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Rural neighborhood context, child care quality, and relationship to early language development

Research Findings: Prior research with older urban children indicates that a disadvantaged neighborhood context is associated with poorer early development, including poorer verbal ability, reading recognition, and achievement scores among children. Neighborhood disadvantage in rural communities and at younger age levels may also be related to development; however, this relationship has received little examination. In this study we utilized data from the Family Life Project, a representative sample of babies born to mothers in poor rural counties in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, to address questions related to the relationship between neighborhood context (disadvantage and safety) and children's early language development. We examined the mediation of this relationship by child care quality. We also examined geographic isolation and collective socialization as moderators of the relationship between neighborhood context and child care quality. Results indicated that although neighborhood disadvantage did not predict children's development or child care quality, neighborhood safety predicted children's receptive language, with child care quality a partial mediator of this relationship. Collective socialization but not geographic isolation moderated the relationship between neighborhood safety and child care quality. Practice or Policy: Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed, including improving community safety through community policing, neighborhood watch, and social networks and increasing access to quality child care. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
North Carolina; Pennsylvania

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