Cost-effective early childhood programs from preschool to third grade

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In recent years, greater attention has been given to promoting child well-being throughout the entire period of early childhood. This review summarizes evidence on the effects and cost effectiveness of early childhood development programs from ages 3 to 9. Participation in preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds has been found to have relatively large and enduring effects on school achievement and child well-being. High-quality programs for children at risk produce strong economic returns ranging from about US$4 per dollar invested to over $16 per dollar invested. Among early school-age programs, preschool combined with school-age interventions are linked to higher levels of well-being. The Child-Parent Center PK-3 Program shows a return of US$6 to US$9 per dollar invested from preschool to third grade. Class-size reductions and social skills training show evidence of positive effects with economic returns of roughly US$3 per dollar invested. Full-day kindergarten, however, has low cost effectiveness. The causal mechanisms and key principles of effectiveness are described to promote enduring effects of early-childhood programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Education
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780080448947
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


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