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Sound Off: The Trouble with Day Care
May 16, 2005

"To succeed, consult three old people." - Chinese Proverb

Sound Off: The Trouble with Day Care

This is the provocative title for an article in the June 2005 issue of Psychology Today. The article, with the full title of "The Trouble with Day Care: Are Scientists Telling Parents the Whole Truth?," is based on the latest findings from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care, an ongoing $100 million survey of 1,100 children. While the study engages 20 researchers, the point of view of the article is based on the comments of only one of these, Jay Belsky, who has been a high-profile critic of child care for decades.

This is not to say that the early results just now being released aren't cause for concern. According to an Education Week (May 4, 2005) report on the study....

"Some of the negative effects of child care fade once children enter school, but others linger through the end of the third grade....While the relationship between longer hours in care and greater behavioral problems grew weaker over time, the researchers still found a strong link to poor social skills. They also found a continuing connection between the amount of time children spend in center-based care and conflcts between them and their parents.

"Children, however, benefit by spending time in nonmaternal care when its quality is high. Standardized 3rd grade acheivement tests reviewed by the researchers showed that higher scores were linked to high-quality care. And more time in center-based arrangements was tied to better memory skills in that grade."

While Belsky's fellow researchers argue that these findings are a complicated mixture of good and bad news, and that it is too early to draw firm conclusions, Belsky contends that they tainted by a "liberal progressive feminist bias." and that "their concern is to not make mothers feel bad."

In the Psychology Today article, Belksy further argues that the other NICHD scientists "gloss over the finding that the aggressive children in the study were more than just a little defiant. They were in the 'at risk' range, meaning their behavior was close to the threshold requiring therapy."

Share your views on the implications of these findings as well has how they are reported in the popular press in today's Sound Off. Go to http://mail.ccie.com/go/eed/0623


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