Child care choice: Parental processes and consequences for research
This dissertation approaches parents' child care choice processes from two perspectives, using mixed methods. The first study used qualitative data to examine how low-income parents make their employment and child care decisions while balancing their roles as nurturer and provider. Child age, parents' job characteristics, resources and resource management, and immigration status emerge as four major factors in parents' employment and care decisions. Additionally, the study highlights the role better information and dissemination could play in helping families manage these choices. The second study examined potential mediators for cognitive impacts seen in nonurban children in the National Head Start Impact Study's 3-year-old cohort. This study finds no evidence that the availability of alternative formal-care options explain the impacts for this group. There is some indication that nonurban children's higher quality post-Head Start schooling could mediate impacts, but problems with missing data mean these findings must be treated with much caution. Better geographic identifiers, and attention to children's developmental trajectories across outcome domains, are two promising paths forward in trying to better understand the end of first-grade cognitive impacts for nonurban 3-year-old cohort children. (author abstract)
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