In 1988, Congress, concerned about extremely at-risk low-income young children and families, created the Comprehensive Child Development Program (CCDP). The CCDP tested whether a newly designed community service delivery program could identify family needs and refer these families to different services in hopes of improving developmental outcomes for children and self-sufficiency for families. The original Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1988 authorized the establishment of a set of programs to operate for five years at an authorization level of $25 million per year. Twenty-two CCDP projects were funded in fiscal year 1989, and two additional projects were funded in fiscal year 1990. Of these 24 projects, 21 participated in the impact evaluation conducted by Abt Associates Inc.
The objectives of each local CCDP grantee were:
- To intervene as early as possible in children's lives.
- To involve the entire family.
- To ensure the delivery of comprehensive social services to address the intellectual, social-emotional, and physical needs of infants and young children in the household.
- To ensure the delivery of services to enhance parents' ability to contribute to the overall development of their children and achieve economic and social self-sufficiency.
- To ensure continuous services until children enter elementary school at the kindergarten or first grade level.
The breakdown of data for this project was as follows:
- 21 of the 24 original CCDP projects participated in this impact evaluation.
- Across the 21 projects, 4,410 families were included in the evaluation. 2,213 were part of the CCDP, and 2,197 were part of the control group.
- Race/Ethnicity: 43% of the children in the sample are African-American, 26% are Hispanic, 26% are white, 3% are American Indian, and 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander.
- First Language: 84% of the children in the sample use English as their primary language, 14% use Spanish, and 2% use some other primary language.
- Teenage Mothers: More than one-third (35%) of the mothers in the sample were teenagers (under age 18) when they first gave birth.
- Education Level: More than half (51%) of the mothers in the sample had not graduated from high school when recruited into CCDP.
- Household Income: 44% of households in the sample had a total income under $5,000 and 85% had a total income under $10,000 at the time of recruitment.
Highlights of the findings include:
- CCDP did not produce any important positive effects on participating families.
- Five years after the program began, CCDP had no statistically significant impacts on the economic self-sufficiency of participating mothers, nor on their parenting skills. Mothers in the control group performed as well on these measures as CCDP mothers.
- Five years after the program began, CCDP had no meaningful impacts on the cognitive or social-emotional development of participating children. Children in the control group performed as well on these measures as children in CCDP. Nor did CCDP have any impacts on children's health or on birth outcomes for children born subsequent to the focus children.
- CCDP had no important differential effects on subgroups of participants (e.g., teenage mothers vs. older mothers, mothers who entered CCDP with a high school diploma vs. mothers who entered without a high school diploma, mothers living with a partner vs. mothers living without a partner, male vs. female children). There was a scattering of differential impacts for some subgroups on some outcomes, but there was no systematic pattern that allowed for the conclusion that CCDP worked better for some subsets of participants than for others.