Are There Long-Term Effects of Early Child Care?


  • This study is directed by a steering committee and supported by NICHD through a cooperative agreement (U10) that calls for a scientific collaboration between the grantees and NICHD staff. Participating investigators on the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, listed in alphabetical order, are: Jay Belsky, Birkbeck University of London; Cathryn Booth-LaForce, University of Washington; Robert Bradley, University of Arkansas, Little Rock; Margaret Burchinal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Susan B. Campbell, University of Pittsburgh; K. Alison Clarke-Stewart, University of California, Irvine; Sarah L. Friedman, Institute for Public Research, CAN Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia, Maryland; Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University; Aletha Huston, University of Texas, Austin; Kathleen McCartney, Harvard University; Marion O'Brien, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Margaret Tresch Owen, University of Texas, Dallas; Robert Pianta, University of Virginia; and Susan Spieker, University of Washington; Deborah Lowe Vandell, University of California, Irvine.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jay Belsky, Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck University of London, 7 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RA, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to


Effects of early child care on children's functioning from 4½ years through the end of 6th grade (M age=12.0 years) were examined in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (n=1,364). The results indicated that although parenting was a stronger and more consistent predictor of children's development than early child-care experience, higher quality care predicted higher vocabulary scores and more exposure to center care predicted more teacher-reported externalizing problems. Discussion focuses on mechanisms responsible for these effects, the potential collective consequences of small child-care effects, and the importance of the ongoing follow-up at age 15.