Get access

Effects of Nonmaternal Care in the First 3 Years on Children’s Academic Skills and Behavioral Functioning in Childhood and Early Adolescence: A Sibling Comparison Study


  • We wish to thank Rebekah Levine Coley for statistical advice on this manuscript. This research was supported by R01HD50691 (Jaffee), R01MH70025 (Van Hulle), and RO1HD043265 (Rodgers).

concerning this article should be addressed to Sara Jaffee, Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, PO80, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to


Nonmaternal care of infant children is increasingly common, but there is disagreement as to whether it is harmful for children. Using data from 9,185 children (5 years and older) who participated in the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the current study compared 2 groups: those for whom nonmaternal care was initiated in the first 3 years and those for whom it was not. Between-family comparisons showed that early nonmaternal care was associated with higher achievement and lower behavior problem scores in childhood and adolescence. However, within-family comparisons failed to detect differences between siblings who had different early nonmaternal care experiences. The study concludes that the timing of entry to nonmaternal care in the first 3 years has neither positive nor negative effects on children’s outcomes.