Fast Facts about Early Intervention

Mental Health Facts:

  • Trauma and adversity damage development. The more adversity a child faces, the greater the risk to his or her healthy development. Poverty, family mental illness, abuse, and low maternal education have a cumulative impact. Abused children with these risk factors can face a 90-100% likelihood of having delays in language, cognitive, or emotional development.
  • Research links early childhood adversity to adult health risks, including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
  • Highly specialized services have significant impact and create dramatic results. Every dollar invested in learning programs saves $4 to $9 on costs for special education, welfare, foster placement, juvenile justice and crime costs.

Sources: Masse, L. and Barnett, W.S., A Benefit Cost Analysis of the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention (2002); Karoly et al., Early Childhood Interventions: Proven Results, Future Promise (2005); Heckman et al., The Effect of the Perry Preschool Program on the Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills of its Participants (2009).

Developmental Facts:

  • Approximately one out of every six children in the U.S. faces a developmental disability or a disabling behavioral problem. Yet fewer than 50% of these children are identified before they start school.
  • One in three infants and toddlers who received early intervention services did not later require special education in preschool.
  • A study of the cumulative costs of special education from birth to 18 years found that intervention starting at birth resulted in lower expenditures over the course of childhood. Total costs of services begun at birth were $37,273 compared with a total cost of $53,340 if services were not started until age six.

Source: The Zero to Three publications – a nonpartisan, research-based resource for federal and state policy makers and advocates on the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers. To learn more about this topic or the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, please check their website at