Low-income children who attend high-quality child care centers significantly improve their pre-reading skills compared to similar children in home care.
The research is based on a multiyear study of the children of single mothers who entered the workforce after the welfare reforms of 1996. It was published Feb. 10 in the journal Child Development.
“The differences in cognitive development were pretty dramatic,” said Susanna Loeb, an assistant professor in the School of Education and the report’s lead author.
The results, collected from interviews with 451 families in California and Florida, showed that the cognitive growth and school-readiness skills of preschoolers who attended child care centers accelerated up to six months ahead of children who remained in home-based care. This positive trend increased an additional two months among children sent to high-quality centers with a stable, college-educated staff.
Contrary to previous study, which included middle-class children, Loeb’s work found no increase in aggression or behavior problems among children in center care. It appears that middle-class kids get what they need at home, while low-income children benefit from the stimulation provided in a well-run child-care center. My guess is they watch a lot less TV than children in home care.