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New report confirms quality child care not harmful to children

Embargoed until Monday, July 24 [1995], for report's release

There is no evidence that long-term child care, if it is of high quality, is harmful to children, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, titled 'Today's Child Care, Tomorrow's Children!'

"The report finds that family, mother and child characteristics plus socio-economic level, language spoken at home and encouragement of education are more influential in child outcomes than child care history," the Minister for Family Services, Senator Rosemary Crowley, said.

"The results are in direct contrast to a US study, reported this week, which claimed that children who spend a lot of time in child care may join gangs as teenagers.

"The Australian report found no evidence that 'exposure to long hours of non-parental care in the first year of life, even when such care continues throughout the pre-school years, is associated with long-term negative effects in Australian children'.

"It says the overall quality of Australian child care, with its national Accreditation System, is higher than in the US, where accreditation is still voluntary.

"It also found that, unlike the US, Federal Government child care subsidies mean Australian children are less likely to be in child care of differing quality because of family income.

"I hope this report will lead to better-informed debate about families, mothers and the care of children. Women must be supported in whatever choices they make, not made to feel guilty about them.

The study says: "Good-quality childcare has positive effects, and poor-quality child care can do harm. The same, no doubt, holds for maternal or parent-only care - some is good and some is less than good, a matter on which many advocates of home care avoid comment."

"Men seem to be enjoying parenthood more these days, but still not sharing household duties as much as they could.

"The report says that while mothers continue to take the major responsibility for child care and housework in dual-income families, fathers' responsibilities and roles have changed and they are now spending more time with children."

Contact:

Kim Robbins, 06, 277 7240; 0412 627 465