Major study finds effects of child care quality linger into the second grade

(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL - A major national study that examined whether quality in child care makes a difference in children's intellectual and social readiness for school showed that indeed it does.

The study revealed that the effects of higher-quality care -- when children from four states were in classes for 3-year-olds -- could still be measured at the end of the second grade. Those effects were strongest among children who were at greater risk of doing poorly in school.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UCLA, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Yale University conducted the research and released their findings at a Washington, D.C. news conference Tuesday, June 8. Because of the importance of the results and their policy implications, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley was scheduled to attend and speak at the media briefing.

"In families where both parents work full-time to make ends meet, the children can spend as many waking hours in child care as they do with their parents," Riley said in a prepared statement. "This study underscores the importance of high-quality child care in laying the developmental foundation for every child to enter school ready to learn. I urge policymakers at all levels of government to redouble their efforts to make quality child care opportunities available to hard-working American families."

Dr. Richard Clifford, co-director of the National Center for Early Development and Learning at UNC-CH's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, and Dr. Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, a researcher at the Graham Center, were principal investigators for the study. UNC-CH served as the coordinating center for this phase of the study.

Beginning in 1993, investigators identified children in 3-year-old classes in typical child-care centers in North Carolina, California, Colorado and Connecticut and then followed their educational pro

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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