Background: To explore whether social or emotional outcomes for high-risk early adolescent youth that attended an established preventive intervention called the Chicago Child-Parent Center Preschool Program (CPC) are moderated by individual, family and program variations. Purpose: Two questions are addressed: (1) Do the effects of CPC preschool participation on early adolescent social and emotional competency vary by sex of child, family risk status, parent education and family structure? (2) Do estimated effects on early adolescent social and emotional competency vary by program length in the preschool and school-age components of the program? Programme description: Located in or close to elementary schools in the Chicago public school system, the CPC program provides educational and family-support services to children between the ages of 3 and 9 (preschool to 2nd or 3rd grade). Within a structure of comprehensive services similar to Head Start, the intervention emphasises the acquisition of basic skills in language arts and math through relatively structured but diverse learning experiences that include teacher-directed, whole-class instruction, small-group and individualised activities, and frequent field trips. Sample: Data for this investigation were drawn from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS). The CLS follows a cohort of 1539 disadvantaged, minority children (93% African-American, 7% Latino or Other) who were born in 1980 and attended kindergarten programs within the Chicago Public School System in 1985/86. Out of the full sample of 1539, a subset of 989 children (64% of the sample) received preschool services from one of Chicago's 20 Child-Parent Center (CPC) programs. An additional set of 550 children (36% of the sample) did not attend CPC preschool and serve as a non-CPC comparison group. The study sample are 1378 primarily African-American youth who participated in the CLS and had scores for two or more identifiable social and emotional competency indicators by age 15. Design and methods: Follow-up of a non-randomised alternative intervention matched-group cohort at age 15 years. Differential effects were estimated using multiple regression. Program interaction terms (e.g., programsex or programparent high school graduate) were added to the basic regression model specification that already included the main effects of each variable included in the interaction. Results: Some 12% (or 11 of 92) of the interaction terms for social and emotional outcomes by age 15 were significant at the 0.01 or 0.05 level. The most frequently detected differential effects were for family risk level (high or low) and sex of child. Conclusions: Most children appear to benefit equally from participation in the CPC program. The prediction from ecological theory that children experiencing a large number of environmental risk factors (e.g., high family risk status and low parental education levels) are more likely to benefit from program participation was supported.
- Early childhood intervention
- Preschool longitudinal design
- Social and emotional development