Time in child care benefits children from chaotic homes, study finds

by Sharita Forrest  /   Nov 19, 2015

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Spending 35 or more hours weekly in nonparental child care may have significant developmental benefits for children from chaotic home environments, according to research led by Assistant Professor Daniel Berry of the Department of Educational Psychology.

“The exposure to greater hours and higher quality care may provide a mitigating effect on the impact of chaos in the home,” Berry said. “We don’t understand the mechanisms fully, but we hypothesize that minimizing young children’s exposure to highly chaotic environments may provide some relief.”

Numerous studies have linked chaotic households—homes that are overcrowded, noisy, unclean, and lacking predictable routines—with low academic achievement and attention, social, and behavioral problems among children in poverty.

Researchers found that children from chaotic homes who spent more time in child care during infancy and early childhood experienced better cognitive, emotional, and social development than peers from similar home environments who attended fewer hours of weekly child care.

More than 1,200 children from predominantly low-income families in rural Appalachia and North Carolina participated in the research. Berry and his co-authors tracked the children’s development from the age of 7 months to 5 years, observing children’s interactions with their primary caregiver at home and with their caregivers in child-care centers or other settings.

The paper, published recently in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly, was a component of the Family Life Project, an ongoing study that has followed nearly 1,300 children from two rural, high-poverty regions in the U.S. since the children’s birth in 2003.

Read the full article from the Illinois News Bureau.


Photo by L. Brian Stauffer