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

s. Reynolds group studied the long-term effects of the Child-Parent Center in Chicago. A total of 1,539 low-income minority children who were born in 1979 or 1980 and attended programs at 25 sites between 1985 and 1986 were compared with 550 children who participated in alternative full-day kindergarten programs available to low-income families. The children were tracked through age 24 using various methods, including records from schools, Medicaid and county, state and federal agencies, as well as a survey completed by the participants between ages 22 and 24 years.

Early childhood interventions have demonstrated consistent positive effects on children's health and well-being, according to background information in the JAMA article. The types of programs that have received the largest growth in public funding are preschool programs for mostly at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds that provide both educational and family services in a center-based environment. One such intervention, the Child-Parent Center program in Chicago, is available from preschool through third grade and features instruction by qualified teachers, low child-to-staff ratios, health and nutrition services and an intensive parent program that includes classroom involvement, field trips and home visits.

Children who participated in the program during preschool and early school years also were more likely to be working full-time (42.7 percent vs. 36.4 percent), have completed more years of education and have lower rates of arrests for violent offenses (13.9 percent vs. 17.9 percent), and were less likely to receive disability assistance (4.4 percent vs. 7 percent).

The fact that positive results of the program extend beyond educational achievements is not surprising given the links between education, mental and physical health and behavior, Reynolds and Temple said in the study. Because expenditures for the medical care and justice systems comprise roughly 20 percent of the gross
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@umn.edu
612-624-1690
University of Minnesota
6-Aug-2007


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