Dean proposes national ‘Success by Six’ program

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean rolled out the first part of his early childhood education plan on Tuesday. The program is modeled directly after the “Success by Six” initiative that Dean implemented in Vermont.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Dean says the key to reducing many of the serious problems involving young adults is to provide services to families as early as possible. Speaking to a group of reporters on a national conference call, Dean proposed a national program based on a Vermont initiative known as “Success by Six.”

In Vermont, new parents are contacted when they’re still in the hospital to see if they’re interested in a follow up home visit to discuss various programs that are available to them. The follow up visits are coordinated by local community-based organizations. Dean says the program has been a huge success in Vermont and serves as an excellent model for the country:

(Dean) “Our child abuse rate is down 43% for the zero to six age group because the families that are in real trouble get health care, child care, parenting skills and parenting classes, job training skills. The key to almost everything that we do in social services and education is taking care of kids early and making sure that some of the really tough things that can happen to kids don’t happen to them.”

(Kinzel) Dean believes implementing this program on a national level could have a huge impact on many children and their parents:

(Dean) “We think this will have an enormous impact on education, on special ed, on foster care on prisons – not to mention the human impact of saving families.”

(Kinzel) Dean says the cost of providing these services would be roughly $200 million a year, an amount Dean says is equal to the money needed to finance one day of military actions in Iraq.

On a lighter note, when asked about the baseball playoffs, Dean said he’s pulling for a World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs:

(Dean) “That’s my idea of heaven because I always root for the underdog anyway. And these are the two most underdog teams that there are.”

(Kinzel) Dean, who grew up being a New York Yankees fan, says he dropped his support for the team because of the meddlesome antics of owner George Steinbrenner.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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