Program Goals/Program Theory
Child–Parent Center (CPC) is a school- and family-based early intervention program that provides comprehensive educational and family support services to economically and educationally disadvantaged children. The CPC program was established in Chicago, Ill., in 1967 and was funded through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It is the second-oldest publicly funded preschool (after Head Start). The ultimate goal of the CPC program is to enhance school success, social competence, economic self-sufficiency, and general health.
The theoretical foundation of the program emphasizes three main points: 1) a stable learning environment with systematic language learning activities will promote scholastic development; 2) parent involvement in a child’s education will enhance parent–child interactions and attachment to school; and 3) early efforts designed to prevent delinquency are more effective than programs targeting teenagers.
The CPC preschool program is 3 hours daily, for 5 days a week. The program also provides support during the transition to school with a ½-day or all-day kindergarten, and some services in elementary school. Centers are located in or close to an elementary school and follow the 9-month school year calendar, with the addition of a summer program. Classrooms are small and include low child-to-staff ratios (17:2 in preschool, 25:2 in kindergarten and elementary school). The program includes 1) activities designed to promote academic and social success, 2) a parent program to promote involvement in school, 3) outreach activities including home visitation, and 4) a comprehensive program to aid in the transition into elementary school.
The classroom teacher runs all classes and family services. Most of the family services are focused on increasing involvement in the child’s education at home and in school. Throughout the program, three central features are emphasized: 1) the provision of comprehensive services, 2) parental involvement in school to enhance parent–child interactions and attachment to school, and 3) a child-centered, basic reading and math skills concentration characterized by small class sizes and a high number of adult supervisors to promote individualized attention.
Parental involvement is an underpinning of the program; each parent is required to spend at least a ½-day per week in the center during preschool and kindergarten. Parental involvement can be in the form of acting as a classroom aide, accompanying field trips, using the parent-resource room, participating in reading groups with other parents, or taking trips to the library with teachers or children. The parent program also includes parenting training, home visits, health and nutrition services, and sponsors continuing education courses for parents.
All classroom teachers have bachelor’s degrees and are certified in early childhood education. In addition to the classroom teacher, each center has a head teacher who acts as a principal, two coordinators, a Parent–Resources Teacher who supervises the parent program, a Curriculum–Parent Resource Teacher who organizes the activities of the parent program, and a School–Community Representative who coordinates the outreach activities.
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Reynolds and Ou (2011) found that at about age 24, participants who attended the Child–Parent Center were significantly less likely to have a felony arrest, compared with the control group (9.90 percent versus 14.47 percent). The treatment group was also less likely than the control group to have been convicted of a crime, though the difference between the groups was not significant (15.29 percent versus 19.66 percent). The treatment group was significantly less likely than the control group to have been incarcerated or jailed (14.79 percent versus 19.80 percent).
Treatment group participants were less likely than control participants to have indicated depressive symptoms, though this difference was not significant (12.82 percent versus 17.41 percent). However participants in the treatment group reported significantly less substance misuse since age 16, compared with the control group (14.31 percent versus 18.80 percent).
Participants in the treatment group completed school at a higher grade level than participants in the control group (11.98 versus 11.68), a significant difference. A significantly higher percentage of the treatment group reported having recent jobs that required moderate to high level of skills, compared with recent jobs held by the control group (28.17 percent versus 21.48 percent). Additionally, treatment group participants were significantly more likely to have health insurance, compared with the control group (71.89 percent versus 60.95 percent).
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