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Evaluating the effectiveness and impact of early childhood education programs in child development: evidence of the Western Region of São Paulo

Grant number: 16/20770-3
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: February 01, 2017 - January 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Medicine - Maternal and Child Health
Principal Investigator:Sandra Josefina Ferraz Ellero Grisi
Grantee:Sandra Josefina Ferraz Ellero Grisi
Host Institution: Faculdade de Medicina (FM). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers:Alexandra Valéria Maria Brentani ; Ana Paula Scoleze Ferrer ; Rogerio Lerner


More than 200 million children in developing countries do not reach their expected level of cognitive development due to poverty, malnutrition and lack of appropriate early stimulation. Over the past decades, neuroscience studies have highlighted the importance of promoting early childhood development (DPI) as a mechanism to improve long-term well-being for individuals and societies. Programs of early childhood care and education (EPI) have emerged as a particularly powerful approach to the development of children's cognitive, social and emotional skills before they enter the formal school system. While the beneficial effects of EPI are widely recognized, relatively little is known regarding the appropriate and most effective content and dosage of EPI in the first three years of children's life. This project aims to assess the causal impact of EPI on child health and child development in the in the western region of São Paulo. Due to major governmental efforts, a growing number of children have received early access to EPI. The main objective of the proposed project is to assess the effectiveness and impact of this EPI program expansion. Specifically, we will address the following two main questions: 1) how does early enrollment in crèches affect children's health and cognitive development at age 3; 2) what are the most important crèches features and services provided for child health and development? The proposed study will be nested within the current ROC cohort study. Through previous efforts, detailed data on children's development in utero and the first 12 months of life has been collected; while less than 10% of children enroll in crèches prior to age 1, the same is true for more than 85% by age 3. To assess developmental differentials, we will conduct a rigorous assessment of 1000 selected children at age 3 from three strata: early enrolled children (< 15 months at first creche enrollment, 1/3 of sample), intermediate enrollment (18-30 months) and late enrollment ( > 30 months). Children's developmental assessments will be complemented with detailed process and infrastructure assessments of crèches, which will provide policy makers with an updated picture of current standards of care, but will also allow us to identify the most important features of EPI programs for healthy child development. (AU)

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