Investing in Our Children

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

Lynn A. Karoly
Peter W. Greenwood
Susan S. Everingham
Jill Houbé
M. Rebecca Kilburn
C. Peter Rydell
Matthew Sanders
James Chiesa
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 182
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr898tcwf
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  • Book Info
    Investing in Our Children
    Book Description:

    There is increasing evidence that the first few years after birth are particularly important in child development and present opportunities for enrichment but also vulnerabilities do to poverty and other social stressors. Elected officials have begun proposing potentially costly programs to intervene early in the lives of disadvantaged children. Have such interventions been demonstrated to yield substantial benefits? To what extent might they pay for themselves through lower welfare and criminal justice costs incurred by participating children as they grow into adults? This study synthesizes the results of a number of previous evaluations in an effort to answer those questions. Conclusions are that under carefully controlled conditions, early childhood interventions can yield substantial advantages to recipients in terms of emotional and cognitive development, education, economic well-being, and health. (The latter two benefits apply to the children's families as well.) If these interventions can be duplicated on a large scale, the costs of the programs could be exceeded by subsequent savings to the government. However, the more carefully the interventions are targeted to children most likely to benefit, the more likely it is that savings will exceed costs. Unfortunately, these conclusions rest on only a few methodologically sound studies. The authors argue for broader demonstrations accompanied by rigorous evaluations to resolve several important unknowns. These include the most efficient ways to design and target programs, the extent to which effectiveness is lost on scale-up, and the implications of welfare reform and other safety net changes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4326-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    Over the last year or so, there has been a renewed interest in the importance of early childhood, especially the first 3 years of life. Public attention has been stimulated by cover stories in national news magazines (Nash, 1997, and a special edition ofNewsweek, Spring/Summer 1997), a 1997 White House conference on early childhood development, and an ABC television special sponsored by the “I Am Your Child” Early Childhood Public Engagement Campaign. These recent efforts continue earlier initiatives that highlighted the need to understand and enhance early childhood development (see, for example, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1994...

  9. Chapter Two TARGETED EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMS AND THEIR BENEFITS
    (pp. 11-72)

    In this chapter, we assemble the evidence regarding the benefits of targeted early childhood intervention for program participants. We do this principally by reviewing the evolution of targeted early intervention programs from the initial efforts in the 1960s to the present, highlighting the findings from formal evaluations of several of the most noteworthy programs. We conclude by summarizing the evidence available across programs.

    Early intervention as we know it today is the consequence of over 300 years of social, political, and academic influences. Many of the fundamental theories upon which today’s interventions are founded have their origins in early concepts...

  10. Chapter Three COMPARING COSTS, SAVINGS, AND BENEFITS
    (pp. 73-104)

    Up to this point, we have examined the effects of early childhood intervention programs in terms of the benefits produced for children and their families. Some people may think that those benefits are enough to justify public expenditures on such programs. Others may appreciate the benefits to disadvantaged children but may be reluctant to raise their tax burden to accomplish such goals or may wish, at least, for broader favorable ramifications from an investment of public funds. In this chapter, we discuss some of these broader ramifications and show how some publicly funded early interventions may yield monetary returns in...

  11. Chapter Four ISSUES RELEVANT TO INVESTMENT DECISIONS
    (pp. 105-122)

    This chapter summarizes the findings of the previous chapters and outlines their implications for future research and for policy. So far, we have shown that early intervention programs can improve childhood development and maternal well-being and may generate future savings that more than offset their costs. While these results are encouraging for policymakers considering future investments in targeted early intervention programs, they are based on a limited number of mostly smaller-scale demonstration programs implemented up to three decades ago. These limitations raise the following issues, which remain to be addressed:

    The optimal design of programs in terms of the services...

  12. Appendix A CALCULATION OF THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF THE ELMIRA PRENATAL/EARLY INFANCY PROJECT
    (pp. 123-136)
  13. Appendix B CALCULATION OF THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF THE PERRY PRESCHOOL
    (pp. 137-142)
  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 143-160)