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Who Caresfor America 's Children ? Child Care Policyfor the 1990s Cheryl D. Hayes, John L. Palmer, and Martha I. ZasIow, Editors Pane} on Child Care Policy Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1990
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National Academy Press · 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. · Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose membem are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The work that provided the basis for this volume was supported by the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Who cares for America's children?: child care policy for the 1990s / Cheryl D. Hayes, John L" Palmer, and Martha J. Zaslow, editors: Panel on Child Care Policy, Committee on Child Development Research and Public Polio, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-309-0403~9 1. Child care United States. 2. Child care Government policy -United States. 3. Child care services Government policy United States. I. Hayes, Cheryl D. II. Palmer, John Logan. III. Zaslow, Martha J. IV. National Research Council (U.S.~. Panel on Child Care Policy. HQ778.7.U6W53 1990 362.7-dc20 90-5813 CIP Cover: A collage of drawings done by children from the Stoddert After School Program, Washington, D.C., and the Clara Barton School-Aged Extended Day Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Copyright (if) 1990 by the National Academy of Sciences Printed in the United States of America
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PANEL ON CHILD CARE POLICY JOHN Lo PALMER (Chair), The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University J. LAWRENCE ABER, Department of Psychology, Barnard College ROBERT BECK, Bank of America, San Franc~sco, Calif. BARBARA BOWMAN, Erikson Institute, Chicago, Ill. ANDREW CHERLIN, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University JUDITH F. DUNN, Department of Individual and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University ROBERT LEVINE, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University ELEANOR E. MACCOBY, Department of Psychology, Stanford University RUTH MASSINGA, Maryland Department of Human Resources REBECCA ~ MAYNARD, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ RICHARD NELSON, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University HARRIET PRESSER, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland JUNE S. SALE, UCLA Child Care Services, Los Angeles, Calif. ANNE R. SANFORD, Chapel Hill Gaining Outreach Project, Chapel Hill, iN.C. JACK P. SHONKOFF, Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School EUGENE SMOLENSKY, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley ALBERT J. SOLNIT (Er Offirio, Board on Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine, Institute of Medicine), Child Study Center, Yale University MARGARET B. SPENCER, Division of Educational Studies, Emory Universitr JOHN J. SWEENEY, Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO and CLC, Washington, D.C. CHERYL D. HAYES, Study Director BRIGID O'FARRELL, Senior Research Associate MARTHA J. ZASLOW, Senior Research Associate/Consultant PATRICIA N. MARKS, Research Associate APRIL BRAYFIELD, Statistical Consultant MICHELLE DANIELS, Administrative Secretary . ·-
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COMMITTEE ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH AND PUBLIC POLICY MARY JO BANE (Chair), J.F.K School of Government, Harvard University ROSS PARKE Mice Chair), Department of Psychology, University of Illinois ANN L. BROWN, Center for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois ANTHONY BRYK, Department of Education, University of Chicago DAVID L. CHAMBERS, School of Law, University of Michigan ANDREW J. CHERLIN, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University SHELDON DANZIGER, Institute of Public Policy Studies, University of Michigan GREG J. DUNCAN, Department of Economics, University of Delaware FELTON J. EARLS, Department of Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health, Harvard University GLEN H. ELDER, JR., Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina RICHARD F. ELMORE, College of Education, Michigan State University ROBERT W. FOGEL, Center for Population Economics, University of Chicago CYNTHIA T. GARCIA-COIL, Department of Pediatrics, Brown University Program in Medicine, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island NORMAN GARMEZY, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota RICHARD JESSOR, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado JUDITH E. JONES, National Resource Center for Children in Poverty, School of Public Health, Columbia University RICHARD J. LIGHT, J.F.K School of Government, Harvard University AMADO M. PADILLA, School of Education, Stanford University JOHN L. PALMER, The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University DIANA T. SLAUGHTER, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University BARBARA STARFIELD, School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University THOMAS S. WEISNER, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles 1V
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Contents PREFACE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY I INTRODUCTION 1 Child Care in a Changing Society 2 Mends in Work Family, and Child Care II CHILD CARE AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT 3 The Effects of Child Care 4 Quality of Child Care: Perspectives of Research and Professional Practice 5 Supporting Physical and Psychological Development in Child Care Settings III THE CURRENT SYSTEM 6 Child Care Services 7 Child Care Policies and Programs 8 The Child Care Market and Alternative Policies IV FUTURE DIRECTIONS 9 Recommendations for Data Collection and Research 10 Conclusions and Recommendations for Policies and Programs APPENDIXES A State Regulations for Family Day Care and Center Care B Professional Standards for Early Childhood Programs C Participants in Panel Workshops INDEX v vi1 X1 3 16 45 84 108 147 194 227 269 288 315 324 340 349
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Honorable Louis Sullivan Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Washington, D.C. Dear Mr. Secretary: We are pleased to forward Ho CaresforA?nerka's Children.? the report of the Panel on Child Care Policy. The report was prepared at the request of and with support from the Department of Health and Human Services, with additional support from the Ford Foundation and the Foundation for Child Development. This report is an important statement on child policy issues. It has been prepared by a distinguished group of professionals with diverse backgrounds in pediatrics, public policy, business, education, economics psychology, and other social science fields. The panel was impressed with research showing the importance of close parental involvement with children in the first year of life. In its fifth recommendation, in recognition of the need for dose and early parent-child interaction and the shortage of quality infant care programs, the panel recommends mandating the option of unpaid, job-protected leave for employed parents of infants up to one year of age. As the panel chair notes in his preface, "appropriate public and private policies toward child care ultimately must reflect differing value orientations as much as the weight of scientific evidence and analysis." At least in the near term, there is unlikely to be a clear public consensus on parental leave issues. We believe that further review will be necessary to resolve the matter. We anticipate that such studies will recognize the undoubted burdens that are convincingly documented here to families and children of the current absence of such a provision. But they will also need to consider in fuller detail the very real burdens to individual firms, to the nature of hiring decisions, and to the economy at large that uniform federal mandating of such leave would entail and how they would be allocated. These are issues that should now be addressed with a different array of specialists than those represented on the current panel. Very truly yours, Robert McC. Adams, Chairman Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council Frank Press Chairman National Research Council
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Preface One has had only to follow the news media in recent years, or to be the parent of a young child, to know that child care has become an issue of great concern in America. The social revolution that has transformed American family life over the past several decades has had many repercussions, but none more important than those that affect the care and rearing of our children. As a consequence, a subject that as recently as a generation ago was strictly regarded as a private family matter is today the focus of intense public debate and, increasingly, of public policies. While there is general agreement that the current U.S. system of child care is inadequate and that child care policies should promote the healthy development of children, there is little social consensus beyond this. How important is parental care relative to nonparental care? What specific kinds of care are needed by children of different ages and of various social, economic, and cultural backgrounds? How available and affordable is such care in out-of-home settings? What is the appropriate role of parents, of governments, of employers, and of other institutions in ensuring that children receive such care? These are but some of the important issues that must be better understood, if the nation is to respond effectively to what some have characterized as a crisis in child care. The Panel on Child Care Policy was convened under the auspices of the National Research Council's Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy to collect, integrate, and critically assess data and research that bears on these issues. Our efforts were financed by the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This diverse group of sponsors sought a comprehensive review of knowledge concerning the costs, effects, and feasibility of alternative child care policies and programs to assist . . V11
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. . . V111 PREFACE federal, state, and local decision makers as well as decision makers in the private sector- who, in the coming years, will set the course for government and employer involvement in the provision, financing, and regulation of child care services. This report contains the major findings of this review and the panel's consequent recommendations for future data collection and research and for directions for policy and program development. The magnitude of our task was obviously large and the allotted time to carry it out short. Fortunately, we were blessed in several respects. Our sponsors' key staff, Betsy Ussery, Associate Commissioner of Head Start in the Office of Human Development Services, Heidi Sigal of the Foundation for Child Development, and Shelby Miller of the Ford Foundation, were all that one could wish supportive and generous but nonintrusive. The various members of the panel embodied a wide range of essential scholarly and practical perspectives and, to the last, were exceedingly generous with their time and goodwill. The National Research Council provided us with very able staff as- sistance. The leadership and contributions of Cheryl Hayes, the study director, in particular, were invaluable at every stage of the process, from the initial formulation of the study through to the drafting and redrafting of the final report. In addition to her overall responsibility for managing the study, Cheri worked with the working group on service delivery and assumed primary responsibility for drafting chapters 1, 2, 6, 9, and 10 of this report. The contributions of other members of the staff were also significant to the outcome of the study. Martha J. Zaslow, senior research associate/consultant, worked with members of the working group on the policy implications of child care research to prepare a detailed scholarly review of the child development research on child care and assumed pri- mary responsibility for drafting chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this volume. Brigid O'Farrell, senior research associate, worked with the members of the work- ing group on the child care market and assumed primary responsibility for drafting chapters 7 and 8. Pat N. Marks, research associate, worked with the working group on standards, regulations, and enforcement and assumed primary responsibility for the state data collection, as well as for prepara- tion of all the tables and figures in the report. April Brayfield, consultant, worked with Pat Marks to gather and analyze the state data. Michelle Daniels, administrative secretary, managed all of the details associated with the panel's meetings and prepared the manuscript for publication. Eugenia Grohman, the CBASSE associate director for reports, edited the manuscript and managed its formal review. Finally, numerous individuals outside the panel and its immediate staff also contributed in important ways to the success of the study. Several scholars prepared background papers and analyses that were critical to the panel's deliberations: Teresa Kohlenberg and Frederick Jarman of
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PREFACE 1X the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a detailed review of the research on illness and injury in child care; Lorelei Brush, a paper on the projected costs of expanding Head Start; Roberta Barnes of the Urban Institute, simulation projections of the costs of proposed alternative child care policies; Linda Waite and Arlene Leibowitz of the Rand Corporation, a paper on the effects of child care on women's labor force participation and fertility; Rachel Connelly of the University of Vermont, a paper on the child care market; Sheila Kamerman and Alfred Kahn of the Columbia University School of Social Work an overview of international comparisons of child care policies. Drs. Kamerman and Kahn also organized and cochaired the panel's workshop on cross-national perspectives on child care policy. Many other social science scholars, health and early childhood professionals, federal, state, and local policy officials, representatives of community organizations, businesses, and labor unions from the United States and abroad participated in the panel's five workshops and generously contributed their knowledge, experience, and ideas (see Appendix C). In addition, several individuals were invaluable sources of information and comment that aided the panel and staff in preparing this report, most especially Howard Hayghe at the Bureau of the Census, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale at the George Washington University Medical School, Deborah Phillips at the University of Virginia, Peggy Connerton of the Service Employees International Union, Marcy Whitebook at the Child Care Employee Project, Norton Grubb at the University of California at Berkeley, and Douglas Besharov at the American Enterprise Institute. As is the case with so many important issues currently facing our country, appropriate public and private policies toward child care ulti- mately must reflect differing value orientations as much as the weight of scientific evidence and analysis. Nowhere was this more evident than in the deliberations and conclusions of our panel. Nevertheless, panel members were unanimous in their conviction that we are currently investing far too little in the care of our children for the future health of our nation as a whole. Scientific evidence and analysis are persuasive on this point, and they illuminate fruitful avenues of remedy. We trust that this will be evident to the readers of the pages that follow. John L. Palmer, Chair Panel on Child Care Policy
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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of out- standing engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages edu- cation and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. x
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Executive Summary In the United States over the past decade and a half, as in other developed countries, mothers' entry and attachment to the labor force has changed the allocation of child care and childrearing tasks. The majority of children now have working mothers, and as a result, child care increasingly includes market services provided in an array of out-of-home settings. Since the mid-197Os, care outside the home by unrelated adults has become an increasingly common experience for very young children and for older children during the hours when they are not in school. Child care is no longer simply a protective or remedial service for poor youngsters or those from troubled families; it is an everyday experience for children from all economic classes. What was until recently treated strictly as a private family matter has become a topic of widespread public debate and public policy. In light of these dramatic demographic and economic changes, in 1987 the National Research Council's Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy established under its auspices the Panel on Child Care Policy to critically review and assess knowledge concerning the costs, effects, and feasibility of alternative child care policies and programs as a basis for recommending future directions for public- and private- sector decision making. Over a 2-year period, with support from the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Ford Foundation, the panel has gathered, integrated, and reviewed existing data and research on trends in work, family, and child care; the implications of child care for child health and development; the delivery and regulation of services; and the costs and effects of alternative child care policies and programs. In
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. ~ X11 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS On the basis of its review and deliberations, the panel has reached seven general findings and conclusions that underlie its recommendations: 1. Existing child care services in the United States are inadequate to meet current and likely future needs of children, parents, and society as a whole. For some families, child care services are simply unavailable; for many others, care may be available, but it is unaffordable or fails to meet basic standards of quality. The general accessibility of high-quality, afford- able child care has immediate and long-term implications for the health and well-being of children, parents, and society as a whole. Developmen- tally appropriate care, provided in safe and healthy environments, has been shown to enhance the well-being of young children. It enables parents who need or want to work outside the home to do so, secure in the knowledge that their children are being well provided for. It can contribute to the economic status of families and enhance parents' own personal and career development. And since today's children are tomorrow's adult citizens and workers, their proper care and nurturance will pay enormous dividends to society as a whole. 2. Of greatest concern is the large number of children who are presently cared for in settings that do not protect their health and safety and do not provide appropriate developmental stimulation. Poor-quality care, more than any single type of program or arrangement, threatens children's development, especially children from poor and minority families. Quality varies within and across programs and arrangements provided under differ- ent institutional auspices. High-quality and low-quality care can be found among all types of services, whether they are provided in the child's home or outside it, in schools, child care centers, or family day care homes, in programs operated for profit or those operated not for profit. 3. Irrespective of family income, child care has become a necessity for the majority of American families. Yet specific gaps in current programs and arrangements mean that many children and families lack access to services. Families with infants and toddlers, those with children with dis- abilities, those with mildly or chronically ill children, those with school-age children, and those in which parents work nontraditional schedules often have particular difficulty arranging appropriate child care services. 4. Arranging quality child care can be difficult, stressful, and time- consuming for all families. However, the problems are inevitably com- pounded for low-income families who lack time, information, and economic resources. For these families, the choices are often more limited, and the consequences of inadequate care are likely to be more severe. Therefore, in addressing specific child care needs, public policies should give priority to those who are economically disadvantaged.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY . . . X111 5. The most striking characteristic of existing child care services is their diversity. The current system is an amalgam of providers, programs, and institutional auspices that have little interconnectedness and do not share a sense of common purpose or direction. This diversity is at once a source of strength and a challenge to the development of a more coherent system that meets the needs of all children and all families. On the positive side, the diversity means that parents seeking child care outside their homes have a range of programs and arrangements from which to choose. On the negative side, the diversity means that the costs, availability, and quality of care vary substantially. Preserving parents' choices in the care and rearing of their children is essential; however, it has to be balanced against the need to plan and coordinate services in a way that ensures their quality and accessibility to all families who need them. 6. There is no single policy or program that can address the child care needs of all families and children. The nation will need a comprehensive array of coordinated policies and programs responsive to the needs of families in different social, economic, and cultural circumstances and to children of different ages, stages of development, and with special needs. 7. Responsibility for meeting the nation's child care needs should be widely shared among individuals, families, voluntary organizations, employ- ers, communities, and government at all levels. Americans place a high priority on individuals' values and on the rights of parents to raise their children according to their own beliefs. Therefore, all child care policies should affirm the role and responsibilities of families in childrearing. Gov- ernments, community institutions, and employers should support rather than detract from that role. GOALS OF A CHILD CARE SYSTEM The panel has identified three overarching policy goals that should guide the future development of the child care system in the United States: achieve quality in out-of-home child care services and arrange- ments; improve accessibility to quality child care services for families in different social, economic, and cultural circumstances; and enhance the affordability of child care services for low- and moder- ate-income families. Achieving all three of these goals is critical to the development of an improved child care system in which all children and families have access to affordable programs and arrangements that meet fundamental standards of quality and parents have increased choice in combining child care and employment. In the absence of fiscal constraints, these goals are
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if EXE;CUTI~E SUMMARY not mutually exclusive, nor do they necessarily reflect competing priorities; In the current environment, however, pursuing them simultaneously will inevitably involve some difficult tradeoffs. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILD CARE POLICIES AND PROGRAMS On the basis of its review of the scientific evidence and the panel's best assessment of the costs, effects, and feasibility of selected alternative policy and programmatic actions, the panel recommends five immediate steps to improve the child care system in the United States. The first three will require substantially augmenting current government allocations for child care by $5 to $10 billion annually. The other two can be implemented at much more modest cost, much of which could be borne by the private sector. 1. The federal government, in partnership with the states, should expand subsidies to support low-income families' use of quality child care programs and arrangements. For many parents in or near poverty, problems with child care can be a barrier to becoming and staying employed. Therefore, child care must be a central component of any policy to help poor families achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment. Several specific funding mechanisms are available to channel support for low-income child care, including: (1) changing the dependent care tax credit to meet the needs of low-income families; (2) expanding the earned income tax credit or converting the personal tax exemption for children to a refundable credit; (3) providing additional support for the purchase of services through grant programs such as the Social SeIvices Block Grant program; and (4) allocating additional support for child care and early childhood education provided by the public school systems. The panel is neutral as to the specific funding mechanisms for chan- neling general support for low-income child care. Each of the policy alter- natives presents tradeoffs among the three goals of quality, accessibility, and affordability. While scientific evidence and policy analysis can highlight these tradeoffs, choosing among the goals, and therefore among the policy instruments, is the role of the political process. 2. In partnership with the states, the federal government should expand Head Start and other compensatory pre- school programs for income-eligible 3- and 4-year-olds who are at risk of early school failure.
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EXE;CUTIVE SUMMARY XV Over two decades of experience with the federally funded Head Start program and major evaluation studies provide convincing evidence of the ef- fectiveness of high~uality comprehensive early childhood education. These programs provide economically disadvantaged and at-risk preschool chil- dren an early educational experience that improves their chances of later academic success. Accordingly, the panel concludes that the Head Start program should be expanded to serve all income-eligible 3- and 4-year-olds in need of comprehensive child development services. In addition, Head Start programs should be integrated with community child care programs to provide extended-day care for children whose parents are employed. They should also be coordinated with other public and private school and child care programs serving children in low-income families and children with disabilities in this age group to ensure that appropriate services are acces- sible to all children and families who need them. For low-income children who do not require intensive comprehensive child care programs that com- bine health, education, and social services, publicly provided compensatory education programs should be expanded. 3. Governments at all levels, along with employers and other private-sector groups, should make investments to strengthen the infrastructure of the child care system. The panel urges several specific steps to strengthen the infrastructure of the child care system: a. expand resource and referral services; b. improve caregiver training and wages; c. expand vendor-voucher programs; d. encourage the organization of family day care systems; and e. improve planning and coordination. Improving the accessibility of quality child care to low- and moderate- income families will depend in part on developing a child care system that meets the needs of all children and families. Improving the capacity of the system to match consumers and providers, to offer information and referral to parents, to provide training and technical assistance to family day care providers, and to support effective planning and coordination of policies, programs, and resources at all levels would enhance the quality and accessibility of services to all families. 4. The federal government should initiate a process to de- velop national standards for child care. An extensive and growing body of scientific research and best pro- fessional practice has established the importance of child care quality for
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XVI EXECUTIVE SUMMARY child development. Based on existing knowledge, it is possible to specify reasonable ranges for standards to govern many important features of child care, including stafI/child ratios, group size, caregiver qualifications, and the configuration of physical space. Staff/Child Ratios Research shows that the staff/child ratio is most critical for infants and young toddlers (O to 24 months). For those youngest children, the ratio should not exceed 1:4. For 2year-olds, acceptable ranges are 1:3 to 1:6; for 3-year-olds, 1:5 to 1:10; and for 4- and 5-year-olds, 1:7 to 1:10. Group Size Children benefit from social interactions with peers; how- ever, larger groups are generally associated with less positive interactions and developmental outcomes. Acceptable ranges are a maximum of 6 to 8 children during the first year of life, 6 to 12 for 1- and 2-year-olds, 14 to 20 for 3-year-olds, and 16 to 20 for 4- and 5-year-olds. Caregiver Training and EJcpertence Caregivers in child care centers, family day care homes, and school-based programs should have specific training in child development theory and practice. In addition, research shows that more years of general education contribute to caregiver perfor- mance and children's developmental outcomes. Physical Space and Facilities Space should be well organized, orderly, differentiated, and designed for children's use. Specific activities should have assigned areas within a child care center or family day care home (e.g., an art table, a dramatic play corner, a block-building corner, a reading corner). Facilities and toys should be age appropriate for the children using them. Current state regulations vary dramatically, and few reflect existing knowledge about the dimensions of qualibr that are essential to protect children's health and safety and to stimulate social and cognitive devel- opment. Unfortunately, there are few economic or political incentives for the states to take this step. Thus, incentives must also be created to encourage state involvement: for example, linking federal funding to compliance with national standards. Accordingly, the panel recommends that the federal government establish a national-level task force to bring together representatives of the states, the relevant professional organiza- tions, service providers, and appropriate federal agencies to review current knowledge from child development research and professional practice to develop national standards for the provision of child care services and preschool education.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY xvii 5. The federal government should mandate unpaid, job- protected leave for employed parents of infants up to 1 year of age. In light of scientific evidence on the importance of establishing strong relationships between parents and children in the early months of life and the greater likelihood that these enduring relationships will develop when parents have time and emotional energy to devote to their young children, the panel urges that the federal government mandate unpaid, job- protected leave for employed parents of infants up to 1 year of age. Clearly, public policies should also stimulate the development of quality child care programs for infants and toddlers. However, in light of existing knowledge from child development research and the shortage of quality infant and toddler care programs, national child care policy should also offer parents the option of remaining at home to care for their own children. Even among those who agree that parental leave policies should be implemented, there is little consensus about whether leaves should be paid or unpaid and, if paid, at what level of wage replacement, for what period of time, at whose cost, and with what assistance for the particular problems of small employers. Our conclusion, based on a review of the available research and the panel's professional judgment, is that, in the long term, policies should provide paid leave with partial income replacement for up to 6 months and unpaid leave 'or up to an additional 6 months, with job-related health benefits and job guarantees during the year. We recognize, however, that the costs to employers and governments will make the implementation of paid parental leave impossible in the near term. Accordingly, as a first step, we recommend that the federal government mandate that employers ensure unpaid, job-protected leave, with continued health benefits, for up to 1 year for all parents who prefer to remain at home following the arrival of a new baby. We acknowledge that without wage replacement, parental leave will not be a viable option for many families, and we look forward to the eventual implementation of policies to provide paid leave. In sum, in keeping with the panel's objective of enhancing families' choices among child care arrangements for infants, parental leave as well as quality out-of-home care should be an option regardless of parents' economic status.
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