Miller 322C

Soojin Oh Park

Assistant Professor

Soojin Oh Park is an assistant professor in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington (UW) College of Education. She is a core faculty member of the Learning Sciences and Human Development and the Education, Equity, and Society programs, and an affiliate faculty of the West Coast Poverty Center and Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology.

Dr. Park studies early childhood development and parenting in the context of culture, immigration, and public policy. In particular, she is concerned with systematically expanding equitable learning opportunities and experiences particularly among children with multiply marginalized identities. She seeks to understand how learning and development unfold across socioeconomically and culturally diverse ecologies and help create policies that humanize and reimagine early learning environments that reflect the hopes and priorities of historically underserved, non-dominant families and communities.

Ed.D., Human Development and Education, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
M.Ed., Educational Policy and Management, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
M.S.Ed., Early Elementary Education with Pennsylvania State Grades PreK-4 Teacher Certification, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education
B.A., Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Courses Taught
EDPSY XXX Multilingual Learners: Equity-Driven Policies & Practices for Bilingual & Biliteracy Development
ECFS 315 Parenting and Child Development: Socioeconomic Disparities in the Early Life Course (Offered annually in Winter; Fulfills Diversity & Writing Requirements)
EDPSY 582 Parenting and Learning: Socioeconomic Inequities & Educational Injustices in the Early Life Course (Offered biennially in Winter; Graduate Seminar)
ECFS 410 Early Language and Literacy Development (Offered annually in Fall)
EDPSY 502 Developmental Foundations of Early Learning (Offered annually in Winter)

Dr. Park directs the Early learning, Parenting, Immigration, and Culture (EPIC) lab in pursuing three interconnected lines of research.

1. Supporting immigrant-origin, racialized Dual Language Learners (DLLs) 

Decades of scientific evidence suggest that high-quality early education benefits all children, with substantially larger gains in learning among DLLs in low-income, immigrant families. However, much work is needed to understand the developmental contexts and processes of this increasingly diverse and fastest growing segment of U.S. child population. In one of Dr. Park’s current projects, BASECAMP (Bolstering Asian American Students in Early Childhood in Advancing Multilingual Practices), she examines how families and communities support the sociocognitive, language, and literacy development of emergent bilingual learners. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues, she is committed to increasing the pipeline of early childhood bilingual teachers in Washington state while ensuring equitable access to multilingual learning environments across home and school.

2. Understanding Parenting and Family Context of Early Childhood Development

Families and home environment serve as the first and primary context of development in the early life span. The role of parenting and family context present promising policy levers (or family-level mediators) yet current evidence base and broad-based early childhood quality improvement efforts focus much less on the role of families and communities. To this effort, Dr. Park examines the role of parental investment in exacerbating or dismantling educational inequities in early childhood from racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically diverse communities. In particular she is interested in meaningful yet understudied ways in which non-dominant families engage and expand their young children's learning at home. The central aims of her study, FAMILY (Fathers And Mothers Investing in the Learning of Young Children)are to [1] expand and complicate dominant notions of critical parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) by privileging the voices of families most often left invisible and silence in academic literature and policymaking process; [2] explore how family socioeconomic factors shape parenting during early childhood and reproduce educational injustices; and [3] understand what, how, and why families support their children's early learning and development, in order to reimagine transformative possibilities for equitable policy and practice.

3. Improving and Evaluating Early Childhood Policies, Systems, and Programs through an Equity Lens

Dr. Park's current program of research stems from her early work in evaluating the impact of early childhood policies and programs on children’s development and parenting practice. While causal inference is central to answering many policy-relevant questions, experimental evaluation can only tell us whether a treatment causally affected an outcome but they cannot tell us how and why such an effect occurs. Greater attention in the field of ECE has been focused on impacts than processes. To better understand “active ingredients” or mechanisms in these programs that enhance the quality of early learning experiences, Dr. Park examines the role of statewide research-practice-policy partnership (RPP) in anchoring systemic supports for states to continuously improve the quality of publicly funded prekindergarten (preK). She is leading a team to conduct multi-year, cross-state case studies to investigate (1) how these states develop equitable, cross-sectoral partnerships for continuous quality improvement and evidence-based decision making; and (2) how contexts of state preK (governance, leadership, advocacy, fiscal systems, workforce development, and politics) facilitate or impede quality improvement efforts. This will be one of the first large-scale, cross-state studies to investigate state-driven improvement efforts in advancing equity and quality at scale.


Park, S.O. (2023). Transforming a cemetery into a garden of languages: A justice-oriented, family-centered framework for cultivating early bilingualism and emergent biliteracy. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. A Special Issue - Justice for Whom and According to Whom?: (Re)Considering Equity, Inclusing and Belonging in Early Childhood and Education. 

Park, S.O., & Hassairi, N. (2021). What predicts legislative success of early care and education policies?: Applications of machine learning and natural language processing in a cross-state early childhood policy analysis. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246730.

Capotosto, L., Kim, J.S., Burkhauser, M., Park, S.O., Mulimbi, B., Donaldson, M., & Kingston, H.C. (2017). Family support of third-grade reading skills, motivation, and habits. AERA Open, 3(3), 1-16.

Park, S.O., & Yoshikawa, H. (2017). Contemporary immigration policy and early childhood development. In E. Votruba-Drzal and E. Dearing (Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Development Programs, Practices, and Policies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Weiland, C., Charles, D., Grace, E., & Park, S.O. (2017). Natural window of opportunity? Low-income parents’ responses to their children’s impending kindergarten entry. AERA Open, 3(1), 1-15.

Warren, M.R., Park, S.O., & Tieken, M.C. (2016). The formation of community engaged scholars advancing equitable policy and practice: A collaborative approach to doctoral training in educational research. Harvard Educational Review, 86(4).

Schindler, H.S., Kholoptseva, J., Oh, S.S., Yoshikawa, H., Shonkoff, J.P., Duncan, G.J., & Magnuson, K. (2015). Maximizing the potential of early childhood education to prevent externalizing behavior problems: A meta-analysis. Journal of School Psychology, 53(3), 243-263.

Britto, P.R., Yoshikawa, H., Ponguta, L. A., Reyes, M., Oh, S.S., Dimaya, R., Nieto, A.M., & Seder, R. (2014). Strengthening systems for integrated early childhood development services: Cross-national analyses of governance. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1308, 245-255. 

Oh, S.S. & Yoshikawa, H. (2012). Examining spiritual capital and acculturation across ecological settings: Developmental implications for children and youth in diverse immigrant families. In Garcia Coll, C. (Ed.), Contributions to Human Development Vol. 24: The Impact of Immigration on Children’s Development (pp. 77-98). Basel, Switzerland: S. Karger AG.

Oh, S.S., & Cooc, N. (2011). Immigration, Youth and Education: Editors’ Introduction. Harvard Educational Review, 81(3), 397-407.

Catone, K., Chung, C.K., & Oh, S.S. (2011). An appetite for change: Building relational cultures for educational reform and civic engagement in Los Angeles. In M. R. Warren, K. L. Mapp, and the Community Organizing and School Reform Project (Eds.), A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform, (Chapter 3, pp. 66-98). New York: Oxford University Press. [equal authorship]

Afolabi, K.P., Bocala, C., DiAquoi, R., Hayden, J.M., Liefshitz, I., & Oh. S.S. (Eds.) (2011). Education for a Multicultural Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. [equal authorship]

Snow, C.E., & Oh, S.S. (2010). Assessment in early literacy research. In S. B. Neuman and D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of Early Literacy Research. (Vol. 3, pp. 375-395). New York: Guilford Press.


Grants awarded

2021-2024     Center for Early Childhood Policy and Equity. In advancing the study of early childhood policy and establish a new masters specialization within the EdPOL M.Ed. program focused on early childhood policy and leadership as part of the Early Childhood Policy in Institutes of Higher Education (PIs Sharon Lynn Kagan, Columbia University and Kathy Thornburg, Univ. of Missouri)

2017-2022     PI, The Fathers and Mothers Investing in Learning of Young Children (FAMILY) Study. University of Washington College of Education.

2019-2020     Lead Faculty (PIs: Manka Varghese, Marge Plecki, Ana Elfers), A Roadmap to Reducing Barriers to Educational Injustice in Washington State. Washington Education Association.

2017-2020     Co-PI (Gail Joseph, PI), Cultivating Research-Policy-Practice Partnerships for Improving Prekindergarten Quality in Early Learning Exemplar States. Gates Foundation.

New features

In Washington state, one out of five early learners grow up in poverty. Fewer than half are kindergarten-ready.

On Oct. 20, eight of Washington’s leading early learning researchers shared their insights into what educators, communities and the state as a whole can do to give all children a fair start to grow and reach their potential during EDU Talks: Raising Washington, organized by the University of Washington College of Education.

Placing a greater emphasis on social skills in early childhood education than is currently the norm could significantly reduce antisocial or aggressive behaviors later in life, new research from the University of Washington College of Education finds.