Friday, March 25, 2011

Duke study: N.C. preschool programs pay off

The nonpartisan Public School Forum of North Carolina pointed our way to a new Duke University study on the value of early childhood programs. The study released March 16 proclaims that "N.C. Investments in Early Childhood Programs Pay Off."

This information comes as N.C. lawmakers consider big cuts to both the state's early childhood programs, More at Four and Smart Start.

According to Duke researchers in a press release, "North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in those counties that had received more funding for Smart Start and More at Four when those children were younger.

"These findings provide the most rigorous evidence yet that investments in these early childhood initiatives generate substantial benefits for all the children in the counties that receive these funds, even children who were never enrolled in the early childhood programs," said Helen Ladd, the Edgar T. Thompson Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and a professor of economics at Duke.

The release said that "for an average third-grade child whose community had received Smart Start or More at Four funding, the expected savings in special education and instructional costs is at least equal to the cost of those programs, researchers said.

"By the time the children grow up, we expect the investment will have yielded large payoffs in lower special education and remedial costs," said Kenneth Dodge, the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy and director of Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy.

Smart Start provides state funds for high-quality child care and services for health, cognitive and social development from birth to age five. It was initiated in 1993 in pilot counties and then expanded statewide by 1999.

More at Four provides funds for high-quality preschool for at-risk four-year-olds. It was first implemented in 2001 in pilot counties and then expanded statewide by 2004. More at Four spending has averaged about $1,250 for every four-year-old child in a county, and Smart Start spending has averaged about $250 per child per year for children ages 0 to 5.

For additional information and to access the full report, click here.


turtle1223 said...

Even more reason to save Smart Start funding for our state's children and families!

Smart Start is more than classroom dollars, it supports services for teachers and parents on a variety of issues- from health related programs to family support to professional development.

Smart Start is an investment we can't afford to lose!

Mac said...

Children will interact with each other while learning to share, take turns, and cooperate through play.

Preschool Reading, MA