New information about the long range effect of child care quality on children's school performance and skill development was released on June 8, 1999 by researchers involved in the longitudinal Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study which began in 1993. A 1995 report on the study documented the findings from the first phase of the research about the cost and quality of child care in America, identifying most programs as mediocre. The new report documents the findings from the second phase of the study that tracked children in these programs over a four year period when they were in preschool, kindergarten, first, and second grade. New findings link high-quality child care to children's achievement of higher cognitive and social skills that help them be prepared for kindergarten and to succeed in school. The researchers found that the children who attended high-quality programs as 3 and 4 year olds have benefited from their child care experiences in kindergarten and in many cases, through the second grade. Those children whose family backgrounds make them at-risk for school failure gained the most from positive child care experiences and were more negatively affected by poor program practices and environments.
As a result of their findings, researchers are recommending that both government and the private sector significantly increase their investments in early childhood care and education. They also recommend that policy makers adopt new strategies to promote quality early childhood services and increase families access to high-quality programs. The Executive Summary and a press release about the report, The Children of the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study Go To School, are available online at http://www.fpg.unc.edu/~NCEDL/PAGES/cq.cfm. Visit the Web site to learn more about the study findings and policy recommendations.