The authors report on the three-year follow-up study of a research project that was aimed at determining outcomes of the ParentCorps program, which was implemented in high-poverty New York City public schools that had prekindergarten programs.
The authors’ objectives for this research project were to examine whether ParentCorps delivered as an enhancement to prekindergarten programs in high-poverty urban schools leads to fewer mental health problems and increased academic performance in the early elementary school years. This paper presents a three-year follow-up study of a cluster randomized clinical trial of ParentCorps in public schools with prekindergarten programs in New York City. Ten elementary schools serving a primarily low-income, black student population were randomized in 2005, and 4 consecutive cohorts of prekindergarten students were enrolled from September 12, 2005, through December 31, 2008. The authors report follow-up for the three cohorts enrolled after the initial year of implementation. Data analysis was performed from September 1, 2014, to December 31, 2015. Interventions ParentCorps included professional development for prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers and a program for parents and prekindergarten students. Outcomes showed that annual teacher ratings of mental health problems, academic performance, and standardized tests of academic achievement in kindergarten and second grade by testers masked to the intervention or control group randomization. Results indicated that a total of 1050 children (4 years old; 518 boys and 532 girls) in 99 prekindergarten classrooms participated in the trial (88.1 percent of the prekindergarten population), with 792 students enrolled from 2006 to 2008. Most families in the follow-up study (421) were low income; 680 identified as non-Latino black, 78 identified as Latino, and 34 identified as other. Relative to their peers in prekindergarten programs, children in ParentCorps-enhanced prekindergarten programs had lower levels of mental health problems and higher teacher-rated academic performance in second grade. Intervention in prekindergarten led to better mental health and academic performance 3 years later. Family-centered early intervention has the potential to prevent problems and reduce disparities for low-income minority children.