Source: Statistics Canada, October 2010, by Leanne C. Findlay and Dafna E. Kohen
Summary: Previous research has shown that child care has an impact on children’s social and developmental outcomes. This research has shown that the quantity, quality, and type of care, as well as regulatory status, influence children’s wellbeing, in particular behavioural characteristics such as hyperactivity and positive peer involvement (also known as pro-social behaviour). For instance, participation in child care that is regulated (i.e., licensed) and high-quality (e.g., high in caregiver praise, with trained caregivers) is associated with fewer behavioural problems and more positive peer involvement. In a study of Canadian children, children in high-quality child care arrangements were reported to exhibit greater pro-social behaviours.
Although factors such as type of child care, hours in child care and stability of child care are relevant to the Aboriginal population, it is also important, when examining the impact of child care on the Aboriginal population, to consider culturally relevant factors which may impact healthy child development. For example, important indicators of Aboriginal child care may include aspects specific to cultural stimulation in the care environment, including the availability of culturally relevant activities. However, very little is known about the conditions and usage of child care for Aboriginal children in Canada. Moreover, because children represent a larger than average proportion of the Aboriginal population, child care is a particularly relevant issue for Aboriginal people.
Using data from the 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey, this study describes child care for First Nations children living off reserve, Métis children, and Inuit children in Canada, including the cultural aspects in the care environment. As a first step, a sample of First Nations children living off reserve, Métis, and Inuit children aged 2 to 5 years and not attending school who participated in child care were compared to a similar sample of children not in child care. For those children in care, aspects of child care of interest included: type of care, regulatory status, total hours in care, and number of care arrangements (i.e., stability). Next, socio-demographic characteristics such as the age and sex of the child, household income, family structure, parental education, parental work status and place of residence were examined in relation to both patterns of child care use and to child outcomes. Finally, cultural activities and Aboriginal language use in child care were investigated to determine associations with child outcomes. For the current study, the effect of child care on hyperactivity and pro-social behaviour were of particular interest as existing research suggests a relationship between child care and both of these outcomes.