Success in Early Intervention: The Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Success in Early Intervention: The Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Success in Early Intervention: The Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Success in Early Intervention: The Chicago Child-Parent Centers


This book is a valuable source of information on the long-term effects of early intervention programs on the education of children living in economically disadvantaged areas and in other contexts. Early intervention programs such as Head Start enjoy popular and legislative support, but until now, policymakers and practitioners have lacked hard data on the long-term consequences of such locally and federally mandated efforts.

Success in Early Intervention focuses on the Child-Parent Center (CPC) program in Chicago, the second oldest (after Head Start) federally funded early childhood intervention program. Begun in 1967, the program currently operates out of twenty-four centers, which are located in proximity to the elementary schools they serve. The CPC program's unique features include mandatory parental involvement and a single, sustained educational system that spans preschool through the third grade.

Central to this study is a 1986 cohort of nearly twelve hundred CPC children and a comparison group of low income children whose subsequent activities, challenges, and achievements are followed through the age of fifteen. The lives of these children amply demonstrate the positive long-term educational and social consequences of the CPC program.


Unlike most other social programs begun during the War on Poverty era, early childhood education today has widespread support from all levels of government and from the public at large. The nation's commitment to early childhood intervention is manifested by the substantial increases; in funding for preschool programs at the state and local levels, by their high priority in school reforms, and by the sentiment embodied in the first national education goal that all children will start school ready to learn. Yet it is also true that the scientific evidence concerning the long-term effects of large-scale early interventions does not match the overwhelming support it engenders. After three decades of programs and opportunities for research, this limited evidence base is unfortunate.

This volume helps to correct that state of affairs. I report on the effects of participation in the Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program up to age 15 for over 1,100 low-income, mostly African-American children growing up in high-poverty central city neighborhoods. The CPC program is a federally and state-funded early childhood educational intervention for children in the Chicago Public Schools who are at risk for academic underachievement due to poverty and associated factors. Since 1967, the CPCs have provided educational and family support services from preschool to the early elementary grades for up to 6 years of continuous intervention. Little known outside of Chicago, the CPC program is the second oldest (after Project Head Start) federally funded early childhood intervention for economically disadvantaged children. It is the oldest extended early childhood intervention program and one of only a few such . . .

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