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- 6 Benefits of Daycare for Young Children - The blogaronraiso.cf Blog
- The Uncomfortable Truth About Daycare
- Child Care Essay
This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own. I recently organized a child care seminar for parents and parents-to-be. The goal was to have an open discussion so that parents could bring all of their child care related questions, worries, hopes, and fears to the table. During the seminar, I realized the differences between child care centers and family child care also referred to as home-based daycare were unclear for a lot of families. I was also asked which environment was the best, center or home.
My answer was simple: no option is intrinsically better than the other. Whether it is better for to go with the home-like environment of a family child care provider or with the school-like environment of a center depends on the quality of the caregivers, program offered, and the specific needs of your family and your child. In this post, I will outline some of the similarities and differences the two options offer, so that you can decide for yourself which one would suit your family better.
What's best for your child? Selecting quality child care is crucial to your child's future. Studies have shown that positive and negative effects of child care have proven to be long lasting. Infants and toddlers in poor-quality care are more likely to become less compliant and self-regulated preschoolers,  while high-quality child care programs help children do better in kindergarten and beyond.
Family child care providers and child care centers can both offer poor and high-quality child care, and each type of care has its advantages and disadvantages. Since every family is different, you must decide on which type of care is best for your child. We report striking evidence that children's outcomes have worsened since the program was introduced.
2. Academic Advancement##
We also find suggestive evidence that families we study became more stressed with the introduction of the program. This is manifested in increased aggressiveness and anxiety for the children; more hostile, less consistent parenting for the adults; and worse adult mental health and relationship satisfaction.
The study on first-year maternal employment and child development, discussed earlier, which concluded that early maternal employment had a neutral effect on children, cited articles. It is remarkable — and suggestive of a disturbing selectivity by the researchers — that this article on Quebec daycare published in , and disseminated as a National Bureau of Economic Research paper in , was not among the More recent studies confirm the profound negative effects of the Quebec child-care program.
For example, a March study published by the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network explored how age factored into the negative effects observed from Quebec's daycare program. These researchers like others uncovered widespread negative consequences, but they emphasized that earlier exposure to the child-care system resulted in larger problems. They wrote:. The estimates indicate that on average, children who gain access to subsidized child care at earlier ages experience significantly larger negative impacts on motor-social developmental scores, self-reported health status and behavioral outcomes including physical aggression and emotional anxiety.
Only children from lower socio-economic backgrounds who started child care at age three appeared to benefit in terms of development scores; the authors note that this suggests society would benefit from targeting assistance for early-education and care programs at less-advantaged children especially after age three, rather than universal daycare subsidies.
6 Benefits of Daycare for Young Children - The blogaronraiso.cf Blog
The results of the first of these two Quebec studies were confirmed by a follow-up study by the same authors, which found that some of the negative effects observed among younger children exposed to the Quebec system persisted and even increased into the teen years. While the researchers found that the introduction of the Quebec daycare program had "little impact on cognitive test scores," they found that the program's negative effects on non-cognitive skills appear to strongly persist into school years, and in many instances grow larger as children get older.
Problems such as anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity were worse in older children than younger ones exposed to the Quebec system. Moreover, there was "a worsening of both health and life satisfaction among those older youths exposed to the Quebec child care program.
The study's most startling discovery is that the program appears to have driven an increase in criminal behavior among teens:. More exposed cohorts have higher differential crime rates at every age The estimates For accused, we estimate a rise of crimes per , children, compared to a mean of 7, crimes. This is a rise of 3. The result is slightly higher in percentage terms for convictions per , 4. These troubling findings from rigorous, scientific research should not be ignored, especially as politicians in the United States consider instituting daycare subsidies for everyone.
It is clear that there is something about daycare, especially for very young children, that is not as neutral as we'd like to think. So what could explain these profound, lasting negative effects of daycare? One potential explanation comes from studies of the stress hormone cortisol. Professors Harriet Vermeer and Marinus van IJzendoorn conducted a meta-analysis of nine daycare studies examining trajectories in the stress hormone cortisol.
Their article concludes:. Our main finding was that at daycare children display higher cortisol levels compared to the home setting. Diurnal patterns revealed significant increases from morning to afternoon, but at daycare only Age appeared to be the most significant moderator of this relation.
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It was shown that the effect of daycare attendance on cortisol excretion was especially notable in children younger than 36 months. We speculate that children in center daycare show elevated cortisol levels because of their stressful interactions in a group setting. Further discussion of one of these nine studies shows why cortisol may help explain the worrying findings on stress, behavior, and daycare. A group of researchers at the University of Minnesota studied 55 children in full-day daycare centers. They monitored the levels of cortisol in children's saliva when they spent the day at the daycare center and when they spent the day at home.
The authors found a "significant effect of setting home vs. Elevated cortisol levels are often interpreted as boding ill for physical and emotional health. During periods of rapid brain development, contact with parents prevents elevations in cortisol, and this has been interpreted as nature's way of protecting the developing brain from the potentially deleterious effects of this steroid.
Moreover, in research on animals, "there is strong evidence that early experiences shape the reactivity and regulation of neurobiological systems underlying fear, anxiety, and stress reactivity. On the other hand, the authors find it somewhat reassuring that the older daycare toddlers show smaller increases in cortisol throughout the day than do younger toddlers and older preschool children, and that when daycare kids are at home on the weekend their cortisol does not rise throughout the day.
Disturbingly, the authors are also reassured by the misleading conclusions of the many published reports claiming that daycare provides cognitive and social benefits. They write:. Potential negative impacts on social or cognitive development seem unlikely given the overwhelming evidence from studies of center-based child care showing that these settings, when of good quality, stimulate cognitive and social development. On balance, the authors conclude that "we do not know if there are adverse effects from chronic but small context-dependent elevations in cortisol for young children.
Taken together, the studies on the Quebec child-care program and on cortisol levels show negative effects from daycare at the time of children's daycare experience as well as lasting negative outcomes that persist into the teen years, which certainly calls into question the commonly offered conclusion that daycare appears to be "neutral," with positive and negative effects cancelling each other out.
Rather, this research suggests that younger children in particular are vulnerable to lasting harm from daycare, especially when exposed early.
The Uncomfortable Truth About Daycare
That is something parents and policymakers deserve to know. The Washington Post opened an August article with the following finding: "More than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers in the United States say they've passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to tend to their kids, according to a new Washington Post poll.
Mothers and fathers value time spent with their families, and they think the time spent together is good for their children's well-being. They are also skeptical about daycare. Rather than incentivizing the use of paid child care, policymakers ought to focus on providing more support for parents, particularly those with lower incomes, to make it easier for them to raise their children based on their own preferences, whether that means keeping a parent at home or paying for child care.
Robert Stein has argued persuasively in these pages that parents currently receive too little tax relief, given the expenses that they incur in raising a child and the importance of that investment for society. A substantial increase in the dependent-child tax credit would help parents across the board, regardless of the type of child-care arrangement they prefer.
This financial relief may make it possible for some parents working full-time to switch to part-time work or even stay home, while also providing financial assistance to those paying for daycare. Since the odds of the aggressive behavior that can result from time in daycare go up as the hours of daycare increase, this movement toward more part-time work would not just please the parents directly involved.
As more full-time working parents become part-time working parents, the stress, anxiety, and aggression in some children may ease, and classroom disruption later on should become less likely. Since two-parent, single-earner families make substantially less income than two-earner families, and since these families are making financial sacrifices to make possible what they think and what the public thinks is the best child care for young children, why should they not benefit from any increased subsidies for families with children?
Increasing the dependent tax credit substantially would be expensive, and policymakers should consider how to further target that relief to those who need it most. Under current law, most of the working poor do not benefit from the existing dependent tax credit because they do not earn enough to pay income taxes.
Child Care Essay
Making the credit apply to Social Security taxes, as well as income taxes, as has been proposed by Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, would support the needs of the working poor. Moreover, since concerns about daycare are focused on children under the age of three and the youngest children often require the most financial sacrifices, the dependent deduction could be increased solely for families with children under age three.
There are many forms such new policies could take to create significant benefits for families, especially those with young children. But it is clear that any good policy should offer flexible assistance to families so they can make their own decisions about work and child care. Parents care about their children's well-being and must balance the benefits associated with more income against the benefits of staying home to take care of them.
But good decision-making on the part of both families and policymakers depends on clear-eyed, honest assessments of the best scientific research — no matter how difficult the conclusions may be. Researchers must be honest with themselves and with their readers about what their data really show, especially when the results contradict popular opinion. The well-being of future generations is too important to continue making individual decisions and public policies with skewed information.