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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume I, Wellbeing in Children and Families by Cary L. Cooper, Susan H. Landry

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13

The Importance of Quality Prekindergarten Programs for Promoting School Readiness Skills

Andrew J. Mashburn

Portland State University, U.S.A.

In the 1960s and 1970s urban and rural poverty was rampant, and television brought images of the disparities faced by families and children born in these circumstances into living rooms across the country and the collective consciousness of the nation. In response, in 1965 the federal government created the Head Start program to provide comprehensive services to meet the health, nutritional, psychological, social, and emotional needs of young children from families living in poverty (Administration for Children and Families, 2012a). At the same time, impoverished communities in Michigan, North Carolina, and Chicago developed small-scale preschool programs to provide resources and learning opportunities for young children to improve their health, wellbeing, and achievement (Ramey & Ramey, 2004; Reynolds et al., 2007; Schweinhart et al., 2005). Experimental studies of the impacts of these three local preschool programs—Perry Preschool, Abecedarian, and Chicago Child-Parent Centers—found that for each dollar that was invested, the long-term economic benefits returned to society ranged from $2.50 to $16 through reductions in special education services, grade retention, and crime, and increases in high-school graduation, employment, and earned income (Mervis, 2011).

Due in large part to these three studies showing economic benefits of early ...

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