We all know the benefits of high-quality early childcare for all children. But just how important is early childcare for setting a positive life trajectory course? Domond et al (10.1542/peds.2019-3880) attempt to seek out that answer in a 30-year prospective study that we are early releasing this month. The authors share results from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children, that started in 1980/1981 and continues on to today involving 3,020 children, now adults in this cohort. They combined data from this study with government records in Canada noting such things as high school graduation and mean income in young adulthood while also looking at whether individuals in this study were in early child care at survey points from 6 months to 4 years of age using propensity score analysis to control for social selection bias. The authors divided their cohort into those that were enrolled in childcare beginning in infancy (at about 6 months of age), as toddlers (after 2.5 years of age), or were never exposed to childcare.
Boys in childcare as infants had greater odds of graduating high school than those never exposed and had greater odds for a higher income as young adults. However, girls did not show similar results.
We invited Dr. Iheoma Iruka from the HighScope Educational Research Foundation in Michigan to provide an accompanying commentary (10.1542/peds.2020-0483). Dr. Iruka shares with us possible hypotheses for why boys seem to benefit more than girls from early childhood and at the same time reminds of the value of not just childcare but a family’s economic stability and functioning as other key contributors to a positive life trajectory. It is certainly possible that girls also benefit from childcare in ways not identified in the study. There are a host of benefits to be gained from reading this study and commentary and in turn from supporting efforts to improve the quality of childcare for all children, so link to these articles and help insure the child care programs in your communities have what they need to lead to results such as those contained in this fascinating study by Rha et al.