Potential return on investment of a family-centered early childhood intervention: A cost-effectiveness analysis

Negin Hajizadeh, Elizabeth R. Stevens, Melanie Applegate, Keng Yen Huang, Dimitra Kamboukos, R. Scott Braithwaite, Laurie M. Brotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: ParentCorps is a family-centered enhancement to pre-kindergarten programming in elementary schools and early education centers. When implemented in high-poverty, urban elementary schools serving primarily Black and Latino children, it has been found to yield benefits in childhood across domains of academic achievement, behavior problems, and obesity. However, its long-term cost-effectiveness is unknown. Methods: We determined the cost-effectiveness of ParentCorps in high-poverty, urban schools using a Markov Model projecting the long-term impact of ParentCorps compared to standard pre-kindergarten programming. We measured costs and quality adjusted life years (QALYs) resulting from the development of three disease states (i.e., drug abuse, obesity, and diabetes); from the health sequelae of these disease states; from graduation from high school; from interaction with the judiciary system; and opportunity costs of unemployment with a lifetime time horizon. The model was built, and analyses were performed in 2015-2016. Results: ParentCorps was estimated to save 4387 per individual and increase each individual's quality adjusted life expectancy by 0.27 QALYs. These benefits were primarily due to the impact of ParentCorps on childhood obesity and the subsequent predicted prevention of diabetes, and ParentCorps' impact on childhood behavior problems and the subsequent predicted prevention of interaction with the judiciary system and unemployment. Results were robust on sensitivity analyses, with ParentCorps remaining cost saving and health generating under nearly all assumptions, except when schools had very small pre-kindergarten programs. Conclusions: Effective family-centered interventions early in life such as ParentCorps that impact academic, behavioral and health outcomes among children attending high-poverty, urban schools have the potential to result in longer-term health benefits and substantial cost savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number796
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2017


  • Behavior problems
  • Childhood
  • Markov model
  • Obesity
  • ParentCorps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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