Having spent many years working with Better Beginnings, Better Futures; Best Start; and many other community based early years intervention initiatives, it’s great to see research on these types of initiatives confirming their long term social and economic benefits.
This analysis was done on programs funded by the PNC Foundation http://www.pnc.com/aboutus/pncfoundation.html. PNC itself is a financial services firm. Cost-benefit is a major emphasis of the study.
From the summary:
“Economic analyses of several early childhood interventions demonstrate that effective programs can repay the initial investment with savings to government and benefits to society down the road.”
“The economic benefits of early childhood interventions are likely to be greater for programs that effectively serve targeted, disadvantaged children than for programs that serve lower-risk children.”
“It is important to acknowledge that our conclusions rest on a solid, but still limited, evidence base. And that evidence base can always be strengthened by further research and evaluation of early childhood intervention programs. Nevertheless, for decisionmakers considering investments in early childhood interventions, our findings indicate that a body of sound research exists that can guide resource allocation decisions.
This evidence base sheds light on the types of programs that have been demonstrated to be effective, the features associated with effective programs, and the potential for returns to society that exceed the resources invested in program delivery. These proven results signal the future promise of investing early in the lives of disadvantaged children.”
* Current issue: http://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/Current/
* This issue:
Early Childhood Interventions: Proven Results, Future Promise
A significant amount of intellectual hand wringing has gone on as of late regarding the nature and importance of early childhood intervention programs. Some have claimed that such programs (including Head Start) are inherently a waste of money, while others tout their apparent ability to increase future educational and life opportunities, particularly for the under-privileged. This intriguing research report from the RAND Corporation, authored by Rebecca Kilburn and Jill Cannon, provides compelling evidence suggesting that well-designed programs for disadvantaged children age four and younger can produce economic benefits that are quite significant. The report contends that high quality early childhood programs can keep children out of expensive special education programs; increase high school graduation rates; reduce juvenile crime, and increase the number of students who go on to college. Stimulating in its approach and its scholarly rigor, this report will be quite useful and helpful to persons interested in such policy issues. [KMG] <>
>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2006.