Effects of a School-Based, Early Childhood Intervention on Adult Health and Well-being: A 19-Year Follow-up of Low-Income Families | Pediatrics | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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August 2007

Effects of a School-Based, Early Childhood Intervention on Adult Health and Well-being: A 19-Year Follow-up of Low-Income Families

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Institute of Child Development (Drs Reynolds and Ou), Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs (Dr Temple), and Department of Applied Economics (Dr Temple), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Dr Robertson); School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Drs Mersky and Topitzes); and School of Social Work, Arizona State University, Phoenix (Dr Niles).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(8):730-739. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.8.730

Objective  To determine the effects of an established preventive intervention on the health and well-being of an urban cohort in young adulthood.

Design  Follow-up of a nonrandomized alternative-intervention matched-group cohort at age 24 years.

Setting  Chicago, Illinois.

Participants  A total of 1539 low-income participants who enrolled in the Child-Parent Center program in 20 sites or in an alternative kindergarten intervention.

Interventions  The Child-Parent Center program provides school-based educational enrichment and comprehensive family services from preschool to third grade.

Main Outcome Measures  Educational attainment, adult arrest and incarceration, health status and behavior, and economic well-being.

Results  Relative to the comparison group and adjusted for many covariates, Child-Parent Center preschool participants had higher rates of school completion (63.7% vs 71.4%, respectively; P = .01) and attendance in 4-year colleges as well as more years of education. They were more likely to have health insurance coverage (61.5% vs 70.2%, respectively; P = .005). Preschool graduates relative to the comparison group also had lower rates of felony arrests (16.5% vs 21.1%, respectively; P = .02), convictions, incarceration (20.6% vs 25.6%, respectively; P = .03), depressive symptoms (12.8% vs 17.4%, respectively; P=.06), and out-of-home placement. Participation in both preschool and school-age intervention relative to the comparison group was associated with higher rates of full-time employment (42.7% vs 36.4%, respectively; P = .04), higher levels of educational attainment, lower rates of arrests for violent offenses, and lower rates of disability.

Conclusions  Participation in a school-based intervention beginning in preschool was associated with a wide range of positive outcomes. Findings provide evidence that established early education programs can have enduring effects on general well-being into adulthood.