NICHD-Sponsored Research Finds Early Learning Associated with Reduced Child Maltreatment

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found that low-income children who receive pre-school and early-grades learning assistance, coupled with services for parents, are less likely than those who do not receive these services to be victims of child maltreatment.

The findings are part of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, supported by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health. The study looks at effects of the Chicago School District's Child-Parent Centers (CPC) on the lives of those who have attended them. Chicago has operated the centers since 1967. The findings appear in the current issue of Child Development.

"These findings help confirm what we would hope - that early educational assistance for young children, combined with help for parents, supports strong and productive families," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "Wisconsin has been a proving ground for new efforts to help families break the cycle of poverty and dependence, and I'm happy to see these results from the University of Wisconsin."

By reviewing official records on child abuse, the researchers found that children who attended the preschool intervention program had a 52 percent lower rate of maltreatment, compared with a control group of children who did not attend. Further, they found that those who stayed with the program longer had an even lower rate of maltreatment. In addition, the beneficial effects proved long-lasting: the greatest differences between the CPC attendees and others occurred when the children were 10 to 17 years old, long after they had been in the program.

Further information on the findings is available from Emily Carlson at University Communications at the University of Wisconsin, 608-262-9772. The university's release is expected to be posted on EurekAlert Monday morning, at External Web Site Policy.


The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the biomedical research arm of the federal government. NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. NICHD publications, as well as information about the Institute, are available from the NICHD Web site,, or from the NICHD Information Resource Center, 1-800-370-2943; e-mail

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