U of M report says early-childhood intervention improves well-being through young adulthood

Minority preschoolers from low-income families who participated in a comprehensive school-based intervention fared better educationally, socially and economically as they moved into young adulthood, according to a report by University of Minnesota professors Arthur Reynolds and Judy Temple. The study is published today in the Journal of the American Medical Associations (JAMA) Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Reynolds is a child development professor in the College of Education and Human Development and Judy Temple is a professor in the department of applied economics and in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

This study is the first to show that large-scale established programs run by schools can have enduring effects into adulthood on general health and well-being, Reynolds says. Early childhood programs can promote not only educational success but health status and behavior.

Reynolds research group discovered that by age 24, children who were involved in preschool programs were more likely to finish high school, attend four-year colleges and have health insurance coverage, and less likely to be arrested for a felony, be incarcerated or develop depressive symptoms. For example, the preschool group had higher rates of high school completion with 71.4 percent finishing high school compared with a 63.7 percent finish rate among those in the non preschool group. Those who attended preschool also were more likely to have health insurance with 70.2 percent having insurance compared with 61.5 percent of those not in preschool. Those children in the program also had lower rates of felony arrests with 16.5 percent compared with 21.1 percent and lower depressive symptoms with 12.8 percent compared with 17.4 percent.

The study directed by Reynolds is called the Chicago Longitudinal Study and began in 1986 to investigate the effects of government-funded kindergarten programs for 1,539 children in the Chicago Public School

Contact: David Ruth
University of Minnesota

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