Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Does Child-Care Quality Mediate Associations between Type of Care and Development?

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Does Child-Care Quality Mediate Associations between Type of Care and Development?

Article excerpt

Studies document that, on average, children cared for in centers, as compared to homes, have higher cognitive test scores but worse socioemotional and health outcomes. The authors assessed whether the quality of care received explains these associations. They considered multiple domains of child development-cognitive, socioemotional, and health-and examined whether mediation is greater when quality measures are better aligned with outcome domains. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort, they found that children in centers have better cognitive skills and behavioral regulation than children in homes, but worse social competence and generally equivalent health (N = 1,550). They found little evidence that quality of child care, as measured by standard instruments (e.g., the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised), accounts for associations between type of care and child developmental outcomes.

Key Words: child care arrangements, child care quality, child development.

Nearly half of 2-year-olds and 80% of 4-yearolds in the United States are in some regular form of nonparental care (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). A substantial body of research has considered how characteristics of child care influence child development and has demonstrated that children cared for in centers have better cognitive outcomes but (often) worse behavior and health than children in home care (Haskins & Kotch, 1986; Vandell, 2004; Vermeer & IJzendoorn, 2006). Whether such differences by type of care depend on the amount of time that a child spends in care is less well established. In addition, researchers have hypothesized that differences in developmental outcomes by type of care may be partly due to differences in child-care quality between homes and centers (Blau, 1999; Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2004; PeisnerFeinberg et ah, 2001). There has been little formal investigation of this hypothesis.

Our research extends prior studies in several important ways. Prior studies have generally examined one or two developmental domains, but we examined three domains (cognition, behavior, and health) using similar methods and a common sample from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). Across these outcomes, we also tested whether associations between the type of care and child outcomes were moderated by the time spent in care and mediated by the quality of care, both overall and within developmental domains, using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised Edition (ECERS-R; Harms, Clifford, & Dyer, 1998), Family Day Care Rating Scale (FDCRS; Harms & Clifford, 1989), and Arnett Caregiver Interaction Scale (Arnett CIS; Arnett, 1989).

To our knowledge, our study is the first to examine mediation by aligned quality measures. This contribution is notable because previous studies have typically adjusted for broad aspects of quality rather than quality specific to the outcome domain (Loeb, Fuller, Kagan, & Carrol, 2004; NICHD Early Care Child Research Network, 2004; NICHD Early Care Child Research Network & Duncan, 2003; Votruba-Drzal, Coley, & Chase-Lansdale, 2004). Other researchers have noted limitations with broad measures of quality, specifically, that they are not adequately aligned with outcomes (Lamb, 2000; Layzer & Goodson, 2006; Vandell & Wolfe, 2000; Zaslow et ah, 2006). In our study, we used subscale scores, which are presumed to better align with different aspects of child development than total scores. The potential importance of better aligning quality with developmental outcomes is suggested by intervention studies that showed, for example, that child literacy could be raised by caregivers' greater language stimulation (Dickinson & Caswell, 2007; Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006). Consistent with this evidence, we hypothesized that better aligned quality measures might reveal larger associations with child outcomes than those found in prior studies that relied on global measures of quality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.