Does early child care affect children's development?

Research shows that enrollment in high-quality daycare can have a significant and lasting impact on children's social and emotional development. Consistent socialization and play in early childhood have been associated with higher levels of empathy, resilience, and prosocial behavior later in life. Another body of research suggests that the age of entry into child care is not a risk factor, in itself, 2 However, very early and extensive care in poor quality facilities is presented as disadvantageous. In addition to studies linking poor quality care with suboptimal development, other studies have shown that extensive child care can interfere with the development of harmonious mother-child interaction.

For example, the NICHD7 Early Child Care Research Network found that infants and toddlers with longer hours of care experienced a less positive mother-child interaction. Child care provided by fathers (while mothers work), for example, has increased from 15 to 21 percent of all infant and toddler care arrangements between 1977 and 1994 (U. Unfortunately, there is very little information about child care arrangements for these children. More limited research on the health effects of large-scale programs, specifically center-based care, finds similar improvements in blood pressure, reductions in smoking, and self-reported health improvements in adolescence and adulthood.

While many studies find no effect of child care on the mother-baby interaction, some report positive effects and others report that child care seems to create or aggravate the problems seen in these interactions. Center-based teachers, who are more likely to have received specialized training in early development and more education overall than providers in other child care settings (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1996, in press b). Data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (see Box 11-1 for a description of the study), which is the only prospective study of parental child care decisions, further reveals that child care enrollment occurs very early in the first year. Whether a child with special needs goes to daycare or not, interactions that occur at home have a big impact on the child's development.

For example, mothers participating in the NICHD study who lived in or near poverty and whose babies were in high-quality full-time child care facilities were found to be more positively involved with their 6-month-old children (i). This false dichotomy has resulted in fragmented policies, such as part-time pre-kindergarten policies, which require working parents to organize comprehensive child care and child care subsidies with reimbursement rates so low that they cannot support high-quality educational programs. In general, initial entry into group settings, whether ECE or kindergarten, if children are older, is associated with an increase in the short-term incidence of common communicable diseases or days missing school due to illness. As a result of concerns about school readiness (or, in the case of early intervention programs, the hope of promoting preparedness), emerging competencies in the cognitive and language domains have been a long-standing study focus in child care research.

Surprisingly, little is known about the patterns of child care use or the quality of care that children with disabilities receive. Its mission is to provide parents, caregivers, early childhood educators and speech-language pathologists with the knowledge and training they need to help young children develop the best possible language, social and literacy skills. Corresponding to the rapid growth in labor force participation of mothers with children 1 year old or younger (see Chapter), most fathers now enroll their children in child care during the first year of life. .

Sheldon Mccomas
Sheldon Mccomas

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