Child Care Quality: An Overview for Parents. ERIC Digest.Report as inadecuate

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Many parents want to know how important the quality of care is to children's social, emotional, and academic development. This digest synthesizes some major recent research on child care quality. First, the digest explains what features contribute to quality of care. The digest also explains the differences between studies of how quality is related to child outcomes. Correlation studies observe the extent to which high-quality features "predict" better outcomes, while experimental studies try to find whether or not high-quality features "cause" better outcomes. The digest notes that few researchers have found causal relationships between quality of child care and child outcomes. Some notable exceptions have been found for high-risk children living in poverty, for whom high-quality care has substantial, long-lasting, positive effects. Still, most studies find only a modest correlation between quality and outcomes. Certain family characteristics seem to be more closely correlated with better outcomes than quality of child care, suggesting that positive outcomes may actually stem more from those family characteristics than from high-quality care. Furthermore, several studies have found a shortage of high-quality child care in the United States. This digest offers some suggestions parents should take into account when trying to make the best choices of available options. (Contains 14 references.) (OBR)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Day Care Effects, Early Childhood Education, Family Environment, Literature Reviews, Parent Influence, Parent Role, Young Children

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Author: Patten, Peggy; Ricks, Omar Benton


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