Syracuse Family Development Research Program

A Good Idea


The Syracuse Family Development Research Program (FDRP) was a comprehensive early childhood program designed to improve child and family functioning through home visitation, parent training, and individualized day care. The program operated in a single site in Syracuse, New York, between 1969 and 1976, and has undergone long-term assessments of its effects on participants.

The FDRP provided a full range of education, nutrition, health and safety, and human services resources to participating families beginning prenatally and lasting until children reached elementary school age. The program targeted economically disadvantaged families in order to improve children’s cognitive and emotional functioning, create a positive outlook among the children, and decrease juvenile delinquency.

Child Development Trainers (CDTs) visited each family weekly and focused on increasing family interaction, cohesiveness, and nurturing to enhance cognitive development and learning skills. In the Children’s Center (for day care), infants were assigned to a caregiver for attention, cognitive and social games, sensorimotor activities, and language stimulation. The preschool program supported child-chosen opportunities for learning and peer interaction in a space-oriented framework, i.e., specific areas of the Center were designated for specific types of activities.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program was to improve child and family functioning.

Results / Accomplishments

In a ten year follow-up FDRP graduates were compared with a carefully matched control group. Youth in the control group had significantly more convictions for juvenile delinquency, significantly more severe juvenile delinquency acts (rape, burglary, assault), and a higher rate of recidivism than youth who participated in the program. The control group had 12 court cases (out of 54 youth), costing the community $107,192 while the intervention group had 4 court cases (out of 65 youth) totaling only $12,111.

Parents of FDRP graduates were significantly more likely to say that they expected that their children would go on with more years of schooling, when compared with what parents of control youth said they expected.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Dr. Alice Sterling Honig
Department of Child and Family Studies
Falk College of Sports and Human Dynamics
Syracuse University
304G Lyman Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
(315) 443-4296
Education / Childcare & Early Childhood Education
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
Social Environment / Family Structure
Syracuse University
Promising Practices Network
Date of publication
Nov 2003
Date of implementation
Syracuse, NY
For more details
Target Audience

Related Content