Toddlers' and preschoolers' experience in family day care: Age differences and behavioral correlates

Erin M. Kryzer, Nikki Kovan, Deborah A. Phillips, Lindsey A. Domagall, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


One hundred and twelve children, 56 toddlers and 56 preschoolers, were observed in their family child care settings to determine whether toddlers cared for in settings that also included preschoolers were, relative to the preschoolers, receiving more or less high-quality care and/or whether their functioning at child care appeared to be more or less dependent on aspects of the care providers' interactions with the children. Quality of care was analyzed along two dimensions: sensitive/supportive care and structured care. Four indices of child functioning at child care were examined: integration in social activities, attention, positive mood, and angry/aggressive behavior. Results indicate that toddlers received less sensitive, supportive care than preschoolers in these mixed-age settings and toddlers were less socially integrated and less engaged in activities in the child care setting. Preschoolers displayed increased levels of angry/aggressive behavior relative to toddlers. In addition, associations of care provider behaviors and child functioning were larger for toddlers than preschoolers, suggesting that toddlers were more dependent on caregiver support for more successful functioning in these family child care settings. For both toddlers and preschoolers, care provider behavior and child functioning was generally poorer in settings with more children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Deborah Vandell and Carollee Howes for their assistance in modifying and developing the M-ORCE. This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health through a grant (MH62601) and Senior Scientist Award (MH066208) to Megan R. Gunnar and through a grant provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Z165802) to Deborah A. Phillips. Finally, this study would not have been possible without the generous cooperation of the participating family child care providers and families they serve.


  • Child care
  • Child care homes
  • Family day care


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