
Migrant children
Multi-dimensional citizenship

The primary focus of this article is to investigate the impact of community-based efforts to provide education and child development programs and service in China’s migrant communities, specifically as it pertains to the prospects of addressing sociocultural and socioeconomic inequalities in education and child development in urban China. Building on frameworks of dimensions of citizenship, this article examines the work of migrant educator-activists who provide community-based education and child development service in Beijing’s migrant communities. Their efforts to address inequalities in child development for migrant children enrich the understanding of citizenship in the Chinese context.

Forging a Path to College Persistence: An Experimental Evaluation of the Detroit Promise Path Program

Brockman, S. L., Camo-Biogradlija, J., Ratledge, A., O’Donoghue, R., Baum, M. Y., & Jacob, B. (2024). Forging a Path to College Persistence: An Experimental Evaluation of the Detroit Promise Path Program. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 0(0), 01623737241230474.


Community college coaching
High-need students
Randomized trial

Detroit students who obtain a college degree overcome many obstacles to do so. This article reports the results of a randomized evaluation of a program meant to provide support to low-income community college students. The Detroit Promise Path program was designed to complement an existing College Promise scholarship, providing students with coaching, summer engagement, and financial incentives. The evaluation found that students offered the program enrolled in more semesters and earned more credits compared with those offered the scholarship alone. However, at the 3-year mark, there were no discernable impacts on degrees earned. This article examines systemic barriers to degree completion and offers lessons for the design of interventions to increase equity in postsecondary attainment.

Preparing the expert novice: Core practices for implementing blueprints for inquiry design

Brugar, K. A., Roberts, K. L., Allen, A., Ratcliff, K., & Capps, C. (2023). Preparing the expert novice: Core practices for implementing blueprints for inquiry design. Journal of Teacher Education, 74(5), 495-507.


Social Studies
Pre-Service teachers

In this study we share the understandings and the reflections of pre-service teachers as they engage in focus group interviews about inquiry and Inquiry Design Model blueprints. These pre-service teachers first discussed their understanding of inquiry which was rooted in their university coursework. They then described their efficacy for implementing inquiry, generally, and the blueprint, specifically, in their current field placements and future classrooms. This envisioned implementation often involved adaptations of the blueprints. In an effort to understand and reconsider how pre-service teachers experience and learn about inquiry, this study can inform teacher educators to better support pre-service teachers to enact socially-conscious and developmentally-appropriate elementary social studies inquiry in their present and future classrooms.

Partnering for success: Text and peer engagement during paired reading

Roberts, K. L., Arya, P., Plond, Kathleen K. (2024). Partnering for success: Text and peer engagement during paired reading. Reading Teacher, 77(4), 453-461.


Partner reading
Peer engagement

This article describes partner reading in a third-grade classroom. Though challenging, partner reading provides opportunities for students to engage with texts and each other in ways that support young readers.

COVID-19, online learning, and absenteeism in Detroit

Lenhoff, S. W., & Singer, J. (2024). COVID-19, online learning, and absenteeism in Detroit. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk.



How much school students attend is a powerful indicator of their well-being and a strong predictor of their future success in school. Prior research has documented the myriad in-school and out-of-school factors that contribute to high levels of student absenteeism, many emerging from the root causes of poverty and disengagement. The shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic likely disrupted prior barriers to attendance and may have created new ones. This sequential explanatory mixed-methods study examined student absenteeism during the 2020–2021 school year in Detroit. We used administrative data to show whether and how attendance patterns changed, and we linked family survey and interview data to explain those patterns. We found that 70% of students were chronically absent, with 40% of parents reporting that computer problems contributed to absenteeism. While measures of socioeconomic disadvantage and computer/internet issues were associated with lower attendance and higher probability of chronic absenteeism, reported levels of hardship during the pandemic were not. Despite significant investment in technology, the district’s strategies for engaging students were not sufficient in overcoming economic hardships and the new challenges of online learning.

(Re)centering the Knowledge of Disabled Activists, Poverty Scholars, and Community Scholars of Color to Transform Education

Brown, L. X. Z., Dickens, B., Gray-Garcia, T., Kulkarni, S. S., McLeod, L., Miller, A. L., Nusbaum, E. A., & Pearson, H. (2023). (Re)centering the knowledge of disabled activists, poverty scholars, and community scholars of color to transform education. Disability Studies Quarterly special issue titled “Origins, objects, orientations: Towards a racial history of disability,” 43(1).


Disabled activists
Poverty scholars
Community scholars of color
Community-university partnership

This duoethnography weaves the experiences and perspectives of disabled activists, poverty scholars, community scholars of color, and university- based scholars partnering on a teacher preparation professional development project that (re)centers disability and its intersections by (a) reconsidering who creates knowledge, (b) positioning disabled activists, poverty scholars, and community scholars of color as experts with pedagogical authority, and (c) providing opportunities for teacher candidates (current and future teachers) to learn from activists and scholars in accessible, online spaces. The experiences and perspectives of multiply marginalized disabled youth and adults are often ignored and/or discounted in teacher preparation programs. However, one way to re-zone and re-people disability studies in teacher education is by teaching and learning at the intersections of critical race studies and disability studies through cross-coalitional community-university partnerships.

Critical Thinking for Transformative Praxis in Teacher Education: Music, Media and Information Literacy, and Social Studies in the United States

Miller, R., Liu, K., Crowley, C. B., & Yu, M. (2023). Critical Thinking for Transformative Praxis in Teacher Education: Music, Media and Information Literacy, and Social Studies in the United States. Educational Philosophy and Theory.


Critical thinking
Teacher education
Transformative praxis

The notion and practice of critical thinking (CT) has moved from its speculative formation by John Dewey to a standard element in teacher education curricula and standards. In the process, CT has narrowed its focus to the analysis and articulation of logical thought, and lost transformative value. In this paper, we examine the conception and implementation of CT in three teacher education domains primarily in the United States–music, media and information literacy, and social studies–asking how CT has deformed education in those domains, and how domain-specific approaches could reinvigorate CT. We further suggest refocusing the purpose of CT in teacher education on accomplishing transformative education for equity in school and society, by implementing a critically reflective, transformative praxis based on the insights of domain-specific approaches to CT.

Can Nudging Mentors Weaken Student Support? Experimental Evidence from a Virtual Communication Intervention

Stacey L. Brockman (2023) Can Nudging Mentors Weaken Student Support? Experimental Evidence from a Virtual Communication Intervention, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.


Behavioral intervention
Randomized control trial

This paper presents results from an experimental evaluation of an intervention designed to enhance virtual student support. During the 2019–2020 school year, randomly selected mentors in a school-based mentoring program received monthly reminders with tips for communicating with youth via text, email, and phone. Unexpectedly, the results showed that although the nudges did not impact the frequency of mentor outreach (student-reported), they reduced the rate at which students reached out (mentor-reported) and saw themselves as responsive to their mentors. Moreover, and possibly as a consequence, mentors who received the intervention felt less connected to students and less satisfied with their mentoring relationships, and treated students gained less than comparison students from the mentoring program as a whole in terms of their personal and attitudinal growth. The findings add important nuance to the evidence on how behavioral interventions in educational contexts operate. Although past studies find that nudges can support engagement in discrete tasks, these findings suggest that prescribing relational practices may be less effective. Thus, mentor supports must be carefully designed in order to yield the intended benefits for students.

Lessons, Innovation & New Knowledge in Science

Yarema, S. (2023). Driving Change in Science Education: Empowering Educators Detroit 2023. "Lessons, Innovation & New Knowledge in Science. 75"(2). 13-15.


Science education
Science teaching practice

"Driving Change in Science Education: Empowering Educators" reported on a two-day convening, cosponsored by the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS), which was designed to bring teams of science educators and state-based advocacy groups together to collaboratively advance strong policy and practices in K-12 science education.

Implementation Evaluation of Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Intervention for Refugee Newcomers in the United States

Im, H., Verbillis-Kolp, S., Atiyeh, S., Bonz, A. G., Eadeh, S., George, N., & Malluwa Wadu, A. (2023). Implementation evaluation of community-based mental health and psychosocial support intervention for refugee newcomers in the United States. Health & Social Care in the Community, 2023.

Refugee newcomers resettled in the United States face numerous challenges impacting their mental health and overall well-being. Despite extensive research on clinical interventions, multimodal interventions with peer-based group models in resettlement contexts remain scarce. Adopting a realist evaluation approach, this study aims to conduct a comprehensive implementation evaluation of a complex community-based mental health and psychosocial support (CB-MHPSS) group intervention, examining its mechanisms and processes while considering the interplay among context, implementing agents, and community settings. Qualitative and quantitative data on the implementation process were collected from 11 refugee agencies, involving trained resettlement staffers (n = 32) and refugee community facilitators (n = 31) who implemented the 31 CB-MHPSS psychosocial groups in 2021. The analysis included fidelity reports, process reflections, and follow-up survey responses, utilizing a structured template based on the CB-MHPSS Theory of Change (ToC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) guidance. Results of an in-depth exploration of complex relations between context and implementation processes reveal the vital role that adaptability to socio-ecological circumstances during the global coronavirus pandemic played in achieving successful implementation of psychosocial group interventions. Striking a balance between fidelity and refinement of intervention of the intervention curriculum emerged as crucial factors for aligning facilitation goals with newcomer needs. This approach maintained the integrity and appropriateness of the intervention, requiring implementers to utilize local knowledge of community resources and their understanding of lived experience of forced migrants and their within the community. Furthermore, exploring intervention barriers and facilitators revealed merits aligned with program change theories and areas for adjustment, while cataloged guidelines addressed community needs, showcasing competence beyond standard checkboxes. Strategic dissemination guidance provided by the central office in a supportive and nonintrusive manner facilitated uptake in a participatory and context-specific manner. This study emphasizes the importance of leveraging community partnerships and local knowledge to result in sustained improvements in the mental health and well-being of refugees.

Chinese Primary School Teachers’ Working Time Allocation after the Enactment of “Double Reduction” Policy: A Mixed-methods Study

Teng, J., Yang, Z., Yu, M., Crowley, C. B., Jing, X. (2023). Chinese Primary School Teachers’ Working Time Allocation after the Enactment of “Double Reduction” Policy: A Mixed-methods Study. Teaching and Teacher Education.


Teachers’ working time

This study uses mixed methods to explore Chinese primary school teachers’ working time allocation after the enactment of the “Double Reduction” Policy. Data were collected from 364 questionnaires and six subsequent in-depth interviews. Findings reveal that despite having brought about some benefits, the “Double Reduction” Policy has increased Chinese primary school teachers’ working time. Moreover, the teachers’ working time is unevenly allocated, with disproportionately more time devoted to subject teaching and less time devoted to professional development. As a result, the nature of the different types of Chinese primary school teachers’ working time further affect the teachers’ perceived workload and work-related stress. Therefore, it is recommended that teachers receive greater support and time for their ongoing professional development.

A Mixed Methods Partner-Focused Cost and Budget Impact Analysis to Deploy Implementation Strategies for School-Based Prevention

Eisman A.B., Whitman J., Palinkas L.A., Fridline J., Harvey C., Kilbourne A.M., Hutton D.A. (Accepted for publication). A Mixed Methods Partner-Focused Cost and Budget Impact Analysis to Deploy Implementation Strategies for School-Based Prevention. Implementation Science Communications.


Implementation science
Economic evaluation

Background: Obtaining information on implementation strategy costs and local budget impacts from multiple perspectives is essential to data-driven decision-making about resource allocation for successful evidence-based intervention delivery. This mixed methods study determines the costs and priorities of deploying Enhanced Replicating Effective Programs (REP) to implement the Michigan Model for Health™, a universal school-based prevention intervention, from key shareholder perspectives.

Methods: Our study included teachers in 8 high schools across 3 Michigan counties as part of a pilot cluster randomized trial. We used activity-based costing, mapping key Enhanced REP activities across implementation phases. We included multiple perspectives, including state agencies, regional education service agencies, lead organization, and implementers. We also conducted a budget impact analysis (BIA, assessing the potential financial impact of adopting Enhanced REP) and a scenario analysis to estimate replication and account for cost variability. We used an experimental embedded mixed methods approach, conducting semi-structured interviews and collecting field notes during the trial to expand and explain the cost data and the implications of costs across relevant perspectives. 

Results: Based on trial results, we estimate costs for deploying Enhanced REP are $11,903/school, with an estimated range between $8,263/school and $15,201/school. We estimate that adding four additional schools, consistent with the pilot, would cost $8,659/school. Qualitative results indicated misalignment in school and teacher priorities in some cases. Implementation activities, including training and implementation facilitation with the health coordinator, were sometimes in addition to regular teaching responsibilities. The extent to which this occurred was partly due to leadership priorities (e.g., sticking to the district PD schedule) and organizational priorities (e.g., budget).

Conclusions: Previous research findings indicate that, from a societal perspective, universal prevention is an excellent return on investment. However, notable misalignment in cost burden and priorities exists across shareholder groups. Our results indicate significant personal time costs by teachers when engaging in implementation strategy activities that impose an opportunity cost. Additional strategies are needed to improve the alignment of costs and benefits to enhance the success and sustainability of implementation. We focus on those perspectives informed by the analysis and discuss opportunities to expand a multi-level focus and create greater alignment across perspectives. 


A Contemporary Review of the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Past, Present, and Emerging Directions

 Hinchey, L. M. E., Pernice, F. M., Christian, J. N., Michon, A., & Rice, K. (2023). A Contemporary Review of the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Past, Present, and Emerging Directions. The Psychiatric quarterly, 10.1007/s11126-023-10051-w. Advance online publication.


Narrative review
Psychosocial rehabilitation
Serious mental illness (SMI)
Social practice

Since the 1940s, the Clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation has evolved towards a comprehensive practice of social theory and intervention. A narrative review was conducted using PRISMA guidelines. Using the search term "Clubhouse," 194 articles were identified in online databases. 38 met criteria for inclusion. Most studies were qualitative (60.5%) and few utilized experimental or quasi-experimental designs (7.9%). Narrative synthesis revealed research aims and outcome variables falling into six key areas: social integration and connectedness, quality of life, recovery, relational dynamics, policy, and virtual adaptations of the model. Options for increasing experimental methodologies in this area are reviewed. Recommended future directions involve moving towards a biopsychosocial approach to clarifying the mechanisms through which the model promotes recovery-aims that may yield implications beyond the realm of serious mental illness.

Dissecting Anti-Asian Racism through a Historical and Transnational AsianCrit Lens

Yu, M., Coloma, R. S., Sun, W, & Kwon, J. (2023). Dissecting Anti-Asian Racism through a Historical and Transnational AsianCrit Lens. Sociological Inquiry.
   * equal authorship


Transnational funds of knowledge
Asian youth’s activism

The primary focus of this paper is twofold: to demarcate the epistemic erasure of societal knowledge and narratives of Asian Americans as braided with other forms of anti-Asian racism by tracing its historical roots in orientalism, colonialism, and imperialism; and to redress such erasure by foregrounding transnational perspectives and Asian American Critical Race Theory (AsianCrit). By attending to historical and ongoing experiences of migration and racialization, this paper highlights the transculturality of Asian American histories, epistemologies, and communities, along with the multi-stranded connections that they share with diasporic Asians in other countries. It expands the dominant framing of racialized minorities in the United States that indexes and limits their experiences within the geopolitical boundaries of the nation-state. By situating Asian Americans within critical historical and transnational contexts, this paper generates a fuller and more complex understanding of the past and present conditions of Asian Americans and anti-Asian racism. It also deliberately highlights the agency of Asian American youth and their strategies in contesting anti-Asian racism.

Challenges and Opportunities for Reshaping International Research on Chinese Rural Education

 Xiang, X., Teng, J., Yu, M., Lou, J., Jiang, Z., Zhou, J., Gong, F. (2023). Challenges and Opportunities for Reshaping International Research on Chinese Rural Education. Tsinghua Journal of Education, 44(4), 11-22.


Academic discourses
International power relations

In order to clarify the status quo of international research on Chinese rural education research and explore possible strategies for moving forward, we conducted systematic content analysis on 173 research articles published in 41 high-impact English-language international academic journals between 1978 and 2022. Though articles related to Chinese rural education make up a quarter of all articles on Chinese education published in these journals, they make up less than 0.5% of all articles published in these journals. Though this tiny field has grown substantially since 2010, there are two major problems constricting its healthy development: the dominance of positivism and quantitative methodologies, and the dominance of western classical social theories. Currently, changing international relations and the prominence of rural development issues present unprecedented opportunities for reshaping international research on Chinese rural education. Researchers also need to develop cultural and theoretical reflexivity in order to break out of the current theoretical conundrum.

Reimagining Education and Community Mobilization in China’s Migrant Communities: Towards an “Asia as Method” Framework

Yu, M. (2023). Reimagining Education and Community Mobilization in China’s Migrant Communities: Towards an “Asia as Method” Framework. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.


Asia as method
Critical syncretism

This article engages in theoretical reflection on how to transcend the imposition of Eurocentric theories onto Southern and Eastern examples. Specifically, I reflect on the examination of educational issues faced by marginalized migrant communities within Chinese contexts and explore the application of an “Asia as Method” conceptual framework to reimagine education opportunities for migrant children and community mobilization as it pertains to a politics of recognition and redistribution. The politics of location and identity shaped by Chinese society’s historical and contemporary power structures highlight both the needs and potential of theoretical conceptualizations from within. The goal is not simply to replace the West/North with the East/South nor is it to generate a wholly new theoretical concept to be applicable to all contexts; instead, the task undertaken in this work is to foster historically grounded relational explanations in order for communities in previously-decentered contexts to become one another’s multifaceted reference points

Educational policies and schooling for migrant children in China

Yu, M. & Crowley, C.B. (2023). Educational policies and schooling for migrant children in China. In Pinson, H., Bunar, N., & Devine, D. (Eds.), Research handbook on migration and education (pp.480-495). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.


Chinese education policies
Population control

This chapter discusses what kinds of schooling is worthwhile for China’s migrant children, examines the development of educational policies concerning migrant children and documents the collective experiences of securing access to schooling for migrant children in Chinese cities. It critically analyses policies directly related to the education of migrant children living in and around China’s largest urban centres, with a specific focus on those implemented in Beijing. It argues that these education policies have an underlying agenda of population control that extends beyond that of simply addressing the educational needs of migrant children. This chapter also raises important questions about who is best served by these policies and for whom are these policies intended.

Ideologies of poverty and implications for decision-making with families during home visits

Hancock, C. L. (2023). Ideologies of poverty and implications for decision-making with families during home visits. Linguistics and Education. Advance online publication.


Discourse analysis
Family-professional partnerships
Home visiting

Early childhood professionals are increasingly called upon to be responsive to children and families experiencing poverty. Such responsiveness requires consideration of ideologies of poverty, including beliefs and assumptions about poverty that are deeply embedded within educational policy and practice. This investigation explored how four Early Head Start home visitors enacted ideologies of poverty with 12 families of infants and toddlers through their decision-making talk with families during home visits. Drawing on Gee's D/discourse theory, ideological assumptions about poverty were identified through discourse analysis of home visit transcripts, and supplemented by qualitative analysis of home visit documents and individual interviews with home visitors and families. In emphasizing parents’ ability to redress poverty through personal responsibility and individual action, identified assumptions predominantly reflected individualistic ideologies of poverty. Findings offer insight into how ideologies of poverty constrained decision-making and subtly reinforced deficit-based messages about families, despite home visitors’ empathy.

Using visual thinking strategies to enhance observation skills

Feen-Calligan, H., Serra, G., Farrell, K., Mendez, J., McQuillen, E., Murphy, C., & Amponsah, D. (2023, in-press.). Using visual thinking strategies to enhance observation skills. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.


Implicit bias
Art therapy

Art therapy and medical students (N=45) participated in Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to: 1) enhance observation skills, 2) examine interdisciplinary approaches to assessment, 3) determine VTS’ impact on awareness of implicit bias. Quantitative and qualitative questionnaires and a post-procedure reflective focus group evaluated participants’ baseline experiences and the perceived usefulness of VTS to influence observation and bias awareness. Qualitative data indicated VTS improved observation skills and enhanced awareness of implicit biases. Although the one statistically significant result questioned students’ continued interest in VTS, 3 non-significant items on quantitative measures reflected gains regarding VTS to improve communication with patients, and to aid in determining implicit biases within health fields.

The significance of VTS for art therapy education is its potential to increase awareness of cultural biases that could impact art therapy assessment skills. 

Toward disability-centered, culturally sustaining pedagogies in teacher education

Kulkarni, S. S., Miller, A. L., Nusbaum, E. A., Pearson, H., & Brown, L. X. (2023). Toward disability-centered, culturally sustaining pedagogies in teacher education. Critical Studies in Education, 1-21. 


Culturally sustaining pedagogies
Teacher education
Disabled youth of color

Teacher education in the United States operates within the same politically polarized and tense contexts as schools. Research predominantly relies on the voices and experiences of scholars and professionals, despite the importance of community-engaged pedagogies and learning approaches. Collective work that bridges the roles of scholars and community activists requires a shift in how teacher education is conceptualized for a new generation of intersectionality-focused anti-racist and anti-ableist teachers and teacher educators. Centering the knowledge of disabled activists, poverty scholars, and community scholars in partnership with educational professionals, we introduce Disability Centered Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies (DCCSPs), a conceptual framework and pedagogical application integrating Disability Critical Race Theory and culturally sustaining pedagogies in teacher education. We outline the critical need for this theory in teacher education in the United States and globally, opportunities for practical integration, and conclude with future directions.

How Early Head Start home visitors foster or impede shared decision-making with families

Hancock, C. L., & Cheatham, G. A. (2023). How Early Head Start home visitors foster or impede shared decision-making with families. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. Advance online publication. 


Early childhood
Family partnerships

Rather than professional-driven decisions, shared decisions are central to family-centered philosophy and practices. This qualitative study investigated how four home visitors and 12 families engaged in institutional decision-making about 16 infants and toddlers enrolled in Early Head Start. The following research question was addressed: How do home visitor discursive strategies contribute to family participation during institutional decision-making about their child? Discourse analysis of detailed home visit transcripts focused on two phases of decision-making: (1) how home visitors opened decision-making, and (2) how home visitors signaled the opportunity for families to participate in making a choice. Although eight approaches were identified across both phases, only two aligned with features of shared decision-making. Instead, home visitors predominantly used unilateral approaches that drew on professional and curricular authority to narrow how families could participate in decision-making about their child. Unilateral approaches set the stage to enact professional recommendations without meaningful family participation, and created a context where home visitors could subtly exert decision-making control over families. Examining details of how decision-making unfolded contributes nuanced information about what shared decisions do – and do not – sound like, and offers insight into discursive strategies that better enact equitable partnerships with families.