A systematic review and meta-analytic inquiry into the effect of child care on children experiencing poverty
Childhood poverty is associated with a range of negative developmental consequences (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997). Several well-known early childhood intervention programs have demonstrated success in supporting cognitive, language, and behavioural outcomes for children experiencing social disadvantage (Anderson et al., 2003; Barnett, 1995, Ramey & Ramey, 2004). Less known is the impact of naturally occurring centre-based child care programs on developmental outcomes of children living in poverty. A systematic review and meta-analytic inquiry was undertaken to shed light on the potential for child care programs to support developmental outcomes. Of the over 11,000 titles and abstracts reviewed, 226 full documents were subsequently retrieved and reviewed for possible inclusion, and 25 were ultimately included in the in-depth review. The large degree of heterogeneity in and across these studies, reflecting a variety of child care and outcome measures, precluded combination into a single average effect size. A reduced meta-analytic inquiry into the impact of high quality child care on cognitive-linguistic, social, and behavioural outcomes revealed average effect sizes of g=0.41, g=0.37, and g= -0.36 respectively. High quality child care was associated with improved cognitive-linguistic and social outcomes, and reduced behavioural concerns for children from impoverished backgrounds. Collectively, the systematic review, meta-analytic inquiry, and individual effect size data indicates that child care holds the potential to exert a meaningful and positive influence in the lives of children experiencing poverty under conditions of high structural and process quality. Findings are discussed through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecology of human development.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramEducational Psychology and Special Education
CommitteeMcIntyre, Laureen; Schwier, Richard
Copyright DateDecember 2013
early childhood education