Children’s Early Child Care and Their Mothers’ Later Involvement With Schools


  • The authors acknowledge the support of grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD055359-01, PI: Robert Crosnoe; R24 HD42849, PI: Mark Hayward; U10 HD025460, PI: Robert Bradley, Co-PI: Robert Crosnoe) and the Foundation for Child Development (PI: Robert Crosnoe) to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Opinions reflect those of the authors and not necessarily the opinions of the granting agencies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert Crosnoe, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1700, Austin, TX 78712-1088. Electronic mail may be sent to


Theory and policy highlight the role of child care in preparing children for the transition into school. Approaching this issue in a different way, this study investigated whether children’s care experiences before this transition promoted their mothers’ school involvement after it, with the hypothesized mechanism for this link being the cultivation of children’s social and academic skills. Analyses of 1,352 children (1 month–6 years) and parents in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development revealed that mothers were more involved at their children’s schools when children had prior histories of high-quality nonparental care. This pattern, which was fairly stable across levels of maternal education and employment, was mediated by children’s academic skills and home environments.