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A study of family, child care and well-being in young Canadian families

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Seifert, T.; Canning, P. and Lindemann, B.
government document
Publication Date: 
1 Mar 2001

Available in print for order (see SOURCE) and online for download.


Child care arrangements may have significant impact upon young children's developmental outcomes. This study examined three research topics: the type of child care arrangements that are being used by children in Canadian families; the family characteristics that may predict child care use and arrangements, and; the effects that child care may have upon the development of the child as measured by cognitive and behavioural indicators. Overall, the study examined the effects of child care arrangements on child development. Although previous research indicates that the quality of child care is a key factor influencing child outcomes, the data could not be used to determine the quality of these arrangements in this study.

Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) collected in cycle one, cycle two and cycle three were used in this study.

The results of this study show that Canadian families mainly use centre-based child care and non-relative (sitter) child care for their children other than home care by mother. Mother's working status, and family structures are the two important predictors of use of child care. Children of mothers who work are more likely to be in child care than children of mothers who do not work. Similarly, children of single mothers who work are more likely to be in centre-based child care than children of two biological parents.

Furthermore, most children entered child care around two years of age and once in child care tended to remain in child care. In general, the effects on child development seem minimal with effect sizes that ranged from negligible to moderately small. However, children in the lowest income group who attended sustained child care did have higher PPVT scores than those who did not, suggesting that children who are economically disadvantaged may benefit from child care.