At Age 4: Findings From The ECLS-B Study
Nov 02, 2007
New analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a First Look at characteristics of children at 4 years of age. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) is a study of a nationally representative sample of children who were born in 2001 intended to provide detailed information on the country's young children's health, development and well-being through a range of data. This week, NCES released a report with descriptive details on these children's characteristics and development by age 4. Some of the study's key findings are:
- 59 percent of children in the study had a mother who was working full- or part-time.
- The primary child care arrangement for most children (58 percent) was center-based child care, including Head Start settings. Thirteen percent of children were regularly in the care of a relative and 8 percent were regularly in the care of a non-relative in a home-based setting. Twenty percent of children did not have a regular non-parental care arrangement.
- 31 percent of children in the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) families did not have a regular child care arrangement compared to 20 percent of middle SES families and 10 percent of the highest SES families.
- Children in higher SES families scored higher on measures of literacy and mathematic skills compared to children from lower SES families.
These data are extremely useful for understanding the nation's young child population. The data confirm that many young children are cared for outside of the home. By age four, differences in cognitive abilities between children from different socio-economic backgrounds are already present. We also know that the youngest children are most likely to be poor. It is therefore critical that low-income families in particular have access to high-quality early care and education settings that support both their children's healthy development and their parent's work schedules and that parents who cannot afford this care get access to help paying for it.