What are the implications of the results?

CCKM’s Research Guide for Child Care Decision Making goes beyond descriptive analysis of the conditions of child care in Canada and in other nations. The Research Guide provides quantitative displays of data that connect the conditions of child care to children’s development. Decision makers can consider empirical research findings, summarised across 66 reports, in easy to interpret graphical and tabular form. They do not have to rely on opinions alone, single studies, or opinion-confirming evidence that often capture media attention and sound bites. The Research Guide gives decision makers a chance to view a large body of research results. It gives decision makers a way of drawing evidence-based conclusions.

CCKM made the evidence easy to access. It accomplished this goal through painstaking scrutiny of the results of 563 tests of 66 major international reports of nearly 28,000 children, many of whom were evaluated on more than one occasion. The children’s test scores led to the conclusion that the conditions of child care matter to early development. Conditions of child care matter most for cognitive and for language development.

The variance amongst the studies in national origin, methods, measures, analytic techniques strengthens the resounding conclusion: quality of child care matters to growth of children’s intellectual (cognitive) and communicative (language) achievements.

The argument that children are better off in family homes than in child care centres is not supported by the evidence in the Research Guide. There is evidence to the contrary, but parents, teachers, and policy makers can take comfort in the notion that it is the quality of the care that matters most. That means that the quality of the child care setting (interactions, intellectual stimulation, learning materials, etc.) and the quality of the caregiver (education and training, professional development, emotional sensitivity, etc.) can and must meet the developmental needs of young children.

Fortunately, what is good in quality of child care has been identified by well-established criteria that have met tests of reliability and validity over the past twenty years or more. Descriptions of the conditions that give rise to good quality care are available in many sources including books, government documents, and the Internet. Decision makers can use these sources, many of which are described in CCKM’s Research Guide, to evaluate the conditions under which they place the responsibility for the early development of children.

    2006 © Canadian Centre for Knowledge Mobilisation