How working parents manage child care

Studies have established that high-quality parenting is superior to high family income and high-quality child care in contributing to children's academic ability. Research also indicates that children need shorter hours in child care, less non-parental care over the first year and higher-quality care overall.

Experts have some advice for working parents:

  • Limit the number of hours children are being cared for by others, since too much time away from parents has been linked to behavioural problems later.

  • Weigh carefully the tradeoffs between increasing family income for the sake of a child's later college education and spending more time with the child now to enhance his or her early development.

  • A caring, sensitive nanny for help might be a solution for working parents, but because of the cost, fewer than 5 percent of preschoolers have them.

    Also, parents must work to remain sensitive to their children's emotional needs. Overlong working hours can impair parent's sensitivity to the point where they are emotionally absent, even if they are physically present for their children.

    Source: Sue Shellenbarger, A Hard Lesson In Family Economics: In Day Care, You Get What You Pay For, Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2003.

    For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB1042658577129421184-search,00.html
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    FMF Policy Bulletin\22 January 2003

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