Research / BFI Working PaperMar 21, 2023

Engaging Parents with Preschools: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Parental engagement with schools is an important part of child development. Yet, parent engagement with preschools tends to be low. To increase parental attendance at school-sponsored family-engagement events, we conducted a 4-month RCT with 319 parents across six preschools in Chicago. We designed an intervention using a combination of financial incentives and two tools from behavioral economics: loss-framing and reminder messages. The treatment parents were given a $25 per event incentive to attend 8 events sponsored by their preschools, as well as weekly text message reminders about the events. The financial incentive was framed using loss aversion: parents were initially given $200 in a virtual account, and lost $25 for each missed event. We find that this intervention did not increase the fraction of parents that attended at least one event. implying that there was no extensive margin treatment effect. The intervention did lead to a modest increase in the attendance rate among parents who attend at least one event.

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