Child care link with poverty unclear, says study

Providing high quality child care may not be as effective in
reducing family poverty as previously hoped, a new study

The randomised controlled trial, published in the British
Medical Jour
nal, found that mothers who were offered a place
at a day care centre for their children were more likely to find
jobs than those who were not, but their reported household incomes
were no higher than those whose children had not been given

The researchers say the study supports the government view that
daycare provision can increase maternal employment but argue that
this may not be a route out of poverty unless other changes are
made. Tackling low pay, changing the benefit structure and reducing
the costs of day care to poor families may be equally important to
reducing poverty, they argue.

The study followed a group of 120 mothers of children between
six months and 3.5 years in Hackney, London. Places were allocated
randomly among families on the waiting list at the Holly Street
Estate Early Years Centre.

After 18 months those with a child care place at the centre
worked more hours per week than the others. But they were no more
likely to have a household weekly income of more than £200
than the families who had not been given a place for their

– Tami Toroyan et al, Effectiveness of Out-of-Home Day Care
for Disadvantaged Families, Randomised Controlled Trial
2003, 327:906

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