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School-Based Early Childhood Education and Age-28 Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage, and Subgroups

Science  15 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6040, pp. 360-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.1203618

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Abstract

Advances in understanding the effects of early education have benefited public policy and developmental science. Although preschool has demonstrated positive effects on life-course outcomes, limitations in knowledge on program scale, subgroup differences, and dosage levels have hindered understanding. We report the effects of the Child-Parent Center Education Program on indicators of well-being up to 25 years later for more than 1400 participants. This established, publicly funded intervention begins in preschool and provides up to 6 years of service in inner-city Chicago schools. Relative to the comparison group receiving the usual services, program participation was independently linked to higher educational attainment, income, socioeconomic status (SES), and health insurance coverage, as well as lower rates of justice-system involvement and substance abuse. Evidence of enduring effects was strongest for preschool, especially for males and children of high school dropouts. The positive influence of four or more years of service was limited primarily to education and SES. Dosage within program components was mostly unrelated to outcomes. Findings demonstrate support for the enduring effects of sustained school-based early education to the end of the third decade of life.

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