Pathways to prevention: evaluation of an early intervention crime prevention program

Criminology Research Council grant ; (27/01-02)

Pathways to Prevention is a multi-faceted early intervention program undertaken with preschool children, their families and schools within an economically disadvantaged urban community in Queensland. The program was designed to reduce early risk factors for adolescent involvement in crime. The program combines school based programs that aim to enhance children's social and communication skills and their readiness for school and to promote equitable home-school partnerships that empower parents to participate actively in their children's education, with family support programs that aim to promote social networks, positive parenting, and healthy family relationships. Main outcomes of the evaluation of the program include:

  • high levels of parent satisfaction with family based programs
  • relatively greater levels of improvement in oral language skills within preschool classes who participated in the Pathways preschool program compared with classes who received a standard preschool curriculum
  • a greater reduction in behavioural difficulties within preschool classes who participated in the Pathways preschool program compared with other preschool classes receiving a standard preschool curriculum
  • a greater improvement in pro-social behaviour in preschool classes participating in the Pathways school based programs compared with other preschool classes receiving a standard preschool curriculum
  • children who participated in the Pathways social skills program showed greater improvement than the non-intervention group on a cognitive measure of planning and problem-solving ability
  • lower levels of academic difficulties in Year 1 recorded for children who had participated in the Pathways preschool programs in the year before starting formal schooling, than for Year 1 children who had not participated in the Pathways preschool program.

Higher levels of family participation in Pathways family programs were generally associated with greater ratings of school readiness by preschool teachers.