NICHD -A1 - Child Development July/August 2003 Volume 74...

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Does Amount of Time Spent in Child Care Predict Socioemotional Adjustment During the Transition to Kindergarten? National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network To examine relations between time in nonmaternal care through the first 4.5 years of life and children’s socioemotional adjustment, data on social competence and problem behavior were examined when children participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care were 4.5 years of age and when in kindergarten. The more time children spent in any of a variety of nonmaternal care arrangements across the first 4.5 years of life, the more externalizing problems and conflict with adults they manifested at 54 months of age and in kindergarten, as reported by mothers, caregivers, and teachers. These effects remained, for the most part, even when quality, type, and instability of child care were controlled, and when maternal sensitivity and other family background factors were taken into account. The magnitude of quantity of care effects were modest and smaller than those of maternal sensitivity and indicators of family socioeconomic status, though typically greater than those of other features of child care, maternal depression, and infant temperament. There was no apparent threshold for quantity effects. More time in care not only predicted problem behavior measured on a continuous scale in a dose-response pattern but also predicted at-risk (though not clinical) levels of problem behavior, as well as assertiveness, disobedience, and aggression. Over the past 25 years, the United States has experienced major changes in childrearing arrange- ments for young children. This transformation stems, in part, from increased maternal employment associated with changes in the role women play in society. In 1975, 34% of mothers with children under 6 years of age were in the workforce. In 1999, the corresponding figure was 61% (National Research Council and Institute for Medicine, 2000). Even more significant have been the changes with regard to mothers of infants. Today, the majority of mothers in the United States who return to work after having a child do so before their child’s first birthday. Recent figures (for 1998–1999) indicate that 58% of all women with infants under 1 year of age are in the labor force (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2000); comparable rates in 1970 and 1985 were 27% and 46%, respectively (Kamerman, 2000). In the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care, the over- whelming majority of mothers who were employed in their infants’ first year returned to work and placed their child in some kind of routine non- maternal care arrangement before the child was 6 months of age (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1997a; see also Hofferth, 1996). Moreover, r 2003 by the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
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NICHD -A1 - Child Development July/August 2003 Volume 74...

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