Good Child Care Now, Better Payoff Later

Child care impacts health and later school involvement of mothers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Not only does high-quality childcare prepare children for school, it also appears to increase mother's involvement with their children.

A new study reveals that moms were more likely to get involved with their kids' schools later on if their children received high-quality care at day cares or by non-parents in the home throughout their youngest years.

"High-quality childcare is important for families."

Sociology professor Robert Crosnoe, in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, led colleagues in analyzing data from the multi-state, longitudinal Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.

The data came from 1,352 children whose mothers were interviewed throughout their children's first four and a half years. The children's care settings were also evaluated six times from 1 month to four and a half.

They found that the association between kids' quality of care and a higher level of moms' involvement held true across socioeconomic groups and regardless of the mother's level of education or employment status.

It was the quality of care that mattered rather than where it occurred or what type of care it was, the researchers found.

In defining "quality," the researchers focused on the level of "socioemotional sensitivity and support" of the care. This included whether the care fostered exploration, sensitivity, detachment from the parent, stimulation and positive regard.

They also found that what mattered most was their children's child care over the long haul.

"Child care quality prior to the start of school (the preschool year) did not matter as much as the history of quality care throughout the child's life," the authors wrote.

The researchers identified parental school involvement as having regular contact with teachers and being involved with the school community after their children entered kindergarten, such as attending open house events.

One possible reason that mothers of well cared-for children were more involved is that the children from these high-quality care environments also entered schools with better academic skills.

The authors suggest continued research to determine whether the pattern continues into adolescence and whether the mothers' involvement impacts children's academic achievement or behavior.

The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The study appears in the February issue of the journal Child Development.

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Review Date: 
February 13, 2012
Last Updated:
February 13, 2012