Child Care and the Development of Behavior Problems Among Economically Disadvantaged Children in Middle Childhood


  • We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following organizations: University of Pittsburgh’s Central Research Development Fund’s Small Grants Program. Government agencies: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R03 HD057294 “Child Care Resources in Low-Income Communities” and RO1 HD36093 “Welfare Reform and the Well-Being of Children”), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Children and Families, Social Security Administration, and National Institute of Mental Health. Foundations: The Boston Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Searle Fund for Policy Research, and The Woods Fund of Chicago. A special thank you is also extended to the families who participated in the Three-City Study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 210 South Bouquet Street, 4123 Sennott Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Electronic mail may be sent to


Research examining the longer term influences of child care on children’s development has expanded in recent years, but few studies have considered low-income children’s experiences in community care arrangements. Using data from the Three-City Study (N = 349), the present investigation examines the influences of child care quality, extent and type on low-income children’s development of behavior problems during middle childhood (7–11 years old). Higher levels of child care quality were linked to moderate reductions in externalizing behavior problems. High-quality child care was especially protective against the development of behavior problems for boys and African American children. Child care type and the extent of care that children experienced were generally unrelated to behavior problems in middle childhood.