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Poor Children's Social Development and Child Care Quality: Differential Associations Related to Race/Ethnicity of the Child Care Provider


The Growing Up in Poverty Project (GUP) examines the child care settings that women use as they move from welfare to work. In this study, I focused on two aspects of quality--structural features of quality and providers' personal attributes and their beliefs about child-rearing, their relationship to the social development of young children in these settings, and how the settings' care and quality vary with the children's and providers' race/ethnicity. The GUP sample included Anglo, African-American, and Latino providers and mothers with children 12-42 months old who used non-parental child care in child care centers, family day care homes (FDCH), or informal kith/kin settings.

Several instruments were used to measure structural level aspects of child care quality, the provider's affective and verbal responsiveness to children, the providers' responsiveness to children's language behaviors, and children's overall social development. Provider interviews explored their child care beliefs.

Salient findings include (a) in child care centers and family day care homes, Latina and African-American providers differed from Anglo providers in measures of structural level aspects of child care quality; (b) in child care centers, African-American providers displayed positive behaviors toward children more often than Anglo providers; (c) in FDCH/kith and kin settings (combined for most analysis), African-American providers were more likely than Anglo providers to request the child to speak; (d) child care providers reported a greater number of behavioral problems with male children, irrespective of their racial/ethnicity; (e) the longer the period during which the mother received welfare benefits, the lower the incidence of provider-reported child behavior problems, regardless of race/ ethnicity; (f) for African-American and Anglo providers, higher incomes were associated with fewer provider-reported child behavioral problems; and (g) the ethnic match between parent and childcare provider did not significantly influence provider-reported behavioral problem incidents in children.

These findings support those of previous researchers in some areas: male children appear to be at greater risk for reported behavioral problems and children of less poor parents appear to display more positive child outcomes. The study contributed new data that further inform our knowledge in this area.

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