Changes in Young Children's Family Structures and Child Care Arrangements

Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas at Austin
Kate C. Prickett, University of Texas at Austin
Chelsea Smith, University of Texas at Austin
Shannon E. Cavanagh, University of Texas at Austin

Family structure change can disrupt the settings of children’s daily lives. Most scholarship focuses on the home environment for mechanisms of such disruption. Moving beyond he home, this study explored another potential mechanism, the association between changes in family structure and changes in several dimensions of early child care. With longitudinal data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N=1,274), fixed effect modeling revealed that family structure transitions were associated with changes in the type and quantity of early care as well as the number of care arrangements used, especially among the youngest children. Given prior evidence linking these child care dimensions to behavioral and cognitive outcomes, these results suggest one policy relevant mechanism by which family change may create inequalities among children.

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Presented in Session 158: Family Structure and Schooling