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Programs that teach parenting skills to new parents prove beneficial to children, a pilot project of four Missouri parent-education programs has found.

The project, financed by the Missouri Department of Education, four local school districts, and the Danforth Foundation, provided new parents in 320 families with information and support in their role as their children's "first and most important teachers," according to Michael K. Meyerhoff, associate director of the Center for Parent Education. The center, an independent consulting and training center, coordinated the project.

Children who took part in the three-year project had "significantly higher" scores on various measures of school readiness than would be expected had they not been in the program, according to Mr. Meyerhoff. Children were monitored from birth to their third birthdays on all aspects of development.

The program's findings, Mr. Meyerhoff suggested, provide the first in-depth model that can be replicated in other areas of the country.

For more information about the project, write the Early-Childhood Section of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Edu-cation, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102, or call (314) 751-3078.

Laws designed to protect the health and safety of children and to guarantee responsible day care have frequently proven to be counterproductive, according to the authors of a report published by the Cato Institute, a Washington-based public-policy research organization.

In their report, "Day-Care Regulation: Serving Children or Bureaucrats?," Karen Lehrman and Jana Pace say regulations raise the cost of day-care services, deterring potential providers from the business and driving other providers underground. These effects, they note, limit the number of chilren who can take part in day care "at a time when the need has never been greater."

Among the most detrimental regulations, the report notes, are staff-child ratios and zoning ordinances, both of which have little effect on the quality of care and the safety of the children.

The authors conclude that "without the false sense of security provided by government standards," parents of children in day-care programs would take more responsibility for the children's well-being.

Vol. 05, Issue 07

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