Parents, early childhood educators, policy makers, and
researchers make important decisions about the care of our
nation’s youngest citizens. They decide the conditions under
children learn and play during the work-time hours of their
parents. These decisions are especially important because the
first years of life are thought to set the stage for
children’s future learning opportunities and achievements.
Parents want to know what is best for their own children,
teachers want to know what is best for children in their
preschool, policy makers want to know what is best for the
nation, and researchers want to know how to find the answers.
Many decisions have to be made: What to do? What to fund? What
Decisions about child care are informed in many ways. Friends,
relatives, doctors, and teachers offer their opinions. Parents
examine their own attitudes and feelings to determine what
seems like the right thing to do for themselves and their
families. Attention is sometimes given to data from the latest
child care study reported in the press or posted on the
But individual opinions or single research studies are not
enough to inform the important decisions that must be made
about child care. Decisions can be better and more confidently
made when one has access to large and credible bodies of
evidence. Evidence is defined by the accumulated
results of child care research, not by one study.
Decision makers need access to
the data and results of studies that have been gathered widely
from respected research sources and weighed in a fair and open
manner. Objective reviews of research literature can help to
reduce personal bias in decision making by focusing attention
beyond opinion-confirming evidence.
For this reason the Canadian Centre for Knowledge Mobilisation
(CCKM) created an easy-to-use Research Guide that summarises the
results of 66 research reports in words and in numbers. Overall, the research examined
the relationship of seven factors of child care to children’s
cognitive, language, and behavioural development. The Research
Guide is meant to help parents,
teachers, and policy makers find out what the research
says. The Research Guide is also meant to help researchers find out
what has already been studied, how it has been studied, and
where the gaps can be found and filled with new research.
In the end, readers can add the knowledge of accumulated
research findings to other factors that will influence their
decisions about child care. Why rely on just one opinion or
one study for such important decisions?
The Research Guide for Child Care Decision Making was created
by CCKM with funding from the Canadian Council on Learning
and Research Works! for child literacy, a
Community-University Research Alliance of the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council of Canada. These organisations
bear no responsibility for design or content of CCKM’s
Research Guide. It is important to know that CCKM does not
represent any child care agency or interest group, or
governmental, non-governmental, or arm-length governmental
organisation advocating for or against non-parental child
CCKM recognises that several reviews of child care research have
already been published.
Research Guide is meant to add value to the existing
the following features.
links between the conditions of child care and children’s
Special attention to the Canadian context.
A large sample of reports, and studies
that included large samples of children.
A range of reports, not limited to studies conducted in the
Full disclosure on how the reports and their data were
selected and coded.
Quantitative synthesis of results, but not limited to
randomised controlled trials.
Annotated summaries and direct access to each report.
Resources for identifying child care databases.
Resources of tools for measuring quality of care and
Across the 66 reports in the Research Guide, children,
conditions of child care, measures of child development, and
so forth differed from study to study. The research questions
and how they were asked also differed from study to study,
year to year, decade to decade, country to country, researcher
to researcher. How could such diverse research, therefore, be
harnessed together to competently inform decision making?
The answer lies in a simple but painstaking process of
collecting the published research studies, cataloguing the
procedures and results of each study, and summarising findings
across studies. The process relies on methods that are
transparent, systematic, reliable, and dispassionate.
Research Guide contains nine sections that are arranged so that the
reader can choose one or another and in any order. In addition
to the Aims, the Introduction to the Research Guide explains the
Background upon which child care research rests, and describes
in detail the Methods used to obtain, select, and summarise
the 66 reports contained in the Research Guide. The methods included
the creation of easy to understand quantitative displays of
accumulated results. The results came from 563 individual
tests of the cognitive, language, and behavioural development
of nearly 28,000 children.
from the 66 reports is summarised around two questions central
to decisions about the work-time care of infants and
preschoolers: What’s better for children’s development,
home care or centre care? What factors of child care matter
to child's development? The questions are answered
based on seven factors of child care that were examined in
research studies: type of care, age of entry into non-parental
care, time spent in non-parental care, stability of caregiving, quality of child care, teacher education, and
adult-child ratio in child care. The evidence for each of the
seven factors is displayed in research Scorecards,
along with citations that include summaries of each
research report that contributed to the findings. Where
possible, the full text of the report is attached for those
who want to read the details of the studies.
Researchers and policy analysts may want to know about the
databases that were used in some of the reports; they are
listed and described in the Resources section of
the Research Guide. Descriptions of tools used to
measure children's development and the quality of child care
are also provided as Resources. Students and
researchers may find these materials helpful in understanding
past research and planning future research. Finally, a
printable booklet containing the online Research Guide can be
ordered free of costs.
writer, product designer
Western Ontario) Web
designer, project manager, editor
Waterloo) Data extraction
specialist, graphic designer
(University of Waterloo)
Toronto) Lead reviewer,
data extraction specialist, editor
Ottawa) Article retrieval
The work for this project was
funded in part by the Canadian Council on Learning, and by
Research Works!, a Community-University Research Alliance of
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The Research Guide is the property of the Canadian Centre for
Knowledge Mobilisation and does not necessarily reflect the
views of any other organisation.
information and resources included in the website may be used
only for noncommercial purposes such as private study,
teaching, and research, provided that you do not modify such
content. The content cannot be copied, distributed, or
transmitted without full citation.
Canadian Centre for Knowledge Mobilisation (2006, June).
CCKM's Research Guide to Child Care Decision Making. Waterloo,
format for the 66 research reports are listed in the
Every effort was made to ensure accuracy,
but CCKM cannot be held liable for loss or damage of any kind
based on the information contained in this document. CCKM will
endeavour to correct any mistakes or misleading information.
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