Day care : effects on cognitive development of low and middle socio-economic status children
Gatto, Janice M.
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In today's society an increasing number of American women are entering the work force. This increase of working mothers has led to a subsequent need for substitute child care for children, particularly for children under 3 years old. However, there is still considerable controversy regarding the effects of day care on children’s development, including their cognitive development. The detrimental effects of poverty on preschoolers' intellectual development are believed to be lessened when children attend quality day-care centers. However, the effects of day care on children from low socio-economic status (SES) homes have been studied previously in isolation rather than in comparison to children from middle SES homes. The present study compared children in center-based day care from low and middle SES groups in two age groups, 9-month-olds and 2i-year-olds. There were twelve children in each age group and all subjects had entered day care prior to age 1. Analyses were performed to identify possible effects of day care on children's cognitive development, assessed by age appropriate problem-solving tasks and standardized tests. The standardized test for the 9 month old group was the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, the mental scale; the test for the 2i year-old group was the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised. The results of these analyses did not find significance between SES groups for either age group. This may have been due to the small sample size and the large amount of variability within the SES groups. Also, the SES related variables affecting intellectual performance are not displayed in infant development test scores. However, the finding that there was no difference in performance between low and middle SES groups for the 2i-year-olds suggests that day care may dissipate the effects of low SES that are observed between 18 and 24 months old (Burchinal, Lee & Ramey, 1989). However, more research is needed to compare low, middle and high SES group longitudinally.