To cut crime, raise education and income levels, and reduce addiction rates among the poor, no program offers more bang for the buck than preschool, as a new study published in Science demonstrates.
The long-term study followed 1,539 children born in 1979-80. They lived in the lowest-income neighborhoods of Chicago, where nearly 40% of residents live below the poverty line; most of the children were African American. More than 950 of the families in the study participated in Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program, the second oldest federally funded preschool program in the country, which focuses on school-readiness, including listening skills and math and reading preparation. The kids who attended preschool started at age 3-4. Their parents were actively involved in the program. The rest of the kids in the study did not attend preschool but participated in full-day kindergarten.
After tracking the children to age 28, researchers found that those who had attended preschool were 28% less likely to develop alcohol or other drug problems or to wind up in jail or prison in adulthood, compared with kids who did not go to preschool. What’s more, their odds of being arrested for a felony were cut by 22% and they were 24% more likely to attend a four-year college. Incomes in adulthood of those who attended preschool were also higher than those for the children who did not.
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Author: Maia Szalavitz
Photo by: Anissa Thompson Link