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High-quality child care for low-income children: Long-term benefits

Date:
September 15, 2010
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Children in high-quality preschool settings had fewer behavior problems in middle childhood, a new longitudinal study of low-income children found. The researchers studied approximately 350 low-income children while in preschool and again in middle childhood (ages 7-11), and found that children who attended more responsive, stimulating and well-structured settings during preschool had fewer externalizing behavior problems later on. The study also found that high-quality child care was particularly important for boys and for African-American children.

More than 12 million U.S. children under age 6 attend child care or preschool programs. A new longitudinal study of low-income children has found that children in high-quality preschool settings had fewer behavior problems in middle childhood, and that such settings were particularly important for boys and African American children.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Boston College, Universidad de Los Andes, Loyola University Chicago, and Northwestern University, appears in the September/October 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

"This study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting the need for policy and programmatic efforts to increase low-income families' access to high-quality early care and education," according to Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who led the study.

The researchers looked at about 350 children from low-income families in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio when they were preschoolers (ages 2 to 4) and again in middle childhood (ages 7 to 11). The children were part of the Three-City Study, a long-term study of the well-being of low-income children and families in the years following 1996 welfare reform. The authors note that the families in the study used child care normally available in their communities, including center-, Head Start, and home-based programs, rather than model or intervention programs.

Children who attended more responsive, stimulating, and well-structured settings during preschool had fewer externalizing behavior problems (such as being aggressive and breaking rules) in middle childhood, according to the study.

High-quality child care was particularly important for boys and African American children, the study found. These children seem to be especially responsive to the added supports of stimulating and responsive care outside the home.

"Beyond a few model early intervention programs and a handful of short-term longitudinal studies, our knowledge is limited concerning the implications of child care experiences for low-income children's later development," notes Votruba-Drzal. "This study strengthens our understanding of how the varying quality of child care experiences available to children in low-income families shapes children's development into middle childhood."

The study was funded, in part, by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, the Administration for Children and Families, the Social Security Administration, and the National Institute of Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Rebekah Levine Coley, Carolina Maldonado-Carreρo, Christine P. Li-Grining, P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale. Child Care and the Development of Behavior Problems Among Economically Disadvantaged Children in Middle Childhood. Child Development, 2010; 81 (5): 1460 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01485.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "High-quality child care for low-income children: Long-term benefits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915080433.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2010, September 15). High-quality child care for low-income children: Long-term benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915080433.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "High-quality child care for low-income children: Long-term benefits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915080433.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

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