Published in 2006 in J.J. van Kuyk (Ed.), The Quality of Early Childhood Education (pp. 23- 32). Arnheim, The Netherlands: Cito.
Effects of child care on child development in the USA
Early interventions, virtually by definition, target select populations ofchildren at very high risk for failing in school, leaving school early, developing behaviour problems, becoming a teenage parent, engaging in delinquency and/or becoming unemployed, underemployed or even unemployable (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). What is all-too-often forgotten in many discussions of the topic of this chapter, namely, routine, nonmaternal child care on children cognitive-linguistic and socioemotional development (in the USA), is that such services—and their developmental effects--are often distinctly different from those of early intervention programmes. Thus, whatever formal evaluations of early interventions reveal about what occurs developmentally when economically-disadvantaged children are provided with very special experimental programmes, often established for research purposes, should not automatically be equated with what transpires when far different populations of children experience community-based day care.
With this understanding in mind, I review in this chapter the results of the largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted in the USA of the effects of routine, nonmaternal child-care of the kind typically available in communities (i.e., not exclusively high-quality programmes established for research purposes). It is called the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (SECC). (NICHD stands for the U.S. government agency that funded the research project: The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.) This collaborative research project involving more than 20 investigators, known as the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (ECCRN), follows more than 1000 children from 10 communities in the USA from birth through the start of regular schooling (around the age of 5) and beyond. Its primary goal has been to highlight the conditions under which early child care experiences enhance and/or undermine children’s cognitive-linguistic and socioemotional development (NICHD ECCRN, 2005).
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