Family Selection of Child-Care Centers

The Influence of Household Support, Ethnicity, and Parental Practices
Bruce Fuller
University of California, Berkeley
Susan D. Holloway
University of California, Berkeley
Xiaoyan Liang
The World Bank


Accumulating evidence shows that young children benefit develop­mentally by participating in quality childcare centers and preschools. But we know little about which family characteristics and home practices influence parents' selection of a center-based program. This article reports on the influence of the family's social-structural attributes, ethnicity, and parental practices on the likelihood of selecting a center-based program, after taking into account economic characteristics. The odds that parents enroll their child in a center-based program are greatest when mothers are more highly educated, when the child is older, and when less plentiful (nonpaternal) social support is available to the mother, such as from a resident grandparent. Ethnic differences in the propensity to select centers were found, even after family­ economic and structural variables were taken into account: African-American families were more likely than white or Latino families to use center-based care. Parental practices linked to the child's early literacy development and close supervision were related to the likelihood of center selection. Selection processes must be more carefully taken into account as researchers attempt to isolate the discrete effects of children's participation in centers and preschools.

This article was originally printed in Child Development by Wiley-Blackwell

Suggested citationFuller, B., Holloway, S. D., & Liang, X. (1996, December). Family selection of child-care centers: The influence of household support, ethnicity, and parental practices [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.