intervention aimed at generating modest increases in parental education would produce measurable benefits for children's development. Associations found between parental occupation and children's development suggest that characteristics of employment may have a modest impact on children 's development The literature on single-parent family structure shows that children living in single-parent families are at greater risk for poor developmental outcomes compared with children reared in two-parent families, although we have a limited understanding of the processes involved.
The research on maternal employment and children's development is generally reassuring to working parents. Nevertheless, we have learned that maternal employment is too complex a phenomenon for simple comparisons between young children with and without working mothers to reveal consistent differences. Rather, it is the circumstances of work, such as the income it generates, the proportion of the day the infant is spending in the presence of a security-giving, trusted caregiver, and related effects on family functioning that lie at the heart of how maternal employment affects young children. In particular, there is now evidence that nonstandard working hours—which now make up a major share of jobs for poor working women—pose risks for children; and that going to work for long hours during the child's first year poses a risk to child development perhaps especially when trade-offs are involved from time in sensitive and stable parental care at home to time in poorer quality alternative care, as they often are.
Some of the most promising efforts to understand how a family's resources affect young children have focused on the mental health of parents, associated effects on their parenting, and the quality of the home environment, notably the support it provides for learning. Punitive parenting, reduced monitoring, parental psychological distress, and substance abuse, as well as less parental support for children 's early learning, are all more prevalent in low-income families. While these factors have often been studied in isolation, they are likely to occur in clusters which, in turn, place children at higher risk of poor outcomes.