The Impact of ECD Programs on Maternal Employment and Older Children’s School Attendance in Kenya
The availability and cost of child care play an important role in the decisions that households make about allocating labor and choosing between informal home care and ECD.A mother’s decision to join the labor force is based on her expected earnings compared with the costs of available day care. Insufficient child care options could be a barrier for women with children to join the labor force (for example, Kimmel 1998). The custodial role of ECD centers frees female household members for other activities and allows mothers to enter the labor market. The additional income newly employed mothers bring home can be significant and may lift some households out of poverty. In the longer term, the increased work experience may also lead to increased job skills and higher earnings for household members. Better employment options, in turn, may decrease the reliance of low-income families on government subsidies and increase their self-sufficiency.Research in developing countries also indicates that females other than the mother, especially young daughters, provide free child care, releasing mothers for paid work (for example, Deutsch 1998). For example, Psacharopoulos and Arriagada (1989) find that in Brazilian households, the presence of younger siblings has a negative effect on school attendance of older children. In El Salvador, girls missed more school than boys because they stayed home to help with chores (Bittencourt and DiCicco 1979). Deolalikar (1998) finds significant differences in girls’ (but not boys’) school enrollment in householdswith children under 3 in Kenya. He reports a particularly strong effect for girls attending secondary school. The presence of a child 3 or younger reduces the probability that a girl aged 14–17 would be enrolled in secondary school by 41 percent, conditional on other determinants of enrollment. The corresponding effect for boys is only 5 percent. These studies indicate that when child care centers are unavailable or too costly, older siblings are more likely to provide child care.