Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Children who attended an intensive preschool and family support program attained higher educational levels, were more likely to be employed, and less likely to have problems with the legal system than were peers who did not attend the program, according to a study funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
The researchers found that those who completed the program were more likely than their peers to attend college and less likely to be arrested or imprisoned.
To conduct the study, the researchers tracked the progress of graduates of the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program in the Chicago Public School System. The research team was let by Arthur Reynolds, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Their findings were published online recently in Science.
Established in 1967, the CPC program provides children of low income families with intensive instruction in reading and math from pre-kindergarten through third grade. The children also attend frequent educational field trips. Their parents are provided with training in job skills and parenting skills and encouraged to volunteer in their children’s classrooms and to help supervise field trips.
To conduct the study, the researchers compared the experiences of roughly 1,000 children enrolled in the CPCs to those of 550 children in other early childhood education programs. After 25 years had passed, the researchers found that those who had attended the CPCs fared better than their peers across a wide spectrum of areas. Along with higher educational attainment and less involvement with the criminal justice system, program attendees were more likely to have health insurance, less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol, and less likely to have depressive symptoms.
An earlier analysis by the same research team found that such interventions are highly cost effective. The researchers found the CPC program yielded $4 to $11 of economic benefits over a participant’s lifetime, for every dollar spent initially on the program.
The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.