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How children develop has been recognised by development psychologists as an extremely important although complex issue Hayes 1990 Healthy development involves and hinges on their successful progress in domains comprising of biological cognitive and socio-emotional elements Hayes 1990 It remains essential in terms of the individual and society that all children be stimulated and encouraged to their optimal level Failure to develop certain skills during the first six years of life can result in negative effects throughout the rest of life Doherty-Derkowski 1995 An integral part of healthy child development is the way childrens needs are responded to by their caregivers The traditional view in the western world has espoused that it is mothers who are the primary caregivers and this maternal care is critical to the childs psychological and social well being especially during infancy Bowlby 1969 McGurk Caplan Hennessy Moss 1993 In Australia Australian Bureau of Statistics 1999 and the United States Bureau of Census 1994 mothers who have children at home are returning to work in numbers greater than ever before and as a result the demand for non-maternal care has steadily risen As a result many infants and toddlers are now in some form of daycare arrangement This change in cultural fabric has resulted in the emergence of an emotionally charged debate concerning the merits and effects of daycare on childrens development At one end of the continuum is the camp that suggests that daycare in the first six years of life will ultimately lead to later problems at school delinquency and depression The other camp suggests that early childhood care and services would enhance and promote development Doherty 1996 It appears there is little evidence suggesting maternal employment and subsequent daycare has any significant detrimental effects on older children Belsky 1988 However the evidence regarding infants toddlers and pre-schoolers is far from clear Harvey 1999 Belsky 1988 suggests that early extensive daycare due to maternal employment can
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