EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTION: Study Documents Benefits
"Spending money for infants and young children from disadvantaged families makes social and economic sense," according to a new study by the RAND institute. The study, sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation, looked at health outcomes, as well as emotional development, educational achievement, earnings potential and arrest rates. The Fresno Bee reports that the study focused on "early childhood interventions" for children and their mothers in "programs in Fresno and across the country." It found that "[c]hildren taking part in the programs were better off than children without the programs." Among the two "standouts" identified by the study was the Elmira Prenatal and Early Infancy Project in New York. That "program sends nurses and other helpers to disadvantaged mothers." The study found children participating in the program had a 56% reduction in "hospital emergency department visits for injuries," and that mothers participating in the program had a "25% reduction in cigarette smoking during pregnancy," a "25% reduction in ... incidence of high blood pressure," and a "43% drop in mothers' subsequent pregnancies." The study also found a "45-month reduction in use of public assistance for children by the children's 15th birthday."
The Bee reports that the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program being run by the Fresno County Health Department is modeled after the Elmira program. The "program has four public health nurses helping 100 women with their first pregnancies." The "[n]urses visit pregnant women once a week for the first month and then twice a week until birth." After the child is born, "they visit once a week for six weeks followed by twice a month until toddlers turn 21 months." After that, the visits "decrease to once a month until the child turns 2" (Steinberg, 4/23).