Child Care Quality: Does It Matter and Does It Need to be Improved? (Full Report). Does Quality of Child Care Have Meaningful Effects on Children’s Developmental Outcomes?

05/24/2000

There are substantial challenges for researchers and policy makers who seek to answer questions about the effects of child care quality on children’s development. One well-acknowledged difficulty is the absence of well-controlled experiments in which children are randomly assigned to child care that varies in quality. Instead, investigators have studied children whose families and child care settings are willing to participate. This examination of naturally occurring child care, as opposed to more controlled experiments, poses challenges for researchers and policy makers (Blau, 1999c; Lamb, 1998; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1994; Vandell and Corasaniti, 1990). These challenges are related to family/child selection biases and to restricted variability in quality scores. Before reviewing research findings pertaining to effects of quality, we briefly describe common strategies for addressing these research challenges.

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