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Chicago Child Parent Center

The Chicago Child-Parent Center study was conducted in over twenty schools nationwide. The study hypothesized that the benefits of early intervention could be particularly sustained if high-quality services were provided for not just the child, but also the parent. The overall benefits of these resources were astounding, with significant benefits for both individual children and their families as a whole.
The Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) program aimed to provide high quality early intervention services that enriched both children and their families. Their goal was to provide lasting benefits for all involved, similar to those derived from the Abecedarian and High/Scope Perry Preschool studies. Furthermore, this program expanded upon the research of the two previous studies by supplying services for some participants until each child reached the age of nine. Thus, researchers hoped to determine at what stages educational intervention seems most beneficial.

Experimental Method:
The Chicago Child-Parent Center study was a longitudinal study that followed the progress of 989 children enrolled in twenty-four preschools in low-income areas between the years of 1983 to 1986. The resources provided by the CPC program entailed extensive family-support services including parent workshops, one-on-one meetings with teachers, and compulsory classroom volunteer time. Comprehensive educational services, health care, and free meals were provided to each student enrolled from ages three through nine. Their results were compared to 550 same-aged peers from similar socio-economic backgrounds enrolled in other preschool programs throughout the area.

Economic Benefits and CostsResults:
The results of this study were congruent with previous findings such as those found on behalf of the Abecedarian study and the High/Scope Perry Preschool study. Overall, students enrolled in the CPC study had a 29% higher graduation rate from high school, a 41% reduction in enrollment in special education, a 33% lower rate of juvenile arrest, a 42% lower rate of arrest for a violent offense, and a 51% reduction in child maltreatment.

All of this data confirms that the benefits far outweigh the costs. For every $6,730 required to invest in each child the rewards equate to $47,759 for each participant. In purely economic rewards, $7.10 was returned to society for every dollar invested in a child. These monetary benefits were found in increased tax revenues, reduced criminal justice system expenditures, and savings on school remedial services.

This study truly hones in on the economic incentive for investing in high-quality early childhood intervention. For the 1,000 children who enrolled in the program from 1983 to 1986 alone, $26 million was generated. Furthermore, because the CPC program has continued, over 100,000 children have benefitted from its services, leading to $2.6 billion in public savings.

For more on why early intervention makes sense economically please see our summary of "The Economic Argument."

Sources Cited:
Mann, E., Reynolds, A., Robertson, D., and Temple, J. “Age 21 Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Title I Chicago Child-Parent Center Program.” JAMA. 2001; 285:2339-2346. < http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/cls/cbaexecsum4.html>

Reynolds, A. J. and Ou, S.R. “Paths of Effects From Preschool to Adult Well-Being: A Confirmatory Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Program.“ Child Development, (2011) 82: 555–582.  < http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01562.x/pdf>

— Prepared by Ashlin Orr, Kinder Institute Intern, 2011-12.