Term Paper: Working Parents and Daycare

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[. . .] On the basis of the findings from the NICHD (1998) study, it would appear that high-quality daycare services operate to produce positive outcomes in some cases and fail to do so in other cases. As reported by NICHD, children who attended child care centers that met American Public Health Association/American Academy of Pediatrics (APHA/AAP) showed greater school readiness, higher language test scores, and fewer behavioral problems than their peers in other centers. As was also reported, child care quality influenced children's cognitive and language development. However, as was evidenced within the NICHD report, findings regarding the positive influence of quality of daycare services were strengthened when certain family factors were present, including family income and maternal vocabulary. In fact, as reported by NICHD, the presence of a combination of family factors tended to impact developmental outcomes than the quality of daycare services. According to Patton and Ricks (2000), this finding also emphasizes that families with certain characteristics tend to choose high-quality care and that positive developmental outcomes may stem more from those characteristics than from high-quality care.

In relation to quality of daycare services, Patton and Ricks (2000) offered the conclusion that quality does not represent the primary cause of positive developmental outcomes, nor is low quality the chief cause of negative outcomes. Overall, as suggested by the authors, the findings suggest that high-quality care may offset risk factors for some negative outcomes. Citing the work of Burchinal (1999), Patton and Ricks also indicated that high-quality preschool does have extensive and long-lasting effects on the development of children from families living in poverty. Similarly, as noted by Patton and Ricks in citing the Carolina Abecedarian Project (1999), children who received high-quality child care had higher reading, math, and mental test scores from their toddler years through age 21, and were more likely to be in school at age 21, than those in the non-treated group. Further evidence was cited by Patton and Ricks (i.e., Schweinhart et al., 1993) as to the potential impact of high quality daycare services. Schweinhart et al. compared individuals who had been part of a high-quality preschool in the 1960s with those who had not. The findings suggested that those adults who had participated in high quality daycare services as children showed a greater likelihood of responsible behaviors, including fewer arrests and higher IQs, education levels, incomes, rates of home ownership, and rates of marriage.

The findings on the influence of daycare services on children's development help to emphasize what all theories of child development posit - the family, the environment as well as significant others within a child's life all play a role in facilitating successful developmental outcomes for children. While discussed somewhat differently, Erikson, Mahler, Montessori and Bandura all emphasize the importance of parental relationships, family relationships, peer relationships and the environment in aiding children to progress successfully developmentally through early childhood to adulthood and onwards. While the nature of activities within one's environment are important, without adequate parental, family, peer and significant other influence, children are not as successful in progressing through the developmental phases and tasks associated with childhood. Thus, quality daycare services without the presence of supportive and helpful parental, family and environmental influences cannot be expected to help children achieve developmental milestones.

Conclusion

As evidenced within the paper, daycare services provide working parents with child care options that are not necessarily harmful to their children. While evidence exists that suggests that daycare can be problematic, the findings of prior research clearly suggest that potential negative influences of daycare can be outweighed by the efforts of parents, families and others to insure that the developmental needs of children are attended to by all. Essentially, as children develop, daycare cannot become a substitute for parents and families. All must work together to aid a child in achieving successful developmental outcomes.

References

Bates, J.E., Marvinney, D., Kelly, T., Dodge, K.A., Bennett, D.S., & Pettit, G.S. (1994). Child-care history and kindergarten adjustment. Developmental Psychology. 30, 690-700.

Belsky, J., & Eggebeen, D. (1991). Early and extensive maternal employment and young children's socioemotional development: Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 1083-1110.

Burchinal, M.R. (1999). Child care experiences and developmental outcomes. In Suzanne W. Helburn (Ed.), The silent crisis in U.S. child care [Special issue]. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 563, 73-97.

Capizzano, J., Adams, G. & Sonenstein, F. (2000). Child Care Arrangements for Children Under Five: Variation across States. Series B, No. B-7, The Urban Institute, Washington DC.

DiLalla, L. (1998). Daycare, child, and family influences on Preschoolers' social behaviors in a peer play setting. Child Study Journal, 28 (3), 223-245.

Frede, E. (1995). The role of program quality in producing early childhood program benefits. Future of Children, 5(3), 115-132.

Hegland, S.M., & Rix, M.K. (1990). Aggression and assertiveness in kindergarten children differing in daycare experiences. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 5, 105-116.

Honig, A.S., & Park, K.J. (1993). Effects of daycare on preschool sex-role development. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63, 481.486.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network (NICHD). (1998). The NICHD Study of Early Child Care. [Online]. Available:

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/early_child_care.htm.

Patton, P. & Ricks, O. (2000). Child care quality: An overview of parents. ERIC Digest, No. ED447969, Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.

Schweinhart, L.J., Barnes, H.V., & Weikart, D.P. (1993). Significant benefits: The High Scope Perry Preschool Study through ages 27. (Monographs of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 10). Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press. ED 366-433.

U.S. Bureau of the Census.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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