Young children gather around a teacher, who is reading a book

High-quality early childhood education

Exploring and expanding the potential of a program that works

Research for several decades has shown that high-quality early education programs improve school readiness and other factors that reduce the gap in achievement for children in low-income and high- poverty areas.

One program that has shown success is the Child-Parent Center (CPC) program, which began in Chicago in 1967. CPC provides small classes, intensive learning experiences, menu-based parent involvement, and professional development for staff, giving children a strong, continuous system of educational and family support.

Longitudinal studies have found that CPC participants continue to reap the benefits from the program far into adulthood: they complete more education, get better jobs, attain higher incomes, and experience lower rates of incarceration. Measured in dollars, cost-benefit analysis by Federal Reserve researchers has shown a return of $8 to $11 per dollar invested in the program, among the highest of any social program.

Institute of Child Development professor Arthur Reynolds has been leading research on the impact of CPC and is now working to expand the program into more states, including Minnesota. Rigorous studies are showing that CPC leads to higher scores on school readiness measures, fewer absences, and higher levels of parent involvement—with results strong enough to garner publication in prestigious journals including Pediatrics and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Read more about Arthur Reynolds and the CPC expansion project.

Return to “What we’re learning about gaps.”

Story by Gayla Marty and Cassandra Francisco | Graphicstock photo | Spring/Summer 2018