Child Care and Mothers' Mental Health: Is High-Quality Care Associated with Fewer Depressive Symptoms?

By Gordon, Rachel A.; Usdansky, Margaret L. et al. | Family Relations, October 2011 | Go to article overview

Child Care and Mothers' Mental Health: Is High-Quality Care Associated with Fewer Depressive Symptoms?


Gordon, Rachel A., Usdansky, Margaret L., Wang, Xue, Gluzman, Anna, Family Relations


Finding high-quality child care may pose financial and logistical challenges and create ongoing emotional strains for some mothers. We use the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to ask (a) are childcare settings that mothers select on the basis of their own perceptions of quality rated more highly by independent observers (and more often recommended by mothers to friends) than settings that mothers selected for other reasons? (b) Do mothers report fewer depressive symptoms when they use high-quality care, as they perceive it, as assessed by independent observers and as indicated by their likelihood of recommending it? We find that mothers' reports coincide with independent observers' ratings in some respects but diverge in others, and only mothers' reports significantly relate to fewer average depressive symptoms after adjusting for confounds. Future research and policy should consider how mothers evaluate care quality and how these evaluations affect their mental health.

Key Words: child care, child-care quality, maternal depressive symptoms.

Although studies of child care are abundant, most associate characteristics of child care with child outcomes (Vandell, 2004). The limited research that examines parental outcomes focuses on the supply or cost of child care and its effects on maternal employment (e.g., Blau & Tekin, 2007; Danziger, Ananat, & Browning, 2004; Han & Waldfogel, 2001; Hofferth, 1996). Very little research has examined the potential associations between child care and a broader range of parental outcomes, particularly mothers' mental health. This is surprising given the near daily interactions children and parents have with caregivers and numerous popular accounts of parents' fears of entrusting child care providers with their young children and their concerns about finding affordable, stable child-care arrangements that meet their needs (e.g., Babycenter.com, 2010; Beckstrom, 2003; Grimes, 2010; Naughton, 1999; Nelson, 2010).

We aim to fill this void in the literature by examining how child-care quality associates with maternal depressive symptoms. Because prior literature suggests parents' definitions of quality may differ in some regards from developmentalists' definitions, we first estimate whether mothers who report choosing for quality versus for other reasons (such as cost, hours, and location) use settings that are rated higher by trained independent observers and whether these mothers are more likely to recommend their setting to friends. We also examine whether each of these quality ratings associate with maternal depressive symptoms, anticipating stronger associations with own than independent ratings. Although our study is descriptive and cannot attribute causality, it lays important groundwork for future research and practice considering parental perceptions of child care and their consequences for mental health.

CHILD-CARE QUALITY: DEVELOPMENTAL MODELS, MATERNAL PERCEPTIONS, AND CHOICE CONSTRAINTS

Developmental models of what is best for child development dominate scholarly writing about high-quality child care, even though these may differ from some parents' childrearing preferences and norms (Emlen, 2010; Fuller, 2010; Harrist, Thompson, & Norris, 2007; Holloway & Fuller, 1999; Uttal, 1996). For example, Fuller's (2010) case studies identified state prekindergarten programs that followed a liberal-humanist model, offering children great latitude to direct their learning, whereas some parents and teachers preferred more structure and found children's self-directed behavior at times disrespectful or unruly. A broader literature on parents' preferences suggests that they are not always aligned with developmentalists' conceptions. For example, parents often express a desire for a homelike setting, with a provider that they can trust, especially for their infants and toddlers (Early & Burchinal, 2001 ; Johansen, Leibowitz, & Waite, 1996). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Child Care and Mothers' Mental Health: Is High-Quality Care Associated with Fewer Depressive Symptoms?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.