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Child care services, socioeconomic inequalities, and academic performance

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Pediatrics December 2015, Volume 136 / Issue 6
Author: 
Laurin, Julie C.; Geoffroy, Marie-Claude; Boivin, Michel; Japel, Christa; Raynault, Marie-France; Tremblay, Richard E. & Côté, Sylvana M.
Publication Date: 
1 Dec 2015
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Abstract

Objective: To determine if child-care services (CCS) at a population level can reduce social inequalities in academic performance until early adolescence.

Methods: A 12-year population-based prospective cohort study of families with a newborn (n = 1269). Two CCS variables were estimated: “intensity” (low, moderate, and high number of hours) and “center-based CCS type” (early onset, late onset, and never exposed to center-based CCS).

Results: Children from low socioeconomic status (SES) families who received high-intensity CCS (any type), compared with those who received low-intensity CCS, had significantly better reading (standardized effect size [ES] = 0.37), writing (ES = 0.37), and mathematics (ES = 0.46) scores. Children from low-SES families who received center-based CCS, compared with those who never attended center care, had significantly better reading (ESearly onset = 0.68; ESlate onset = 0.37), writing (ESearly onset = 0.79), and mathematics (ESearly onset = 0.66; ESlate onset = 0.39) scores. Furthermore, early participation in center-based CCS eliminated the differences between children of low and adequate SES on all 3 examinations (ES = –0.01, 0.13, and –0.02 for reading, writing, and mathematics, respectively). These results were obtained while controlling for a wide range of child and family variables from birth to school entry.

Conclusions: Child care services (any type) can reduce the social inequalities in academic performance up to early adolescence, while early participation in center-based CCS can eliminate this inequality. CCS use, especially early participation in center-based CCS, should be strongly encouraged for children growing up in a low-SES family.

article
Entered Date: 
6 Apr 2016
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