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Use of early childhood longitudinal studies by policy makers

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Background: Modern ECCE research began with the birth of the U.S. Head Start program in the 1960s; however, policy makers and the public paid little attention to it until several studies that had random assignment or wide representativeness received wide but targeted dissemination to them. In fact, policy makers required repeated dissemination to dispel misinterpretations of the findings, such as the belief of some that the value of ECCE has been disproved or that ECCE could have long-term effects and return on investment regardless of its quality. Findings: Toward this goal, we published six research monographs, held news conferences, wrote 87 articles, and made many presentations to groups that were influential in ECCE policy making. Conclusions: We draw three conclusions from this experience: (1) it was worthwhile; (2) there are too few studies of ECCE; (3) researchers and policy makers should work together more closely. (author abstract)

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