A Comprehensive, Multisystemic Early Childhood Program and Obesity at Age 37 Years

Arthur J. Reynolds, Lauren Eales, Suh Ruu Ou, Christina F. Mondi, Alison Giovanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-640
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number6
Early online dateMar 22 2021
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support: Preparation of this article was supported by grant R01HD034294 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, grant OPP1173152 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, grant 00039202 from the National Science Foundation, and a grant from the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being.

Funding Information:
The program was developed in response to three major problems facing Chicago schools: low rates of attendance, family disengagement with schools, and low student achievement.8,9 The conceptual foundation is that well-being is a product of proximal and distal influences at multiple levels of contexts (individual, family, school, community) experienced during the entire early childhood period (ages 3 to 9). Although CPC began as a comprehensive preschool program, children received continuing services in kindergarten and the early grades the following year, resulting in the preschool to 3rd grade program that it is today. The program was modified as a school reform model in 2012 as part of expansion in and outside of Chicago funded by the U. S. Department of Education. Six core elements are implemented; effective learning experiences, collaborative leadership, aligned curriculum, parent involvement and engagement, professional development, and continuity and stability.10 At present, there are 19 centers in Chicago. CPC provides comprehensive, multi-systemic services in education and schooling, family support, health, and community outreach.8-10 Under the direction of the Head Teacher at each site and in collaboration with the Principal, CPC enhances school readiness and achievement, promotes parent involvement and engagement in the school and community, and enhances socio-emotional learning with an emphasis on self-control, self-efficacy, and personal responsibility. Breakfasts and lunches are provided, school nurses work with families on site, and referrals to health centers, speech therapy and other supports are provided. CPCs are in a stand-alone school or center in which all children receive services. After a part-day program (3 hours, 5 days per week) at ages 3 and/or 4 in small classes with child-teacher ratios of 17:2, the K–3rd components provide reduced class sizes (maximum of 25), teacher aides for each class, health services, continued parent involvement opportunities, and enriched classroom environments for strengthening language and literacy, math, science, and social-emotional learning. To promote wholistic well-being, including physical health, each center has a parent resource room and family program run by the Parent-Resource Teacher in collaboration with the School-Community Representative. The later conducts home visits, engages parents in the school, mobilizes resources in the community and provides referrals to health, employment and job training, and related services. Parent workshops and trainings are a predominant element of the program, and they most frequently include child development, health literacy, nutrition, financial literacy, and personal development topics. GED courses are often provided on site and parents volunteer in the classroom and in community organizations. Given the physically located resource room in the centers, peer support among parents and family members is another key feature. Based on the goals and foci of the program, participants’ experiences, and impacts to date,8-13 the program is expected to promote healthy body mass and reduce obesity over the life course through enhancing for mechanisms of change: a. educational success and attainment b. self-control and self-efficacy behaviors c. health literacy and practices d. social support and engagement.

Funding Information:
grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, The Boedecker Foundation, National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Institute of Mental Health outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

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