The Relationship Between Type of Child Care Setting and Externalizing Behaviors in Kindergarten Students

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• Past studies examining child care and externalizing behaviors have produced conflicting results. This study examined whether an association exists between type of child care that a child attended the year before kindergarten and externalizing problem behaviors as rated by the child’s kindergarten teacher. Ordinary least-squares regression was used to examine variables that impact ratings of externalizing behavior by evaluating data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 (ECLS-K:2011). The ECLS-K:2011 has up-to-date data that includes a nationally representative sample of children in the United States. Participants were 13,544 children. Additionally, SES and the total number of hours of weekly care were analyzed to see if they moderated the relationship between type of care and externalizing behaviors. Findings indicated that children who attended center care only exhibited more externalizing behaviors than children who attended other types or combinations of care. Children from lower SES families had significantly more externalizing behaviors than children from higher SES families. Findings also indicated that SES had less of an effect on externalizing behavior among children who attended relative and center care than children who attended center care only. The more hours a child spent in care each week, the greater their ratings of externalizing problem behaviors. Additionally, the effects of total hours on externalizing behaviors were lower for children who attended relative care only and relative and center care than those who attended center care only. Study implications for policymakers, parents, and researchers are discussed in depth. For instance, if parents wish to send their children to center care, they may want to incorporate an additional type of weekly care, which may act as a buffer to externalizing problem behaviors. Additionally, policymakers may want to facilitate greater access for child care other than center care only.
Dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology degree in School Psychology at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Early childhood education