A variety of changes in the world have demanded an increase in the need for child care. Some of theses changes include migration, poverty, and urbanization. These economic and societal changes are forcing more and more woman into the workforce. Among these are young women and mothers. From the 1970’s to the 1990’s there was a major increase in the need for child care. In March of 1970, 26% of mothers with children under the age of 2 were working outside the home. By the same month in 1984 that number had reached 46.8 %( U.S. Dept of Labor 1984.) Now a days that number is even higher and according to the 2006 census, the number of preschoolers under the age of 5 living with employed mothers reached 11,207. The Children’s Defense Fund estimates that about six million infants and toddlers are in child care.
For many families, day care is an integral part of their family operating smoothly. Recently there has been an outpour of viewpoints regarding whether day care has a direct impact on a child’s development. There is a strong amount of support behind the fact that the stability between the child’s experiences at home and at day care proved development and that any major differences among the two environments were likely to pose developmental obstacles. There is also research supporting the idea that children fro a lower education or economical background can in fact benefit from a difference in environments if this setting provides more than the family home can and/or does. Despite the amount of varying opinions, there is truth in the research studies showing that if given high quality care, child care is definitely not detrimental to a child’s development and can actually prove to be beneficial. Quality child care can be best describes as, “small group sizes, low child-adult ratios, caregiver’s non controlling beliefs, and a safe, clean THE EFFECTS OF CHILD CARE 3
stimulating physical environments. (NICHD Early Childhood Care Research Network, 1996.)
A child’s development can be broken down into 2 major areas: emotional/psychological and social/cognitive development. The emotional/psychological aspects of a child’s development are the critical issues most parents express; especially I he child has attended long-term day care earlier than the age of 5. Emotional development is defined as, “Learning to perceive, appraises, and expresses emotions accurately and appropriately, to use emotion accurately and appropriately, to use emotion to facilitate thinking, to understand and analyze emotions, to use emotional knowledge effectively, and to regulate one’s emotions to promote both emotional and intellectual growth.” (Gerrig and Zimbardo, 2002) Concerns influenced by Bowlby’s Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis increased the fears that separating infants fro their mothers may cause emotional harm to the child or disrupt the mother infant bond have given researchers a topic to study. Bowlby’s maternal deprivation Hypothesis states that “deprivation of attachment during a critical period of development would result in permanent damage.” Researchers have shown that emotional development is weakened by a lack of attachment an bonding from a primary environment that consists of parents and families. The attachment between a mother and an infant is tested by the Ainsworth Strange Situation. The Strange Situation is an observational experiment where the mother and infant are placed in a room with a THE EFFECTS OF CHILD CARE 4
stranger. While they are in this room a series of uncomfortable and slightly distressing episodes are done including the mother leaving the room for a brief moment. After this situation is completed, the dindins will tell the researchers whether the infant has a secure or insecure bond with the mother. Controversy was raised over the validity of this study because it is a short-term environment where as day care is a consistent day to day routine atmosphere. Researchers...