Expert Commentary

School-based early childhood education and age-28 well-being

2011 report by the University of Minnesota and University of Missouri on long-term outcomes for participants in early child-parent education programs.

Policy decisions concerning education programming and early interventions are increasingly driven by documented results from long-term academic studies. The Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) has now tracked the education and post-education experiences of 1,539 families, most of which participated in the Child-Parent Center (CPC) Education Program (the second-oldest federally funded preschool program, behind Head Start).

A 2011 report by the University of Minnesota and University of Missouri published in Science, “School-Based Early Childhood Education and Age-28 Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage and Subgroups,” analyzed CLS data and investigated the links between CPC participation and an individual’s well-being at a subsequent point, in early adult life.

The report’s findings include:

  • Children who participated in CPC programs achieved a higher level of education, income, socioeconomic status and health coverage than comparable non-participant children.
  • Overall, CPC participants had 22% lower rates of felony arrest, 28% lower rates of incarceration or substance abuse, and were 20% more likely to enjoy increased socioeconomic status.
  • Participation in an extended CPC program (4-6 years) led to a 55% higher rate of on-time high school graduation (than for those in a 3-year CPC program), and was associated with an 18% increased chance of moderate or better socioeconomic status.

The researchers state that the results were not uniform, and the most impressive outcomes were for male preschool participants who started in a CPC at ages 3 or 4 and for children of parents who had dropped out of high school. The report’s authors conclude that “while there are limits to the effects of the CPC program for particular outcomes and groups, impacts which endured provide a strong foundation for the investment in and promotion of early childhood learning.”

Tags: children, poverty, crime, drugs, parenting

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