ABC/CARE: Elements of Quality Early Childhood Programs that Produce Quality Outcomes

James Heckman
Center for the Economics of Human Development
University of Chicago

Professor Heckman’s latest research, “The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,” looks at the effects of the ABC/CARE early childhood development programs in North Carolina. These nearly identical approaches provided comprehensive early childhood care and learning from birth through age five, and delivered a 13% per year return on investment, including all costs associated with running the programs. While it is not possible to isolate which program component produced individual outcomes, common program elements point practitioners and policymakers toward a set of elements that comprise a quality program capable of delivering the greatest results to children and those who invest in their early development.

High-quality programs:

  1. Start at birth.
  2. Provide continuous care.
  3. Engage parents.
  4. Incorporate health as an input.
  5. Recognize the importance of nutrition.

Learn more here.