Child early intervention programs make for healthier adults

2 min read

The Brookline Early Education Program (BEEP), a community- based child health and development program, was initiated by the Brookline Public Schools and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ran from 1972-1979. Enrollment was open to families in Brookline, Mass., and to some urban families in neighboring Boston. The program provided health, educational, and social services to parents, and aimed to have children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. Families enrolled three months before the child’s birth and participated until the child reached kindergarten age.

Of 282 children initially enrolled in BEEP, the investigators were able to survey 120 as young adults, and compared them with non-participants from the same school systems. ‘There were significant impacts in the lower income, high risk groups,’ says Judith Palfrey, M.D., chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston and the study’s first author.

Within the urban group, there were significant differences: BEEP participants had, on average, completed more than one year of additional schooling; were less likely to report incomes below $20,000 than non-participants (28% vs. 72%); were more likely to report very good or excellent health (64% vs. 42%); and had higher rates of private insurance (68% vs. 42%). They also reported healthier lifestyles, more competence in taking care of their health, and less depression.