Parker Child-Parent Center in Chicago offers a two-pronged approach — a high-quality preschool and research-based literacy training for parents. While the kids attend preschool classes down the hall, parents learn how to help their children become better readers.
The Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program is a federally-funded early childhood preschool model that emphasizes aligned education and services in high needs communities, for children from pre-kindergarten through the primary grades. CPCs provide comprehensive educational support and family support to economically disadvantaged children and their parents.
Parents are encouraged to take an active role in their children's education by contributing at least three hours a week either volunteering at the school or working with their children at home.
The CPC model utilizes six key strategies in its program implementation.
1. High-quality preschool for up to two years in small classes taught by certified teachers.
2. Curricula and instructional practices that emphasize language, literacy, and math skills within a structured activity-based approach.
3. Comprehensive family services led by the Parent Resource Teachers and School-Community Representatives that include parental involvement and resource mobilization.
4. A leadership team run by the head teacher in collaboration with the Principal.
5. Kindergarten and school-age continuity through co-located or close-by centers, small classes with teacher aides, and instructional coordination by school coordinators.
6. On-going professional development by school coordinators to support teachers and principals in implementing and aligning evidence-based curricula and instructional practices.
In addition to our general intervention methods, we incorporated the following issues into our model:
Eligibility is limited to families with household income below 185% of the federal poverty line, which is the level at which children are eligible for free school lunches.
We model Child-Parent Centers as a one year program for four-year-old children.
To estimate the impact of a program or policy, we use systematic literature reviews to determine causal pathways and effect sizes. Well-researched interventions that have robust, high-quality evaluations allow us to model the impact of an intervention with greater certainty. However, sometimes interventions have limited evidence and not all of the outcomes that are likely to be associated with the intervention have been studied. In those cases, we can only model what is available in the evidence base. We urge future research to take the following gaps into consideration.
Single year vs multi-year program: Some versions of the Child-Parent Center program have offered these services to children for multiple years, in some cases all the way through the third grade. More research is needed to determine if the positive effects of the program increase with additional years in the program.
Utilization and drop-out rates: Because the program requires a time commitment from parents, some eligible families may choose not to enroll their children, and others may withdraw from the program if a 3-5 hour per week commitment becomes too difficult. More research is needed to determine the percentage of families that can be expected to not enroll or to withdraw.
Use of social services: Research is unclear regarding the effect of the Child-Parent Centers program on use of social services like Food Stamps and TANF. Some studies have shown increased use of these services, while others have shown decreased use. More research is needed in this area.