Child-Parent Centers

Program basics

  • Provides both preschool and comprehensive support to low-income children and families
  • Features small class sizes, free breakfast and lunch, and health screenings
  • Classes are held in the elementary school building that students will eventually attend
  • Parents are required to participate in school-based activities at least a half a day per week
  • Staff conducts home visits and helps families connect to social services

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps; the second-highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice


Target population

Preschool-aged children

Program cost

$5,600 per child per year

Implementation locations

  • Several sites in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota

Dates active

1967–present

Outcomes and impact

  • Improves cognitive skills, socioemotional development, reading, and math skills
  • Reduces grade retention and special education usage
  • Improves likelihood of postsecondary degree attainment
  • Yields $10.83 in societal benefits per dollar spent

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This section is under review
  • Build close, high-engagement relationships with parents by including parents as teaching aides, chaperones, and in extra curricular activities. Parents must commit 2.5 hours of weekly involvement.
  • Make adult education available to teach remedial academic skills and parenting techniques.
  • Hold Pre-K in the same school building as K-3 to give children a smooth transition between grades
  • Carry out programming through a collaborative team consisting of three vital leadership roles: A Head Teacher, who managers the curriculum and teaching; a Parent Resource Teacher who coordinates with parents and oversees all parent education; and a School Community Representative responsible for recruitment, enrollment, and attendance

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