Childcare — Daycare Centers or Home Care?

Childcare photo
Photo by Rotary Club of Nagpur cc

When the kids decided to live in different countries from us their parents, one did not factor in not having family around to help when the babies arrived. As the boys grew, I always had my parents support and the aid of help in India, which came in on a daily basis, or lived in with us till the boys grew older. Not so in Western countries. Help is expensive, very expensive and is paid on an hourly basis. AND one never can vouch for the person who is let into your home to look after your children on trust. There have been so many horror stories of nannies shaking babies to death in their own homes.

So the kids have taken decisions to keep their infants in day care centres which they choose with care after getting reviews from other parents. Plus a day care center ensures the child can never be abused as there are many helpers and children in the center.

Reading a paper by Deborah Phillips, Ph.D., who is professor and chair of the department of psychology at Georgetown University, she writes that, studies of child development confirm that experiences with people mould an infant’s mind and personality . Caregiving is, therefore, central to development, whether the caregiver is a parent , a grandmother, or a teacher in a child care center . Her paper used data from new, national studies of families to examine the state of child care for infants and toddlers in the US.

The story is complex, as the author outlines the overlapping impacts that diverse child care settings and home situations have on children . Early exposure to child care can foster children’s learning and enhance their lives, or it can leave them at risk for troubled relationships. The outcome that results, depends largely on the quality of the child care center. Responsive caregivers who surround children with language, warmth, and chances to learn are the key to good outcomes. Other quality attributes, like training and staff-to-child ratios matter says the paper, because they foster positive caregiving.Diversity and variability are extremely important as well.

Both “wonderful and woeful” care can be found in all types of child care but, overall, settings where quality is compromised are distressingly common.Children who come from low income families, are the group most often exposed to poor-quality care.

The author has worked a graph which shows rapid growth in maternal employment, which is among the most commonly noted trends of the past quarter century. In 1975, some 34% of mothers with children under age three were in the workforce. In 2000, this figure reached 61%. Among mothers of infants, rates of employment climbed from 50% to 56% in just the past decade. Accordingly , the care of infants and toddlers has undergone a dramatic transition from being the primary responsibility of mothers to becoming the shared responsibility of parents and child care providers
According to national US surveys, by the mid-1990s, about 6 million infants and toddlers were in some form of regular, nonparental child care. The paper has followed a diverse but not nationally representative sample of more than 1,200 families around the country since their baby’s birth to track and understand the consequences of their child care choices Almost three – quarters of the infants (72%) experienced regular , nonparental child care during the first year of life, with the vast majority entering care before four months of age. Families that were heavily dependent on the mother’s wages, and those who had experienced bouts of poverty or welfare dependence, placed their infants in child care at the earliest age (prior to three months old), whereas those with higher incomes were able to wait a bit longer. For the vast majority of infants, this point of first entry marks the beginning of a child care history that stretches into the mid – elementary school years.

Interestingly the research indicates that child care is not a monolith. There is no single story to tell about how child care affects children, says the author. Sometimes, child care enhances the lives of young children and fosters their development. Sometimes, it puts children at risk and undermines their development. But an important finding of the study was that both the positive and negative effects are derived not from child care alone, but also from how the family responds to the circumstances that led them to use child care in the first place, and how they respond to their children when they are with them. Infact, one of the most important findings from research on child care is that parents and the home environments they create, remain the predominant influences on young children’s adjustment and wellbeing, despite the substantial time that many youngsters spend in nonparental child care settings.

To conclude the paper says it is no longer appropriate to ask whether child care is good or bad for children without simultaneously considering, what they are experiencing at home. Child care can expose young children to risk or protect them from it; it can exacerbate troubling family circumstances or it can provide beneficial experiences for children who do not receive them at home.

Bruce Fuller et al who have written a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Massachusetts, says, they have found that exposure to at least a half-day center program yields cognitive benefits for most children. The good news is that middle-class children appear to benefit cognitively as well. The bad news is that universal access may not dramatically close early learning gaps.The groups findings also suggest that greater benefits can accrue from interventions that start earlier than age four. However they found that generally, children learn more when they start center care between two and three years of age. In addition, while half day programs may be beneficial for children from higher income families, full day programs better serve children from lower income families, allowing them to gain pre-reading and math skills without detriment to social behavior.

Dr. Marianne Furtado de Nazareth is Former Assistant Editor, The Deccan Herald, Bangalore, Adjunct Faculty of St. Joseph’s College of Mass Communication


Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News