Most infants and toddlers are cared for by babysitters in unregulated or very lightly regulated settings, writes Brookings’ Susanna Loeb.
“Over half of all one- and two-year-olds are regularly cared for by caregivers other than their parents but only about half of those, i.e., a quarter of this age group, are in a licensed formal care setting,” she writes. Four-year-olds are more likely to attend licensed centers and preschools, “but still many primarily experience informal, non-parental care.”
Babysitters spend less time on reading and math activities. Kids spend a lot more time watching TV.
“Four-year-olds in home-based, informal care watch an average of almost two hours of television per day, compared with fewer than 7 minutes in formal care,” writes Loeb.
Children in informal care learn significantly less in literacy and math, she concludes. These differences are not explained by differences in family background.