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Child–Parent Center

Ages 3-9

Rating: Level 2


The Child–Parent Center (CPC) program is a community-based intervention that provides comprehensive educational and family support services to economically and educationally disadvantaged children. The program theory argues that a stable learning environment will promote scholastic development, that parent involvement in a child’s education will enhance parent–child interactions and attachment to school, and that early efforts designed to prevent delinquency are more effective than programs targeting teenagers.

The program provides a half-day preschool, a half-day or all-day kindergarten, and an all-day service in the primary grades. Throughout the program three central features are emphasized: 1) the provision of comprehensive services, 2) parental involvement in school to enhance parent–child interactions and attachment to school, and 3) a child-centered, basic reading and math skills concentration characterized by small class sizes and a high number of adult supervisors to promote individualized attention. Parental involvement is an underpinning of the program; each parent is required to spend at least a ½-day per week in the center during preschool and kindergarten. Parent involvement can be in the form of acting as a classroom aide, accompanying field trips, using the parent-resource room, participating in reading groups with other parents, or taking trips to the library with teachers or children. CPCs also sponsor continuing education courses for parents.


The evaluation used a partitioned cohort quasi-experimental design with a nonequivalent control group. The analysis included 1,262 program and comparison-group youths for which any data on delinquency was available from ages 13 to 16 (grades 7 to 10) from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. The treatment group included 956 CPC participants who received various degrees of treatment between ages 3 and 9 and 306 controls who participated in an alternative intervention (an all-day kindergarten program). Analyses indicate that there were no significant differences between the two groups, except for the number of siblings and a missing data variable for family background. These differences were statistically controlled for by an environmental risk variable. Finally, although program participants are more likely to be present in the study sample, attrition analysis indicated no evidence of differential attrition. Delinquency was measured through school records and youth self-reports.


The evaluation revealed mixed but promising results. It suggested that the duration of program participation (0 to 6 years) and extensive participation in the program were significantly associated with lower rates of school-reported delinquency infractions at ages 13 and 14. Extended program participation was only marginally associated with a lower rate of delinquency infractions at ages 12 to 16. Preschool participation alone had no systematic relation with delinquency but was marginally associated with delinquency reports at ages 15 and 16. Reduction in school-reported delinquency was a consequence of less frequent school mobility and postprogram parent involvement in school.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Dropping out of school
  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Community instability
  • Low community attachment
  • Social and physical disorder/Disorganized neighborhood

Protective Factors


  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Opportunities for prosocial school involvement
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Safe environment / Low neighborhood crime


Reynolds, Arthur J. 1994. “Effects of a Preschool Plus Follow-On Intervention for Children at Risk.” Developmental Psychology 30(6):787–804.

Reynolds, Arthur J., Heesuk Chang, and Judy A. Temple. 1998. “Early Childhood Intervention and Juvenile Delinquency: An Exploratory Analysis of the Chicago Child–Parent Centers.” Evaluation Review 22(3):341–72.


Sonja Griffin
Chicago Public Schools, Early Childhood Programs
125 South Clark Street, Ninth Floor
Chicago Child–Parent Center
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (773) 553-1958
Fax: (773) 553-1997
Web site: