There's a major gap between what parents view as quality child care and what developmental psychologists and other specialists define as good care. That's according to a poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Nearly 90 percent of parents say the quality of their child care is very good or excellent. But a major study in the field of child development has suggested that most child care is of only fair quality.
What's a parent to do? Quality care in a child's early years can help that young person develop lasting social, emotional and learning skills and can promote healthful eating and play.
But high-quality care, whether it comes from a nanny, a sitter, a day care or a preschool, can be difficult to find — and to afford.
There are solutions out there. A lively forum discussion at the Harvard Chan School covered the issues. We streamed the webcast, where specialists in child care and health will talk more about the findings, and what they mean for today's kids. (When the archived video becomes available, we'll add it to this post.)
Some of the issues that were discussed: How do parents find and select child care, and how does that care influence the health and well-being of families? How can child care be made accessible, high quality and affordable? How do we even measure quality in a meaningful and accountable way? The forum panelists discussed ways to equip parents with better information about child care and explained policy changes they thought could help children thrive.
Joe Neel, deputy senior supervising editor on NPR's Science Desk, moderated the discussion with:
Susan Hibbard, executive director of the BUILD Initiative
Kristin Schubert, managing director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Rachel Schumacher, director, Office of Child Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Gillian SteelFisher, senior research scientist and deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health