Early Childhood Intervention and Juvenile Delinquency: An Exploratory Analysis of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Arthur J. Reynolds, Heesuk Chang, & Judy A. Temple


We investigated the relation between participation in the Child Parent Center and Expansion Program during preschool to third grade and measures of adolescent delinquency for low-income mostly black youth in the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Based on analyses of 1,262 program and comparison-group children, duration of program participation (0 to 6 years) and extensive participation in the program (follow-on participation after preschool and kindergarten) were significantly associated with lower rates of school-reported delinquency infractions at ages 13 and 14 (grades 7 and 8). Extended program participation was only marginally associated with a lower rate of delinquency infractions over ages 12 to 16 (grades 7 to 10). Preschool participation alone had no systematic relation with delinquency but was marginally associated with delinquency reports at ages 15/16. Reductions in school-reported delinquency were due to less frequent school mobility and to postprogram parent involvement in school. Given the high costs of crime to society and to youth, even the relatively modest effects of early childhood intervention on delinquency suggest that such programs can provide another weapon in the war on crime.

Evaluation Review, 22, 341-372, 1998.