Cost-Benefit Analysis of Early Childhood Development Initiatives.

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In a presentation to a May 2009 conference held in Canada entitled “Putting Science Into Action” Daniel Telfor Ph.D. provided a fascinating analysis of 2 American studies of early childhood intervention programs.¹

High quality programs of this nature are expensive, $15,000 per child, but he shows that the return on this investment (ROI) represents a net gain.

In general it will continue to be governments that must provide for these costs. They will need to be reassured that their costs for effective early childhood interventions will be recovered-almost! The sources of the revenues from these interventions can be predicted and quantified. “Graduates” have been shown to be more likely to gain employment and have higher paying jobs, thus generating more tax revenues, they experience reduced welfare, special education programs, lower social justice costs, and health care costs. Furthermore, families whose children are developing normally, have reduced stress and more time for other activities such as joining the labour force. There is no doubt that in most countries more must be done to support the healthy development of young children. Compelling cost-benefit analyses such as this one will be key assets in advocating on behalf of science-based interventions that have shown impressive benefits.

Your comments and suggestions please? Are the issues raised in this article specific for industrialised countries? What can the rich array of child raising practices found in different cultures around the world contribute to this discussion. What is the status of early child development in your country?

1. Trefler, D. Quality is Free: A cost-benefit analysis of early child development initiatives.
J. Paed and Child Health 2009, 14, 681-684.

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