Published February 1999
Recent advances in brain research have provided new evidence that early experience matters and have greatly increased interest in the effects of early childhood interventions on outcomes for children. This paper reviews what is now known about the potential benefits and potential ill effects of early childhood interventions, with particular attention to evidence from the Rand study of early interventions, recent studies of the Head Start programme, and the NICHD study of early child care. The evidence shows that early childhood interventions can make a difference in improving outcomes for children. However, there are two important knowledge gaps. Not enough is known about the types of child young children in Britain are currently using, and not enough is known about what types of early childhood interventions would achieve the best outcomes for disadvantaged children in Britain.