Casey: Study Highlights Need for Child Care Improvements

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh helped conduct study

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, cited the findings in a new long-term study as further evidence for the need for increased federal support for early learning and child care.  Senator Casey has introduced legislation to expand child care an early childhood education.  The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development published in the new volume of the journal Child Development found that participating in high-quality child care early in life can give children an academic leg up for years to come.

“An enhanced investment in high-quality child care helps to boost the nation’s productivity, prosperity, and competitiveness,” said Senator Casey. “It helps children by giving them the best shot at success in school and beyond. It also provides assistance and peace of mind to working parents who are struggling to make ends meet. And it helps our nation stay competitive with a stronger work force now and in the future.”  

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded the study, “Do Effects of Early Child Care Extend to Age 15 Years?  Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.”  The latest results of the study are published in the May-June volume of the journal Child Development.  The study is the first to document the long-term effects of non-relative child care in a diverse population.  It finds that providing high-quality child care and early childhood education in the first four-and-a-half years of life has positive effects on the academic performance of children through adolescence while low-quality child care can have a lasting negative effect.

Approximately 13.5 million federally eligible children do not receive child care assistance through currently available programs offered by the U.S. government and could benefit from a federal investment in high-quality child care.  

Senator Casey, a longstanding advocate for children, has introduced legislation to improve the availability of high-quality child care to children across the U.S.

•    Together with Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Senator Casey introduced Starting Early, Starting, Right Act (S.1000) in May 2009 to reverse chronic underfunding of child care and increase the availability of high-quality child care to children in low-income and working class families.

•    He also introduced The Child Care Facilities Financing Act of 2009 (S.1002), which would address the critical importance of a quality physical environment for children, an issue that has often been overlooked in the need to ensure greater access to quality care.  

•    Additionally, Senator Casey’s Prepare All Kids Act (S.839) would help all children prepare for school by providing high-quality pre-kindergarten education. The Prepare All Kids Act will assist states in providing at least one year of high quality pre-kindergarten to children. The plan calls for a new federal investment to be accompanied by matching funds from the states.       

Senator Casey continued: “’Starting early, starting right’ is not just a piece of legislation, it is a philosophy rooted in the fundamental principle of what it means to be an American – and that is that every person, and every child, has the opportunity to succeed.  When America supports high quality child care, we encourage children, families and our nation to reach their full potential.”

For lower and higher income children alike, researchers conducting a longitudinal study tracking over 1,300 children since 1991 in 10 locations across the country, including in Pennsylvania, found that the positive effects of high-quality child care can have lasting effects on cognitive development and academic success.  Children in high-quality child care see a modest boost in academic performance, whereas children in low-quality child care were more likely to see negative consequences such as obedience and academic problems.  These differences persisted through their 15th birthdays, suggesting that the positive effects of high-quality child care can last for years with the potential to positively influence children through the remainder of their lives.