Pre-Kindergarten Child Care and Social and Behavioral Outcomes among Children of Immigrants

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The school transition model suggests that children's transitions into formal schooling can have lasting and profound implications for their educational careers, though this model is rarely used to understand the outcomes of children of immigrants. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a nationally representative sample of kindergarteners in 1998–1999, we examine the pre-kindergarten child care arrangements of children of immigrants and how these care arrangements are associated with children's behavior. We find that minority and immigrant children are less likely than their native-born white counterparts to be enrolled in center-based care and other care, compared to parental care, prior to kindergarten. We also find that ethnic origin is an important predictor of child care usage. Finally, though center-based care, on average, is not independently associated with children's behavior in kindergarten, the association between center-based care and behaviors varies by race and immigrant status. Broadly, these findings underscore the importance of understanding how native- and foreign-born children experience the transition to schooling, a critical period in the life course.

Turney, Kristin, and Grace Kao. 2009. “Pre-Kindergarten Child Care and Social and Behavioral Outcomes among Children of Immigrants.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 24:432–444.