Latest ‘Growing Up In Ireland’ Report Examines Impact of Childcare

Posted on: 03 December 2015

The key influences on children’s cognitive development are gender, language spoken at home, number of older siblings, parents’ education and the home learning environment. This is according to the latest research from the Growing up in Ireland longitudinal study.

The study, which is conducted by a consortium of researchers led by Trinity College Dublin and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), also found that:

  • There is no difference in expressive vocabulary scores at five years of age for children cared for full time by their parents and those who attend different forms of childcare at age three.
  • Starting in childcare at an early age (by nine months) had no effect on cognitive outcomes at age five.
  • Among children from non-English speaking backgrounds there was a small positive effect of centre-based care at three on vocabulary at age five. There was no such effect for children from English-speaking backgrounds.
  • Almost all of the children in the study (96%) had experienced pre-school through the Free Pre-School Year (FPSY).

What this latest tranche of research from Growing up in Ireland shows is that there remains a strong demand for childcare from parents. Yet aside from 15 hours per week in the Free Pre-School Year, costs to parents remain high compared to elsewhere in Europe.

The report Non-Parental Childcare and Child Cognitive Outcomes at Age Five was officially launched today by the Minister for Children and Youth affairs Dr James Reilly at the 7th annual Growing up in Ireland research conference in Dublin Castle.

Adjunct Professor of Sociology Dr Frances McGinnity, Adjunct Professor of Sociology Dr Helen Russell and Visiting Research Fellow Dr Aisling Murray authored the report.

Growing Up in Ireland is a Government-funded study following the progress of almost 20,000 children and their families which began in 2007. Its main aim is to paint a complete picture of children in Ireland and how they are developing in the current social, economic and cultural environment.

This information is then used to assist in policy formation to ensure all children have the best possible start in life.