Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Effectiveness of Infant and Early Childhood Programs

Topic Editor: Sue Goode

Most recent additions to this page under Economic Impacts

  • Starting Early: Education from Prekindergarten to Third Grade, The Future of Children, Fall 2016 - This issue of The Future of Children reviews the evidence on pre-K effectiveness, looks at a number of significant questions that remain, and provides recommendations for what can be done to ensure that children retain the benefits of pre-K through the early elementary grades. One article of special interest for the early intervention/early childhood special education community is Supporting Young Children with Disabilities, by Kathy Hebbeler and Donna Spiker, co-directors of the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy).
  • It's Time for an Ambitious National Investment in America's Children (April 2016) Economic Policy Institute - This report describes how an ambitious investment in young children, their parents, and the early childhood workforce could have far-reaching benefits for children, families, society, and the economy. It looks at how early childhood programs could address two major weaknesses in the current U.S. economy: income inequality and a slowdown in productivity growth. It also finds that high-quality child care is currently out of reach for many families in the U.S., not just low-income families.
Photograph: A child care worker reads to a group of preschoolers. (Photograph by Alex Lazara)

In recent decades, research on the effectiveness of early childhood interventions has shifted from asking "Are early education programs effective?" to "How are certain elements of programs effective, in what ways, and for which children?" Research on the economics of early childhood interventions has shifted from asking "Are early education programs economically efficient?" to "How can programs produce the greatest benefits at the lowest cost?" The initiatives and research studies in this section address the following types of questions:

  • What types of outcomes can be expected from early intervention and early childhood programs?
  • How can these outcomes be measured?
  • Are these outcomes being achieved?
  • How do differences in interventions or program factors affect the outcomes?
  • How can the outcomes of interventions be differentiated from other influences on children's development?
  • What is the value of outcomes to children, parents, schools, and society as a whole?
  • How do the costs of early childhood interventions relate to the competing goals of other programs or national priorities?
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Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email:

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
  • OSEP's TA&D Network:IDEAs that Work