Investing in Our Children: What We Know and Don't Know about the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions

Investing in Our Children: What We Know and Don't Know about the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions

Investing in Our Children: What We Know and Don't Know about the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions

Investing in Our Children: What We Know and Don't Know about the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions

Synopsis

The authors find that well-targeted early intervention programs for at-risk children, such as nurse home visits to first-time mothers and high-quality preschool education, can yield substantial advantages to participants in terms of emotional and cognitive development, education, economic well-being and health.

Excerpt

Around the beginning of 1997, RAND was approached by the "I Am Your Child" Early Childhood Public Engagement Campaign to conduct an independent, objective review of the scientific evidence available on early childhood interventions. "Early childhood interventions" were defined as attempts by government agencies or other organizations to improve child health and development, educational attainment, and economic well-being. The aim was to quantify the benefits of these programs to children, their parents, and society at large. Funding for the project was secured from The California Wellness Foundation.

RAND's Criminal Justice Program and Labor and Population Program established an interdisciplinary research team including two economists, a criminologist, two mathematical modelers, and a developmental pediatrician. As the project evolved, it became convenient to separate the benefits being examined into two large categories: benefits to the children and parents participating in the programs, and benefits by way of eventual savings to the government (and therefore society in general) from reduced levels of socialservice expenditures on participants following the end of the programs. For ease of reference, the first class is typically called "benefits" in this report and the second class, "savings." Savings are compared with program costs.

This study was one of Peter Rydell's last projects at RAND. Peter, who was largely responsible for Chapter Three, died in October 1997. Peter's clear, rigorous approach to the analysis of societal costs . . .

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