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Concerns regarding the possibility of mental health risks associated with group day-care were first raised half a century ago Bowlby 1951 WHO Expert Committee on Mental Health 1951 However over the years there has been a highly controversial debate regarding the effects of day-care and the issue is still far from resolved now Borge Rutter Cote Tremblay 2004 Belsky 2001 Firstly before moving on to reviewing the empirical evidence for various theories regarding the day-care effects it is important to acknowledge social selection and social causation effects Borge et al 2004 Social selection occurs as day-care is not randomly allocated in the general population Clarke-Stewart Allhusen 2002 Families choice of which day-care to use if any at all would be influenced by whether both parents work outside the home attitudes to day-care availability of day-care provision and familys ability to pay if free care is unavailable These factors vary across different nations and regions so social selection might not occur in the same way across populations Borge Hartman Str 1994 The more recent studies have paid more attention to selection effects and statistically controlled for them compared to earlier research in this field Social causation refers to the possible differential childcare effects in certain subgroups of a population Interactions between childcare features and child and family attributes need to be considered to correctly identify conditions in which day-care enhances andor impairs childrens socioemotional development McCartney Galanoupoulos 1988 Three kinds of interactions have been discerned from previous research According to the compensatory or protective conceptualisation quality day-care experience could serve to attenuate risk caused by child eg temperament or family attributes eg poor Day-care would protect high-risk children by decreasing exposure to home conditions This was in accord with empirical findings showing that high-quality day-care settings protected socially fearful 14- to 40-month-olds from increased risk of fewer positive interactions with peers in low-quality child-care settings Volling and Feagans 1995
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