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Early Educational Intervention, Early Cumulative Risk, and the Early Home Environment as Predictors of Young Adult Outcomes Within a High-Risk Sample


  • This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD040817), the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (6 R40 MC 00254, 6 R40 00067), the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (R306F960201), and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. The authors also wish to thank Katherine Polk, the study’s project coordinator, and Carrie Bynum, the study’s family coordinator, for their tireless efforts, without which this work could not have been completed. Our extreme gratitude also goes out to the families who have participated in this work over these many years.

concerning this article should be addressed to Elizabeth P. Pungello, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, Campus Box 3270, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8180. Electronic mail may be sent to


The extent to which early educational intervention, early cumulative risk, and the early home environment were associated with young adult outcomes was investigated in a sample of 139 young adults (age 21) from high-risk families enrolled in randomized trials of early intervention. Positive effects of treatment were found for education attainment, attending college, and skilled employment; negative effects of risk were found for education attainment, graduating high school, being employed, and avoiding teen parenthood. The home mediated the effects of risk for graduating high school, but not being employed for teen parenthood. Evidence for moderated mediation was found for educational attainment; the home mediated the association between risk and educational attainment for the control group, but not the treated group.