Oct. 20, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 4

Prof. Penny Hauser-Cram (LSOE), above, and retired Prof. Martha Bronson studied the social and health profile of subjects who had participated in the Brookline Early Education Program (BEEP) from 1972-1979. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Taking the Long View

Lynch School researchers conduct 25-year study of groundbreaking project

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Children from urban neighborhoods who participated in a groundbreaking early education program have enjoyed advantages in educational attainment, health, income and well-being, according to a 25-year follow-up study conducted by a team of Lynch School of Education researchers.

The study, led by Prof. Penny Hauser-Cram and retired Prof. Martha Bronson, provided an updated social and health profile of subjects who had participated in the Brookline Early Education Program (BEEP) from 1972-1979 in the Brookline Public School system. Original program participants included children from Brookline and from urban districts in neighboring Boston.

"What we found was that for the group of urban participants, the advantages of being in a project like this for them were far greater than the advantages for those growing up in the suburban group," Hauser-Cram said. "They also really outpaced their peers who had grown up in the same neighborhoods, especially in the areas of education, number of years of education, income, health efficacy measures and mental health.

"There were health advantages for the urban population," Hauser-Cram said. "That's the bottom line."

The results of the study were published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Hauser-Cram said 169 children originally participated in BEEP, an early-intervention program funded by the Carnegie and Robert Wood Johnson foundations that included health, educational and social services to parents, and various home visits, parents' groups, reading and play support, pre-kindergarten programs and health and developmental monitoring for participating children.

For the follow-up study, the LSOE researchers located approximately 120 of the participants, now young adults, and surveyed them on health-related matters, such as their personal health care habits, views on their mental health, and their use of health services.

"We also looked at some other measurements," said Hauser-Cram, "such as their relationships with their parents and their current educational status, their income and occupation, their marital status and if they had children - all of which is what we call the functional status of those youngsters."

Hauser-Cram said her study also indicated that parents benefited from having children participate in the BEEP program. A number of parents of suburban children have called me to say, 'We got so much from it," and 'We have much better relationships with our kids because of it. '

"We are probably going to be doing another article on parent outcomes," she said.

Hauser-Cram said researchers hypothesize that the urban students' advantages may be at least partly due to the fact that children were integrated into a suburban school system as part of the original BEEP project. "That perhaps made a difference for [the urban children]" she said, "so we would not necessarily do away with the suburban part in the future. That may be a very important part" of the early-intervention process.

"In fact," Hauser-Cram said, "we are hypothesizing that they looked just like suburban youngsters who are doing well."

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