National statistics show that more than 80% of kids spend some time in day care by age 4. While often necessary, finding a daycare provider can be a difficult task for many working parents, with as many as 23% of this group employing “multiple arrangements” to meet their children’s needs. However, while tracking down high-quality childcare options for working parents may not be simple, recent studies show that it is worth it: choosing childcare services that meet high standards of care appears to be a significant choice in the lives of both children and their parents.
In a report from the University of Texas at Austin, 1,300 children and their families were evaluated from the time they were about a month old until they reached the age of 4 1/2. The study found that children whose mothers relied on excellent childcare options for working parents, ranging from daycare centers to home daycare providers, were more involved in their children’s schooling. As opposed to mothers who used lower quality options or watched their children themselves, these parents were more likely to regularly communicate with their child’s teachers, attend open houses and other events, and form friendships with fellow parents. The study’s researchers noted that this involvement often makes it easier for young children to transition into the school system.
However, even more significant is the effect of high quality daycare on the children it serves: a separate study undertaken by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 30 years after receiving excellent childcare, study participants were more likely to have college degrees and jobs, as well as less likely to have used public assistance, despite coming from low-income backgrounds themselves. They were also more likely to have put off their own childbearing by at least two years, giving them more time to create a stable environment for their own children.
These two studies represent only a small amount of data that has been found to support the importance of high quality childcare. Despite the evidence supporting it, however, the number of childcare options for working parents is still relatively small. Fortunately, available solutions are expanding: for example, an increasing number of employers are offering childcare in the workplace or employer sponsored childcare, as research has shown that corporate childcare solutions can lead to better productivity, improved retention, and employee loyalty. Whether a parent turns to one of these corporate childcare options, however, or a more traditional daycare center, one thing is clear: finding effective and excellent childcare options for working parents can significantly benefit the family as a whole for years to come.