Mar 16, 2007


The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) was developed for low-income children and seeks to increase the verbal and language skills of 1 to 3 year-olds. The program attempts to increase parent-toddler verbal interaction through home-based reading and playing. The study outlined below found that the Parent-Child Home Program was effective in increasing graduation rates and decreasing drop-out rates later in life; however, results were of borderline statistical significance, given a small sample size and attrition due to high rates of moving out of the district over time.


Target population: At-risk, low-income children between 1 and 3 years of age

The Parent-Child Home Program, a replication of the Mother-Child Home Program, consists of the following: 46 biweekly, half hour home sessions over a two year period, a cognitive curriculum, a social-emotional curriculum, a parenting curriculum, developmentally appropriate books and toys books (VISM-Verbal Interaction Stimulus Material), paraprofessional/trained volunteer home visitors (TD- Trained Demonstrators), home sessions arranged at the parent’s convenience, involvement of parents in the child’s play, and further parent education by the volunteers/paraprofessionals’ modeling of positive behavior. Parents are motivated to participate and continue verbal interaction with their child when TDs are not present. The sessions are designed to increase young children’s verbal interactions with their parent(s) in order to stimulate positive cognitive development and later school competence.


Levenstein, P., Levenstein, S., Shiminski, J. A. & Stolzberg, J. E. (1998). Long-term impact of a verbal interaction program for at-risk toddlers: An exploratory study of high school outcomes in a replication of the mother-child home program. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 19, 267-286.

Evaluated population: 209 students between the ages of 17 and 22 years who had been recruited at age 2 for the Parent-Child Home Program. Between 1976-1980, children who attended Chapter 1 (now called Title 1) elementary schools in the Pittsfield school district in Massachusetts were recruited and were eligible if they qualified as having “at-risk” status. At-risk status was defined as having 5 of 8 listed factors: child IQ score under 100, single parent family, unemployment of mother, unemployment of father, family receiving AFDC payments, parent who did not finish high school, poverty status of family, and older sibling in a Chapter 1 remedial program. Over the years, large numbers of children moved out of the district, so only 123 were followed, 117 for analysis of high school graduation. Participants included students who had completed the 2-year program, students who had enrolled but who participated for less than 2 years, and a group that was randomly assigned to the control group. Of the 209 parent/child pairs, 21 parent/child pairs were in this control group and received no PCHP intervention.

Approach: The goal of the evaluation was to understand whether PCHP improved at-risk children’s chances of graduating from high school. The high school dropout and graduation rates of the five yearly cohorts (1976-1980) were examined up to July 1996. From 1976-1978 all parents/child pairs who met criteria for “at-risk” status were offered PCHP. From 1979-1980, parents/child pairs who met criteria for “at-risk” status, were randomly assigned to either PCHP or to a control group, which received no intervention services. Everyone who was offered PCHP and those in the control group agreed to participate. This study was a follow-up analysis 16-20 years after the initiation of the program. For each home visit, Verbal Interaction Stimulus Material (VISM) was given to the parents and children. The degree of PCHP participation was measured by the number of VISM each parent/child pair received. A total of 113 pairs were considered to have completed the full 2-year program because they received at least 35 VISM, out of the possible 46 (the total number of home visits possible). A total of 44 pairs receiving 16-34 VISM were considered as completing one year of the program, and 31 pairs withdrew from the program who received less than 16 VISM. The remaining 21 pairs were in the control group.

All data were collected from PCHP student records, and from records belonging to the Pittsfield School System. Most of the PCHP data were available but much of the demographic and academic school baseline data no longer existed.

Results: Many of the original study’s 209 participants could not be located due to moving out of the school district. A total of 41.1% of students were lost at follow-up, but it was found that those sampled in this analysis did not have any significant differences in age, sex, or IQ scores when compared with the original sample at baseline. An intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis of all participants found positive impacts on high school graduation, just below statistical significance. The ITT analysis yielded graduation and drop-out rates for the 117 subjects who were no longer in high school to be 76.9% and 22% respectively for PCHP students, and graduation and drop-out rates to be 53.8% and 40% respectively for control students.

Two notable limitations of the study, aside from the marginally significant results, were the small number of controls and the limited school baseline demographic and academic information.



Levenstein, P., Levenstein, S., Shiminski, J. A. & Stolzberg, J. E. (1998). Long-term impact of a verbal interaction program for at-risk toddlers: An exploratory study of high school outcomes in a replication of the mother-child home program. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 19, 267-286.


KEYWORDS: At-risk, Children, Early Childhood (0-5), Skills Training, Oral Language/Communication, Home-Based, Education, High School Dropout Rates, Academic Achievement, High School Graduation Rates, Parent-Child Interaction, Adolescence (12-17), Young Adulthood (17-24), Youth, Adolescent, Young Adult, Home Visiting, Parent or Family Component, Cognitive Development.

Program information last updated 3/16/07

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