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Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health
Campbell, Frances A., 28 March, 2014
Science, 343(6178), 1478-1485

High-quality early childhood programs have been shown to have substantial benefits in reducing crime, raising earnings, and promoting education. Much less is known about their benefits for adult health. We report on the long-term health effects of one of the oldest and most heavily cited early childhood interventions with long-term follow-up evaluated by the method of randomization: the Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC). Using recently collected biomedical data, we find that disadvantaged children randomly assigned to treatment have significantly lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in their mid-30s. The evidence is especially strong for males. The mean systolic blood pressure among the control males is 143 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), whereas it is only 126 mm Hg among the treated. One in four males in the control group is affected by metabolic syndrome, whereas none in the treatment group are affected. To reach these conclusions, we address several statistical challenges. We use exact permutation tests to account for small sample sizes and conduct a parallel bootstrap confidence interval analysis to confirm the permutation analysis. We adjust inference to account for the multiple hypotheses tested and for nonrandom attrition. Our evidence shows the potential of early life interventions for preventing disease and promoting health. (author abstract)

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The effect of Early Head Start on child welfare system involvement: A first look at longitudinal child maltreatment outcomes
Green, Beth L., 2014
Children and Youth Services Review, (), 1-42

The high societal and personal costs of child maltreatment make identification of effective early prevention programs a high research priority. Early Head Start (EHS), a dual generational program serving low-income families with children prenatally through age three years, is one of the largest federally funded programs for infants and toddlers in the United States. A national randomized trial found EHS to be effective in improving parent and child outcomes, but its effectiveness in reducing child maltreatment was not assessed. The current study used administrative data from state child welfare agencies to examine the impact of EHS on documented abuse and neglect among children from seven of the original seventeen programs in the national EHS randomized controlled trial. Results indicated that children in EHS had significantly fewer child welfare encounters between the ages of five and nine years than did children in the control group, and that EHS slowed the rate of subsequent encounters. Additionally, compared to children in the control group, children in EHS were less likely to have a substantiated report of physical or sexual abuse, but more likely to have a substantiated report of neglect. These findings suggest that EHS may be effective in reducing child maltreatment among low-income children, in particular, physical and sexual abuse. (author abstract)

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Is universal child care leveling the playing field?
Havnes, Tarjei, November, 2012
(CESifo Working Paper No. 4014). Munich, Germany: CESifo.

Many developed countries currently consider a move towards a universal child care program. The challenge in assessing the case for universal child care programs is that the evidence base is scarce. We analyze the staged expansion of subsidized, universally accessible child care in Norway. Our approach differs from existing literature which estimate mean impacts of universal child care programs; in contrast, we use non-linear difference-in-differences methods to estimate quantile treatment effects, showing how the child care expansion affected the earnings distribution of exposed children as adults. We complement these estimates with local linear regressions of the child care effects by family income. Our findings suggest that the effects of child care vary systematically across the earnings distribution, that the mean impact misses a lot, and that children of low income parents seem to be the primary beneficiaries of subsidized child care. These findings are important when considering the case for universal child care programs, since the benefits of providing subsidized child care to middle and upper-class children are unlikely to exceed the costs. To help understand the differential effects on earnings, we examine how the child care expansion affected the educational trajectories and cognitive test scores of the exposed children. (author abstract)

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Making Maine work: Investment in young children = real economic development
Maine Development Foundation, January, 2012
Augusta, ME: Maine Development Foundation.

An overview of the long-term benefits of high-quality early care and education, and recommendations to improve the early care and education offerings in Maine

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Making Maine work: Investment in young children = real economic development [Executive summary]
Maine Development Foundation, January, 2012
Augusta, ME: Maine Development Foundation.

A summary of an overview of the long-term benefits of high-quality early care and education, and recommendations to improve the early care and education offerings in Maine

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The short- and long-term impacts of large public early care and education programs
United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, March, 2014
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

Research consistently finds that high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs promote children's school readiness and other positive outcomes. This brief describes what's known about the short- and long-term impacts of large public (i.e., at-scale) ECE programs in the United States for children prior to kindergarten entry--including what key features of programs lead to the best outcomes, and how to sustain program benefits as children grow older. This brief does not include the many smaller ECE programs, including model or demonstration programs in the U.S. and abroad, that have also been evaluated; please see other reports for information on the short- and long-term impacts of these programs. (author abstract)

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Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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