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January 1987

Targeted Early Childhood Programming: The Promise Half Fulfilled

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital, Boston (Dr Palfrey); the Brookline (Mass) Early Education Project (Dr Walker and Ms Sullivan); and Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill (Dr Levine).

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(1):55-59. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460010055023

• A group of 169 children was followed up from birth to second grade in a community-based early identification and early intervention project. Periodic assessments of health and function yielded profiles of concerns. Over the first five years of life, 39% of the children had health concerns, 20% had cognitive concerns, 25% had motor concerns, 15% had social adjustment problems, and 12% had early attentional problems. Children at the highest risk of having reading and behavioral problems in second grade were those with early attentional disability. At the second-grade level, 31% of the children with early attention concerns were one full grade behind in reading and 38% had behavioral problems; among the youngsters without early attentional concerns, 6% demonstrated a reading delay and 8% had behavioral problems. In addition, children of highly educated mothers were more likely to benefit from the multidisciplinary program than were children of less educated mothers, for whom the intervention effected only a modest improvement when contrasted with randomly selected comparison children. For instance, among children with early cognitive problems and whose mothers had little education, 31% of these children had reading problems in second grade as opposed to 10% of those whose mothers had high educational attainment. Similarly, 39% of children with the combined risks of low maternal education and early attentional problems had reading problems in second grade compared with none of the attention-problem children of highly educated mothers. This study shows that while early identification of health and developmental problems can be carried out in a community-based project, strategies for the early intervention of developmental concerns among children of low socioeconomic status remain less than completely effective.

(AJDC 1987;141:55-59)

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