Benefits of the Comprehensive Child Development Program as a Function of AFDC Receipt and SES


  • Carey S. Ryan,

  • Robert B. McCall,

  • Debbie R. Robinson,

  • Christina J. Groark,

  • Laurie Mulvey,

  • Bradford W. Plemons


The benefits for children at the Pittsburgh site of the federal Comprehensive Child Development Program (CCDP) were examined as a function of family welfare status (Aid to Families with Dependent Children; AFDC) and SES. The CCDP was the largest attempt by the federal government to provide two-generation, case-managed, comprehensive services to low-income families. Participating families could set their own goals and choose services to achieve them, but relatively few services were directed specifically at children. Results showed that more Pittsburgh families in the CCDP treatment group (N= 120) left AFDC than in the control group (N= 120), consistent with results from a national evaluation of the CCDP. Children whose families were on AFDC regardless of treatment group had lower mental test scores, even after controlling for family SES, a result suggesting that AFDC receipt over and above income level was associated with poorer child mental performance. The CCDP was associated with higher children’s mental scores plus improvements over time in achievement scores only for children in families who were not on AFDC, even after controlling for SES. Such parents were more likely to choose parenting and child goals and services, which in turn were associated with higher child mental scores. In contrast, parents who were on AFDC tended to choose adult-centered goals and services, which did not benefit children. Therefore, in contrast to the national evaluation, which found no benefits of the CCDP for children, these analyses showed that the CCDP did produce benefits for children whose parents were not on AFDC, who tended to choose parenting and child services.