Babies begin learning before birth, and the skills they develop in the earliest years form the foundation they can build on throughout their lives. To help Chicago families make the most of this crucial window for early development, and to advance the science on learning and skill development, CEHD has established the Creciendo Juntos, a home visiting program

“Creciendo juntos” means “growing together.” The name reflects both the partnership driving this program and our mission to support families as they grow. Formerly known as the Chicago Home Visiting Partnership Project, Creciendo Juntos is a collaboration between Preparing for Life (PFL)—an evidence-based home visiting model from Ireland—and Casa Central, an organization that has been strengthening communities and transforming lives in Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods since 1954.

The PFL program bolsters children’s early development and promotes school readiness by providing home visiting services respectfully designed to support and strengthen parent-child relationships and focus on caregivers’ strengths. The partnership will adapt and implement the PFL program to fit local needs and contexts, in consultation with families and stakeholders in the Chicago early childhood community.

Beginning with a pilot rollout in early 2024, the program will provide family support services including monthly home visits, prenatal education, and evidence-based parenting programming until the children enter kindergarten. Creciendo Juntos is now recruiting families to participate, focusing on Chicago’s Back of the Yards and Bridgeport neighborhoods (zip codes 60609 and 60632).

This project will leverage each partner’s unique expertise and knowledge to engage families and help them promote their children’s development from pregnancy through age five. PFL brings highly specialized early childhood and home visiting content knowledge. Casa Central—selected through a through and collaborative application process—will bring a direct connection to the community and an understanding of its needs as well as mechanisms for incorporating the community’s voice.

CEHD researchers, who have deep experience studying early childhood programs, will use advanced economic tools to analyze the program’s impact on interactions and children’s skill development. The project will serve and support Chicago parents and children, while yielding a better understanding of which supports and services most effectively promote healthy child development and which components of home visiting programs work best.

The PFL program, operating in Dublin for about a decade, demonstrated positive impacts on children’s cognitive and social-emotional development in the latest follow-up study when the children were age 9. PFL was named to the US Department of Health and Human Services Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) list in November 2023. This means the US government the US government has determined that PFL meets the high standards for programs serving children and families and is has been proven to have a significant, long lasting positive outcomes for children.

Creciendo Juntos will be structured as a randomized control trial that will assess outcomes throughout and after the intervention to better understand the mechanisms of skill formation. The expertise of each partner will be crucial in designing a research study that is rigorous, equitable and relevant.

Each partner is committed to learning from the community and adapting to the local context by listening directly to families and community members. The knowledge gained will help guide efforts to better support Chicago’s children and parents for generations. The project will also influence evidence-based public policy and philanthropy around the globe and advance the research frontier on skill formation and equitable research.


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Helpful Links

Contact Us

Research Overview (.pdf)

Video about the Project

Project Infosheet (.pdf)

Partnership Press Release

Casa Central Website

Preparing for Life Website

Past Newsletters

Winter 2024
Fall 2023
Summer 2023
Spring 2023

About the Partners

The Center for the Economics of Human Development explores the circumstances under which people develop the skills to thrive and achieve their fullest potential. The Center’s comprehensive research program seeks a thorough empirical understanding of human flourishing. Unifying this research is the idea that capacities and skills gained and learned in early childhood set the foundation for positive outcomes throughout life. The Center’s work equips policymakers and practitioners with evidence to reduce inequality by promoting opportunity.

Casa Central is one of the largest Latino social service agencies in the Midwest. Since 1954, Casa Central has delivered evidenced-based, award-winning programming in response to the needs of the Latino community. Through comprehensive, family-centered programming, Casa Central is the conduit through which thousands of individuals build hope for the future while equipping themselves to achieve a sustainable, higher quality of life for the benefit of self, family, community and society.

Preparing for Life is an evidence-based home visiting program designed to improve school readiness. Trained home visitors meet with the family regularly beginning in pregnancy and provide structured information and support across the primary areas of child development. Throughout the process, home visitors seek to identify and build on parents’ inherent strengths and resources. Over 12 years of operation, PFL has demonstrated significant, lasting outcomes for children in formal evaluations. PFL is a program of Northside Partnership, a community-based non-profit organization established to support social and economic regeneration in Dublin City, Ireland.

CEHD Project Team

Becky Harles

The University of Chicago

Alison Baulos

The University of Chicago

Karla Monteiro

The University of Chicago

Yuejiao Jiang

The University of Chicago

Casa Central Project Team


Isela Serna

Casa Central

Miriam Orta

Casa Central

Maritza Rivera

Casa Central


PFL Project Team

Research Advisors

James J. Heckman

The University of Chicago

Orla Doyle

University College Dubin

Jon Korfmacher

The University of Chicago

Christopher Campos

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Contact Us

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about this project, please contact Becky Casper Harles: