Age 26 Cost–Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program


  • Preparation of this report was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant R01HD034294). We are grateful to the Chicago Public Schools, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, for cooperation in data collection, access, and processing and to the following departments of the State of Illinois: Employment Security, Child and Family Services, Human Services, Public Health, Corrections, and Board of Education. We also thank the Juvenile and Circuit Courts of Cook County, and the City Colleges of Chicago for cooperation in data collection and processing. Finally, we thank the Health Survey Research Center at the University of Minnesota for assistance in data collection and tracking.

concerning this article should be addressed to Arthur J. Reynolds, Institute of Child Development, 51 East River Road, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Electronic mail may be sent to or


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). The extended intervention program (4–6 years) had a societal return of $8.24 (18% annual return). Estimates were robust across a wide range of analyses including Monte Carlo simulations. Males, 1-year preschool participants, and children from higher risk families derived greater benefits. Findings provide strong evidence that sustained programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society.