ERIC Number: ED415030
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-May
Reference Count: N/A
Are They in Any Real Danger? What Research Does--and Doesn't--Tell Us about Child Care Quality and Children's Well-Being. Child Care Research and Policy Papers.
Love, John M.; Schochet, Peter Z.; Meckstroth, Alicia L.
Recent research suggests that quality of experience in child care centers and family child care homes in the United States is mediocre. The research literature over the past 20 years indicates how variations in quality of care in center-based and family child care affect children's development. Higher levels of quality across a wide range of child care settings are associated with enhanced social skills, reduced behavior problems, increased cooperation, and improved language in children. There appear to be no detrimental effects of infants' attachment relations with their mothers as long as mothers provide adequate attention to infants at home. Longitudinal studies have found that some benefits in the social and cognitive domains persist into elementary school. The dimensions of quality most strongly related to child well-being include structural features of the child care setting such as lower child-staff ratios and smaller group sizes and caregiver-child dynamics, especially the caregiver's sensitivity and responsiveness in interactions with children. Structural features of child care settings provide the foundation for higher-quality dynamics, justifying increased costs that smaller ratios and group sizes entail. The research base for these findings includes studies using experimental and nonexperimental designs. Stronger designs and analytic techniques are needed to understand the contribution of child care quality and family characteristics on children's development. Not enough is currently known to guide policy by specifying the point at which lower levels of quality are clearly detrimental to children. Defining thresholds of quality along its critical dimensions is the next research challenge. (Contains approximately 75 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Plainsboro, NJ.