Leaders working together is the key to great life experiences for children
Communities can prosper by providing attentive education and social services to their youngest residents – but the challenge is for leaders to work together, Professors Craig Ramey and Sharon Ramey have said, presenting the details of a decades-long study that focuses on early childhood education and development.
In their research article, the professors discuss lessons learned from the Abecedarian Project, a study that followed the children who participated in an early intervention program initiated by Mr Ramey and colleagues in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1971.
“Coordinated education, health care, and well-thought-out social services with participation from the private sector make communities more attractive, bring in new business, and improve the quality of life for the people who are already there,” said Abecedarian Project founder Mr Ramey.
“Each segment of the community has to be included in these efforts because it allows for the scale-up that needs to occur for places that aspire to be a more attractive destination for families and businesses.”
The scientists have gathered extensive evidence of how the Abecedarian approach has improved the trajectories of children’s lives and suggest the findings can be used to realise more widespread improvements.
In the research article, the pair present a set of vital standards associated with the successful implementation of child and family programs with the aim of integrating these scientifically validated approaches into a framework that leaders can use to enhance their communities.
“We’ve summarised 50 years of research since the landmark study began, pointing out successful replications of key interventions,” said Ms Ramey. “We believe that what we’ve learned is ready for global application. There’s ample reason to keep moving forward in this direction.”
The Abecedarian Project is now in its fifth decade, examining the effects of educational, social, health, and family support services on high-risk infants who now are in their 50s.
In repeated interviews and examinations, the children who originally participated in the program displayed enduring benefits that have enhanced their careers, families, and social networks.
Some of the more recent findings from the Abecedarian Project show children who were given high-quality education at an early age – starting at six weeks old and continuing through their first five years of life – are more likely to be employed full-time and have better relationships with their parents as adults.
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