The Programs We’ve Identified Are Linked Below
Programs identified as having the most credible evidence of effectiveness, based on careful review in consultation with outside experts, are categorized as “Top Tier” or “Near Top Tier” (see sidebar for definitions). The other listed programs have been found promising but not yet Top Tier or Near Top Tier due to study limitations (such as only short-term follow-up) that underscore the need for additional testing prior to larger-scale implementation. As a nonprofit philanthropic foundation, we receive no financial benefit from any program, enabling us to serve as an impartial reviewer of the evidence.
Top Tier Nurse-Family Partnership (A nurse home visitation program for low-income, pregnant women): Randomized controlled trials show major impact on life outcomes of the mothers and their children.
Near Top Tier Child FIRST (A home visitation program for low-income families with young children at risk of emotional, behavioral, or developmental problems, or child maltreatment): Randomized controlled trial shows a sizable reduction in child maltreatment cases, and improvement in child conduct and language development.
Near Top Tier Triple P System (A system of parenting programs for families with children age 0-8): Randomized controlled trial of the system as implemented county-wide, shows sizable reductions in child maltreatment and foster care placement.
Abecedarian Project (High-quality child care/preschool for children from disadvantaged backgrounds): Randomized controlled trial found major impacts on educational and life outcomes; we note, however, that it was a relatively small study that included a departure from random assignment, somewhat reducing confidence in the findings.
Health Care Program for First-Time Adolescent Mothers and their Infants: Randomized controlled trial shows a sizable reduction in subsequent teen pregnancies and increase in rate of child immunizations.
Perry Preschool Project (High-quality preschool for children from disadvantaged backgrounds): Randomized controlled trial shows major impact on educational and life outcomes; we note, however, that this was a demonstration project, and it is not yet known if the results can be replicated on a broader scale in typical classroom settings.
A Pregnant Woman’s Self-Help Guide to Quit Smoking (A low-cost smoking cessation program for pregnant smokers): Randomized controlled trials show a sizable increase in the quit rate during the last four to five months of pregnancy.
Recovery Coaches (Program for substance-abusing parents who have temporarily lost custody of their children): Randomized controlled trial shows a sizable increase in family reunifications, decrease in births of substance-exposed births, and net savings to the state.
Review of the Evidence: Do Early Childhood Intervention Programs Really Work?