Risks of ChildCare
Special Report - May 10, 2011
A new report from The Heritage Foundation finds that the more time children spend in day care, the more problem behaviors they are likely to elicit. The report, “The Effects of Day Care on the Social-Emotional Development of Children,” authored by Dr. Jenet Jacob Erickson, was released on May 4, 2011. It represents a review of 30 years of research on “the effects of non-maternal child care (day care) on children’s social-emotional development,” specifically focusing on the findings of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care Research Network from the early 1990s. The report’s authors specifically looked at the relationship and attachment between children and their parents, as well as the social-emotional development of children by looking at “social competence, compliance, behavior problems, peer interaction, and self-esteem.” The problem behaviors tracked in children included neediness, assertiveness, disobedience/defiance, and aggression.
Among the report’s major findings:
- Children who spend 30 hours per week “in day care are more likely to exhibit problematic social behaviors including aggression, conflict, poorer work habits and risk-taking behaviors throughout childhood and into adolescence,” and these results are more persistent for those children.
- These problematic behaviors and slower social development are especially seen in children who begin spending extensive time in day care before turning one year-old.
- Mothers of young children who “spend long hours in day care show a decrease in sensitivity in their interactions with their child” and “less positive engagement.”
- The quality of childcare “does not reduce the negative effects” brought on by exposing children to long hours of day care.
- Married mothers are more sensitive to their children and more likely to have positive interaction with their children, helping to develop more secure attachment between mother and childan important aspect in reducing the risk of problem behaviors in children.
The report also noted that more than 70 percent of American mothers with minor children work, and nearly 60 percent of mothers of children under age three work, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly one quarter of children whose mother’s work attend day care.
The authors posit that the findings merit “the development of policies that would allow parents to make choices that would reduce the amount of time children spend in non-maternal child care throughout the earliest years.” Examples put forward include, expanding parental leave and changing benefits for part-time employees to help parents spend more time with young children without worrying about losing their jobs. The authors also encourage tax policies to relieve pressure on families with infants and young children. According to the report, policy makers should be careful in considering proposals for universal pre-K education because of the combination of existing questions as to the cognitive benefits, and the report’s findings related to “negative social-emotional and behaviors outcomes associated with early child care.”
"Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" - FNC, Spring 2011
More Child Physical Activity Needed - January 11, 2010
Single Mothers Devote Less Time to Childcare - December 8, 2008
America’s Child Care Crisis - NCFPC Findings, November 2000
Copyright © 2012. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.