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Early-Childhood Program Benefits Minority Children

Improved life outcomes seen in children who participated in comprehensive program

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Low-income minority children who participate in a comprehensive, school-based early-childhood intervention may be more likely to stay in school and less likely to become criminals, according to a study published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Arthur J. Reynolds, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues studied 1,539 children who attended the comprehensive Child-Parent Center programs in Chicago between 1985 and 1986, and 550 controls who participated in alternative full-day kindergarten programs. Subjects were tracked through age 24.

Compared to controls, the researchers found that Child-Parent Center participants were more likely to finish high school (71.4 percent versus 63.7 percent), attend four-year colleges (14.7 percent versus 10 percent) and have health insurance (70.2 percent versus 61.5 percent). They also found that Child-Parent Center participants were less likely to be arrested for a felony (16.5 percent versus 21.1 percent) or incarcerated (20.6 percent versus 25.6 percent).

The findings "prove that a well-designed and well-executed early-childhood education program can make a significant difference in the life outcomes of children from low-income households," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "They also show that no single intervention is enough: good early-childhood education needs to be accompanied by (among other things) adequate health care and needs to be followed by quality K-through-12 education."

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