Study: More Mothers are Staying Home

Barb Wire

By Nicole M. King

In a happy piece of news, a study by the Pew Research Center reveals that more moms are staying at home to care for their children.

Reports NPR, “After decades on the decline, the number of ‘stay at home’ moms in the U.S. has risen, with 29 percent of women with children under 18 saying they don’t work outside the home . . . up from 23% in 1999.”  While immigrant moms, young moms, and those with a high-school education or less are most likely to forego work outside the home, some mothers also say the bleak economy has made the decision for them.  The study notes that 60% of Americans believe that “children are better off with a parent home.”

And those 60% of Americans would be right.  Kids whose moms work outside the home tend to have poorer health and higher rates of obesity than those with stay-at-home moms.  Indeed, stay-at-home moms are so important to their children’s early development that we can only hope that the number of such mothers continues to rise.

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The New Research No substitute for a mother’s care

Whether advocating for universal preschool or more daycare subsidies, interest groups at both state and federal levels seem intent on pushing preschool-aged children out of the home and into institutional settings. Yet the research continues to raise red flags about the merits of maternal substitutes during early childhood. Indeed, a study by social-work professors at the University of South Carolina finds a robust correlation between negative social outcomes and child enrollment in all formal pre-K settings.

Mining data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort, the South Carolina researchers explored the relationships between different types of early-childhood care experiences—including informal care, daycare, Head Start, and prekindergarten—and seven measures of school-readiness at the start of kindergarten. Not all the outcomes related to non-parental care were negative. Relative to their peers who received parent-only care, children with one year of prekindergarten scored significantly higher in both measures of cognitive outcomes (reading and math scores).

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