Child outcomes when child care center classes meet recommended standards for quality. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network

Am J Public Health. 1999 Jul;89(7):1072-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.89.7.1072.


Objectives: This study assessed outcomes for children when child care centers meet recommended care standards.

Methods: Data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care were used to examine the association between meeting standards for child-staff ratios, group sizes, caregiver training, and caregiver education and children's development at 24 and 36 months of age.

Results: There were 5 major findings: (1) most classes observed did not meet all 4 recommended standards (compliance ranged from 10% at 6 months of age to 34% at 36 months of age); (2) linear associations were found between number of standards met and child outcomes, and this was more the case at 36 months than at 24 months of age: (3) there was no evidence of threshold effects; (4) children in classes that met more standards had better school readiness and language comprehension scores as well as fewer behavior problems at 36 months of age; and (5) child outcomes were predicted by child-staff ratio at 24 months and caregiver training and education at 36 months of age.

Conclusions: Outcomes were better when children attended classes that met recommended child-staff ratios and recommended levels of caregiver training and education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Day Care Centers / standards*
  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Social Behavior*
  • United States