Washington Post: In-Home Attention May Be Jump-Start Some Babies Need
The brain develops more in the first few years than at any other time in life, and studies have identified an achievement gap as early as nine months into a child’s life, separating those from rich households and those from poor households, which tend to be more stressful and less stimulating environments.
By the time children are 2 or 3 years old, the gap is more pronounced in the size of their vocabularies, their social skills and their emotional abilities, such as to calm down and focus. All are key predictors of later school success.
President Obama’s plan for universal preschool calls for a major investment in home visiting programs, which advocates say can bridge that gap.
Home visiting programs have proliferated in the past few decades, with a few becoming national models. One 2012 study in New York found that children who participated in a home visiting program operated by Chicago-based Healthy Families America were less likely than a control group to repeat first grade and more likely to excel at skills such as following instructions and working well with others.
Other studies have shown a wide rage of social and health benefits, all of which are also related to later school performance, including fewer low-birth-weight babies, less isolation and depression for new moms, and fewer cases of child abuse and neglect. Many programs also help parents pursue additional education or better jobs.
By 2010, there were 119 home visiting programs in 46 states and the District of Columbia, costing states at least $500 million that year, according to a survey by the Pew Center on the States.
Read the full article at washingtonpost.com.