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Parental Stress, Social Support, Child Behaviour, and Daycare Attendance

Nathalie Bigras, Danielle Blanchard, Caroline Bouchard, Lise Lemay, Mélissa Tremblay, Gilles Cantin, Liesette Brunson, Marie-Claude Guay

The current study examines the level of internalizing and externalizing behavioural problems among children experiencing different types of child care, and levels of parental stress and social support among their parents. These relationships are also examined in the context of different levels of psychosocial risk factors. Data were taken from three cross-sectional waves of data collection from an evaluation study of the 1, 2, 3 GO! Initiative. The sample is from Montreal and surrounding areas and consists of 1245 children, aged between 20 and 42 months, and their families. The Child Behaviour Checklist (Achenbach, 1997), the Parental Stress Index,Short Form (Abidin, 1995), the Arizona Social Support Interview Schedule (Barrera, 1980) were used. Parents also completed a questionnaire about the childcare service attended by their child. Results indicate that attending a daycare center is linked with lower internalizing behavioral problem scores for children and higher social support scores for parents. No relationships were found between externalizing problems and parental stress. Overall, parents and children using a structured childcare service (i.e. center daycare, family daycare) obtained better scores than those using a less structured childcare service (i.e. drop-in center, relative care). Results also show that children attending a less structured childcare service present higher level of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems than the normal population. Their parents have higher levels of stress and lower levels of social support than the normal population