Child care is a broad term covering a variety of arrangements for supervising children when they are not with their parents. Before entering elementary school, children often attend a variety of child care settings. These settings range from formal, center-based care (preschools) to informal arrangements, such as care in the child’s home by a relative or nanny or in another person’s home by a family-based provider.

Child care generally serves two main functions: supporting parental employment and promoting children’s school readiness. Research suggests that high-quality child care is beneficial for children, parents, and society. This entry, provides an overview of how child care functions to meet the needs of both parent employment and children’s school readiness. It then discusses relations between child care characteristics and children’s ...

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