Childcare Patterns and Issues for Families of Preschool Children With Disabilities

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A longitudinal investigation of childcare for children with developmental disabilities (N = 89) was conducted, with in-person assessments at 12, 15, 30, and 45 months of age, and phone interviews with mothers at 14, 29, 37, and 44 months. When compared with typically developing children from another sample, and with census data, the participants entered childcare at an older age and for fewer hours; they were more likely to be in “informal” (father, relative, in-home nonrelative) care; and they were less likely to transition into more formal care (childcare center, childcare home) with increasing age. Finding good-quality care, the cost of care, distance/transportation issues, and integration with other services/special needs received the highest ratings for childcare issues. Children who were not in childcare had lower adaptive behavior scores if their mothers cited their child's special needs as an issue in keeping them out of care, compared with children whose mothers did not indicate that special needs were an issue. These 2 groups did not differ in their diagnoses, mental, or motor development scores. Results are discussed in the context of family leave policies and welfare work exemptions, and the need for high-quality caregiving options.

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