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From early care and education to adult problem behaviors: A prevention pathway through after-school organized activities.


Motivated by Edward Zigler's proposition that programs serving children (birth through 12 years) can have long-term effects on well-being and development, we used data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1,258) to test two pathways by which early care and education (ECE) are linked to after-school organized activities in middle childhood and to problem behaviors in late adolescence and adulthood. In support of an activities pathway, we found children with more ECE hours and more epochs in center-based ECE settings from 1 to 54 months had more epochs in after-school organized activities from kindergarten to 5th grade, which then predicted less impulsivity and less police contact at age 26. In support of a child pathway, we found that more ECE hours and more epochs in center-based ECE settings were linked to externalizing problems in early childhood, which then predicted higher problem behaviors in middle childhood, late adolescence, and adulthood. Together, these pathways underscored the potential of direct and indirect links of ECE and after-school organized activities in relation to later development.

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