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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The effect of day care

Today, the Diane Rehm show on NPR plunged into the fascinating results of National Institute of Health funded research. The most comprehensive study ever of the effect of childcare indicates that young children who spend large amounts of time in day care centers are more likely to misbehave, up to about age 12. It is a study prompted by the huge number of working parents who put children in day care at least 10 hours a week and wonder about its effect.
The study followed 1,300 families from the birth of their children in 1991. It tracked their early child care and later performance in school. It shows that keeping a preschooler in a day care center a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class. But only slightly.
It also found the children who spent early years in high quality day care are more verbally astute, with higher vocabulary scores through elementary school.
What I found most interesting on Diane's show this morning was the comments by Joan Lombardi, former associate commissioner for Child Care, US Department of Health and Human Services, about the quality of day care. "It is the quality of care in day care or home that counts."
The sad and hard to believe fact: "There is no national standard to measure the quality of day care centers. There are no national efforts to train child care workers... and a lack of inspections," she points out.
The study cost $200 million and basically revealed what most already had assumed: quality makes a difference but even in quality centers there is a modest negative effect.
Mostly out of necessity, there are more parents getting up and going to work and more children than ever spending time in child care. About 4 million children currently are in center-based child care.
To me, it is mindboggling that there are there are no national policies to help working parents cope with child care issues - no parental leave, no paid sick leave.
"Transforming child care and promoting positive development for children should be a high priority...it's about time we paid attention to it," Lombardi told Diane. I couldn't agree more.
click here to hear the audio from Diane Rehm's show.

2 Comments:

Anonymous the new black said...

I really saw the similar bind holding the children of families with parents working abroad, and this applies very much to some developing countries. So much for globalization.
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