Community resilience, quality childcare, and preschoolers' mental health: a three-city comparison

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Oct;73(7):1080-7. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.052. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Many studies suggest that quality childcare can positively influence children's outcomes in a wide range of domains, including mental health. While an extensive literature on the effects of childcare on individual children exists, how quality childcare programs contribute to trends at the population-level is yet to be established. In this study, we examine community differences in the quality of childcare and the mental health of children attending childcare centres in three communities in British Columbia, Canada. Previous research on Kindergarten children conducted in these communities indicated that two exhibited expected outcomes (based on socioeconomic criteria, these communities were classified as "better off" and "worse off"), and one exhibited better than expected outcomes and was therefore labeled "resilient." We hypothesized that the better than expected child outcomes in the resilient community were due to better quality childcare in this community. To test this hypothesis, we assessed 621 children and their 24 respective childcare centres, and conducted extensive observations of the three study communities. As expected, teachers (but not parents) from the resilient community reported fewer children's mental health problems and childcare quality was found to be higher in the resilient community than in the comparison communities. However, city differences were lost in the hierarchical linear regressions suggesting that the community effects were mediated through childcare quality. To interpret these findings we turned to our observations that indicated that the resilient community was markedly different from the other two in terms of the social capital and developmental assets that it possessed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia
  • Child Care / standards*
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires