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Do regulable features of child-care homes affect children’s development?

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Clarke-Stewart, K., Lowe Vandell, D., Burchinal, M., O’Brien, M., McCartney, K.
Publication Date: 
1 Mar 2002

Excerpted from abstract

Data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care were used to assess whether regulable features of child-care homes affect children’s development. Child-care homes selected were those in which there were at least two children and the care provider received payment for child care (ns = 164 when the study children were 15 months old, 172 at 24 months, and 146 at 36 months). Caregivers who were better educated and had received more recent and higher levels of training provided richer learning environments and warmer and more sensitive caregiving. Caregivers who had more child-centered beliefs about how to handle children also provided higher quality caregiving and more stimulating homes. In addition, when settings were in compliance with recommended age-weighted group size cut-offs, caregivers provided more positive caregiving. Quality of care was not related to caregivers’ age, experience, professionalism, or mental health, or to the number of children enrolled in the child-care home or whether the caregivers’ children were present. Children with more educated and trained caregivers performed better on tests of cognitive and language development. Children who received higher qual-ity care, in homes that were more stimulating, with caregivers who were more attentive, responsive, and emotionally supportive, did better on tests of language and cognitive development and also were rated as being more cooperative. These findings make a case for regulating caregivers’ education and training and for requiring that child-care homes not exceed the recommended age-weighted group size.