The types of non-maternal child care received by more than 1000 U.S. children were examined from birth to 54 months and related to family selection factors and to child outcomes. Individual children tended to experience a variety of different types of care and not to fit into clear patterns of either stable care types or progressive patterns of movement from less structured to more highly structured care settings. Across the entire sample, however, hours in center care were higher in the preschool period than earlier, whereas hours in relative care remained stable and hours in child care homes decreased. Mothers who were single, those with more education and less traditional beliefs about child rearing, and families with higher incomes and fewer children in the household were more likely to use more hours of center care than other families; single mothers and those with fewer children also used more hours of care in child care homes. Minority families, those with low incomes, and mothers with less education and fewer children used more hours of relative care. With family selection factors and quality of child care controlled, only hours in center care across the time period from 3 to 54 months were related to child outcomes. Children who experienced more center care were reported by caregivers at 54 months to have somewhat higher externalizing behavior problem scores than other children, although these scores were not in the clinical or at-risk range. Center care hours were also related to cognitive and language outcomes, with more hours in infancy associated with lower preacademic test scores and more hours in the toddler period with higher language scores.
- Care setting
- Child care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science