NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 8, 2005

Despite several academic studies to the contrary, the Canadian government has decided that day care is better for young children than at-home care. Hence, it is spending $5 billion over the next five years to promote a national day care program.

Liberals in Parliament have relied on studies by the Childcare Research and Resource Unit, a lobbying group funded by the government itself. The CRRU claims that for every dollar spent on day care, families reap two dollars in benefits from increased labor productivity.

But according to several studies published in the journal Child Development:

  • The more time children spent in any nonmaternal care arrangements during the first 4.5 years of life, the more externalizing problems and conflict with adults they manifested at 54 months of age and in kindergarten, as reported by mothers, caregivers and teachers.
  • Infants and toddlers in day care settings were found to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol during the day, while infants and toddlers at home experienced declines in cortisol levels throughout the day.
  • Additionally, psychologists argue that in order for children to form healthy attachments, they need adult role models in the form of parents, not day care teachers.

However, the body of evidence is not stopping Ken Dryden, Canada's Minister of Social Development. Despite the push for national day care, however, a recent poll showed that 70 percent of Canadians prefer to have one parent at home during a child's preschool years.

Sources: Andrea Mrozek, "Careless Research," Western Standard, April 4, 2005; S.E. Watamura, et al., "Morning to Afternoon Increases in Cortisol Concentrations for Infants and Toddlers at Child Care: Age Differences and Behavioral Correlates," and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network, "Does Amount of Time Spent in Child Care Predict Socioemotional Adjustment During the Transition to Kindergarten?" Child Development July/August 2003, Vol. 74, No. 4.


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