A new report out from the RAND Corporation takes a deeper look at the outcomes and economic returns from early childhood programs.

The study, Investing Early, sought to answer three primary research questions including: what program approaches to providing services (prenatal to school entry) have been rigorously evaluated; what outcomes did these programs improve in the short or long term; and what are the costs and benefits of effective programs and returns to government or society?

Key findings from the report included:

  • Programs varied in approach (early care and education, home visiting, parent education, etc.)
  • Evaluations measured both short- and longer-term outcomes in multiple domains (behavior, emotion, cognitive achievement, etc.)
  • Most programs have demonstrable impact on at least one child outcome
  • Size of improvements in outcomes vary
  • Resources and/or costs required for early childhood programs vary widely
  • Most programs with benefit-cost analyses show positive returns.

Not only can policymakers be confident in well-designed and implicated programs, but with a robust base of programs, decision makers are able to implement programs across a variety of targets and domains. For example, some families may need extra help and may benefit from targeted services beyond a traditional home visiting program. As the research shows, no one program is a silver bullet. A range of quality programs and opportunities address a range of needs. The value of a comprehensive approach from birth through age five can’t be overstated.

Read the full study here.