Reynolds leads long-term study supporting importance of early childhood programs
High-quality early education has a strong, positive impact well into adulthood, according to research led by Institute of Child Development professor Arthur Reynolds. The study is the longest follow-up ever of an established large-scale early childhood program.
In "School-based Early Childhood Education and Age 28 Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage, and Subgroups," published in the journal Science, Reynolds and his colleagues report on more than 1,400 individuals whose well-being has been tracked for as much as 25 years. Those who had participated in an early childhood program beginning at age 3 showed higher levels of educational attainment, socioeconomic status, job skills, and health insurance coverage as well as lower rates of substance abuse, felony arrest, and incarceration than those who received the usual early childhood services.
The research focused on participants in the Child-Parent Center Education Program, a publicly funded early childhood development program that begins in preschool and provides up to six years of service in the Chicago public schools. Through the Chicago Longitudinal Study, Reynolds and colleagues have studied the educational and social development of a same-age cohort of low-income, minority children (93 percent African American) who participated in this program.
It is one of the most extensive and comprehensive studies ever undertaken of young children's learning. Reynolds and colleagues have reported on the Chicago individuals starting in preschool, then annually through the school-age years, and periodically through early adulthood.
Reynolds, who is co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative, led the study with Judy Temple, a professor in the University's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.