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Children in Day Care Still Most Strongly Attached to Parents

Secure attachments to childcare providers more likely in home setting

THURSDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are placed in home-based or center-based childcare settings do not develop stronger relationships with their childcare providers than with their parents, according to a study published in the May/June issue of Child Development.

Lieselotte Ahnert, Ph.D., of the Free University of Berlin in Germany, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 40 studies covering 2,876 children who were assessed in terms of their attachment to care providers at an average age of 29.6 months.

The study found a modest intercorrelation between the way children bond with their parents and with other caregivers, but also that secure attachments were less likely to be formed with other caregivers compared to parents. Home-based rather than center-based settings were more likely to lead to secure childcare provider attachments, as were longer time to assessment after enrollment and being female.

Home-based childcare settings with small groups of children, and how sensitive the care provider was to individual children, were the biggest predictors of attachment security. But in center-based settings, how the provider related to the whole group was the main determinant.

"We should not see care providers in public care as mother substitutes, dealing sensitively with individual kids, but understand how they regulate groups of kids while providing a harmonic climate to play and learn," said lead researcher Ahnert in a statement.

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