Science & Economics Support Early Childhood Home-Visiting Programs

Last month we looked into the largest pre-natal to 3 home visiting program in the United Sates. In that St Joseph program, based in Albuquerque and headed by Allen Sanchez, first time pregnant women receive weekly home visits by a trained health educator. The visits are an opportunity for new parents to learn about encouraging infant growth and development, selecting books & toys that teach, and nurturing positive relationships. At least six similar 0 to 3 “first born” home visitation programs have now begun in New Mexico and our Legislature is being asked to approve additional distributions from the Permanent Fund which could lead to almost $200 million per year in additional investments early childhood (0 – 5 years) programs. This month host Stephen Spitz sits down with one of the leading authorities in the US, Dr. M. Rebecca Kilburn, director of Child Policy for the Rand Corporation, and asks whether such huge expenditure in early childhood programs makes scientific and economic sense. The discussion will focus on research into the effectiveness of early childhood programs and whether any state-wide programs, such as those envisioned, have been tried, much less succeeded, elsewhere. We will also learn about the “models” for the Albuquerque home visiting program, the randomized trial evaluation now under-way for a “sister” program in Santa Fe, and how “first born” home visitation programs compare in effectiveness to other early childhood programs such as pre-K programs for 4 and 5 year olds. Produced with the assistance of Joe Green.

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