Child care in cultural context

Child care in cultural context

Issues for new research

Sarah Wise and Ann Sanson

Research Paper No. 22 — December 2000

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An important question for child care researchers today is how characteristics of the home and the child care setting together affect children's development. Opinion is mixed on how similarities and differences between adult carers in their beliefs, values and practices for rearing children impact on child development. While the empirical evidence is scarce, there is strong theoretical support for the idea that continuity in children's experiences across home and child care settings promote optimal development, and that major differences pose developmental challenges, especially for children in very early childhood. However, what little research is available suggests children from families with lower educational and economic resources can benefit from differences between environments if the care setting is more advantageous than that provided by the family.

The effect of home-child care continuities and discontinuities has special significance in Australian society where the extent of cultural diversity suggests real potential for contrasting approaches to the care and socialisation of children. Although there is growing recognition of the importance of adopting a multicultural perspective in child care programs, it is currently unclear how efforts to support parents' child rearing efforts influence child development outcomes, or what shifts in child care services are required to promote such practices.

This paper describes a new Institute study that aims to help fill a gap in the research literature concerning the influence of home-child care discontinuities on children. The study has been designed to advance our understanding of how home-child care congruity factors relate to child care quality, the child care variables that promote congruence across care settings, and the extent to which congruity on child related variables influence the arrangements parents make for their children's care.

This paper details the theoretical and empirical literature on home-child care congruity and outlines the approach taken in the current research to unravel the importance of maintaining parental practices for childrearing in child care.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 22
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, December 2000.
30 pp.
0 642 39482 2
Suggested citation:

Wise, S., & Sanson, A. (2000). Child care in cultural context: Issues for new research (Research Paper No. 22). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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