Part one considers the dilemma of working mothers, then presents a history of childcare in the United States and a description of its forms and operation. Part two looks at the effects of childcare and childcare quality on child development. And part three looks to the future, with a guide to childcare choices, advice on planning research, and policy recommendations.
Two personal stories from the lives of American women are included at the beginning of each part, but otherwise What We Know About Childcare avoids anecdotes and presents results from social science studies.
On the other hand, it also omits any details of statistical analyses — there is one table, one figure, and no equations — and even avoids giving significance levels or quantitative measures of effects. Instead we get phrases like "received lower scores", "there is evidence", "there is no consistent negative effect", and so forth. And the endnotes don't provide any details themselves, just references to the research literature. Many of the results are thus stripped of real interest, and many of the conclusions and recommendations are predictable and bland.
So What We Know About Childcare falls between two stools. It is too dry to appeal to the broader population, but has too little solid content to be much use to scholars. It may be most useful for students, who can use it as a summary of research and follow up the relevant references.
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