Over at Slate, Emily Bazelon unpacks the coverage of that long-term NIH day care study to figure out why all the media types are so down on day care, especially since the real results of the study show that childcare is a distant third place in child behavior influencers [the first two: parenting and genes, duh].
Some of her findings and her interview with one of the study's authors are definitely worth noting. Important facts like,
Alternate conclusions [that didn't get any play in the study or in coverage of it]: toddler daycare isn't the problem. Infant daycare is hard to do well, needs improvement, and makes a difference.
Slate's conclusion, meanwhile, derives from Bazelon's own sample of one: a woman at the checkout line scowled when she learned the kid went to daycare. Ergo, society hates daycare.
I would say that yeah, daycare gets a bum rap, and it's hard to shake the notion that people choose day care because they can't afford a nanny, and since it's cheaper, it's a lower quality thing.
But there's something else Bazelon's critique ignores: the NICHD/SRCD's own culpability in stacking the media deck against day care. If the study's own press release says, "Children in Center-Based Child Care Have Slightly More Behavior Problems, But for Children in Other Types of Early Child Care, Problems Are Short-Lived," what do you think the headline on the story is going to be?
The Kids Are Alright: What the latest day care study really found [slate via dt reader john]