Our review of the health and development of children in childcare centres, combined with other original work, demonstrates that the proposed options for child care support are not equivalent, and that some services offer a better potential for development than others.
Our results show that children growing up with high levels of adversity (poverty, stress, low education, parental depression) benefit significantly from attending a preschool daycare centre, particularly when attendance begins at an early age and occurs on a regular basis, as is the case with government-regulated early childhood daycare (CPE) services. Sustained daycare attendance in children at risk is associated with fewer problems with physical aggression and depression, and better cognitive development. From a health standpoint, our research concluded that students who attend large-scale day-care facilities from an early age have a reduced risk of contracting common infectious diseases during elementary school than other children.
Sustained daycare attendance in children at risk is associated with fewer problems with physical aggression and depression.
The proposed options do not have the same impact on the daycare system or on parental participation in the workforce, particularly for families living in precarious conditions. In addition, the option involving money transfers directly to families has the same effect as increases to daycare fees: it encourages mothers to stop working, which has an impact on household income and may compromise the mother's eventual return to the workforce.
The project is also interested in judging the receptiveness of Québec's elected policymakers to health impact assessments and to applying the results of such studies to their decision-making. Given the many advantages associated with quality daycare services, their financing should be considered to be a social investment.
Main researcher: Marie-France Raynault, Université de Montréal
Original title: L'impact des politiques de soutien à la garde sur la santé et le développement des enfants d'âge préscolaire