Using data collected up to age 26 in the Chicago Longitudinal Study, this cost-benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) is the first for a sustained publicly funded early intervention. The program provides services for low-income families beginning at age 3 in 20 school sites. Kindergarten and school-age services are provided up to age 9 (third grade). Findings from a complete cohort of over 1,400 program and comparison group participants indicated that the CPCs had economic benefits in 2007 dollars that exceeded costs. The preschool program provided a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested (18% annual return). The primary sources of benefits were increased earnings and tax revenues and averted criminal justice system costs. The school-age program had a societal return of $3.97 per dollar invested (10% annual return). Findings provide strong evidence that sustained programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society.
Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., White, B. A. B., Ou, S.-R. and Robertson, D. L. (2011), Age 26 Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program. Child Development, 82: 379–404.