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Stress and caregiver sensitivity among childcare staff in Santiago, Chile

Background: This exploratory study examines the relationship between stress and caregiver sensitivity among non-parental childcare centre staff who attend Chilean daycare centres serving low-income children between 12- and 24-months-old. Method: Participants were 23 childcare providers (nine teachers and 14 childcare technicians) who were evaluated with an average of three children each at one time. Stress associated to caregiving practices was assessed using the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF), and caregiver sensitivity was measuring using the Child-Adult Relationship Experimental Index Toddlers (CARE-index). Results: No association was found between global level of stress and caregiver sensitivity. However, there was a significant association between the caregiver-child dysfunctional interaction subscale and caregiver sensitivity, specifically with the cognitive aspects of sensitive response and when a caregiver was nonresponsive. Furthermore, the 'Difficult Child' PSI subscale was associated with the cognitive aspects of the caregiver's sensitive response. Conclusions: These findings support the relevance of children's early interactions with their non-parental caregivers and demonstrate how daily stress can affect the cognitive aspects of the caregivers' sensitive response to the infants' needs. (author abstract)
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