Does Child-Care Quality Mediate Associations Between Type of Care and Development?


Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 815 West Van Buren St., Suite 525, Chicago, IL 60607 (


Studies document that, on average, children cared for in centers, as compared to homes, have higher cognitive test scores but worse socioemotional and health outcomes. The authors assessed whether the quality of care received explains these associations. They considered multiple domains of child development—cognitive, socioemotional, and health—and examined whether mediation is greater when quality measures are better aligned with outcome domains. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort, they found that children in centers have better cognitive skills and behavioral regulation than children in homes, but worse social competence and generally equivalent health (N = 1,550). They found little evidence that quality of child care, as measured by standard instruments (e.g., the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale—Revised), accounts for associations between type of care and child developmental outcomes.